By Davies Iheamnachor
Alabo Francis Ebenezer, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, is the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Niger Delta Basin Development Authority. In this interview, Ebenezer bares his mind on why the Minister for Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2023. He also explains why the 2023 elections would favour APC in Rivers State.
What do you make of the current trend in your party, the APC, and the President’s performance?
I believe the APC as at today is organised, and is looking forward to having a successful party convention, when the scheduled time comes. Now, looking at the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari, I strongly believe the party will retain power at the centre come 2023, because he has done very well in the areas of security, infrastructure, agriculture, and of course in stabilizing the nation’s economy. Yes, there may be one or two areas to be improved upon, which is normal, but he has done well.
There are moves that the Minister for Transportation should be given presidential ticket of the APC, what is your take on this, and do you think he is qualified?
This call is in the right direction and appropriate. Amaechi is extremely qualified for that office; he is a vibrant young man that has all it takes to deliver good governance to the people of this nation. His track record speaks volume. As Minister of Transportation, see the transformation he has been able to deploy in the rail sector of the country within few years; as a two-term governor, he performed well. Under him, Rivers’ economy was flourishing, ministries and government agencies were functional; even as Speaker of the State Assembly, he was very vocal. He is one man who believes in the principle of rule of law, and allows other arms of government to function independently. He is someone who feels the pain of his people and one that can unite this country.
With Asiwaju Bola Tinubu having indicated interest to contest the same presidential ticket, what do you make of the minister’s chances against him?
One cannot say Tinubu is not qualified, but as it is in today’s Nigeria, the entire country is clamouring for the younger generation to take over power, and when you consider that, you can’t help but fancy the chances of Amaechi.
Do you think Amaechi would get the wide support, especially in the North?
Truth be told, Amaechi is a sellable candidate, every region in the country accepts and respects the man. This is based on his performance, how else do you assess the acceptance of a man by the people? If in far away Daura he could be honoured by the Daura Emirate Council. I was there myself. It was like a carnival; people from all over the country were there, and I can tell you this for free, his candidature cuts across the north, west, east and of course the south. Nigerians should be looking at competence. The man is competent to do this job.
What is your assessment of governance in Rivers State and the possibility of APC taking over that state?
What we have in River State as government is a complete failure. The people are suffering from abject poverty. The entire state is weeping, there has been no promotion of workers, no payments of gratuity, no employment, human capital development, food security, where do I even start from? All these because of one emperor governor. The APC is the only bride Rivers people can hold unto. I tell you this: APC will win Rivers State clean and clear come 2023.
How do you think APC can survive in Rivers State in 2023 elections?
Well, PDP holding sway in Rivers State and Local Government Areas of the state is in the past. As far as 2023 is concerned, it is no more PDP. It is no more business as usual.
What PDP is know to be doing in the states is in the past. Today APC has come to stay with a formidable structure. APC will win Ogu/Bolo not only Ogu/Bolo, the entire state. APC will win squarely, there is not doubt about that. I don’t have any iota of doubt that, we APC members will be victorious come 2023.
You know that as at today PDP has the power of incumbent, the governor and all the lawmakers are PDP, don’t you think this is to their advantage?
Do not forget that incumbency factor was in existence in 2015 when APC took over the Federal Government. If you would want to say, the same thing happened in Rivers State. But we are going to turn it down in Rivers State. Nobody cares of the power of incumbency factor. Do the right thing and let the people vote for you. What has this government in Rivers State done to merit another PDP in 2023. There is nothing! The people are suffering, the people are dieing. There is no food for people to eat there is hunger in the land. There is no job. Look at everywhere youths are just roaming about. What has the government of the state done. Do they have anything to give to the people, do they have anything to offer? NO! Listen to me, you can build all the walls and you think you are developing a place, anyway, he knows what he is doing. But, how does it impact on the people. What can this government say it has done to merit another PDP government in 2023. Rivers State cannot go back to PDP, except they want to die. And Rivers State cannot die in the hands of PDP.
The leader of APC in South-South, believes that there should be power shift to the riverine in 2023, but I don’t think it is the interest of the governor of the state, do you think the interest of your leader is right?
You see, when you see a man that has conscience you will know immediately. Can you compare the two of them? The answer is no. Rt. Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has the mind of the people. He feels for the people and that is why he has decided that power should shift. But if the present governor feels otherwise, it is his business. For APC, the leader of the party feels that power should shift and so the people are working towards that and that’s the reason you can see more people are coming into the APC,In PDP, maybe that is not the case, whether they want to bring another upland person I don’t want to bother myself because I am not of the party. Whatever they choose to do is their business. What I know is APC, I follow my leader because he said so and all of us are queuing behind him. As for the governor and his party what ever he wants to do with his own party is his business.
But, people see it as injustice that power has been at the upland?
Let him do it the way he wants it and let the people look at what has happened. This time around, everyone of us, thank God the Electoral Act has been signed into law.
Yes, Wike had said Buhari would never sign that Act into law?
He is a failure already. What he said cannot happened, has happened, can he now make an apology for that statement he made. He said president cannot sign it, now he has signed it, so what will he do of the statement he made. The president has done the needful, so that the country will move forward. What we want is a better political environment where people will go in, vote, come back and have their votes count. I want to see a situation where even in Rivers State, people can leave their homes go to the polling boots vote and then their votes count. 2023 will show whether people will actually vote for PDP or not.
Is APC in Rivers State still divided?
APC is not divided in Rivers State. APC is together as one. There is no division and we don’t have any issues in APC. If you belong to APC you are a member of APC. If you do not belong to APC you cannot be a member of the party. So anyone who says APC is divided it simply means such person is not a member of APC.
The disciples told Jesus, stop them they are performing miracles in your name, and he replied, he who is for us cannot be against us. So if you are carrying an APC card as a member, you cannot go out to say we are having problem, no. APC is not divided. We don’t have any issues in APC. We don’t have factions, APC is one.
We are going into a election that you want to wrestle power from the PDP from the opposing side?
We will do it squarely, a lot will happen. We will wrestle power very well. PDP, we will be out for them. Is it not Rivers State? We will be out for them. All of us will campaign. We will campaign, let Rivers people see who has the guts to actually lead. What we are seeing in Rivers State is not leadership? It is a failed government. Can anybody talk? Do we have elder statesmen here? Can anyone give advise to the governor? Is it possible to advise him? Rivers State is a failed state and that is why we need change and change must come.
When you said failed, people will think you are talking about war?
No, I am talking about leadership. When you do not have the right leadership, then you don’t even have a state. It is not about talking. What are you showing the people to prove that you can lead them? For goodness sake, what is happening in Rivers State? This is not the Rivers State I know! We have had other administrations, it is has never been as bad as this. 2023, Rivers people will declare judgement. Rivers people will judge.
Your message to the people of the State and Nigerians in general?
Please let us all rally around Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, because an Ameachi presidency, is a president for a greater united country. Let me use this opportunity to urge the Honourable minister to please heed the call and run for the number one office in the country.