Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Enugu East Senatorial Election during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elecions, Prince Lawrence Ezeh, has said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) no longer enjoys the monopoly of political control in the South East. He spoke against the background of the outcome of the elections.
Considering that the South East is the stronghold of the PDP, why are you crying wolf over the outcome of Enugu East Senatorial election?
When you say the South East is the PDP hub, one will say well, maybe your statement is actually drawn from the fact that it has been PDP-dominated environs, in fact, since this present political dispensation in 1999. But the truth remains that if you look at Anambra State which obviously is part of the South East, for a couple of years running now, it has not been a PDP state. If you look at Imo State, Okorocha took the bull by the horn and the state, for the past eight years running now, ceased to be a PDP state as well. So, you are now left with just three states in the South East which are Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states as the only states that are PDP-controlled states. So, when people talk about the issue of being a PDP state and all that, I must be very frank with you, it has changed. There is this general saying that the only thing that is constant in life is change. And I must also be very frank to make you understand that the position of party configuration in Enugu State where I come from has so quickly changed because all along, it has always been a PDP-controlled Federal Government and a PDP-controlled state government. And once you are treated so badly in the party, you will have no choice than to stick with the party. They will rub it on your face because you don’t have any other alternative platform, since wherever you go, they still go either way to change the results or do so many things and all that.
Most of us actually believed that getting into the APC obviously will provide us a different platform and it will give us an opportunity of having our votes count. But surprisingly, what happened during the elections was a sham.
Since the APC is the ruling party, one would have expected it should take over the government apparatus. Why the PDP?
That I cannot explain. But from the information that we gathered, we learnt that it had to do with money because most people who came around to assist the party in taking care of the party compromised.
It is also expected that the APC should have the upper hand in terms of financial power than the PDP. What happened?
Between you and I, we actually expected same. But when it comes to the financial aspect of it, obviously, the PDP had so much money that they were buying votes in public glare. It wasn’t hidden. You see a man who is having a whole lot of money on his chest, buying votes and paying for votes and all that: N1, 000, some even up to N5, 000 per vote depending on your personality and all that.
Did they also buy votes against President Buhari?
We are saying the same thing. This is an election that took place simultaneously. If we have had a normal election in Enugu State, there was no way Mr. President wouldn’t have done a minimum of 40 percent. If he had done so badly in Enugu, he would have at least secured very comfortably 40 percent. But we had a governor who was going in and out of Aso Rock, promising that he was going to give him 30 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent as the case may be because he felt that oh, maybe there will be some kind of Federal Government’s might that will come to the state and might possibly stop some of his antics and all the already programmed political machinery that he has put in place. It looked like the Federal Government actually bought his cheap proposal and before they knew what was happening; Mr President was battling to get up to 12 percent. In most of the polling units, the result sheets were not there.
So, the PDP governor had an understanding with the presidency?
I wouldn’t know whether it was an understanding. But I know he has been putting up a whole lot of proposal to the Federal Government that he wants to work with the APC. And at some point, he started getting confused with the issue that it appears that Atiku Abubakar is going to win, that he has the support of the international community.
You mean he was involved in anti-party activities?
Well, as you can see, the results proved otherwise.
Looking at the calibre of the politician you slugged it out with during the election; a former governor of Enugu State for eight years, with his Ebeano political structure still intact, don’t you think people will feel you are just making empty noise?
Anybody who has been in Enugu for the past couple of years would have known that I am not an easy push over. They would have known that I wasn’t making noise. Actually, the governor promised Chimaroke to relax himself in America; that he was going to deliver him and bring Certificate of Return to him in America. Chimaroke never took part in PDP primaries, he never took part in any of the INEC exercises, he just returned to Nigeria on the 27th of December. Why? It was because he saw the level of firepower my campaign was coming with. They had to inform him that ‘look, if you don’t come back to Nigeria, if you are waiting there for your governor to win position and bring the certificate of return to you in America, obviously, you are bound to lose entirely.’ So, he had no choice than to run down.
If you are familiar with Enugu politics and you ask anybody in Enugu to tell you who presumably would have won the senatorial election, they will tip me as number one. So, it is not about his political family. Of course, he has got this political family for years and he has lost election twice.