By CHARLES KUMOLU
Chief Ndukwe Ikoh, leader of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, and a former governorship candidate in Abia State, in this interview, argues that what the state needs ahead of the 2015 governorship election is the best man for the job and not zoning.
What is the political situation in Abia? It is said that your PPA is dead in the state.
The 2015 election in Abia is clearer than a lot of people know. The contest is going to be between Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); other parties like All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressive Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) may try their best. The former governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, is going to play important role in the politics of the state as well as the incumbent governor, Chief T.A Orji.
The Ukwa-Ngwa zone wants to produce the next governor, while other zones are kicking against it on the grounds that there is nothing like zoning arrangement. What is your position?
They call it ‘Abia Charter of Equity’ and nobody has seen the document and most of us who are young don’t understand it in full details. Politics is a game you really have to go and take and not sit at a place and get served. You go out and grab power. I will advise my Ukwa Ngwa brothers and sisters to come out and claim it if they really believe it is their turn to rule Abia. On the other hand, I’m not an apostle of zoning when it comes to governorship.
I believe that whom the cap fits let him wear it. The philosophy of zoning reduces the chances of getting the best hand in any situation. I personally could opt, as a personal principle, to say, let the best emerge from anywhere; all the zones in the state, and let every aspirant be given equal opportunity to contest and the best emerges as governor.
Abia has suffered so much; it is a sad commentary and I think the next governor would have a Herculean task trying to give Abia people dividends of democracy. We need the best to work now and not zoning. Ukwa Ngwa are saying it is their turn, the question is, has there been any gubernatorial election that they have not fielded candidates or aspirants? In 2011, they said it was their turn, they fielded candidates in all the political parties except PDP and they voted against their people and helped to re-elect Governor Orji. We need the best to come from any zone to lead our people to the promised land.
You are so emphatic about the PPA making great impact in Abia gubernatorial election, but some believe that the governor has performed wonderfully. Don’t you think it will affect the PPA chances?
The governor’s performances ended when he was in PPA. He was elected in his first tenure on the platform of PPA in 2007. During that time, he had elected local government chairmen and things were better than now, but since he decamped to PDP, everybody can testify to the disorderliness in the state. The PPA platform, which he used to come to power, gave him a clear direction of governance than what we are witnessing now. One can attribute his better performance in the time
past to his being a member of PPA but now, he is a rudderless ship and difficult to control; you don’t know what he is up to or not. PPA controls the grassroots when you talk about party politics in Abia. It produced the governor while he was in prison, and for a party to achieve that feat means the party has grassroots appeal and we have not lost that Midas touch to return our candidates in an election.
But for the intimidation we suffered in the last election when military men, security officials were expressly instructed to stop us, we would have formed the present government. But now, things have changed and we are going to take back what rightfully belongs to the people, which is the mantle of leadership in Abia. PPA will come back to power in Abia in 2015.
Don’t you think Kalu’s exit from PPA will affect the fortune of the party in the state?
Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu left PPA and Chief Ndukwe Ikoh came to PPA. Both of us are good men of Abia State and good businessmen in our own rights and at our levels and good community leaders. We share a lot of attributes in common but I must tell you, Kalu’s exit from PPA is strategic. He didn’t leave the party to make the party come low. Unknown to outsiders, it was properly discussed and he left. It was sacrificial because he loves PPA so much, but he has to be in PDP to enhance the opportunity of the president returning in the next election and to ensure a level playing ground in party politics in Abia as well as ensures normalcy is returned in South-east PDP.
You people are supporting Jonathan. Are you sure the whirlwind, APC, blowing across the country will not blow away Jonathan in 2015?
Jonathan’s return to Aso Rock is not negotiable. The good works he is doing speak volumes. About a year ago, I went online and saw that Jonathan could be the most popular president Nigeria has ever produced, I didn’t take it serious but now I can tell you that he is becoming a revolutionary president. Talk of the National Conference going on, which past leader had the gut or courage to convene discussion about Nigeria’s future?; look at the revolution in power generation, infrastructure and standard practice of governance. He is the kind of president we need at the moment of our history to lay solid foundation for Nigeria to move forward and be reckoned with in the country of nations.
There was the allegation of Abia government trying to disrupt PPA meetings.
It is only when PPA is meeting that the state government comes to disrupt the gathering. It is instructive, the security agencies should mark my words, and it is not that PPA cannot come out in retaliation, but we are peace loving party, we know we are the only real opposition in the state. When APGA, Labour and APC hold their meetings, government does not come out.
I don’t know if it is working for APC but when PPA is meeting, a party which is pro-PDP at the national level, he comes out with intimidation. We are watching, complaining and written to all the security agencies, but the paranoid of Governor Orji about PPA is real because he knows the party is coming back to form the next government.