Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain Senator Chris Adighije has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with FRANK IKPEFAN, he speaks on his defection, Abia State politics and APC’s prospecting the Southeast.
What is the political situation in Abia State?
As you know, I was a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and I was the National Treasurer of the National Republican Convention (NRC). When I was the national treasurer, Theodore Orji was nowhere near politics. So, you can call me an elder statesman of Abia politics and never before in my political history have I seen party politics personalised by the last governor of Abia State. The PDP in Abia State became a private affair and every effort to bring them back on track failed. that and so many other things discouraged me. More worrisome is the manner with which contestants hijacked the primaries that held.
The process that threw out Ikpeazu could not stand and I had to bow out of the PDP. I tried to see which other way one can maintain his political image. There was a total siege on politicians in Abia where people could not express their views freely. people like me lost their position as national delegate. at that stage, I became the only national officer of the party denied the national delegate of my local government (Umuahia South), which I built.
These people used their positions to try to run down politicians. Having bowed out and gone into the APC, being that its members are those who are determined to show something for it. In Abia, for instance, the APC did not win a seat, either at the House of Assembly; the gubernatorial and even at t national, the APC in Abia and indeed the South East requires an injection of resourceful politicians to be able to make the party stand and compete in subsequent election. That was why I left the PDP for the APC. I don’t believe in politics of bitterness, so I am not interested in running down people but I wish Abians will learn. There is a revolution going on now in Abia, you could see that out of the six constituencies who for seats, PDP and APGA in quote, PDP won only two constituencies while the APGA took four, this is to tell you that the PDP has lost it.
Are you not worried that the APC is not popular in the Southeast?
The right word may not be ‘not accepted’ because if you look very carefully, you will see quite a lot of seasoned politicians from the regions are beginning to join the APC, initially, the parties that metamorphosed into APC were not strong in the East, even APGA, which was the only party then where Rochas belonged opted out of that union, but all that is changing now.
It is better for us in the East to play national politics and be able to compete with other regions. Naturally, the Southeast cannot be excluded in national politics; if you don’t have the South East in national politics, then, it is not stable. I always believe that we have to do our best to convince our people that, that is where to go, the PDP having disappointed the South east in all its entirety: promises that have been made; bridges that were to be built; roads that were to be constructed, the PDP failed to fulfill those promises. I think we need to find our progress and development in a national party like the APC.
Do you think that the South east is being treated fairly enough by the APC Federal Government?
If you ask me, I will tell you that something is missing. we have not gotten to where we ought to get to. The Southeast appeared to be totally endeared at that time to the PDP, but like I said, having been disappointed, promises that were not fulfilled, you could see the change. people like Jim Nwobodo, people like Gbazuagu Gbazuagu, people like Senator Emmanuel Agboti, Senator Ararume, and so on have all joined the APC to take what belong to us.
With the new people coming into the APC, we should be able to take more states in the incoming elections. With regards to the appointment, I must tell you that I admit it should have been better than what we have; the problem is that we have been away from the APC and now, we are by the fire side and we have to watch our yam and make sure it is well cooked.
I believe that the APC government will have to review appointments in the Southeast to make it at par with other regions. We are looking at 2019. We have just one state now, but I just told you that, in Abia, in the last election, you could see that the PDP has lost grip, even though there is a sitting PDP government. If you go to Anambra State, you can also see the confusion in the PDP. If you observe very well, you could see that the Igbo leadership is beginning to come together to review the entire national politics.
Do you see the APC winning more states in the Southeast in 2019?
I have just told you that. The work to win more states in the South East from the PDP has started already.
You talked about a siege of top politicians in Abia State. could you please explain better?
A people can have their mentality under siege when you see something white and another person will tell you that what he saw was black. The past PDP government in Abia State, led by Theodore Orji, for whatever reason made elder statesmen in Abia look like novices in politics. It became very difficult for elder statesmen to express themselves fully, when it became very clear that stakeholders did not make any input in the choice of candidates. Majority of Abians were not carried along in the PDP. There was mass movement of people from the PDP to other parties. that is what happens when people are pushed to the wall.
You said the APC in the Southeast needs injection of men and resources. are you expecting the party at the national level to do anything special in the region?
Clearly, I want to say that the APC officials at the national level have all done their best, given the way people view the APC at that time. They have tried to build, but as you know, they have their limitation; the state chairman of the APC in Abia, for instance, is an experienced young man but, he has his limitations. I believe that if we rally round him now that we have other stakeholders coming in, we should be able to galvanize the party, and we should be able to change people’s opinion as to the fact that the APC is a national ruling party irrespective of religion, tribe or ethnicity.
These stakeholders are coming into the party with their massive followers. The party at the national level ought to also see this and begin to review the party in the Southeast to ensure they empower people to develop the party. The appointment should be spread to encourage growth of the people. The APC seriously needs the Southeast in 2019. Almost all the oil-producing states are PDP, whether we like it or not, the party cannot be run without fund. we need stakeholders that are strong enough to carry the party and the people along in the South East.
It is obvious that Nigerians are suffering and wallowing in poverty. how can we explain that?
When people of my age look at what is happening, perhaps, the rot in the fabric was really deep. it is like somebody who is living above his means and you are not conscious of the fact the root have been removed. The country got to a point where people were just living false life but the reality is there now. We need to go down before we can rise and that is what is happening now. I believe that the government of Buhari is trying to unravel how badly we have fallen, this is no longer fake life, and it is real life especially with the fall in oil price. If we want this change that we voted for, there has to be a new style of living, everybody is feeling the pinch now and we are gradually adapting to the situation. I don’t see Nigeria surviving without going through this pain we are going through now.
People should be patient with the present administration. Before you send your children abroad for school, you must check your purse to ensure you can afford it. Money is no longer cheap and life is rough. we have to start remodeling our lifestyle, Nigeria must survive, though it comes with a lot of sacrifice. it is very painful, but, sacrifice is the word, if we support the government,
I believe in another two years, we will begin to appreciate the effort of the present government and things will begin to go in line. For the first time, a president is apologising to Nigerians over the epileptic power supply to Nigerians. I never heard that before. It is a sign of good things to come. Are we going through serious pains? Yes! Are Nigerians starving? Yes!! Is there hope? Yes!!! And once there is hope, I believe we will get there.