NASS Election: Anioma people spoke loudly enough, says Nwoko
The senator-elect for Delta North district, Prince Ned Nwoko, told GODWIN IJEDIOGOR in Asaba that his election was not unexpected, being the only candidate that went around the district campaigning, even as he alleged that Labour Party (LP) rigged the result in some places
Looking back at the presidential election and the seeming inability of your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to reconcile at the national level, would you say PDP floundered again, because just like in 2019, it had the opportunity to return to power after losing in 2015, but that did not work?
Well, the matters are in court and we have to wait for the outcome of the court hearings to come to any conclusions. We had a good outing. I have no doubt that the results in those states where elections were rigged and manifestly rigged, will be set aside and the right results announced.
So, anything can happen. It is not time to start blaming anybody in the party. Yes, there were disagreements even in All Progressives Congress (APC); they had disagreements too.
Apart from you saying that the presidential candidate of the LP, Peter Obi, would take PDP votes, you were also one of those who did not consider him as a force. In fact, you said those in the Southeast would not come out to vote, but we saw in the election that they were massively mobilised. So, what actually played out?
The fact remains that LP, yes, they mobilised. We have seen the results, but as many people have said, it is inconceivable that one party would have 97 per cent in one state. It is not possible even in the North. You can’t imagine Atiku getting 97 per cent or Tinubu. You saw what happened in Lagos.
So, I think that to a large extent, there were massive riggings, because there is no other explanation of how somebody could get 97 per cent; these are hallmark of writing results. BVAS has failed because we went into the elections being upright, waiting for BVAS, for results to be transmitted and all that, but we did not know that they were going to write results manually and announce results the way they did. If INEC had lived up to their promise, I am sure the results would have been different.
How do you feel about your election as senator for Delta North and the challenge posed by the LP to you and your party generally in the district?
Well, Anioma people spoke loudly enough and my emergence was what was expected; anything else would have been a surprise. I campaigned; I was on this for over eight months. I made myself available for the people to know me more.
We know that LP did not campaign; in fact, others did not campaign, except APC at some point. So, the fact that LP had a good outing was just part of the Obi phenomenon. But that was just for the presidential election, I don’t expect the same thing for the remaining elections.
The PDP as a party is relatively in control at the state and I expect it to produce the governor and majority of the House of Assembly members. This would be the real grassroots election that is coming up. As I said before, the presidential election has come and gone; we know what transpired and why LP seemed to have had a good outing.
So, we are putting things in place to checkmate that.
We hear that the LP candidate whose name is not in the INEC list is taking you to court and do you not think the election would have been tougher had the APC candidate, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi not been imprisoned?
It is a shame that Nwaoboshi is in prison, but if he was out there, I am sure the election would have been better for me. As I have said severally, I don’t want to emerge by default; I don’t want to emerge in a system somebody would describe just the way you just mention it now. Nwaoboshi is not Ned Nwoko and Ned Nwoko is not Nwaoboshi. We all have our areas of influence; we all know what we are capable of doing.
Anioma people voted for me and they also know him, and so they would have had to make a choice, and the choices are so glaring. I have no issue with Nwaoboshi being out; I was looking forward to him being out, as a matter of fact. That is why I never took anything for granted;
I campaigned as if it was the last fight. There was nowhere I did not touch, I basically did what I thought was right not only with PDP members, but also all the other groups, like NUT, community leaders, traditional rulers, market women, NULGE, religious groups, you name them.
There was no group I did not host. So, I campaigned and I think I deserve the result I got.From all I know from the final list published by INEC, there was no candidate for LP. If anybody is claiming to be the candidate of LP, then the courts would decide.
How are you going to ensure spread of the projects, especially in your constituency when you move to Abuja?
I have a nationalistic outlook over things; I always do. You only need to go back to my bills when I was in the House of Representatives. I am not sectional. When it comes to making laws, I always look at those laws that would affect everybody, something like the minimum wage bill, disability allowance, subvention for young entrepreneurs and reforms within the judiciary and education sector.
For me, everything would be about Nigeria, and always will be about Nigeria, because we cannot build a nation by focusing on one part of the country. After we were given our certificates, we had a meeting as senators-elect and I said I hope we are not going to go into the 10th Assembly on a party-line basis. I said it must be about Nigeria and Nigerians and what we have to do to address the issues raised by Obi’s followers, those issues that we also know, which have come to the fore now.
But when it comes to constituency projects, for example, I cover nine local government areas and I must ensure that each area gets a fair share of what is available to the senatorial district. Of course, there are some areas that require special attention, like the Ndokwa nation, because of the oil exploration, gas flaring, environmental degradation and the flood that affect riverine communities, from Oko axis all the way to Okpai, Aboh, going towards Warri.
So, one would need to look at things as they affect people generally. I am not oblivious of, for example, the issue of the dredging of River Niger. It is something that I would tackle head on, because we cannot be waiting for flood to come and properties and lives to be lost every time.
I am not going to be talking about dredging when it comes to my area; it is a national issue that must be addressed. I think about 12 states on the whole, from Benue down to Edo, Delta, Bayelsa and so on. My office is for Nigeria and Nigerians.