By ERIC UgBor
Dr. Gershon Amuta is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and member of Abia Stakeholders’ Forum. A foremost educationalist and businessman, Amuta was actively involved in the old Imo politics during which he represented the old Isiala- Ngwa constituency in Imo State House of Assembly. He contested the governorship ticket of the National Republican Convention( NRC) shortly after the creation of Abia State but lost.
In this interview, he bares his mind on the zoning of the Abia governorship by the ruling PDP to Abia South Senatorial Zone to ensure that an Ukwa-Ngwa man succeeds Governor T. A Orji. Excerpts:
As a stakeholder in the PDP in Abia, what is your assessment of the present administration in the state?
The governor’s performance has been excellent; he is the face of the new Abia. He brought back Abia from worshipping idol where the practice was that you could never assume any position without going to Okija shrine. I want to tell you that these people who are now running for positions in 2015 will not be taken to Okija as it was in the past. They will be accountable to Abia people and God.
They will serve Abia people; not an individual. This is a big plus for our governor. Again, PDP is a mammoth party, there was a time we were scattered and working at cross purposes and Abia was worse for it. Today, he has brought everybody together; there is unity in PDP. We now have one party and we thank Gov. Theodore Orji for it. He has been a very accommodating person; he does not witch-hunt. He has laid a good foundation for his successor.
Controversy has trailed the recent zoning of the governorship position of your state by the PDP caucus to Abia South Senatorial Zone in 2015. What is your take on this?
We had a stakeholders meeting unanimously endorsing the decision to zone the governorship position to Abia South in 2015. The party, after consultation with the elders, decided to zone the governorship position to Abia South. We thought it fair to do so. We also endorsed the way the governor has been going about his duties. But even before the state party caucus took the decision, I read some newspaper interviews by some of our brothers who have become a little bit hasty in trying to determine what will happen in PDP.
I don’t know if they were talking for the PDP or the Ngwa people in Abia Central. I want to assume that they were talking for themselves, but pretending to be talking for Ngwa people in Abia Central for their selfish ends. What we are playing is party politics; not a village meeting or a tussle for ezeship. In party politics, you have the parties; their rules and Constitution. If the party does what is best for it to win election, you must abide by that.
We don’t know what APC, APGA or other parties will do, but we know what is best for own party; the PDP. Don’t forget that the governor has his own opinion, but he still waited for the party to take a decision on it. The zoning of the governorship position to Abia South was a decision of the party having considered what will make us to win. The party thought it best to allow the Ngwa people from the South to produce the candidate. Parties are run on senatorial districts; not on a divide or two. Parties are also run on structures at the ward, LGA, zonal, state and national levels. These are also the basis of sharing political offices and representations. So, I fully support the decision of the Abia PDP caucus to zone the governorship seat to Abia South in 2015.
Don’t you see this as an infringement on the right of the three Ngwa local governments in Abia Central; Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South and Osisioma Ngwa to produce the governor? Again what is the party doing to get the confidence of the aspirants who earlier declared interest believing that it was for the entire Ukwa/Ngwa bloc?
What we are talking about is the issue of Abia governor of Ukwa/ Ngwa extraction. The Ngwa people are one; they are not divided whether they are from Osisioma, Isiala Ngwa, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo or Aba. We have a common ancestry. Many aspirants may have made assumptions about contesting the elections and winning, but it is a normal situation. There will be only one governor in this state coming from only one party. There can’t be two governors at a time. The decision to zone the governorship position to Abia South does not stop anybody who feels he is popular to defect to another party and run.
We won’t quarrel with that. However our party is always magnanimous. If you don’t get elected or appointed into an office, you must be patient. I want to inform you that I have not been elected into any office since I lost the election to be governor under the NRC in 1991/1992; I am still alive. I have never been a minister or a commissioner. I have assisted people to become commissioners, local government chairmen and other positions but I have not died. I have remained a faithful party person.
There is no way that somebody from Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South and Osisioma Ngwa will not be part of the incoming administration. Abia South cannot take all the available positions. If they are patient, the party will ensure they are involved in the coming government. Zoning is rotational, today it has gone to the Ukwa and Ngwa people in Abia South but we don’t know who is going to emerge governor, whether from Ngwa or Ukwa. After eight years, it will move to another zone.
How do you look at a situation where the aspirants from the three Ngwa local government areas in Abia Central insist on running in defiance to the zoning of the seat to Abia South? How would the party take care of aggrieved aspirants to ensure unity?
I have not seen anybody who said he is aggrieved over the decision. There is something about party politics; nobody wants to be on the losing side. I have never seen anybody who says he wants to lose. My advice to all the aspirants is to do the right thing and be loyal party members. If you don’t get the position you are aspiring for, you can ask for other ones or compensation from the party. You will be given consideration. The party needs money and I assure the forms are not going to be cheap. The party leadership has taken their decision, if they think they contest and win, they are free to do so.
There is this report that the state chairman of the party, Senator Emma Nwaka as well as the National Assembly members from the state shunned the meeting where the decision was taken. Does this not invalidate the decision? Again, it has been alleged that majority of stakeholders who attended the meeting hail from Abia South?
These are non-issues. Yes, the state party chairman was not at the meeting, but it does not in any way affect the decision of the party caucus. If the governor of a state is not around and handed over power to the deputy to stand in for him in his absence, the deputy acts on behalf of the governor. The state party chairman has been away for five days.
In the Constitution of my party, this why you have a deputy chairman; not assistant chairman, it wasn’t a zonal chairman that presided over the meeting. It was not a zonal chairman for Abia Central, North or South; the state deputy chairman constitutionally sat over the meeting because he has such powers. The governor who is the leader of the party was present as well as other party functionaries and party elders. Everybody who was supposed to be legally seated at the meeting was there.
With the situation, can we say that the Abia Charter of Equity which provided for a power sharing arrangement between the Old Bende and Ukwa/ Ngwa zones as made by the founding fathers of the state, is now dead and buried?
Have you seen the Abia Charter of Equity document? Is it a legal document? The legal document that I know of is the Constitution of the PDP. It is on the strength of the PDP Constitution that we made the decision. The PDP Constitution empowers the state caucus of the party to take such decision. This is what concerns us, not what our brothers gathered and wrote something that has never favoured the Ukwa/ Ngwa bloc.