… says most people in APGA have PDP running in their veins
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Chief Emeka Vincent Igwe, an accomplished business mogul based in Port Harcourt, was driven by Governor Willie Obiano’s leadership style and think-home philosophy and decided to return home to contribute his token to rural and urban development. His burning desire to cause a drastic change in Awka-South 1 state constituency and Anambra at large prompted him to pursue his political ambition to the Anambra State House of Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) but events took a dramatic turn as his aspiration to the state assembly on the platform of APGA was dashed because the party allegedly deceived him and siphoned his hard-earned money without recourse to fair play. But he found solace in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he became the candidate of the party for Awka-South 1 in the 2019 general elections. In this interview with RAYMOND OZOJI in Awka, Chief Emeka Vincent Igwe recounts his ordeal with APGA and why nemesis should visit the national chairman of the party. Excerpts:
Let’s begin this session with an official introduction of yourself.
Well. My name is Chief Emeka Vincent Igwe. I am a native of Umuogbu in Awka, Awka-South local government area of Anambra state. I grew up in Port Harcourt but did my university education at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
I joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) because I saw something remarkable in His Excellency Willie Mmaduabrochukwu Obiano. I liked his style of governance and after his talk on think-home agenda, I decided to come back to Anambra state to see if I can contribute my own quota to the development and welfare of our people. I worked for him during his re-election on Nov.18th, 2017. I also worked for Victor Umeh on 13th January, 2018. I invested my money and time to make sure they were delivered in my ward and constituency respectively.
Their motto is Be Your Brother’s Keeper and I believed that our leader His Excellency Willie Obiano was a very principled person because he told us that the primary elections would be free and fair; that there is no sacred cow and anointed son. That everybody should go to the field if you desire to contest for any position under the party. He said it on so many occasions and a lot of people like me believed that that was the true position. But alas, that was where the extortion started. Aspirants were extorted massively both from people in government and people in the party. People were massively extorted for tickets!
It wasn’t a matter of buying the tickets but it was more of fair play. The incumbent already had power; had resources and godfathers! Now those vying against them didn’t have all of those so they tried to buy allegiance and that was how they got extorted. After the extortion, we all believed that at the end of the day, the election would be free and fair but unfortunately in most constituencies the primaries did not hold but results were produced and winners were declared. How and when those happened, most of us don’t know. In my constituency, 4th October, 2018 was the date that was scheduled for the primary elections. It was supposed to be at Awka-South local government Secretariat but under 24hours that location was changed to King David hotel Awka. I got to know about King David the morning of the election day that the location has been changed. I was overwhelmed because I know that King David hotel is where my opponent has a stake. He is like a part-owner of the hotel. At that point, I knew something was wrong and the reason they gave was that the secretariat was not in Awka; that it was in Amawbia. Eventually, we went there hoping that the primaries will hold but at the end of the day, he brought thugs, most of them from his village and filled the whole place and there was commotion! The Returning Officer Law Chinwuba had to calm the place down and started calling names of statutory delegates.
Furthermore, from the documents we were given, we were told that the statutory delegates would be chairmen, women leader and youth leader respectively. So, when they called the chairman for ward 1 he came out. They called the youth leader he came out. But when they called the name of the woman leader, it wasn’t the woman leader of the ward that came out. They called the assistant but the woman leader insisted that she is the woman leader; that her assistant cannot take her position and that was how the commotion started and the Returning Officer announced that the election has been postponed indefinitely. That they would be communicated if there is any change and they all left. Before long, I got a rumour that they would hold the primaries at Suncity hotel Awka which is opposite King David hotel. I immediately called the state chairman of APGA and he said it was not true that they were still in a meeting; that it was after the meeting that they would decide whether it would hold or not. All the same, we went to Suncity hotel, sat there and waited patiently.
We were at Suncity hotel till 12 midnight just to be sure that nothing happened and really nothing happened; only for me to hear that Nnamdi Okafor has been given the certificate of return, that the election was conducted and he won; that the election was conducted at Suncity hotel where we were till 12 midnight and nothing happened. I went to the state chairman to complain and he said there was nothing he could do about it and that the national chairman has decided that it is Nnamdi Okafor. I said but the primaries did not hold and they told me that there was absolutely nothing they could do to change the situation and that the matter has been decided. We bought forms at one million naira each. We paid for ad hoc delegates N10,000 each for people in all the wards and after spending all the money, they didn’t conduct the primaries. It’s fraud as far as I’m concerned! It was after sometime that I heard that the election they said held, that I got 24 votes while he got 30 votes. So he won by 6 votes. I was not there. I didn’t sign the result sheet. It was funny how election can happen in somebody’s absence and the person still got votes. Be that as it may, I decided that APGA wasn’t credible enough and I found my way out of the party.
