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PDP has betrayed Abians – Prof Nduaguibe



Nduaguibe. Photo credit: Abia Facts

Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and head of Dr. Alex Otti Campaign Organisation, Professor Max Nduaguibe, has said that the incumbent governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will lose the upcoming governorship election even in his own village because he has failed the people.

Professor Nduaguibe who made the submission in this interview with Obinna Ezugwu, explained why Dr. Otti is the right man for Abia State. He also shared his views on President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance and the general instability in the country.

What would you tell those who might say, well, why can’t Alex allow Governor Ikpeazu to finish his second term? Other zones have had eight years. Why can’t an Ngwa man do eight years?

Well, it is not as if we are looking at our own future; our own development in terms of clannish considerations. What Abia people need is good governance; we are not necessarily interested in who is governor or where he comes from. Even at that, let’s say that Ngwa people, who I’m part of, have also tasted power. And we have seen that the rotation of power from clan to clan doesn’t help the growth of Abia State. In 20 years that such has been the case, what can we point at to say, this is what we gained or this is what the PDP governments have done for us in our various localities.

The party is of no consequence anymore to the people of Abia State. We want good governance; we want to be like others. Go to Akwa Ibom, go to Ebonyi, go to Anambra and you will see that we are the worst in terms of development; even in human development. This government is not even talking about human development. It is incapable of erecting even a common bridge. The issue is no longer about two terms for Ikpeazu. We can’t continue to mortgage our lives to some experiments that are of no consequence to the lives of the people.

Apart from Dr. Otti, there are also other candidates who probably have the same message of Abia needing a change at this stage. Why do you think he is the best of all the others?

There are so many things. First of all, Dr. Otti is standing on his own feet. He is nobody’s lackey. Secondly, he is eminently qualified in terms of knowledge, in terms of management of resources, having been a banker of note for several years. So, his achievements tower over that of every other person in the race. None of them comes close to Dr. Otti in terms of the capacity to govern Abia State.

He is up against an incumbent who has the state apparatus, and the powerful ‘Abia cabal.’ What gives you confidence that he stands a chance?

Well, that cabal was together in 2015, yet we saw the impression Dr. Alex Otti made in terms of winning the votes of the people. He won the votes of the people. He defeated that cabal, so he will defeat them again. Not only that, the cabal has now been split into two. Many of them have moved to APC, and they are no longer in unity. The more they split, the more their strength weakens. Dr. Otti continues to harness the dissatisfied both from the PDP and the APC. They continue to flock to him. They want change, they are tired of the governance we have had in the last 20 years. That cabal is so afraid of Dr. Alex Otti that they have done everything humanly possible to stop him from running in this election. And at each step, he defeats them. They are marvelled b his maverick nature. They can’t catch him, and that makes them to lose sleep.

You pointed out that in 2015, Otti won people’s vote. But the reality is that he didn’t become governor. What will you say to those who might say, well, it’s just a waste of time voting for him?

How can you allow yourself to become a slave? The mere fact that he was robbed of his victory in 2015 has energized him. He has learned from that experience, he has understood the character of the people he is dealing with. He is very ready for them now. And mind you, elections had never held in Abia State. They usually wrote results. But this time around, there is every likelihood that elections will hold and votes will count.

In 2015, they were able to manipulate the results with what we call incident forms. They went and increased their votes in various local governments using the incident from. There is no more room for incident forms. We are going to use the card reader, which guarantees that the votes will count. But we are waiting for them; let’s see which other manoeuvring they want to do. But you can be rest assured that we are equal to the task.

You noted that people are moving into the APC. They have power at the centre and we saw how they used that power in Osun recently. Are you not worried they might do something similar in Abia?

The likelihood of a party using federal might depend essentially on the acceptability of that party within the environment. APC as a party is not accepted in Abia State; APC as a party is not accepted in Igbo land. It is none of Alex Otti’s making. We are not afraid of the APC and their federal might. The federal might will come – and we saw it in Anambra where they were unable to execute their plans because they were not popular there – in Abia, there won’t be any difference. For you to rig an election and go scot-free you have to be popular in that environment; you have to be reasonably accepted within that environment.

You mentioned Anambra which is interesting because there, APC came second, beating the PDP, which is popular in the zone, to third place?

