“In a state where there is no strong opposition, the incumbent government has no business thinking of joining the opposition in the state.”
Samuel Bello, Abuja
Ejike Njeze is an ICT expert from Enugu State who wants to vie for a seat in the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
What informed your decision to leave your seeming lucrative ICT business to join the race for House of Representatives?
I will say that there is nothing like learning ICT and going into politics. My advice always to politicians is not to see politics as a profession but to practice it as a way of offering service to the society. It is important for every politician to have alternative means of livelihood. As educated persons, we all have our various areas of calling; what we learnt in school is what we should use to build a society and that is what I call ‘people’s profession’. For me, I am an ICT professional of repute. I belong to all professional organisations in the ICT field, and I cannot after over a decade of practice abandon my profession and career and go into just plain politics. Like I said, politics is supposed to be everybody’s concern; we are all supposed to be involved; not just to be passers-by. What is politics? Politics is what defines our environment, what defines our nation. It defines where people belong. As an ICT professional, a medical professional, as a legal professional, you are supposed to be concern about what happens within the polity, because what happens in politics affects what happens to your profession. It also affects what happens to you even in your farm. So, I would say, for me, going into politics, is only complementary to my profession.
I have always participated in politics actively since 2003. I have contested positions including the House of Representatives in 2015, where we were rigged-out. However, for me, it is not about just going to taste politics; it is about correcting the anomalies in the system.
You talked about vying for the same position in 2015, but were allegedly rigged out. Why did you settle for the same platform, APC, which is considered not too popular in Enugu?
I don’t know where you got the impression from that APC is not popular in the zone where I come from, the Southeast or Enugu State in particular. Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion but I know for sure that as at the time we were running election in 2015, APC wasn’t as popular as it is today, in the South –east and in Enugu in particular. The reason is quite obvious.
It was a new party; a merger of different parties coming together and PDP has been on for 16 years, so naturally they have been able to permeate the length and breadth of the country, especially in the Southeast. Of course, you know in the zone, we don’t have any alternative party prior to the merger, unlike the Southwest that had ACN waxing very strong, winning state governorship elections, and House of Representatives elections and unlike the north where you have CPC waxing very strong as well. APGA has been in the Southeast but only in Anambra State. It has always been like an Anambra party, it wasn’t like a party of the Igbo. But what I can assure you now is that as we speak, APC has quietly permeated the length and breadth of the Southeast. As we speak, there is no ward in Enugu State without significant presence of APC.
Let me talk about Enugu State where I come from and I know that the story is not different in states like Imo where we have a governor. Abia is 50:50 APC, PDP, and when you come to state like Anambra, Anambra has strong presence of APC. When you go to Ebonyi, it is the same story and it is even being mooted that the governor would soon be joining the APC. Even as we speak, it has also been mooted that my own governor, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is also showing some body language of being interested in joining. Why do they all want to join? You need to ask that fundamental question, because they are beginning to perceive APC as a threat to their second term ambition. In a state where there is no strong opposition, the incumbent government has no business thinking of joining the opposition in the state. As much as we are majority party in the centre, in my state, we are in the opposition, same as Abia, Ebonyi and Anambra. What I am telling you is that the story has changed. The narrative has changed. Enugu is no longer a one-party state. There is now strong and firm opposition in Enugu State. APC is deep rooted in the state because we have very strong and vibrant politicians that have joined the party. People like Ken Nnamani, you cannot have someone who has been a Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being in a political party and you say that party is not relevant in that state. We have former governors that have joined; Jim Nwobodo and Sullivan Chime are all members of APC. We have very strong and prominent Nigerians like Special Adviser to the President on Justice Sector – Mrs. Juliet Mekaku. She is a member of APC and she is very strong rooted in her constituency and they have people and of course, my humble self, I have ran for election before, like I told you. I have been perceived as a big threat to the incumbent governor. He has approached me several times trying to lure me into PDP.
You have talked about prominent members of APC, who have helped to build up the reputation of the party in the region, but we also know that the party has been in crisis in the last couple of months. How do you reconcile the two?
Well, there is no family without quarrels, that’s what I can tell you. Even your own biological family I am sure that not all of you agree on some issues and that does not mean that your family is broken. What we have in Enugu State since I know you may be referring to states like Enugu where is perceived to have factions is that I earlier told you that there are some politicians that are known for political trading; for politics of settlement by the party in power. So what they do is that they come together, generate some noise, attract the attention of the government in power and they are called to settlement and before you know, they would just extinguish like fire; all of a sudden, the party would just fizzle out and they would wait for another political season, they resurface again, make some noise, get settled and go to sleep. Those people have been there before even some of us joined APC, so that is what is playing out in Enugu.