Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu has said that Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha is demarketing the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South East region of the country. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he spoke on various issues affecting the nation ahead of 2019 general elections.
How do you feel about the gale of defections from your party, the APC to the PDP?
It is part of politics and I believe it will lead to the development of our democracy. I was getting worried when the PDP was almost becoming a regional party when its activities were mostly in the South East and South South. So, the fact that they came back makes democracy more dynamic. There is no worry about the defections. By the time they finish their primaries, I do not know anybody that they are going to elect that will beat President Buhari. So, why should I worry myself? I would not lose sleep at all because I know those who are jostling to be the candidate of the PDP or the CUPP. I do not know any of the aspirants of other parties that would defeat President Buhari. And I know how the Nigerian politics is played. By the time they finish the primaries, there would be fresh rancour in the party. Those aggrieved would most likely leave and support the APC candidate. So, I am not bothered; it is still for the development of the Nigerian democracy. It is not anything anybody should worry about; the storm will soon be over. Those who are shouting today, do you know basically why they shout; if President Buhari has used the money for critical infrastructure and shared it on roads, the APC will not have any problem but his interest is on infrastructure. That is the only difference between Buhari and the PDP government. If President Buhari was sharing the money, most of them would not be complaining. This is a country where it takes about a N100 million to create a kilometer of road. So, if you are building a road of about 10 kilometers, you are spending about a billion. If you adopt the PDP method and decides to share that one billion, there would be handouts and probably some people will be happy but in the long run, they would be suffering because there will not be the critical infrastructure that would lead to development. Economic development is tangential to the security of the people. It is not only weaponry that you use to fight insecurity in the country. One of the greatest tools in fighting insecurity is good governance and economic development.
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Do you think the APC will ever make an inroad into the South East and what in your view is the style of politics that the Igbo should play ahead of 2019?
The Igbo must support President Buhari on two grounds. I have gone to the second Niger bridge and I saw the work going on there and it is now a direct contract and not through Public Private Partnership. He is doing a lot of roads and other infrastructural developments in the South East. If you look at what he is doing in the East, the Igbo would not have a choice than to vote for him. Through President Buhari, the Igbo stand the best chance to produce the president of this country. Equity and natural justice are in the favour of the Igbo. Our brothers in the South West had had eight years, the South South had about six years and each time the presidency got to them, we voted for them. So, this is our time to get that if we do the right thing. It can only be actualised if we vote for President Buhari. Supporters of Buhari would also be watching out for the Igbo. In 2003, Buhari nominated our brother, late Dr Chuba Okadigbo but we did not vote for him. In 2007, he nominated our brother, Edwin Umezeoke again and we did not vote for him. And Buhari is a man with a vote bank of 12 million people. He needed just a small margin outside his traditional base and the South West gave it to him. That was his victory. That critical supplement that the South West gave was what led to President Buhari’s victory. If the Igbo had given that kind of support to Buhari in 2003 and 2007, he could have won. In 2019, it is incumbent they support him because even if they don’t vote for Buhari, he will still win. We should join the winning train.
But it appears there is no unity among members of your party. I ask this question because I know your perception about the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha. You once said on the television that he is doing damage to the image of your party in the South East; what is the problem?
Governor Okorocha to be honest with you, he was the one that brought the problem in the APC. I pleaded with him not to run for presidency and that there is a zoning convention and that the zoning convention has a moral weight even though it is not a law. If you had listened, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu got into negotiations with President Buhari, I told him that he is going to give over 1000 delegates from the South West. It paid off. I told the leadership of the APC not to promote Okorocha in the South East. Anybody promoting Okorocha is demarketing the APC because you do not go to a community and start defending a notorious boy or girl. If you go to a community and the girl you want to marry is the one that is notorious, then on the marriage day, the people might not attend. It is customary. People would be asking you why did you marry the girl; they will tell you that the other girl is better. Governor Okorocha knew that former Governor Ikedi Ohakim ran into trouble with the Catholic church in Imo State and the same Catholic church, you Okorocha are at war with them again. So, how can you get votes around there. Where will you get the votes. It is just like going to Kano and fight with the Muslims. How will you get votes there. So, that is it; I am not saying this to castigate him; I have great respect for him but I am also pleading with him to retrace his own steps; go back and appease your people. I am not from Imo but go back and appease your people. But anybody who is promoting Okorocha is not helping the Igbo people and the APC. Anybody promoting Okorocha as the face of the APC in the South East is not helping the party. Maybe the person does not want the APC to do well in the zone. And it is Okorocha that made himself unpopular in the South East; it is not Osita Okechukwu. He is demarketing the APC and he cannot change because he is suffering from what is called narcissism.