By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
National Chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Sir Victor Umeh in this interview speaks on APGA’s support for Jonathan; why PDP should ensure the South-East gets the speakership of the House of Reps; why Bianca Ojukwu is operating from Nigeria’s High Commission in London and other issues. Sir Victor spoke from London.
Your party APGA supported PDP to ensure the re-election of President. The same PDP is being accused of depriving the South-East in the scheme of things. What’s your view on this development?
It’s not too late for the ruling party and the Federal Government to reconsider what they have done to the South-East.
I have already condemned the present arrangement where the party that produced about 35 members of the House of Representatives through the PDP in the last election should be denied the slot of Speaker and the slot to be given a zone which produced only three members of the House of Representatives through the same party.
So, it is against the principle of equity and justice to give the Speaker to the South-West that produced only three members of the House of Representatives on the platform of PDP. It is sinful . It does not make sense and I suggest that before the inauguration of the House, the matter should be re-visited and remedied.
Is this not an Igbo problem? It appears the South-East threw its weight behind Jonathan without negotiation.
Well, that could be a fact but it’s not strong enough when you consider the volume of support given Jonathan in the South-East.
The votes from the South-East during the presidential election stand at 5.1 million votes. The South-West didn’t pull up to such votes. Although it surprised a lot of people that Jonathan won in Lagos during the presidential election, you must know that 40 per cent of the votes cast in Lagos came from Igbos in Lagos State.
So, the issue is not about not being able to negotiate from day one, it is something that is being contrived through the present power mongers in PDP structure. One cannot look far from what we are hearing that former President Obasanjo is behind the injustice. President Jonathan is the Commander-in-Chief.
He should be able to release himself from Obasanjo’s influence. It is Jonathan that the South-East supported for presidency and not Obasanjo. So, the issue is for President Jonathan to show appreciation for the absolute support given to him by the South East.
Even my party APGA supported Jonathan because we had no presidential candidate. We threw our weight behind Jonathan. We gave him 100 per cent of our support. We didn’t vote for any other party during presidential election. So, this argument shouldn’t come up.
He should know that something tangible should come to the Igbo nation in return, definitely, not something like SGF. That can only be an addition and that is the point the President must appreciate at this point.
The support given to him was done with utmost trust. He should not betray that trust that should protect the interest of the Igbo nation in his government. We won’t appreciate a situation where a cult within the PDP is now deciding what will go to the people of the South-East.
It is not acceptable to our people. If you look at what has happened, the results of the election are clear to President Goodluck Jonathan. So, he cannot pretend he does not now the role the South-East played in his election. The crux of the matter is the ability to be equitable and fair to all parts of Nigeria.
The issue of zoning today has been reduced to a PDP affair. So, if it is on the basis of party politics, by the results of the election, the South-East should not have a competitor for the position of Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives in this dispensation.
The South-South has produced the President. The South-East produced 35 reps through the PDP. The South West voted in only three people, to the House of Representatives, through the PDP. So, there is no basis for competition between the South-East or South-West on the choice of Speaker. So, from whatever angle you look at it, the South-East has absolute right within the PDP to produce the Speaker.
It’s party politics and on this issue, the President should also remember that zoning of offices in PDP has always been done after elections so that you zone the offices on the basis of rewarding the various zones in the country along the line of interest of the PDP. The current zoning which the party is operating was arrived at after the presidential election won by Obasanjo. So, it is not an issue that has been before going to the election.
If they have zoned the office of the Speaker to the South-West before the 2011 elections, it will not be opened to debate today.
What was the deal APGA had with Jonathan?
We extracted an undertaking that if APGA endorsed Jonathan, PDP should not take a position that would jeopardise the chances of our candidates in other elections. We also supported him based on the understanding that he should transform the South-East zone and stop further marginalisation of Igbos.
We wouldn’t expect APGA to produce the Speaker but we expect the PDP to give the South-East our due right in Nigeria and develop our infrastructure. But having to sit with enemies of Igbos to determine the fate of the people is pure injustice. Jonathan shouldn’t ridicule the Igbos in Nigeria. He shouldn’t do anything like that.
Two prominent women in Anambra State , Dora Akunyili and Joy Emordi left PDP for APGA but they lost in the polls. Why?
They have not lost the elections yet. Akunyili won Anambra Central and we have gone to the tribunal to prove that. We have also served Ngige. In Idemili North, there were strings of evidence of over-voting and the electoral act asks that such votes should be voided. If we remove the polling booths where there were over-voting, Akunyili won the election. All these have been documented by APGA and passed to INEC.
In the case of Emordi, huge frauds were committed in Oyi Local Government, Anyamelum, Local Government, Anambra East and Anambra West Local Government.. PDP members were appointed ad-hoc staff of INEC. We have evidence and we protested to Jega and he has taken our protest. So, anybody declared winner in that senatorial district would face APGA in the tribunal. Nobody should celebrate victory yet in the three senatorial districts because APGA will get justice.
Is APGA taking part in Jonathan’s all-inclusive government?
We endorsed Jonathan for reasons we adduced: keeping Nigeria united and he has done that. He also won elections through a large spread. Nobody voted for any other party in the South-East. We have a deal with Jonathan and never supported anybody else. That’s why we are worried about this zoning problem.
But on his all-inclusive government , Jonathan has not written APGA to part-take in his government. When he does, we will deliberate on it and take necessary action. APGA members are Nigerians. We will meet and choose the proper people.
CPC believes its votes in the South-East were deducted…
We don’t know about CPC in the South-East. That party didn’t even campaign in the zone.
So, what are you doing in London?
I came to brief Ikemba Nnewi, Odumegwu Ojukwu on the outcome of the elections.
Is he okay now?
He is still in hospital. He is in a stable condition and would leave the hospital soon.
Many are wondering why his wife should accept a government appointment when her husband is still ill and in hospital.
Criticising his wife is unnecessary. We were not opposed to her accepting a political position at this time. Bianca is in England now. She has a Diaspora desk in Nigerian High Commission in England from where she attends to diaspora issues and her husband. He is stable, still undergoing physiotherapy in hospital. He will leave the hospital soon. He was unhappy about the Speaker position being denied the Igbos but he is happy about APGA victory in South-East.
The Imo State governor-elect Rochas Okorocha froze the Government Account…
I was with Rochas here in London until Tuesday night. He did not freeze any government account. The problem is that Ohakim is suffering from loss of authority. Rochas will assume office May 29 and therefore should not be blamed if Ohakim’s directive is no longer being obeyed. He should use his tongue to count his teeth.
Rochas has awarded free education from primary to university level, free medical bill to civil servants and will impalement the N18,000 minimum wage. Ohakim shouldn’t blame Okorocha for anything . He didn’t give any directive to Imo officials. If Ohakim is not getting anything, it shows lack of confidence on him as a person and as a governor.