From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri,
For those who care to know, former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim hopes to return to Imo Douglas House in 2019. In this interview with a select group of Journalists, he spoke on various issues including the crisis in the Imo PDP and the alleged plot of governor Okorocha to replace himself with an Orlu Man. Excerpts:
Governor Okorocha during a media parley with journalists has suggested that anyone above the age of 50 should not be allowed to contest the governorship election because they are over aged. What is your reaction on that?
Why are you asking me about my reaction on what Rochas Okorocha said? Don’t you know that Rochas Okorocha is a comedian? He is very good as a master of ceremony. He is a very good M.C. and a very lawless man. Does he have respect for the constitution? You should ask me about what the constitution says about the criteria to vie for the governorship election and not what an M.C said. Look at how Rochas Okorocha has destroyed Owerri Zone. Look at how he disgraced Sir Jude Ejiogu out of office. Look at how he messed up with the Agbaso family. He does not know how the flyovers look like. Do you know that the flyovers are five; he has destroyed Owerri zone. Lands in Owerri now have no values.
Again, the governor has also said that he doesn’t believe in the zoning of the office of governor of the state, but rather that the best candidate should emerge irrespective of which zone he comes from. What is your take?
Rochas Okorocha wants to make an Orlu man governor. Yes, an Orlu man can be governor in 2019 but he can win the war and not win the peace. Another Orlu man for Governor in 2019 is greed and insensitive to the sensibilities of Imo people. Okigwe Zone for governor in 2019 is best for Imo charter of equity. If Okigwe zone does not complete its tenure which was truncated in 2011, it would be unfair. Let me tell you, if an Orlu or Owerri Zone person becomes governor in 2019, it would take Okigwe zone another 16 years to produce governor.
Are you saying that it is the turn of Okigwe Zone in 2019?
An Okigwe zone governor for 2019 is what the state needs. It will bring peace and usher in political balance. Okiwge zone must and should be encouraged to complete its truncated tenure. We are still infants in democracy, so we must rotate power. We are yet to get it right. Owerri zone cannot be governor without addressing the injustice it did to Okigwe Zone. Okorocha never won election, it was rigged. I have to complete my tenure. I forgot something in Government House. I forgot the Imo master plan in Government House. I forgot the design for the flyovers, inner and outer ring roads. With the plans I have, Imo would have been the number one economic state in Nigeria by now . Who will agree to go for only one tenure? Didn’t Okorocha swear before God that he would only be governor for just one tenure? That he was condescending to be governor.
A politician from Okigwe Zone, who was opposing me, also promised to go for one tenure; he even signed a paper, but everybody knows that he would have gone for second tenure if he had won. Rochas Okorocha will engineer succession plan to Orlu Zone, but only an Okigwe zone man for governor in 2019 will engineer the perfect succession plan and hand over power to the youths.
So, you want to complete your truncated tenure from 2019?
Some people are asking why should Ohakim complete his tenure. So why would my own be different? Emeka Ihedioha was in government for 16 years, four years of appointments and 12 years of elective positions. Araraume had eight years. Achike Udenwa was governor for eight years and Rochas Okorocha will complete eight years by 2019. So, why will my own be different?
But your bid to come back to power was not successful as you lost in the gubernatorial primaries in 2014
PDP failed at the election because the primary election was not free and fair. Impunity reigned supreme. Emeka Ihedioha and Ifeanyi Araraume rigged the election against me. They imported people from Ihiala in Anambra State to rig me out. I won the election, but was denied the ticket. Do you know that a prominent Imo traditional ruler led a delegation to me, urging me to run a joint ticket with my political son, Emeka Ihedioha, but Ihedioha refused? The idea was for me to round off my tenure and start positioning him after two years to take over from me. He thought he would have his way through. Do you know that the PDP candidate for the 2015 governorship election did not even win Owerri Zone? He won only in six local government areas, out of the 27 local government councils in the state. What it means is that he did not even win Owerri Zone where he comes from.
Some people said that if you had contested the Okigwe senatorial seat that you would have won it. So, why didn’t you contest for the senatorial seat?
