By Eric Ugbor, Aba
Chief Emmanuel Adaelu is an elder statesman from Ngwa land in Osisioma LGA of Abia Central Senatorial District of Abia State. He speaks, in the interview, on the contentious issue of PDP Governorship Zoning in Abia State among others.
What is your take on the controversy surrounding the zoning of the governorship position to Abia South?
I want to correct this impression; there is no controversy on the zoning of the governorship position to Abia South. What the PDP did has been accepted overwhelmingly by the greater majority of Ukwa/Ngwa people across the nine local government areas of the zone. If there are pockets of dissenting voices, it shouldn’t make any story. It is natural that one or two interest groups may feel agitated. If at all they exist, they are in the negligible minority because what the party has done is our wish. 99.9% of the Ukwa/ Ngwa people support the decision and are grateful to the governor and the party.
Most of these dissenting voices believe that it was done out of selfish interest as you were reported to have supported the zoning to Abia South even before the party came out with the decision. What is your view?
It has been the wish of the Ukwa/ Ngwa people that PDP continues with the zoning system in sharing political positions in the state.
The governorship of the state was first zoned to Abia North, then Abia Central and now Abia South; there is nothing new about the issue of zoning. The party has just done what is fair; those opposing it are in the negligible minority. If they told you I was the first person to say it should go to Abia South, let them know that I am not the PDP.
As a ruling party at the state and national levels, PDP cannot rely on the opinion of one man. I said what I know was the policy of the party. If what I said wasn’t good, PDP would have decided otherwise.
There is nothing like selfish interest, I am not gunning for the position of a governor. I don’t have a candidate neither am I sponsoring anybody. I am not from Abia South, I am a native of Abayi
Amaugwu in Osisioma Ngwa in Abia Central.. My interest is that I didnt want the confusion some people were about introducing into the governorship race. When I made the statement, I was not even thinking about people of Abia Central because there are aspirants from other areas outside Aba zone.
I want some of these dissenting voices to understand that Ukwa/Ngwa or Old Bende are just nomenclatures and not political constituencies or zones; what we call political constituencies or zones are the three senatorial districts of Abia North, Abia Central and Abia South. So in all these explanations, if there is anybody still opposing the decision of the party, he or she should take solace in the fact that the majority of the Ukwa/Ngwa people have thrown their support for the decision.
In 2007, a certain governorship aspirant alleged that a panel headed by you stopped him from emerging the governor and that the situation is about being repeated in 2015. He also accused you of having candidate from Abia South in mind, what is your take on this on?
I stand by the popular saying that only one person can be governor at a time. We have always acted in the best interest of our people. I know where the allegation is coming from. The period was the countdown to the 2007 governorship election when Orji Uzor Kalu’s PPA was in power. The governorship contest then was between PPA and PDP.
We felt that the position should come to our people. There were six candidates from PDP at that time; my brother, Tony Enwereuzor, Amadi Nweke, Marc Wabara, Rowland Nwosu, Okezie Orji and Sunny Isiguzoro.
Each of them wanted to be governor. To brighten the chances of an Ukwa/ Ngwa man emerging the governor, we decided to seek for a consensus candidate. The PDP asked us to bring one person; we conducted a mock primary among the six aspirants. We also involved six traditional rulers from Ukwa/Ngwa land to assist us. Using what we call the Dutch auction system, we addressed the aspirants and told them to write down their names first and add the names of their fellow aspirants who they may also want to be governor if not them, in order of preference. We also gave them the criteria on which we based our judgment. They completed the exercise.
When we analyzed the results, Enwereuzor, who is now accusing me of stopping him, emerged first followed by Wabara, Okezie Orji, Rowland Nwosu, Amadi Nweke and Isiguzoro in that order. We also went into another exercise of oral conversation one on one and narrowed the number to the first three aspirants. We asked them questions like, ‘You know that election is a capital intensive project, how prepared are you, what do you have to run the election if you are chosen?’ Each of them assured us of their financial readiness and stated their manifesto. Since Onyema Ugochukwu was running from the other side, we also got them to sign an undertaking that they would support whoever is chosen to boost the chances of our people. When we submitted the names of Enwereuzor, Wabara and Okezie Orji to the state party secretariat, they invited Enwereuzor who came first.
They asked him about his financial standing and what the party required from him. We were surprised that our brother, Enwereuzor, who had assured us that he has the financial muscle to run the election could not meet the demand of the party. God knows he came first, we didn’t shortchange him but he could not meet the demand of the party. The way we conducted the mock primaries filtered in to the party, they called to say that Enwereuzo did not meet up with the requirements. They said that they will not take the first runner up, Marc Wabara, the next was Okezie Orji. At the end of it, Okezie Orji was chosen to run for the party primaries, but can you believe that these aspirants who signed an undertaking to back anybody chosen, later stood for the same primaries. All of them, even Enwereuzo stood for the primaries and split the vote of our people leading to Onyema Ugochukwu leading with a marginal vote.
It is clear that Okezie Orji would have emerged the PDP candidate if these aspirants who signed undertaking queued behind him as they promised. I know how much I have committed to the cause of the Ukwa/ Ngwa people over the years, I have never collected a dime from anybody; but my joy is that my people appreciate my efforts. So, in the race for this governorship, I don’t have a candidate, my interest is to assist the PDP produce a governor from Abia South.
Aspirants from Isuikwuato and other areas of Abia North are also agitating to produce the governor in 2015. What do you think can be done to ensure that the Ukwa/ Ngwa people, both in the Abia Central and Abia South, speak in one accord to actualize this age long dream?
It is not easy to bring out a consensus candidate anywhere. Sometimes, you have up to 30 aspirants declaring interest to contest a seat and none agrees to step down for the other. It is a normal occurrence in politics, but God willing we will surmount the challenge. There are processes; one, you must be a member of the party because a non-member cannot take part in the selection of a candidate of a party. The political party you belong to must, overtime, see you as a fit and proper person to run the election. Again, since we are aware that whoever is the governor of a state under the ruling party is automatically the head of the party, we must take this into our plans because what he says is significant. If he says Mr. A, not Mr. B would succeed him; we must consider that because he is going to be part of the people who will take the decision.