As I joined the PDP after my ugly encounter with APGA, I found out that PDP is a better and more credible alternative. I found out that they were more organized and very receptive. The PDP is a bigger party with national outlook unlike the former one that resides within Anambra state only. So my experience with APGA wasn’t palatable. It was indeed a terrible encounter! They don’t appreciate integrity but I am happier where I am now.
In other words, what you are saying is that APGA deceived you?
Yes. They deceived not just me but a whole lot of people.
But if you are to score APGA, what will you score the party judging from your experience with it?
Anyway you would have to separate the party from the Executive arm because they are two different entities. The Governor is doing very well. The Governor is the reason why I am in Anambra state today vying for this position. I believe he has the interest of Ndi-anambra at heart. But the party especially the national chairman of APGA who is supposed to take responsibility for all that happened in the primaries is supposed to have resigned from office by now knowing that he did horrible things in the party’s primary elections. If he was to be scored for the conduct of APGA primaries, I will say he scored less than zero. So for me, APGA is not for Ndigbo! It is for the national chairman and his cronies!
So why did you find solace in PDP when there are other alternatives to explore?
Credibility! If you look at the primaries, you find out that PDP is the only major political party not in court over conduct of primaries. APC, a lot of them are in court. APGA, 80% are in court but you can’t find PDP in court over the conduct of its primaries because everybody accepted the outcome in good faith.
Do you also think that Awka-South 1 state constituency has embraced PDP because Anambra is almost a one-party state?
I think so because APGA is a part of PDP. So most people in APGA have PDP running in their veins. We all wanted to identify with our leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu by supporting the party he blessed and sanctified for the Igbo race. If not for the way the primary elections were conducted, APGA would have had two or three more states in the southeast. But the primaries were handled very immaturely and they made a mess of the whole process! PDP has 80% stronghold in my constituency against APGA and because of the way the primaries were handled, a lot of people have defected from APGA to PDP in my constituency.
Now why do you have this zeal to represent Awka-South 1 state constituency at the 7th Anambra Assembly?
Primarily for the welfare of my people. As a legislator, there is not much you can do. The major work is to make laws, sponsor bills and motions as well as oversight duties. But for my constituents and coming from the state capital Awka, the development in this area has not been much. The Governor’s Operation Light-Up Anambra State is working even in my constituency. Three flyovers have been built in my local government area but it is not enough. My primary job is to the grassroots. People in the villages are suffering. Infrastructure is very poor in the villages and cost of living is high. Although it is not the fault of the Governor, if elected, I intend to find out if there is any law in place that mandates government to invest a certain portion of revenue in the state capital and if there is none, I intend to sponsor one. Awka is the state capital and it is worth something like that.
If you come to Awka, you won’t believe it the capital of Anambra state because there is nothing to show for it. So a certain amount of money should be earmarked for the development of Awka capital territory. Secondly, I will make sure that certain key projects are put in the budget for the development of my constituency because part of the functions of a legislator is appropriation. I also intend to attract more infrastructural development to my constituency through Non-Governmental Organisations especially to address erosion devastation in my constituency. I will also look at the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Programme (NEWMAP) to see what they can do for us to tackle environmental challenges. Thirdly, constituency allowance for constituency projects: We intend to earmark on a certain amount of money for rural market women at zero interest rate as well as make it rotational. The essence is to empower them to empower their families and reduce poverty in the remote villages and communities.
Having highlighted some of your priority areas if elected, are you by any means trying to discredit the performance of the incumbent representative?
Yes. He has not done anything for the constituency. If there is one thing he has done, let him show it. I have been here for a couple of years and I have asked questions and there is absolutely nothing that he has done. His predecessor Kenechukwu Chukwuemeka did far better than him. He has no list of constituency achievements. He has never mentioned anything that he has done but keeps saying that the people should vote for him that he would be a ranking member of the House if re-elected. He failed woefully and has accepted his abysmal performance.
So are you also saying that his inability to prove his mettle is an added advantage to you?
Yes. If he had done well I will not be contesting against him. He doesn’t understand what it takes to be a legislator.
Very quickly, the 2019 election is around the corner. Are you nursing fears that the election in your constituency maybe rigged in favour of the incumbent?
The election cannot be rigged. Although most people are still being carried away by the euphoria of 21/21 that the Governor scored in 2017, the forthcoming election is not an APGA affair like before because nobody will sit down and watch people rig election. I can tell you confidently that PDP will win all-round. PDP will win the presidency. PDP will win senatorial seats, reps seats and also win seats in the State House of Assembly. PDP has learnt from its mistakes and I’m optimistic about our landslide victory in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.