By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Solomon Ewuga is the senator representing Nasarawa North in the Senate. He is said to have provided the “platform”upon which Umaro Tanko Almakura stood to become the governor of Nasarawa State in 2011.
Meanwhile, things have changed and Ewuga has jilted their common political party, the APC, for the PDP. In this interview, he says Almakura would have a moral burden to contend with in his desire for second term in 2015. Excerpts:
What informed your coming back to the PDP
I have come back home. It is a party we formed in 1998 and I contributed immensely to the formation. Key players in the party in Nasarawa at that time were quite unseemly in their disposition towards my seeking any electoral position in the party and I am a gladiator.
And I felt that their conduct was antithetical to the b0asic tedium of democracy and I left. But I have always been a founding member of PDP. It allows you to seek electoral fortunes, manifested in terms of capacity and re orientate you in view of any unacceptable attitude or behavior. I am back to the PDP.
What did you see now in the PDP that was there then? What has changed?
Politics is about interests and if my interests manifest especially in the present dispensation, what is wrong with that? I have worked according to the wave of the interests I represent. I have a community of interests and you notice that for whatever change that I have experienced; there has been a wave of change also.
So, it means I am not doing it on a self-serving mission. I am doing it with a corporate value of interest and that is why I am doing what I am doing.
Speaking of interest, 2015 election is around the corner. It is a popular knowledge that you want to become the next governor of Nasarawa State. What are your chances?
Rather, I want to be able to provide service at any category of dispensation I find myself in. Being a governor is just one of the positions which orchestrate my interest politically. I started in 1982 in the then NPN. I contested for the popsition of state secretary. I didn’t get it but I ended being the publicity secretary in Plateau State, before the military took over.
So I have held one office or the other nationally, in one party or another. I was the national auditor of the UNCP. I was the assistant national legal adviser, north central of the PDP when it started. So I have been visible as a politician and my visibility has an interest that manifests in gladiatorial terms the moment you participate in politics. So, if one does that, there must be a reason.
It must also be understood that the supreme interest of providing service far surpasses any short term value that will manifest in the course of this business. But you can see that at every turn, there was a change, I went with people. I didn’t go as a person that is on a solo trip to nowhere.
But it does appear the incumbent governor also wants re-election despite the fact that he preferred one term. You were a key player in his emergence and now want to contest. How do you reconcile these?
It is not for him to deny it. It is for him to be fixed with concrete details and data produced in the newspapers and sponsored by Taal organization, his own group. I was reading one the other day and was laughing. You don’t deny what you have done because of short term interest.
You live by it and request to be considered given by what the dispensation allows you. But for you to challenge it that you didn’t say it, it is brazen lie. You don’t do it. On whether I am contesting governorship, wouldn’t you if you have the opportunity?
PDP has got a lot of bashing since its formation in 1998. Consequently, many people think it will not win an election in 2015. What chances do you stand?
Every re-election of candidates is always faced with difficult circumstances. It is not only in Nigeria, but all over the world. Once a person subjects himself for re-election, the difficulties are legendary.
But it is how you manage the difficulties that determines your capacity to sail through. And opposition manifests in various forms. It is not because I would wish to contest for governorship or not that will make the PDP lose in 2015, it is more of the capacity of the PDP to position itself as a party that is ready to sustain power that will make it the real thing to look at. I was in CPC.
I didn’t register in APC, so I wouldn’t say about the machinations. But, if what you are concerned with is the scenario that is on ground, what I will tell you is that the PDP is constant. APC is a fluidity. So, in a movement of that sort, where do you think the gravity is tilting to? To the pole where the constance manifests more clearly because the clogs in the other party have not started yet. When they start you will see it.
Was Gov. Almakura’s one term agreement with you in principle or…?
He said it. I didn’t say it. There was no promise between him and I that says ‘when I finish I will give you’. There was nothing like that. But when you say it as an open thing, it is even in the papers, his organization expressing it. What else do you want me to say? It is left for the people whom he promised to say it.
And he didn’t say it behind my back. He said it with me in the campaign tour and I kept telling him ‘don’t say that’. But he wouldn’t agree. He now wants power. So, what is my own business in it. It is for him to back to those people and say, ‘look, I didn’t say so’ or ‘when I was saying so, I didn’t mean it. Now that the sweet in the apple is irresistible, I want to continue’. So, what is my own inside? It has to do with him not me.
Crisis recently enveloped Nassarawa State. Of course, the Eggon crisis is still fresh in the memory of some people. How did that happen?
You have forgotten that there have been similar crises in the southern part of the state. People were completely displaced. The are still displaced. The destruction caused by those people is more but the governor is very happy to see that he brands first the Eggon.
Two, develop out of that branding, a criminalization process that puts all the people who are visible within the Eggon community and thirdly, to see how he can use that to advance his limited political interest. And every time, he does that, it shows red to him and, therefore, I must be out of the way.
That is what it is. Let it be noted that before the Justice Gbadeyan report came out, he had gone to one of ours elders in the state to say he was going to sign a detention notice on me and the man told him: ‘You can’t do that. He is a senator of the Federal Republic. The processes are different. You can’t sign a detention notice on him’. That was in August 2012. So he had had this fear that I could be his limiting factor in developing his re-election ambition.
So, consistently, he has maintained that issue. When he brought out that White Paper, it was a third party action orientation. These are the two issues; one, that I am suspected to be a financier and abettor of Ombatse and so, I should be investigated further towards prosecution.
Secondly, I gave false testimony under oath. In each of these reports, it requires an action before my criminalization. So the stage you could see is to embarrass me because if the intention was towards prosecution, he could have done it right from the beginning, instead of wasting so much of tax payers’ money and ending up in a non-conclusive indictment. If you want to say I gave false testimony under
oath, bring the truth.
It has to be balanced against the background of the lies I produced under oath. Well, you need to conjecture what exactly the intentions are. But you know what, not only is that an issue. Our elders committee had gone to him to plead that his intention to go to Alakio should not happen because, as a community, we were meeting on the 9th; he went to Alakio on the 7th.
We said don’t do it, that we are almost curing any malady arising from the problems you think are on the ground. But look at the disaster that came out of it. 12 trucks went, for God’s sake, for one, senile old man. It failed and I feel very sad because it pains us. It was less than 200 people that live in that community. I didn’t know. When I went there, I said what could have orchestrated a plan for 12 police vehicles to go there? I still don’t understand.
I feel very sad about the state of difficulties we have gone through. I feel very sad too that we are being demonized but where the profile of a person has been, to insist on a scenario that is not my own. He is the chief security officer of the state. It is his business to calm the issues but if he doesn’t, what else can you do? Now, wait and see what direction he intends to take.
Let me tell you that both individually and corporately, people have come to him to tell him that he must find a more accommodating spirit. But since he has allowed it to pervade for too long, I want to know why he is allowing it to go to this level where things are getting out of control across the state.
Going forward, what would you tell him?
Let him do what is right. There is no advice that I haven’t given him. But he has a different perspective on the way he wants to handle it. There is nothing new about what I am telling you. When you go to him, instead of addressing the issues, he will give you the White Paper. I am in court to challenge the White Paper.