“We shall not accept to vote for any APGA candidate during this 2019 general election. We would rather cast our vote for PDP.”
Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Dr Alex Obi is a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State. He defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) during the crisis in the PDP, and went back to his practice as a medical doctor. He speaks on the crisis in APGA and concludes that those of them in New APGA and their supporters will vote for PDP in the February and March elections.
Why are you in APGA despite the crisis threatening the foundation of the party?
We, Igbo have implicit confidence in the APGA philosophy, we believe in it, but I think we have been badly managed of late and that is why we are displeased and disenchanted with our party, especially as a result of the last primary exercise said to have been conducted by the National Working Committee under the leadership of Chief Victor Oye and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, we object, reject and refuse to accept all the candidates that have been imposed on us for the 2019 elections. We believe that it’s a sell-out of or democratic right and our right to express ourselves and chose our candidates to represent us in this part of the country; so as a result, we have coalesced under a banner called New APGA, because we believe in the APGA philosophy.
But we are protesting and objecting to the conduct of the primaries and the action of the current leadership of APGA, as a result we shall not accept to vote for any APGA candidate during this 2019 general election. We would rather cast our vote for PDP; APGA leadership seemed to have sold us, they fielded candidates who they know are not going to win and want us to waste our vote for these candidates, it is a serious ploy to enthrone APC in the South East and we in the zone have decided to identify with PDP further. Our decision to back the PDP is in recognition given to the people of the zone in the choice of Peter Obi, an acknowledged Igbo son and a good democrat who has proven himself worthy of followership and rulership in Igbo land that we are giving him this solidarity.
We shall not allow APC benefit from the sell-out of APGA in the zone. The Igbo, the entire Imo, Anambra, Abia , Ebonyi and Enugu will rather support PDP, we are going to cast our vote in this 2019 election for PDP candidates from House of Assembly to Federal House, to Senate, to governorship to the presidency; at least, of all the political parties that conducted primaries, PDP seemed to have come out with a cleaner record, it is an improvement on the PDP we knew in the past that made so many of us lose confidence in it.
Look at the sham in APC, look at the crisis in APC, look at the crisis in APGA, so even for the sake of democracy, PDP seemed to be championing the course of democracy and all of us who mean well for democracy are therefore giving our support to PDP; that is the second reason PDP ought to be supported.
After giving your support to PDP and its candidates win their various elections, what will happen to APGA?
We would remain APGA until the next convention, when we would vote out Obiano from chairmanship of the Board of Trustees. Nowhere has a governor been the chairman, Board of Trustees of a national party or a governor being the leader of the party nationwide. It does not follow; the fact that he is the only governor does not make it right.
When Peter Obi was the governor of Anambra State; he was not the leader of the party in the country. Why did Obiano arrogate that unto himself and under his watch, Oye and his National Working Committee could not conduct a free and fair primary; and instead imposed candidates on us, even people who were not known to be APGA members, people who were still battling for their positions in APC were given slots for governorship and for senate in Imo, and I heard similar things happened in other states. No, that leadership is not worthy to be followed, the whole process is shrouded in suspicion, so we have lost confidence in their leadership, we’ve lost confidence in the so imposed candidates but we will exercise our democratic rights.
By the way, we are politicians and we know what is going on and for the sake of what is going on, we have grown wiser, if we’re disenfranchised in APGA, we would still express our democratic rights, that is what has happened, so all of us in APGA in Imo State, we have 19 aspirants who ran for governorship apart from the few that have picked up ticket here and there, the rest of us are in agreement that one; APC will not benefit from the plot to destabilise APGA, neither will those imposed candidates in APGA; those APC candidates now imported into APGA, neither will they benefit. Therefore, we have worked out an arrangement with PDP to support them all through, let it be like they are our joint candidates, PDP candidates are the joint candidates of APGA nationwide, in fact.
What is your take on Rochas Okorocha’s administration in Imo State?
I am disappointed with it, we have our disappointment like every other Igbo man, at least, most Imo men and women and children; are all disappointed in it.
Which of his policies do you not like?
In what sphere can we rate him well, not in education, the educational system in the state is in shambles, not in health, we cannot say, this is his health policy, not in agriculture, not in rural development, not in township development, even his urban renewal project is the greatest catastrophe that has ever been witnessed in Imo and Owerri. Owerri that prided itself as the most organised; developed centre, cleanest city, look around you, can you really say anywhere in Owerri is clean? Look at his urban renewal project, confusion everywhere, he would build one today, tomorrow he demolishes, he would repaint, crack; well, 2019 will make the final statement .
You were actively involved in the administration of Governor Achike Udenwa; how would you describe then and now?
They are not to be compared at all. First, I would like to judge a leader based on what the challenges were that he was facing at his time and how much resources were available to him at the time. Imo was just coming out of the military administration with all the decay and decadence that were in the system at the time. Mbakwe owed the Paris Club and international banks, so whatever allocation that was due Imo at that time, there were massive deductions been made so that by the time the money came to Imo State, what arrived Imo at the time Achike was governor, at least the first four years was just trickle, hardly enough to pay salaries.
But he met the challenges, he was able to be paying the salaries, you will now have to manage between the pensions, the recurrent and others and was still able to score some landmark physical developments until the later part of his administration when he had some relief. So, if with the little resources at that time he was able to achieve such landmark, compare that resources with what Rochas is earning monthly, during Achike’s time too, bureaucracy was being practiced, every system was active and alive, the local governments were receiving their subvention and were using it for the development of the local government, there was economic activity everywhere in the state, micro and macroeconomics was alive. Do you want to compare it to Rochas administration; are you asking me what the councils have received? Tell me how much has been allocated to each council in Imo State? But you don’t know how much they actually receive, they were all cornered at the state for whatever projects they are being used for. I think that matter is left for the EFCC to sort out and we would do the needful at the appropriate time. So, they are not to be compared at all, the amount of money that has passed through Imo in the past eight years is colossal, it is huge but we have nothing to show for it. That you widened street that was already widened, just put tarred on the other edges of the street, is what they call urban development, they destroyed buildings, brick and mortar engineering and they call it development, no. At the appropriate time, we would make statement; we would talk to Imo people during the campaigns.
Some people have said that the surest way for Igbo presidency is to renew President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure; do you agree with them?
For two reasons, one, we need to survive this period, we need to survive the current reign of APC, may God help us let this January and February pass, so that we can thank God, but to ask me whether I would still enter the same lorry to Lagos, no, I want to disembark; I will not join that APC ‘Trans- port’ to 2023.
But what is your reason?
Ask me about the ride in the past four years; has it been comfortable for every Nigerian? It has been the most bumptious ride of our political life in Nigeria. Look at the level of insecurity, look at the level of corruption, tell me one thing you can say is the landmark of Buhari’s administration, what has he achieved in this last four years, what foundation has he laid, youth employment, is it in the area of economy, is it in the area of power, in what area? I want to know, is it in health, is it in security, look at the nature of killings we are having, he came to power on the basis of fighting corruption and giving us security, Nigerians were very excited at the two, it was on the heel of the capture of the girls in Chibok in Borno State that Nigerians went wild and wanted a change. Have the girls now been recovered, has the division not deepened, is the insecurity not getting worse, how about the Fulani herdsmen that are beheading people everywhere? No, let us not talk about it, we are looking for solution. Please, Nigerians should disembark from that ride now.