GOVERNORSHIP aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, in Abia State, Chief Mac Wabara, in this interview, warns against not providing a level-playing field for all the aspirants in the forthcoming gubernatorial primaries.
BY CHARLES KUMOLU
The recently conducted ward congresses have continued to generate mixed reactions. As someone who actively participated, what is your reaction to the current backlash generated by the exercise?
It is a common knowledge that the time-table for the primaries has been adjusted. Ordinarily, since I am running for governorship of the state, our primaries was supposed to have held on November 29 but is now shifted to December 8. We have also had a congress to elect the three-man delegates and one-man delegate per local government as national delegates for the national convention. Issues have been raised as to the conduct of the congress, but I can speak for my ward/local government.
I will say that the exercise was peaceful in my ward/local government. That is Ukwa East local government. But in other local governments within the state, issues have been raised by some stakeholders. But I will again say that it was peaceful in my area. to the extent that the result of the exercise has not been released, one cannot at this stage give a comprehensive assessment until the results are released. As it is now, we are preparing for the screening exercise.
For me as an aspirant, I will use my God-given talents to ensure that the quality of life is improved in terms of growth and development. Most importantly we will bring about a participatory government and I will continue to emphasize the fact that by the special grace of God, we will make maximum use of our comparative advantage in human capital resource. So, the challenge for us is to keep working towards achieving our objective of providing the people with the dividends of democracy. That remains my commitment. As we continue to work towards the primaries , we will remain committed to that goal.
The emergence of Dr. Ogugua Ikpeazu in the race is believed to have changed the ensuing permutations ahead of the primaries. Do you in any way feel threatened by the buzz around the aspirant?
His emergence in the race implies that he has made the personal decision to serve. It means that he has stepped into the ring just like any other aspirant. For me, the more the merrier. At the end of the day what is important is that all aspirants be given a level playing field to market their programmes. There are guidelines that qualify people to offer themselves for service. So any eligible person who is qualified should be allowed to participate. Regarding the emergence of Ikpeazu, I believe he is exercising his fundamental rights.
But regarding the claim of some people that he is an anointed candidate of Abia State Governor, you will recall that at the early stage of the contest, there were rumours that I had been anointed by the governor and I had to dispel the rumours. I remember what I said on that occasion, that what the governor endorsed was the decision of the party at the state level to zone the governorship to Abia South. I also said that it was the proper thing to do because the zone had not produced the governor since the creation of Abia State.
I also have read in the newspapers where the government has denied that it has endorsed any aspirant. However, we are hoping that the government delivers on its promise of providing a level playing field. All we want is for all aspirants to be given the chance of participating in the primaries. If the primaries is conducted properly, it will mean well for the party.
Are the chances of having a Governor of Ukwa extraction still bright?
The Ukwa and Ngwa extractions agitated for power shift as one group. We are grateful to God that we realized the objective. The party leadership in the state was also instrumental to it. We also thank the party leadership in Abia State and the leader of the party in the state, Governor T. A. Orji , who endorsed power shift to Abia South. What that means is that the Ukwa/Ngwa bloc will produce the next governor. That is why people like me from Ukwa are in the race. And I have confidence that as one of the front-runners, I will emerge as the candidate of my party, because I know that I have the qualities required of a governor.
But there is a new dimension that came up following what recently happened at the federal level. We learnt that there was a decision at that level to accommodate two serving senators to return to the Senate. If that is true, it means that the since the current senator representing Abia South is of Ngwa bloc, it will be fair for the Ukwa bloc to produce the governor. I am saying this because it will be against the spirit of equity to allow the Ngwa bloc to have the Governor and Senator at the same time.
If that is allowed, it will work against the spirit of equity and justice. Though Ukwa people are not as populous as their Ngwa brothers and sisters, we are the goose that lays the golden egg. We are recognized as such economically, being the oil producing area of the state. It is because of Ukwa that Abia state is recognized as an oil producing state, thus qualifying the state to receive the 13 percent derivation revenue. We also suffer environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration activities in Ukwa communities. So we are eminently qualified economically to also be recognized and given the opportunity to play a role in governance.