What Wike seeks is justice – Anyanwu
Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the National Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this interview with LEO SOBECHI explains the conflict in the party and efforts to unite varying interests before the elections.
• The Candidate, Not PDP, Decides How To Run His Campaign
• ‘My Fears About PDP, 2023 Poll’
• Imo PDP Crisis Will Be Resolved Before 2024 Guber
What is your secret to managing a crisis-ridden party like PDP, how has it helped you to manage the party?
Well, first of all, by my character and conduct, I work very well under pressure. So, no matter the circumstances, I don’t lose my mind and I don’t lose focus, because I know that in everything you do in life there must be distractions, even when you are reading in your library your little child can distract you. I don’t get distracted and I don’t talk too much, because when you open your mouth so wide, you make a lot of mistakes. That is my guiding principle, and that is why I’ve been able to manage the situation.
And, besides, everywhere I go, as I told you when I was Local Council chairman, what they know me for is action. I make an impact on people’s lives, I make sure those who work around me are happy, and I have no cause to think evil against you. When people around you are not happy with you, you will be their next target not even from your home.
Being close to Governor Wike, what is his mindset regarding what is happening in PDP that is keeping everybody on the edge? Is Wike going to work against the presidential candidate of the PDP inside PDP or what?
Well, first of all, I am not God to know a man’s mindset. Two, Wike is a man of his own, we are just friends, he is my very close friend, and he still remains my friend and will still be my friend. That does not mean that I control what he does or that I control his mindset or I’ll predict what he will do next.
But, as a matter of fact, even this afternoon, if you had watched AIT, he just said, that he still remains in PDP and he can never go anywhere. He is supporting PDP, he is not fighting the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate, but he is asking for equity and justice and that is what he just said and he must have spoken his mind to Nigerians. So, I wouldn’t know what next.
All I know is that Wike is not a pretender. That I can tell you. He is a man that shows strength, he doesn’t hide his feelings. If he is angry, you will know he is angry, if he is happy you will know he is happy, but to go and backbite or be inside PDP and destroy PDP, that can never be Wike that I know.
From what Wike is saying, based on promises made before the convention and what happened subsequently; like the appointment of the Director General of the presidential campaign organisation, it gives the idea that some people in PDP want to be new owners. How do you feel about all these intricate demands and interests?
Well, I am at the helm of the administration of the party secretariat. We have conducted a convention, a candidate has emerged and the presidential campaign council has also been rolled out. Our job, more or less, is to be midwife, we have midwives at the convention and we have been able to get a presidential candidate. So, whatever appointments that have been made so far, have nothing to do with me.
It is the candidate, of course, that decides how to run his campaign. Where we are involved, we will get involved. It is not that we are there to dictate who is going to be Director General or who is going to be this or that.
As we speak, my job is to concentrate to ensure that the secretariat, nationwide and things are moving smoothly, any other thing that has to do with side politics, I am not part of it.
What could be your fears for PDP, and by extension the 2023 elections?
Well, to be honest with you, it is not going to be business as usual. In the past, when you get a PDP ticket you go home and sleep, but a lot of interests are coming up. A lot of new political developments have evolved and to be honest with you, all our prayers are for our party to win.
But, we need to work hard, the party needs to be together, there should be understanding, there should be tolerance and there should be sacrifices made. So, that way, I think that if I sleep, I can wake up and say PDP is heading somewhere.
As we speak, even in an ordinary family, when a wife and a husband are quarrelling, and fighting, nobody will go to the kitchen to go and cook, the children will be hungry, and there won’t be peace in that family until the children see their father and their mother holding hands together, cracking jokes.
By then, if you hear, go and bring firewood, the person will quickly go and bring, go and bring water, the person will quickly go and get water. So, we need peace, we need cohesion, I pray it will come soon because it will help our party.
Your party, PDP in Imo State, is also in crisis, yet the State Working Committee seems divided ahead of the 2024 election. Are there moves to get the party together before the election, knowing that PDP is also in opposition…
Even PDP shouldn’t be divided in the first place. You know human beings have whatever interest they want to protect. The major problem is someone trying to have this entitlement mentality. Party is not run that way, that is why it is called a party. It is for everybody. And, this idea of when you have an advantage, you want to use it against the interest of the entire people, it is what is causing problems in Imo PDP.
But, I have stepped in as the national secretary of the party, all the states in Nigeria administratively are under me. You know usually, even biblically, it is said that a prophet is not honoured in his home. There are areas you go, you use a sledgehammer, and there are areas you go, you want to use the mop. So, you just try to work on the psyche of the people, to understand that this is a party, to understand that we need to work together, to understand that divided we fall and united we stand.
Yet, I keep telling people, until you kill the bush meat, there is nothing to share. If PDP, God forbids, loses the Presidency tomorrow, who is talking about the minister, who is talking about the chairman, it will be to your tents oh Israel. But, if we succeed and win, everybody will now talk, at least you will be sure that your state will get a minister of PDP extraction, that minister will get SA, it will be from his/her own state, or get PA and all that. So, we must work together and what we have been preaching is peace, down to the state level.
