Chief Austin Umahi is the National Vice-Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, South-East zone and a member of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party.
In this interview in Abakaliki, the PDP stalwart x-rayed the progress so far recorded by the party immediately after its national convention, the failed move by those he described as ‘Abuja gorilla politicians’ to form a splinter group within the party and how prepared the party is to dislodge the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, come 2019 even as he added that Nigerians can no longer allow themselves to be deceived again. Excerpts:
By Peter Okutu
With all these skirmishes that occurred after the last PDP convention, does the party still have the capacity to dislodge the ruling APC?
The truth of the matter is that in no distant time, you will see a political tsunami in this country. Everybody is disenchanted. You cannot deceive the people for too long. The country is becoming too enlightened.
Even the village woman, if you tell her that you provided light, she would want to see the light; if you tell her that you’ve built a road, she would want to see it. Whatever you claim as achievement, she would want to see the evidence. And those are the indices.
The people are hungry and disenchanted. The people are ready to vote out any government that fails to take care of their stomach infrastructure, and that is why people are yearning for the return of the PDP to power.
The indices are clear and glaring, and the people are speaking. Nobody will deceive Nigerians again because they have compared and contrasted and of course, know which way to go, and 2019 will tell you where we are going.
What is your reaction to the move by some party members to form parallel leadership over their disagreement with the outcome of the convention?
Well, they are the people who want to be noticed. I had to contact every one of them with Igbo names. I wanted to know the reasons for this kind of attitude. And I saw that everything was geared towards ‘notice me.’ They just wanted recognition. They don’t have anything. In a contest, you must have a victor and of course, people that will lose.
Come to think of the Unity List, at the age of 18, nobody forced me to vote where I wanted to vote. It was something very clear. Yes! It is possible that I could be given a name, but it is an option. When I entered inside that polling booth, I voted the person I wanted to vote because I am an adult.
And I feel so sad because I saw some South-Eastern persons involved. We are not known for that kind of hooliganism. But it is unfortunate that they are Abuja gorilla politicians. They are not politicians from the South-East. We don’t know them, and they don’t know their wards. Ask them the names of their wards and their chairmen; they won’t know. They just stay at Wadata and make noise.
Do you think the APC could be using them to destabilise your party?
Well, in the Third World, you are bound to see anything. Yes. The most important thing is that PDP is repositioned; it is repositioned to regain. Those things, we see them as distractions.
What is the South-East negotiating for? Are you bidding for the presidency?
The issue remains that we are very much interested in repositioning the party. When the time to share offices comes, we will discuss it. And I assure you that the South- East under my leadership will not be relegated in Jesus name.
Don’t you see your failure to win the Anambra governorship election as an indication that 2019 would be a herculean task?
The issue of Anambra State is not a good case study because I mounted the podium and I said that we are taking back Anambra State. But the issue of Anambra State is one that the PDP will go back to the drawing board and redesign and re-strategize.
The people that voted out PDP in Anambra State are PDP. That problem of Anambra, we have set out to ensure that we get it right. How do we get it right? By making sure that we install an elected state exco and that is going to happen in a couple of weeks. And by the time we do it, we will instill a lot of discipline. Some people felt the party was hijacked and out of anger, they decided to work against the party that they belong to. And you cannot use it as a measure. It is not a good litmus test because if you come to think of it, you will have to ask yourself the people that worked for Gov. Obiano.
They are PDP people, and if they had put a tenth of that effort in our election in Anambra State, I think I would have been celebrating now as somebody that has a governor in Anambra State. So, it is not a good test because we know the reasons: the immediate and remote causes and we are addressing it.