‘There Will Be No Landslide, But PDP Will Win’
What do you think will be the outcome of next month’s presidential election?
It might be a very close contest, but at the end of the day, President Goodluck Jonathan will still win
Can you expatiate, because Dr. Alex Ekwueme recently said Jonathan would not going the kind of votes he polled in 2011 in the Southeast?
A corollary to that will be that (Gen. Muhammadu) Buhari is not going to poll the kind of votes he polled in the North in 2011. That is the counter-balance.
In 2011, it was because Buhari rode on the sentiment of religion and that the North said, “it was our turn.” But a lot has happened between then and now, especially the Boko Haram.
We have seen the devastating effect of Boko Haram on both Muslims and predominantly on Christians. That means there would be a shift in the voting pattern in the North.
Now, Christians in the North have seen what Boko Haram is all about and also the Muslims themselves, who are also affected, have seen that what they thought that wouldn’t concern them now concerns them.
Are the atrocities of Boko Haram not a sign of failure of leadership?
It is not a failure of leadership; the leadership is doing a lot, but can you see what the investment in our defence budget was over the years?
Initially when Boko Haram started, the Army was complaining that they were not well armed. But now, gradually arms are coming in, so the Boko Haram thing will be over very quickly.
But the effect it has had before was not a failure of Jonathan, but a failure of past regimes not investing in our military.
As an Igbo leader, do you think Jonathan has done enough for the Igbo? Does he deserve their votes again to give him the kind of support in 2011?
Yes. As an Igbo leader, I will say he may not have done much to the best of our expectations, but he had done quite a lot.
For the last four years, he has spent more on strategic issues- power, transportation, aviation, agriculture, education, etc.
The railway is crossing from Port Harcourt to Enugu and we would benefit from this strategic project.
The second Niger Bridge is starting and it is very basic to us. The Enugu Airport had been upgraded to an international airport.
He hasn’t built one industry in Owerri or Okigwe or Orlu. This is what some people are looking at.
But the federal roads from Owerri to Aba and Owerri to Port Harcourt are under construction. These are very basic things that are by far better than some small individual projects.
So many educational institutions in the southeast are getting a face-life, courtesy of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Having said that, we believe that in the next four years of Jonathan, we would begin to have tasty projects for Imo State.
As head of Jonathan’s campaigns in an All Progressive Congress (APC) state, do you think it would be easy to convince people not to vote for Governor Rochas Okorocha and APC?
No, no, no! It is not at all difficult, because Okorocha is not really doing well, and that is our message to the people, who may think he is doing well, when you consider the amount of money coming to the state.
Are there any basic economic investments in Imo State for almost four years now, something that would boost the economy? We are not talking of the showmanship of building halls, conference centres, square, etc.
Look at the free education programme. Parents are indirectly paying more than what they were paying in the past. You have registration fee, acceptance fee and so many others and at the end, it is more than what they were supposed to be paying.
Because of this election, he said in November that all those fees would be abolished.
But that is not sustainable.
In the state university, because of free education, indigenes are getting less admission there so as to reduce the amount and then for non-indigenes, they hike their fees. These are vivid things, gimmicks the people don’t know about.
These are some of the deceits going on that we are definitely going to expose.
Most Imo people are already beginning to understand. There is so much hunger in the state today. So, whoever is getting something from the government is bound to tell you that he (Okorocha) is popular.
But I can tell you that when the chips are down, even the people working in this government will vote against the governor and the APC.
But there seems to be a lot of in-fighting in PDP itself after the governorship primary?
PDP is a very democratic party and about 70 per cent of politicians in Imo belong to PDP. It is where you find internal democracy being practised. I’m not saying we have got it all right, but at least there is a semblance of internal democracy.
There is bound to be in-fighting in very rigorous and competitive primaries. In APC, there is nothing like a primary; it is a one-man show.
You can imagine a party where the governor went to contest for the presidency and they reserved the governorship for him.
When he failed getting the presidential ticket and nomination as the running mate, he came back and collected the governorship ticket that had been reserved for him.
So, the in-fighting is healthy and right now, those who were aggrieved have gradually started coming back.
I prefer that to seeing where one man sits down and says you are going for the senate for Orlu, you, you are going for the House of Representatives for Owerri Central.
That is not democracy; it is pure dictatorship and tells you the bondage many of them are under. That is why I am telling you many of them in APC will never work for Okorocha.
What do you call popularity? What is happening is not popularity; people are looking for their daily bread. We know that most of those supporting him are not sincere. Some of them have already declared for us and more will as the campaigns pick up.
Why did you leave the APC?
That is a different ball game. After forming APC, honestly, we derailed along the line. The principles under which we formed APC were no longer tenable.
I wasn’t the only person who left; some other leaders, we all formed APC together also left.
I don’t regret it. I wish them well; many of them are still my friends. We talk all the time and at times, we meet. It is not a do-or-die affair.
So, I cannot stay here and tell you APC is made up of rubbish people and all that. No! It is a matter of principle.
The issue is that we were nursing a party we felt will have pure internal democracy that is not built around anybody. I won’t be in a party built around one man or two people.
I will like to be in a party, like PDP, which even with all its own problems, you cannot say is owned by one man.
But a lot of prominent PDP people also left to APC, because of lack of internal democracy?
Yes, it depends on what you understand by internal democracy. They didn’t leave PDP because one man probably was dominating PDP; they left because of some internal crises. Every party is bound to have such men.
Today, no matter what happened or how aggrieved or annoyed I am about some of the internal things happening in the PDP, I still feel a bit more comfortable that there is no one ‘oracle’ that owns PDP.
Jonathan is going to win landslide in Imo. For the governorship, It will be PDP first, APGA second before APC.
Under a free and fair election, which INEC has promised us, there is no way this (Okorocha’s) government will stay one day further.
What steps are you taking to avoid a repeat of the post-election violence of 2011?
I think that is where I would appeal to all Nigerians. It is going to be a truly tough contest between APC and PDP.
Remember, I am one of the founding fathers of APC and before we came to form APC, there were a lot of consultations aimed at creating two strong parties, so that Nigerians would have a first choice, and also so that we can get real democracy, with each party checkmating the other.
There will be no landslide, the way I see it. It will be tough; it will be close, but PDP will win. And if that happens, our appeal to everybody is to avoid post-election violence.
So, I appeal to all Nigerians never to allow violence to thrive, because one innocent blood shed is a minus for the country. And in all cases, it is not the presidential candidates that die, but ordinary people on the streets who don’t even know what is at stake, who were brainwashed and made to fight in the name of religion, regionalism, tribalism, etc.