Posted by Dickson Okafor | 22 June 2018 | 3,857 times
Ahead of the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Benjamin Uwajumogu has said that the fate of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State is sealed with the inauguration of elected state officials of the party.
What is your take on the change of date for democracy Day?
We thought in 1999 when Obasanjo took over that he would consider June 12 as Democracy Day and that is an important day in the annals of political history of this country. A day the result of the freest, fairest and peaceful election was announced but annulled by Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. It was an election Igbo, Hausa, South-South and Middle Belt all voted for a Yoruba man and it was Muslim/Muslim ticket and you cannot compare May 29 when Obasanjo took over to June 12. Once again, I doff my cap for President Buhari.
Is it possible that Buhari is taking this step to get back at Obasanjo for warning him not to seek re-election in 2019?
It is a shame for a man who wanted a third term to tell somebody whose ambition is within the ambit of the constitution of the Federal Government not to seek re-election. This was a man who used all kinds of aggression including allegedly trying to bribe members of the National Assembly and leaders to achieve unconstitutional process yet; he has the gut to tell President Buhari not to re-contest in 2019. It is very sad and I want to give Obasanjo an unsolicited advice, it is time he takes the back seat because he has played so many roles in the open space of Nigeria politics. At his age, he should start playing advisory role before young people like us begin to insult him. He has done well for himself and there is no way he can be investigated that he won’t be found guilty of misappropriation of public funds or implementation of unpopular policies which he accused other leaders of. Obasanjo have done even worse and should leave the stage at this point. He has done well in his contribution to national development but if he refuses to leave now that the ovation is high, young people will begin to make jest of him. One big mistake Obasanjo made was that he did not groom successors because he believes in himself alone.
Tomorrow is the National Convention of the APC, but you have crisis in virtually all the states as a result of the outcome of the ward, local government and state congresses. Won’t the dispute affect the chances of the ruling party in 2019?
There is nowhere in the world that you will conduct party congresses and you won’t have those who are disenchanted because congresses are the main elections. Congresses are where party officials are elected both at the ward, local government and state, hence if somebody wins, it means somebody has lost. As expected those who lost will always find something wrong with the process and that is the position. It would have been easier if the tenure of the existing party leadership is elongated, but APC being a democratic party chose to toe the part of democracy. So, the reconciliation committee led by Sen. Lawal Shaibu, who is the National Deputy Chairman North, is working out modalities to appease aggrieved members in all the affected states.
What you just said appear to give credence to the accusation by Governor Rochas Okorocha that his opposition to tenure elongation of Oyegun and other members of the NWC was why Oyegun used you and the National Organising Secretary of your party, Sen. Osita Izunaso to ensure he was shortchanged during the congresses in the state. How true?
It is only Governor Okorocha that can explain what he meant by that because, in Imo, members of the ruling party freely exercised their franchise and elected party executives in the wards, local governments and in the state. So, Okorocha has to explain to us how he was shortchanged by the National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun and how some of us were used to work against his interest. I’m not in a position to deny or support this allegation. I’m aware that the National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdulahi reprimanded Okorocha and asked him to focus and concentrate on his job. As far as I’m concern, there were congresses in Imo where all the members of the party participated and candidates elected through transparent process.
Many are of the view that the dispute between you and the governor forced you to resign your position as Secretary of National Convention Planning Committee of APC, in spite of the reasons you tried to put forward. What is your take?
I don’t have any other reasons, however, let me state clearly that I was not sacked or forced out of the committee rather I resigned on my own volition. As a matter of fact, the party had offered me a letter after I resigned asking me to remain as Adviser to the National Convention Chairman, but I rejected the offer. I took the decision because some people were threatened by my position as Secretary. They believe my position will impede on their franchise to vote the candidate of their choice or to get their candidates to win election. That was why I decided to resign in order to pave way for a level playing ground during the convention.
There is fear within the ruling APC that some governors may leave the party after the convention including Okorocha, what is your view?
Majority of Imolites are grateful to God for what is happening in Imo State as majority of party members are looking forward and hoping that this will lead to Okorocha’s exit from the party. So, it will be a blessing in disguise if the governor leaves the party. I advice Okorocha to take a bold step and look for another party through which he can make his son in-law governor because under Imo APC, Okorocha’s plan to make his in-law governor is dead on arrival. The fact that he has lost the party structure in the state is a sign that his time is up in Imo as leader of party and as I speak to you APC is being revived in the state and Okorocha is finding it hard to accept.
Considering how much time and resources Okorocha put in to build and sustain APC in Imo and South-East when most of the key entrants opposed the party, don’t you think the governor deserve whatever he is asking for?
I disagree that APC is a successful party in the South-East because in terms of election in the zone, PDP has more elected officials than APC. For instance, in the Senate we have Senators Andy Uba, Hope Uzodinma and Ogbu Orji who won on the platform of PDP but have crossed over to APC , there is no governor from the opposition that has cross-carpeted to the ruling party. So, there is nothing much Okorocha did that will warrant his son in-law to succeed him. The people of Imo are still jubilating and celebrating the defeat of Okorocha at the grassroots as they will forever remain grateful to God for liberating them from the clutches of wickedness and tyranny.
So, you mean Okorocha has done more harm to APC in Imo than good?
For three years now Okorocha boxed the people of Imo State into a corner leaving them helpless and hopeless until after the congresses of the APC when the people in conjunction with coalition of major political actors in the ruling party joined forces and ensured that the congresses were free and fair which led to the governor losing out as his political strength was reduced. Before now, the people of Imo have been in political bondage because of bad leadership exhibited by Okorocha, but their hope came alive after the congresses. Now that the governor has failed to continue to control the party structure in Imo State which is why he is alleging that he is being marginalised.
There is insinuation that key members of your party may defect if Buhari emerges presidential candidate of APC?
I doubt if there is any key member of APC that is going to any new or old political party if Buhari emerges APC Presidential flag bearer because the platform does not exist. The PDP is completely in comatose and I don’t see what the major opposition party will do within the remaining eight months to overcome its own crises and become a national party once more. Yes, in APC we have our challenges, but within eight months, we will resolve all disputes. The so-called African Democratic Congress (ADC) or the Third Force which I referred to as a spent force can never fly in 2019 because the political situation on ground won’t allow them achieve much.
Are you saying that if Buhari emerges as APC Presidential candidate, those who are eyeing the position will remain?
Buhari will definitely emerge the presidential candidate of APC and no member will leave because the president is a true democrat. He wants to go through the entire phase of the primaries and at the end of the day, he will clinch the ticket.
What about members who have shown interest to run for presidency in 2019 on the platform of APC?
I don’t know anybody who has shown interest to run for the presidency on the platform of the ruling party. (Daily Sun)
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