In our state chapters, there must be unity, it is not only in Imo State, there are some other states where you have some factions going on. You know two captains can never be in one boat.
Certain forces played in your emergence as the secretary of the party. Don’t you think that the division in the party may negatively affect the conduct of a credible governorship primary in the state?
I am the PDP national secretary, I belong to no camp. Wike is my friend, Atiku is my candidate and my friend too because we all knew each other even when I ran for the first governorship election. So, my job is to play the role of statesmanship, to ensure that people come together.
Wike is not in enmity with Atiku, Wike is not in enmity with the party, he has his own message he is sending. So, it does not mean anybody who is associating with him is an enemy of the party.
How much challenge would unyielding factors play in the party’s preparation for the 2024 governorship election in Imo State?
Well, I believe that before the primaries, things will get better and the truth of the matter is ordinarily, Imo State is predominantly a PDP state, make no mistake about it.
However, Imo people are resisting the constant display of an individual running for the same position when there are so many other people. So, what it means is that you are telling the world that PDP cannot have other people that are qualified. And, what we are asking the party is, to allow a level playing ground so that somebody will emerge through the love of the people. If the person goes out to run against the party in power, obviously PDP is going to win.
But, I can never predict doom for the party, I am at the helm of affairs. I am already optimistic that we are going to win and I believe that no quarrel that cannot be reconciled. The process of reconciliation is in progress and I believe at the right time everybody will come together so that whoever gets the party’s ticket, of us will put their hands together to ensure that PDP gets the victory.
One thing is to get the ticket and another thing is to win the election, because like I said before, if you get the ticket of the PDP, just like NPP (Nigeria Peoples Party) in those days, you will go and sleep, just like in the last few years when APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) came on board in Imo.
I knew a colleague of mine, who was in the House of Assembly, APGA just fielded his name, they were looking for people to fill out their forms and he was in Port Harcourt. He was called that he has won the election, he didn’t even campaign.
So, the time for such has gone. There is a lot of political awareness, people are now beginning to choose who they want. People are picking individuals who they will support, no longer about the party.
Therefore, if your party has more credible candidates, that means that that party is going to sweep the entire place. That is why it is good to bring out people who can win elections for a party. It will be devoid of sentiments, because when you bring in the issue of sentiments and this idea of going for boardroom conspiracy to accuse somebody, backstab, blackmail, gossip, to grab a ticket, when you get that through that means, it will not stand when you go back home. Politics is not played in Abuja, politics is played back home and that is what I think.
What actually are you going to tell Nigerians when you go out to campaign to win them to your own side?
Talking about the campaign weapon or instruments we are going to use to talk to Nigerians, let me ask you: Your condition now and 16 years ago, which one is better?
APC (All Progressives Congress) came with a mantra of change. Have they changed? Yes, they have changed to the worst situation. It is only eight years the PDP left, the whole thing has degenerated, look at the insecurity.
Be honest, before, you enter a car, taxi, or bus to Kaduna, to everywhere, can you freely now, even in Imo State, big men don’t go home again. In the Southeast, Anambra, you must have a battalion and, even with your battalion, they will still kill. Was it like this before? So, we have a lot of things to talk about.
Under the watch of the PDP, Nigeria and Nigerians were secured. What is the rate of unemployment today? Look at the inflation, what was it when PDP was in power? Even you, as a journalist, no matter your pay, you can afford to send your child outside the country to go and school, even if it is not London, it would be Ghana. But, today most Nigerians cannot send their children to Ghana to go and school. A pound is almost N840, look at the dollar, who is talking about that anymore, so it is like that. Look at corruption going on, a vessel carrying how many trillions of oil, burnt down here.
In fact, a country where Nigerians have taken the protection of their lives and properties into their hands, their destiny, that is why you see states forming combatant people to look after their place. The security agencies have been demoralized, and have been overwhelmed.
It is a well-known fact that Southeast is the stronghold of PDP. Are you worried about the fortunes of the party in the zone in recent times?
It is a gradual thing as I said. In the Southeast, it is just like when you talk about the Southwest. The entire Southwest was APC apart from Oyo. Now, we have Osun State and we are hoping to get Ogun and Ondo. We are determined to regain them back, apart from Anambra which was just concluded. Of course, everybody knows that Anambra State is actually an APGA state based on sentiments and issues about (Ikemba Emeka) Ojukwu matter and all that.
So, about other states, how are you sure that tomorrow, our brother and our friend, the governor of Ebonyi State, who moved out of anger will not come back and we recover one?
In Imo, we are working hard. If we recover Imo, we have gotten back four states, so we are working on that, nobody is sleeping. We understand, as a people, that the South easterners love PDP. They prefer PDP at all costs, but you see, things have happened over the period and that is why I said it is about the person. If a party brings out a good product people will buy it, that is the truth.
There is no way you can go to market and want to buy this phone and yet this one has a scratch and this one doesn’t have a scratch and it is the same price, how will you go and leave the one that doesn’t have a scratch and buy the one that has a scratch.