Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Leader of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Victor Chukwu, represents Ezza North West Constituency. In this interview, the two-time lawmaker gives insight on the 7-day ultimatum the Assembly recently issued to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South East, and other interesting political developments in the state and the nation at large.
Ebonyi State House of Assembly recently gave the leadership of the PDP seven days to zone the party’s 2023 presidential ticket to the South East or face great losses and consequences. What is actually happening?
The consequences and losses that the PDP will face in this state will be too enormous if that ultimatum is not strictly adhered to. I can’t tell you for certain what the consequences will be as I am not the leader of the party in the state. But I am very certain that the losses the party will face in this state will be very severe because in the first place, they would have established deceit, pretence and unfairness and injustice towards the South East zone. Everything you do on earth comes back to you. Nobody is a fool. If they have been pretending to us; part of the losses will be a reciprocation of that pretence. So, whatever they are going to sow, they will reap from now henceforth from the zone. The South East zone invested so much for the formation and contributed greatly to the growth and spread of the PDP in Nigeria. But what have we got in return? Nothing, but deceit! And it is sheer wickedness on the part of the leaders of the party to think that the South East zone cannot be president.
There’s been insinuation that all these are coming up because of the Governor’s rumoured imminent defection to the APC. If that happens, what will the members of the House do considering that the state has voted for PDP since 1999?
Ebonyi was created in 1996. At the point of creation, there was no PDP. There was DPN and others and they all ran elections and won. In 1998, PDP came and in the local government elections conducted, the PDP won nine out of 13 local government areas of the state. So, in 1999, PDP had only nine local governments. We lost Izzi, Ikwo, Afikpo South and Ohaozara local government areas to APP. The party didn’t fall from heaven; it is the individuals that make up the party and the main essence of joining that party was to protect our interest. If for 21 years people have been paying their dues without a reward, then we are fools, if we continue that way. We can’t continue doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. If we don’t win elections, will that bring to an end the state called Ebonyi? We must not always win elections but we must show our people a sense of direction; our people must know where we are standing. It is not about winning elections all the time. If a Yoruba man and Hausa man and an Ijaw man can rule this nation and heaven didn’t fall, an Igbo man should also be given opportunity to do same. Igbo people are not in any way lesser than any other zones in this country. So, it is not about winning election, it is about standing up for our people. And the time is now.
There are unconfirmed reports that some members of the House are not happy with the ultimatum issued to the party as well as the rumoured defection of the governor to another party. Are you sure this development will not divide the house and cause a political crisis in the state?
You see, we have 24 adults in the House from 24 different backgrounds and ideologies in the House. And these people are fully developed individuals. If I have a vision, the most I can do is to let you know about my vision, if you like it fine; if you don’t like it, no problem. You are entitled to your opinion. It’s democracy that we are talking about. Nobody is going to lord it over anyone. The House of Assembly is an arm of the government with different set of people making up the Assembly. So, if anyone does not feel what we are feeling, it does not change anything. But, I don’t think from the look of things that there is any Ebonyi House of Assembly member who will not wish the best for the Igbo race. This struggle is about Igbo interest and nothing more. And it behoves us as leaders to protect the interest of our people at this critical time in the history of this nation. And the governor does not need the nod of anybody to defect to any political party of his choice. It is his right to associate and belong to any political party of his choice. So, if few members of the House say no to that, it does not change anything. It depends on his conviction. This man you are talking about is a governor who is in the mainstream of the nation’s politics. He sees what you are not seeing and he knows what you don’t know. If in his political calculations he chooses to defect to another party, nobody can do anything about it. And the opinions and decisions of others are inconsequential.
Some people say that the PDP and some other political parties are reluctant to zone their presidential tickets to the South East because of the poor voting strength of the zone. What can you say about this?
What do you mean by that? You know when you talk about the Igbo people, it is not limited to the five South East States. We have Igbo all over; we have Igbo in Kogi, Benue, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states. Meanwhile, the Fulani man that is the president now, is his race the most populous? The Yoruba that has ruled this country, is their ethnic group the most populous? The Ijaw man that just handed over to Buhari, is his ethnic group the biggest and most populous? No. The issue of poor voting capacity does not come to play here. We are talking about equity. We are talking about fairness, and justice. What have we not suffered in this nation? Our late father, Dr. Alex Ekwueme sacrificed a lot for the formation of the party only to be short-changed at the Convention ground. Yet, he didn’t leave the party. We followed him and continued to support the party; 20 years down the line, the same party is still short-changing our people. It is about time we are rewarded for our consistency and loyalty and support for the party. We will say no to any other arrangement outside zoning of the presidential ticket to the zone. We will resist it.
The 2023 general elections hold a lot of promises for the people of the South East zone; how do you want the leaders of the zone to approach the elections in order to get it right this time?
This is what I want us to do. We should collectively demand that every political party should zone their presidential ticket to the South East. Somebody said recently what if they zone the ticket to the South East and the person loses the elections? My position is this; give us the ticket, let’s go to the main election and fail. It will not be the first time somebody will be losing presidential elections. Abiola failed before Obassanjo won. Buhari had failed presidential elections many times before he won in 2015 and again in 2019. Goodluck Jonathan failed in 2015. Atiku Abubakar just failed presidential election in 2019 and the world didn’t come to an end. I am appealing that every political party should zone their tickets to the South East, to give us a sense of belonging; to show that we have a nation. You can’t continue to suppress a region in a nation and you still call that country a nation. The Igbo have shown more patriotism, citizenship and contributed to the economic and political development of this country than any other tribe. Go to the most remote part of the North; an Igbo man’s house and business are there. Go to Yoruba land, it is the same. What is our offence for crying out loud?
Which zone do you think should produce the next governor of Ebonyi state come 2023?
Even though, I am not the leader of the party in the state and any time my opinion on that is sought by the leader of the party, I will give my opinion on that. However, it is not for nothing that through divine orchestration, the state has been witnessing smooth transition from one senatorial district to another since 1999; starting from Ebonyi North, to Central and now in Ebonyi South. I think it is just natural and fair that we continue on that line because it will help to reduce political tension in the state. I advise that the existing rotational principle be allowed to continue to avoid chaos and reduce political tension in the state.