The politics is different, so I don’t want to dabble into that. Let me remain within the context of the politics of Abia State. I agree with you that it is likely that members of APC in Abia State are priding themselves of the use of federal might to capture power in Abia State. But you ask yourself, where are they? Is the election going to be conducted in Abuja and the result brought to Abia State? Are they going to import the results from Abuja?

Again, the APC and APGA, in my view, have a common enemy. And that common enemy is PDP; the members of the PDP who left for APC did so because they are dissatisfied with the PDP. Uche Ogah, the APC candidate, was in PDP. Alex Otti was in PDP, but they were all dissatisfied with the party. So, you now see that there is commonality of interest, even between Alex Otti and Uche Ogah and we are going to have a three horse race in that election.


But won’t that work in favour of the PDP? Since it then means that the opposition is polarised?

PDP ‘won’ the election with 264,713 votes and Abia State has a voting population of over 1.1million. Then, Alex Otti got 180,882 votes. I have added the 80,000 votes from one local government which was cooked up with incident forms, now, if you subtract that 80,000 votes, the PDP wouldn’t win obviously. But this time around, PDP has lost the sympathy of Ngwa people. In 2015, it was the general wish of Ngwa people to taste power at the level of the governorship, so every Ngwa man was expected to rally round Okezie Ikpeazu and you saw the result.

In 2015, two Ngwa people contested the election, Alex Otti and Ikpeazu. The issue was, is Dr. Alex Otti a true son of Ngwa or not? That was the propaganda used in 2015. But we can also ask the same question, is Ikpeazu a true son of Ngwa because we all know our origins as Ngwa people. And let me also tell you, all of us came from somewhere; all human beings came from somewhere. There is continuous movement of people.

Barack Obama’s father came from Kenya, but that didn’t make him a Kenyan. He remains an American. The mere fact that Dr. Alex Otti traces his roots to Arochukwu doesn’t make him an Arochukwu indigene; he remains a bona-fide Ngwa son. We understand that in politics, you use propaganda to deceive people. But people have seen through PDP’s propaganda in that sense. Now, if Ikpeazu is a true son of Ngwa, then let him pay Ngwa people their salaries. Let him pay Ngwa people their pensions.

Let him develop Ngwa land. He is not doing any of that, so how can I continue to claim that he is an Ngwa governor, the one I fought for in 2015? I can no longer justifiable claim that Ikpeazu represents Ngwa interests. Because of that, the goodwill he harvested in 2015 has completely dissipated. He doesn’t enjoy that goodwill anymore among Ngwa people, even in his own local government. And that is where he will start failing. He will start failing from his own local government.

But is there a sufficient evidence to suggest that Ngwa no longer support the governor?

Of course, there is. The young men in Ikpeazu’s local government who were used to battle Alex Otti in 2015 where expecting the dividends of democracy; to reap their rewards, but go there today. They abuse Ikpeazu from morning till night. He practically abandoned them. This is a man who can’t even build the road that passes through his father’s compound. I mean, if I were governor, for God’s sake, the first road I will build is the one that passes through my house, at least so that my visitors will have easy access to my house. But that’s not the case with Ikpeazu, so what will an Umuobiakwa man, from the same village with him, show as his reason for supporting Ikpeazu? I pass through that road, it’s a shame. He hasn’t done up to one kilometer of the road in almost four years.

I come from Isialangwa for example, what has Ikpeazu’s government done for my people? Nothing! But Alex Otti has attracted a road from Isieketa to Mbawsi almost 12 kilometers road, and it’s being tarred. And it cuts across several villages in Ngwa land. And this is somebody who is not yet in government, but he is doing that for his people. You can now imagine what he will do when he gets into government. There is no match between Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Otti in terms of capacity, in terms of knowledge, in terms of capability, there is no match.

But what are specific expectations? What specifically are the things Alex Otti is bringing to the table?

Alex Otti has a manifesto and the manifesto has a detailed proposal of the things he is going to accomplish as governor. And knowing him, and how meticulous he is, I know he is going to accomplish those things one after the other. He is not going to be printing billboards to show what he has not done. He is not going to go to the radio to tell them to announce the things that he didn’t do. Our people in Abia State today know that the government radio is an instrument of propaganda and lies.

Sometimes you get amazed when they announce that the road that passes through your father’s compound has been tarred. And you ask yourself, is it the same compound I come from? The same road I’m looking at now? It’s a government that is sustained by lies. And Abia people have seen through it. Nobody listens to Abia radio, BCA, anymore. Even the staff of BCA, the purveyors of those lies went on strike. What would have made them to go on strike for God’s sake? It’s non payment of salary, the same salary they have been announcing that he has paid; that nobody is owed in Abia State. It’s crazy.

