From Marcus Nkire, Abuja
Chief Donatus Nwankpa is the Abia State chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he said Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration will be the last Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in the state.
We learnt APC is planning to hold a mega rally in Abia State. Can you tell us when this rally will hold?
The rally is expected to hold on the 9th of January 2018
What do you intend to achieve with the rally?
The aim of the rally is to propagate and sensitise the people about APC. It is also a platform to receive new members who have come into the party. The rally will give us the opportunity to open our new secretariat at no 38,Azikiwe by adelabu. For some time now the national members have not had the opportunity of coming to interact with the party members in Abia State, it will afford the national chairman, the president and leadership of the ruling party in Nigeria the opportunity to come to Abia. It will also give us the opportunity of letting them know the state of affairs in Abia State for the purpose of making Abia a better place.
There have been claims that the political situation in Abia State is a bit hazy especially considering the agitations for secession, what do you think?
Abia State was not restive; what actually happened was that there was conspiracy among the opposition governments in the south-east, trying to score cheap political point by using some people for the purpose of creating an opposition under the cover. The idea of secession and referendum is not easy to canvass. If the south-east is interested in referendum; which of these south-east leaders have met to discuss it and under what forum? What is the structure of the leadership and to what extent has there been a consensus? Has there been a legislative process? You saw for example the situation in Spain, with the people of Catalonia, who to a reasonable extent operate almost a Confederal system of government. So, what we just saw in the whole thing is that our people are interested in agitating for true federalism and increased participation of the state in developmental programmes, increased funds for the state levels and the autonomy of the various levels of government. That is where we stand. There is nothing like political restiveness.
Admittedly, there was a little period where some people for one reason or the other were brain-washed into instigating activities that created political tension in the state. But that has been arrested and the fact remains that it was not the collective will of the people. It was just a kind of personal vendetta, that was now capitalised upon by the PDP government and when the chips were down, they could not stand their ground and defend their action.
In that regards, we do not want to say that there is political uncertainty in Abia. Abia is a peaceful state. The police, the state security service and the Army are doing very well and all they need is the support of the government in Abia State to achieve better security and a more secured environment.
Prior to the Anambra elections there were talks of the APC slowly gaining popularity in the south-east. Don’t you think the party’s loss at the election has shown that it is not as popular as people thought?
There is what we call geometric progression and arithmetic progression. What happened in Anambra State showed reasonable level of progression; because in 2015, APC couldn’t have come third in Anambra, but by 2017 APC came second in the governorship election.
What really happened in 2017 was that President Muhammadu Buhari was able to win a democratic war. He scored high political points to show that he is one man, who believes in the will of the people; who is democratic. He never attempted to manipulate the election in any manner even when out of over-zealousness, the security of the governor was withdrawn; which is normal because during election period the governor is a normal candidate therefore, his security needed not be too domineering. Under normal circumstances, if the election were actually free and fair, if it was not manipulated by the opposition party, the governor and the electoral body he couldn’t have won in all the local governments.
Going back to your question, APC did not do badly. It was a reasonable progress. It shows that APC is the fastest growing party not just in the south-east, but the whole of Nigeria.
Many people in the south-east still feel that the zone is marginalised in terms of infrastructure and appointments. What is your take on such claims?
Well, my take is what Apostle Paul said ‘come let us reason together’. Politics is not given. It is a struggle for power. It determines how the resources are allocated and you must be part of that allocation, why do we say so? The south-east is the major opposition block zone, now the leaders from the south-east have come into the national politics. Recently, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s son joined the party and today he is heading a body and we know that in no time, if there are areas in appointment that the south-east deserve and the people who are there have shown their commitment, the south- east will not be left behind.
