Enugu State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Ben Nwoye in this interview with KENNETH OFOMA, speaks on the crisis besetting the party in his state and the readiness of APC to win in 2019
How many people have bought nomination forms and your preparations for APC primaries?
We have six persons who have purchased forms to vie for governorship position and it is a historic achievement by APC in Enugu State. It has never happened before, N22.5 million, six persons paid it. We have nine persons vying for the Senate and that makes it average of three per zone. In addition to that we have 28 persons vying for House of Representatives, seeking just eight seats. We have 79 persons vying for House of Assembly. This is APC I have grown under my leadership, it’s historic. They are only seeking… these persons are seeking to go in for 24 seats, almost three for one seat, under the leadership of my own humble self as APC Chairman. These things were not achieved in one day, it took us time. In 2015 we were begging people to take forms and they even gave Enugu State as well as South-East waiver not to pay for forms, but they couldn’t sell any. Even at that people still refused to participate by picking up free forms to contest under APC.
Today, we have turned things around, just little by little, ordinary people, youths, men and women, elderly under the believe that we can do better, we must have alternative voice, alternative party that people can express their political freedom. These are the good things we have done, and we know that come 2019 we are going to take the state; we are going to produce the next governor of the state.
Can you tell us about the crisis that almost led to violent clash in your state secretariat last Tuesday?
The APC Youths for Buhari, South-East, Enugu State chapter, in combination with Buhari Volunteer Movement in their attempt to galvanise and generate votes for Buhari in 2019 decided that as they kick off their activities, they do prayer to call on our Lord Jesus Christ to guide them as they attempt to generate votes realising that their being supporters of Buhari suffer immense pressure from the Christian Community in Enugu State and across the South-East.
So some young ministers among them organised a serious prayer, so they gathered early hours because of their prayer. A top government official for whatever reason, organised thugs, through his henchman and they invaded the party secretariat with arms and ammunition. It was only the alertness and swift action by the security agents led by the Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed that lives and property were secured.
This is the fourth time the government official would collaborate with another person to attack the party secretariat. What is unfortunate is that no investigation has been conducted since the attacks were carried out, the minister is now above the law, he has not been queried.
I have filed series of reports, I have reported to the Hon Commissioner (of police), the matter against them was assigned to an investigator, specifically naming the factional chairman because he came into the party secretariat, came to my office destroyed materials of value; the party registration material, destroyed my official desk and chairs; carted away rice meant for widows as part of our mobilization exercise in the rural areas. Nothing was done. We took the matter to the IG, a petition filed by myself with the approval of a lawyer; still he is still walking as someone who is above the law. He is an outlaw, but he lives under the cover of the minister.
Last Tuesday, thank God the peaceful youths and prayerful youths, the Youths for Buhari, South East and the Buhari Volunteer Movement members and the Young Ministers for Christ who gathered simply continued with their prayers and asked God to help them because they have no federal might, they have no security protection, they have no appointment of any nature; but all they have is God, so God answered their prayer and commissioner came in and was able to arrest the situation, his men took hold the Okey Ogbodo, took him back to his village where he was restrained.
But I’m just calling on the IG to do more than that. Yes it is politics, but you don’t play politics with violence…. We have videos; we have pictures of him invading the state congress with thugs with unscrupulous members of DSS and I cried out loud and up till this day nothing has happened.
What measures are being taken by stakeholders to resolve the crisis and move the party forward ahead of the elections?
We had a meeting last Tuesday, good news is that despite all distractions, we had a meeting that is called under the leadership of His Excellency, Sen (Dr.) Chief Jim Nwobodo. He has called on all the stakeholders and the state executive to come together and the agenda was simply stated, preparation for 2019 general elections. Because we know that these people are sponsored, they are agents of the opposition political party, who don’t want us to survive. So, it will be chaired by Jim Nwobodo and all the stakeholders including the minister are invited to attend. We hope he will attend.
What has been the reaction of the national leadership of the party to the crisis in Enugu State?
We have a very active chairman, who is very busy ensuring our successes in the elections. This man is in charge of 37 chapters, 36 states plus Abuja, it’s a lot. It’s not about reaction of the National Chairman, what you should be asking is, a man who is serving the country as a minister …to tear the party apart? A party he did not participate in building? It’s just by the stroke of the luck that he became a minister. We supported him, I supported him, I walked him into the red chambers where he was cleared and screened. So what happened? People asked me to write petition against him, he is not a member of the party, he did not work for Buhari, he didn’t vote for Buhari, I said no, power comes from God, it’s magical that he becomes a minister but that’s because God wants him to be there.
But now he is playing God. So it’s not about what the national, ordinarily the state where good people and true party people are ministers, they grow the party, they don’t destroy the party, they use their office to grow people, empower people. His form of empowerment of people, the youth is to give N1000 to youths to go and kill people, to go and cause destruction, that’s what he is doing.
What you should be asking is that the National Chairman is not a security officer. We have made reports, you should be asking IG, chief of police, what happened to these reports? We wrote reports, we have copies of reports, in fact, they approved the petition against the factional chairman, his invasion, his criminal conduct…and then they approved, IG approved it. How could they approve these things and they are not inviting them, they are not in jail, they are roaming about the streets? We have the video of the minister …after people had been screened, accredited for the sate congress, that is not a national chairman’s job, that’s the job of security agencies.
The man is gunning for a breakdown of law and order; he is resorting to self help because he has failed all other attempts. He has an innate hatred for my person, I don’t know why but he is not God. And so that innate hatred continued to keep him blind of situation on ground. But I have follows, it’s not my fault, we work on them, we have followership; that my people love me is not something that I built, its God, a gift from God.
He might have position, he might have money but he doesn’t have the support of his own people. When he went to conduct congress in his village, they booed him and chased him away, some other person, own leader, Mr. Osita Okechukwu was cheered and they raised him shoulder high and they voted for his own candidate because he is a man of the people, he didn’t have big office, he didn’t have too much money, he was loved by the people. And that’s what politics is all about, but he things that politics is oh he is a minister you are in charge, he claims leadership.
With all this challenges and crisis facing your state chapter of the party and you are still saying that APC will win Enugu State in 2019?
Absolutely, let’s look at what happened, let’s look at the last election as a measure, the most rudimentary election you have is the last election which was November election, the local government election. He was causing trouble, he didn’t participate, but grassroots people participated and PDP people ran away. We still have what it takes, they cannot get the result sheets like they did last time, there will be voting and people will protect their votes. They took it and went to some government or community centres and wrote result, you were present. So the minister was causing trouble then still but the real members, the real people you can’t deceive them, on the Election Day they will vote for candidates of their choice. And you know that if they had allowed for the votes to be counted, we would have taken over most of the councils.
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