APGA is the platform upon which Dr. Otti is running for governor. It’s a political party that is increasingly derailing from its original ideology, especially in view of the primary elections in Imo and Anambra. Are you concerned?

You know, when Bola Tinubu started to develop his sphere of influence within his region, he mounted on AD, AC, ACN to be able to pull his people together. Ojukwu did that with APGA and handed over to the next generation. That party was used to develop Anambra state. If you go to Anambra today, it’s one of the states in this country that is fairly developed in terms of infrastructure, in terms of welfare. Now, remember too, that it is also on the platform of APGA that Rochas Okorocha won Imo governorship election in 2011, but he betrayed the party. That was when betrayal started.

Now, Peter Obi, after his governorship, left the party and went to PDP. He left the party more or less intact for his successor, Willie Obiano. It is a shame that the party is being destroyed in the face of Obiano. As the leader of the party, the party is completely being destroyed.

I think that the merchants who took over the party with Obiano decided to use it to make money. And they have made sufficient money from Imo people, from Abia people, even from Anambra people. You can see that they even denied the wife of Ojukwu, Bianca ticket, because they felt she was not going to give them the kind of money they wanted.

But a political party is only a platform; it’s a ladder with which people climb into positions. We have gone to the extent where we must continue with APGA and when we get there, I promise you, we will rebuild APGA.


You don’t share the fear that APGA may die?

Well, people have speculated all kinds of things. People have said that Obiano had an agreement with Buhari; that he was going to destroy APGA. People have also speculated that because APGA is seen as an Igbo party, the federal government is going to destroy it. All these things are speculations, they don’t mean anything. There are over 90 parties in this country; APGA is just one of them. And the quality of people that are in a party gives that party a face; gives the party recognition.

In a place like India, you can have a party that only wins election in one state, and they will continue to do so. And maybe at some point, they will go into an alliance with other parties to take power at the federal level. We can also say do so in APGA when the chips are down. In Abia State, quality human beings make up APGA; that will tell the story of APGA in the state in 2019.

When you look at Nigeria, the killings and the division, everyone seems to agree that the country is divided, are you worried about the future?

Of course! Who won’t be worried about the future of Nigeria? Before 2015, the unity of this country was maintained on the basis of a tripod; on the basis of the acceptance that there are three major ethnic groups that make up this country. The subjugation of the Igbo by APC and (Muhammadu) Buhari created a dislocation whereby a whole region was asked to go to hell. That has created part of the instability.

It’s like when you have something standing on a tripod and all a sudden, it is standing on two, it can’t be steady. Until Nigeria recognized that the tripod must be restored for this whole country to sit on, there will be no peace. And it wasn’t done by the Igbo; it was done by Buhari and his style of governance. It has become common knowledge that he doesn’t like the Igbo and even in his body language, he has not hidden it.

But he keeps saying he has been fair to the Igbo?

How can he say that? Has he, for instance, done the second Niger Bridge he promised?

But he can also argue that he is not the only president who didn’t do it…

Very well, in what way then has he been fair to the Igbo? What has he got to tell the Igbo?

He said he gave them four substantive ministers...

Which is statutory: The constitution stipulates that every state must have a minister. Is that a favour? That can’t be a favour. When he says that I laugh, it’s like he hasn’t even read the constitution. We are talking about appointments that the president makes outside the constitutional provisions. Look at the entire defence architecture. No single Igbo person.

When, for example, the army decided to invade the East, we were taken completely unawares, because none of our person was there when the decision was taken. And even the army hierarchy had nobody to contact in order to douse the anger of the youths. If they had an Igbo man in their midst, he would have been their ambassador to the youths. But they didn’t have anybody, so they descended on the youths unprovoked and unannounced.

2019 is shaping up: it’s basically now Atiku and Obi vs Buhari and Osibanjo. Do you feel that Atiku has a chance?

You know I belonged to SDP at the same time Atiku was a member of SDP. I also worked with General Shehu Musa Ya’Adua at the same time Atiku worked with him. In fact, I was already with General Ya’Adua when Atiku was in his last days in Customs. You can see that there is an emotional attachment between me and Atiku as a person. We belong to, if you like, one political family. So, you will not be far off if you predict my own prognosis.

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