By Chijioke Agwu
Ebonyi State Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Okoro-Emegha is Currently the Acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) . In this interview, he spoke on his efforts to unite and reposition the former opposition party in the state ahead of 2023 general elections, among other topical political issues.
The new APC in Ebonyi is barely one week, what is your immediate challenge as the acting Chairman?
Immediately my team was inaugurated, I hit the ground running by meeting with the former executives of the party starting from the local government, zonal to the state level. I made it very clear to them that the more we are in number, the stronger we will be. I assured them that no one will be left behind because we are running a one united APC family in Ebonyi under the leadership of Governor David Umahi. I explained to them the importance of working together and helping ourselves because party is built on people and not on the air. The next target for me and my team is to tour the 13 local government areas of the state to meet with our party leaders, members and supporters to know how they are faring and what could be done to make the party stronger in the various local government areas of the state. During the tour, we will make sure that each local government area has a comfortable and befitting local government office. When we visit any local government and their office is not befitting, we will immediately make arrangement for a new office. This is the immediate challenge before me now and I hope to complete the assignment in few week time.
As a government that started as PDP, what are you going to do to make sure that those reluctant to join APC will declare for your party?
You know for now those who are saying that they are not going to APC are just few. Very insignificant number and we believe very strongly that they still need some explanation. And we are still reaching out to everybody to ensure that even the very few number who are yet to see what we are seeing will come to the point where we are, and understand that APC is the best for Ebonyi people now and indeed, the South East in general.
Before now, the APC in the state was factionalised. One was led by Senator Ucha and another by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. What are you going to do to bring the two factions to work together because without that, the party will have serious problem forging ahead in Ebonyi?
You know all the factions have been dissolved by the National Working Committee of the party. And Chief Ogbonnaya Onu is an elder statesman in the party whose innermost wish for the party is the unity and progress of the party. Ogbonnaya Onu is not someone who is difficult to work with when you want the best for the party. Already, many influential stakeholders of the party are working with us including Senator Ucha, Chief Edward Nkwegu, Senator Anthony Agba and so many others. So, I can assure you that we all are going to work together for the overall interest of the party in the state.
A section of APC stakeholders in Onicha local government area have petitioned the National Caretaker Chairman of the party protesting the dissolution of the council’s elected executives. Are you aware and what is your take on that?
APC is a party that works based on constitution and I believe very strongly that the dissolution of the local government executives by the national leadership of the party was done in line with the constitution of the party. And I believe that the dissolution of the former state and local government excos was the best for the party to pave way for a truly united APC to emerge in Ebonyi. The process is already on course and very soon even those who are still angry will understand that it is the best for them and the party. And we are very prepared to work with everyone.
You are coming at a critical time in the politics of the state when a ruling party is becoming an opposition party. And PDP has been the party of all in the state. What are you going to do to convince our people that APC is better than PDP?
There is no difference between APC and PDP; there are just political platforms. The only difference is that in PDP, one man decides what happens in the party and expects others to work like slaves. While we are happy with the governor is that he has performed very well as a governor. So, I am assuring our people that now he is in APC, he is not going to change. He will continue to work for the development of Ebonyi State .He will even perform better now that he is in the ruling party. If as an opposition governor he achieved the level of infrastructural development he achieved in the state then, imagine what he will do now he is in the ruling party. Our concern should be the continued development of our dear state and that was one of the reasons that motivated the governor to join the APC. PDP has little to offer us now as a state and as a zone. Our governor understands these and that was the reason he moved to the APC to connect us directly to the centre so that we will get the full benefit of the government. This is what I want our people to understand. The governor’s interest is no longer the state. If he wants to contest for Senate, it is a gift because nobody can challenge him in Ebonyi South. He has made us proud. And if he wants to contest for president of this country, we should be very proud of it that an Ebonyi man is competent and qualified and has the clout to contest for Nigeria’s president. This Ebonyi they used to see as a relegated state, that someone can come out boldly to contest for president, it is a thing of honour and I will be happy to witness it.
Is like we are going to witness another political crisis like what we saw in 2003 when the Abuja group headed by the then Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius fought the state group headed by then Governor Sam Egwu. The Abuja group has emerged again and they appear ready to oppose the governor to the end. How can we pull through without violence?
All these things are practical things. We are all aware of these. None of the National assembly members made it to Abuja without the efforts and goodwill of the governor. Do any of them have capacity to win even a councillorship election? Is it not the love the people have for the governor that made all of them to win their elections. Did Sam Egwu for instance know how he won his election? None of them has the capacity to convince the people to vote for them? Now they have gone to Abuja and they started feeling that they have arrived. Arrived what? Elections are not conducted in Abuja. We are waiting for them in 2023; let us see how they will win election in Abuja. What have they done in their various zones and constituencies since they were elected?