OMEH: Only If Ndigbo Would Unite Like This On All Issues, All Will Be Well
The Director of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in Enugu, Chief Michael Omeh said that the pattern of voting in the presidential election shows that the Igbo can unite for a cause. A founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Omeh believes that the APC already has the numbers to remain a force in the Southeast.
As a founding member of the APC in the Southeast, how would you describe the membership base of the party? THE APC has a strong membership base.
I was initially involved in the registration of members in the 13 councils of Ebonyi State and did a lot to recruit members in most of the Southeast.
Today, I’m the campaign coordinator for the Buhari/Osibanjo Presidential Campaign in Enugu. The strength of the APC crowd in the Southeast was put on display when the president-elect, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari came to Enugu for his campaigns. People called it a rented crowd, but it was not.
We had youths; students and people came from the wards and villages for the rally. The people who stayed home were more than those the vehicles ferried to the rally.
Apparently, they didn’t turn up on voting day and this could be the reason the low votes for APC… It was a surprise, to say the least, that despite the tremendous support, the result of the presidential election showed a poor outing.
We are, however, convinced that the results that were announced didn’t reflect the actual voting in the Southeast. Granted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power in most of the states in the zone, but we thought that even if President Goodluck Jonathan won, we were certain we would get at least 30 per cent of the votes.
But right now, the result of the presidential election in the Southeast has made other people to perceive Ndigbo as people who are unreasonably resistant to change.
The result from Imo State for example has raised the question of whether Imo is not a true APC state. But we know that Imo is no more a PDP state.
It is the same with Anambra, where Senator Chris Ngige, who defeated the ruling party in 2011, could only manage a handful of votes.
His defeat hurts and has cost Ndigbo in the Senate. What do you think this portends for the zone? We are not very comfortable with it.
It is common knowledge that the APC hierarchy intended to zone the Senate Presidency to the Southeast. But the APC couldn’t win a single senatorial seat in the zone.
We might still get one seat through the election petition tribunal or even through defection. But the fact that we have lost a strong political position rankles and has dampened the morale of the people.
Again, if the APC national body or the majority in the National Assembly decides, the Southeast might not get anything again in both chambers.
This is not cheering. But we know that Buhari will not discriminate against the Southeast. Traditionally, the Southeast has always aligned with the core North in national politics.
In the Second Republic, we had the accord between the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) in the East and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the central and North.
The PDP is also aligned with the North, and there are mostly South easterners working together with the northerners in the PDP.
But as a consequence of the poor vote returns, this time around, we are going to be in opposition. It is not a very comfortable situation, but we have to take it as a challenge. The accord between the NPN and NPP then made the NPP members to view themselves as part of the ruling party and government.
Through that accord, indigenes of the Southeast got some top ministerial appointments, including the minister for Abuja. And Ndigbo even got the Speaker of the House of Representatives due to that accord.
This time, let us be understood for what we are. Apart from manipulations, which wouldn’t have happened if we had the strength and dominance of the ruling party, due to longevity and now the party in opposition, we would have taken a decision on this thing.
So, we don’t have to take these things only from a negative point of view. The whole thing has shown that Ndigbo can agree to stay and do things together.
I wish that the unity Ndigbo displayed in that election, by putting all their eggs in basket, can be taken into other spheres.
Buhari made promises and I am convinced that with his magnanimity, he is not likely to renege on them. I believe that he will be fair to all zones.
I don’t think that because of the way the Southeast voted, he will not fulfill those campaign promises. As the president, he will be party-less because it is Nigerians who voted for him and not APC members only.
The lesson therein is that the Igbo should be more proactive; look beyond the Igbo land to take decisions. The Igbo man is in every nook and cranny of the country and they would also have seen the handwriting on the wall and the mood of people outside the zone.
Should the zone be commended for standing together and voting as one united bloc for the PDP in the presidential election? No, not commendation this time. I’m saying that if the voting was planned, although I know it was not planned, and the Southeast can come together to pursue a common goal.
Furthermore, for the first time, it is a huge plus, for the zone. But this was not planned; it was just a desperate PDP move.
In not commending Ndigbo, I am saying that they should learn to come together and take decisions that will be binding on them and on issues concerning all of them.
Could the South East have voted any other way on that particular day? Of course. There were two main contending parties, PDP and APC. Initially, we expected some powerful power brokers in the Southeast to come into APC.
But for Rochas Okorocha, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Ngige, the zone would have been lost in APC. It is a good thing that they were not just foundation members; they have made a lot of sacrifice. Okorocha is our leader.
He emerged the leader and we supported him. Ngige, the only APC senator from the Southeast couldn’t scale the hurdle.
They have really tried and if the election had been free and fair, there would not have this perception of Ndigbo as people, who can’t reason together. Okorocha has nothing to lose if he had stayed back in APGA or any other party.
He even contested with Buhari for the presidency. The same goes for Onu and Ngige, the last APC senator from Anambra.
We have tried. The Igbo man has strived and if the election were free and fair, the outcome would haven different. It could have been better if they had not taken the decision to rig and manipulate the election and quagmire the region plunged us into.