Why would I run for the easy position? Who would run for the strong position? Any time I want to retire from politics, I will contest for the senatorial position. If not for the military coup in the early 90s, I would have contested for the governorship election . I contested for governor in 2007 and won, so why should I contest for senate in 2015, because people thought that it is easier and that I would have won? No regrets at all, I won the PDP primary election and they rigged me out. They brought people from Ihiala in Anambra state to make sure that I was rigged out. I am launching a book very soon, where I will x-ray the people who have destroyed Imo. I can forgive people. I fight for justice. I do not fight individuals. Impunity will destroy our party, PDP. There was no due process in constituting the 419 caretaker committee. Let me tell you that there is no difference between Imo PDP and any other small political party in the state, the same impunity and injustice which destroyed PDP at the general elections in the state are re-surfacing that you would constitute a caretaker committee and you would not consult the leaders of the party and you think that you will succeed? You think you would win election with it? I would have defeated Rochas Okorocha without PDP ticket. If I had used the over N2billion I spent in PDP primary election which Ihedioha and Araraume rigged in flying the flag of another political party in the state, no matter how small it is, I would have defeated Okorocha.
The truth is that you needed one who has the kind of capacity I have to have beaten Okorocha at the last general elections. You need one who will face Okorocha administration for administration, structures for structures, projects for projects, capacity for capacity, acceptability for acceptability and it was only myself who has that kind of capacity and advantage, the youths do not understand the power play in the state and I pity them.
They need one who will engineer a successful succession plan and hand over to them after 2019 and only an Okigwe Zone man can do that. Okigwe Zone for governor in 2019 will restore Imo charter of equity so that an Owerri man can be governor afterwards. Everybody should encourage and support Okigwe zone to complete its tenure in 2019.
Imo PDP has been embroiled in crisis lately; as a major stakeholder, what is the root cause?
It is nothing but impunity. Now, we had earlier agreed that no caretaker committee would be constituted till after the Okigwe senatorial zone re-run election, so that it would not bring disharmony in the party. But Kema Chikwe and Emeka Ihedioha connived with Prince Uche Secondus, who everybody knew was going out, to quickly constitute the 419 caretaker committee. It is a failed coup. In Imo State, PDP has no advantage over other smaller parties because we don’t have the president nor Governor. The same thing that made us to lose the 2015 governorship election has started again; impunity and injustice. They are busy building structures while the party is dying. Look at the kangoro caretaker committee, only two persons are from Okigwe Zone and you say that PDP is ready to win Imo in 2019? That you want to constitute a caretaker committee and you did not consult a political leader like Ikedi Ohakim? A political party everybody abandoned and I single handedly rebuilt it between 2007-2011 and made it attractive and very formidable. They did not consult a two time former governor of the state, Achike Udenwa from Orlu Zone, they did not consult a former deputy governor, Ada Okwuonu from Owerri Zone. Let the caretaker committee come and sit now, let us see.
Now what is your take on the Okigwe senate re-run election between the APC candidate, Hon Ben Uwajumogu and his PDP rival Chief, Athan Achonu?
People should know that the Hausa people who own APC have rejected it. There is no APC government in Nigeria today; what we have now is CPC government. All elections in Nigeria since after the APC took over, PDP has won over 90 percent. It is a sign that APC has been rejected and somebody wants us to produce an APC senator. A party that has been already rejected by the owners, Hausa people. It is not about Athan Achonu, it is about the survival of the zone. Athan Achonu is only a beneficiary of the realities of the current times. An APC senator for Okigwe Zone would marginalize us. What it means is that when all the senators from South-East, South South gather for meetings and other political engagements, Okiwge zone will be missing out. So, we are fighting for the survival of the zone and Athan is only a beneficiary of the entire process.
You have been charged by the EFCC for alleged money laundering. What is actually the true position?
Look, what I am going through is persecution and not prosecution; the whole thing is politically motivated. It is politically induced and manipulated. It is a political vendetta. Politicians from Imo State who want me out of the political scene before 2019 are behind my EFCC ordeal. They want me out of the political space before 2019. Their names are in the open. Yes, it is politically motivated. They wrote the petitions and it is to get Ikedi Ohakim out of the political space before the next general elections.