Talking about infrastructure, most of the things we emphasise on when we talk about infrastructure have to do with power, road, and transportation and so on. The south-east is now connected to the rail system, the road rehabilitation of the second Niger bridge project has just commenced. Then look at the judgement passed by the ECOWAS Court. This is a suit that was filed during the reign of Yar’Adua and Jonathan was in government for six years; it took the intervention of the president, who delegated the federal government lawyers to go and discuss with the agitators for the compensation of the south-east and at the end of the day over N86 billion was accepted, which included people who suffered disabilities during the war and other land mine threats, this is something that the south-east should appreciate.
Recently, the government announced the payment of gratuities and pensions to Biafra’s policemen, those policemen who lost their position because of the civil war; I think it is also a very welcomed development. If you get to the Umuahia express road, NDDC is doing a lot in Abia north. It is not as bad as people paint it but like Oliver Twist, we need more.
The PDP government in Abia State recently said that they have done very well, they claimed that have done exceptionally well so far. What is your opinion on that?
What the PDP government is doing is called the ‘theory of the lizard’, the lizard fell from the roof top and landed on the floor, when the lizard landed on the floor it looked right, left and center, when it found out that nobody was looking, it now nodded its head and concluded that it had done well. So, whether we like it or not the PDP government in Abia have not done well. The government of PDP for a long time has not favoured the people of Abia State and come 2019, the progressive government of APC will take over the state, because the out-going government in Abia is the last PDP government in the state.
Abians are fed up with whatever you call PDP and the wind of change cannot be blowing in other places and Abians will be an exception. The game is over for them. All they are doing is engaging in self celebration. If you go to the streets and get the opinions of the masses, you will understand that the PDP government is merely living on borrowed time.
The President recently said that Nigerians are insatiable. Do you think that is the true reflection of the nature of things in the nation?
Yes, I do. During the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, the general said that ‘money is not our problem but it is how we spend it’ and if you watch the income drive in Nigeria whether in recession or in abundance we have not lacked funds. What we have lacked is the discipline to manage those funds and the discipline to manage those funds will determine how far those funds will benefit the people and that is what President Buhari is speaking about.
The President has seen the books, records and has noticed the flaws in the system. Take for example; we are making a budget of N30 billion to maintain a hospital, at the end, the hospital does not get five percent of that budget when it is released, where does the money go to? If the problems that ought to have been solved had been solved without funds being diverted we will not be where we are now.
So, if the President is able to successfully combat corruption, it will be a much appreciated feat in the country. The major point of what the President is emphasising on is the need for Nigerians to have conscience; the need for Nigerians to show discipline and concern for their nation.
There has been this negative atmosphere as regards to corruption in the country. People have placed their personal interests over and above the nation. Let us have the national drive; the national attachment and the national concern towards our country, so that we can maintain our crown as the greatest country in Africa. Nigerians need to develop a spirit of nationalism and respect towards their fellow man; put the welfare of the people before their own personal interest.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar recently left PDP for APC, Do you think that APC is slowly losing its grip on its top members?
This is a laughable situation. What do you think about a woman who has married several husbands and leaves the latest for another, it certainly will not surprise anyone to hear that. It is in the character of Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria to move from one party to another. He was in PDP, then he went to ACN from there he went back to PDP then to APC and now he has gone back to PDP. And we are even waiting to see if he will go to Labour Party very soon. With that aside, he is a great man. He believes in mobility in politics. Secondly, this is a man with aspiration and there is nothing wrong if he feels that his aspirations can be achieved in another party. Politics is dynamic. There is no permanent friend and no permanent enemy, only a permanent interest. Apart from his political mobility, he is a great man, he is someone who has vision and interests and definitely feels that his aspirations could be achieved in PDP. But if PDP gets too hot for him, he will move to another party. For the APC, in order for the ship that was carrying Jonah to reach its destination, Jonah had to be offloaded. For us to get to our destination, a lot of Jonahs will be offloaded. We are not afraid of anybody leaving the party. We want to come together and build this party. Let’s not forget that a lot of people did not just come to APC because they like the name, they joined as a result of their personal interest and when their interests are not fulfilled, you cannot force them to stay. Politics is a game of adults and you cannot fault anybody for leaving a party in search of greener pastures. (The Sun)