Basil Ejidike is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State. In this interview with JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM, he speaks on the forthcoming governorship election in the state, challenges the party face in the state and expectations from its national leadership. Excerpts:
How do you think that APC can win Anambara State in the coming governorship election?
Three things are very important. There is this fact that the party has all it takes and there is no ambiguity on that. The party has all it takes to win any election in Anambra – both human and material resources.
That is assured. Having said that, the first thing to do will be by trying to encourage unity among the people who refer to themselves as leaders of the party in Anambara State for them to close ranks and do things together, knowing fully well that If somebody emerges as governor, it will be to the benefit of all of them but if the party ends up losing, all of them would have lost.
So, the most important thing is to get people like Senator Chris Ngige, Senator Andy Uba, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Chief George Moghalu and others to see the need to work together. Johnbosco has no problem because he has not held any major office. He is not a threat to anybody but l am talking of people who have held one position or the other.
If this people can appreciate the need for them to work together, we will go places. These are essentially foundation members of the party. You can even add Raph Okeke, who was the running mate to Chris Ngige in the 2013 election.
So, if this people can come together and appreciate the need for unity and work together by agreeing that whoever emerges in the primaries all of them will do everything they can to support the person, we have achieved 50 per cent success. On the part of the followers, l will say they have little or no problem. We have nothing less than 50 stakeholders, who are equally leaders in their own right but l am talking of people who call themselves super leaders.
If these super leaders can come together and work together, have one objective and one focus on how to win election, we will get it. There is also a role to be played by the party’s national office. There is no reward system in the party. A situation where people; foundation members who worked for the party and are still working for the party are not being considered for any appointment does not call for joy at all. It is important that people should be rewarded as it will be a source of inspiration to others.
At least people can always say this man has been rewarded, so let me do everything l can in order for me to be also rewarded. But when people who have been working have not been rewarded in any way, it has a terrible discouraging effect on the efforts of party members. So, the issue of reward system should be considered and considered very seriously.
The third one is non-recognition of party leaders in the states in the decisions of the Federal Government, In this case, you will see a situation where the Federal Government or the presidency makes appointments from Anambra State and the party is not brought into focus at all.
The leadership of the party in the state will only hear that somebody has been appointed and because of this kind of situation people go on their own to pay their way through to get appointments. When you pay millions to get an appointment, you have no obligation to the party leaders in the state.
You also don’t have obligation to party members, and that is why most times, people who are appointed from Anambra are not even known by the party. With this situation, people from opposition parties even benefit more than those of us in the party.
What are the implications of this to the party?
Of course, you can agree with me that it cannot in any way help the party. But if the government wants to make an appointment and they now ask the person to get recommendations from the party and if the party makes recommendations, at least the person to some extent will have that regard and will even want to contribute to the management of the party in the state when he eventually gets something.
But in our situation, people just go on their own, pay their way to get appointments, while the party members only hear this person or that person has been appointed. That has not in any way improved the fortunes of the party Another issue is funding.
The fact that we are not in control of government in Anambra State makes it even more expedient if not very necessary that the party should be funded. Because the party is not involved in the ways appointments are made, added to the fact that there is no subvention deliberately paid to such states for party management makes it difficult.
We are not getting anything from the Federal Government and we are not getting from people who were appointed behind us. How do you now fund the party? In Anambra State, we have no functional party revenue and we don’t have any vehicle plying the streets of Anambra that has APC logo.
As the chairman of the party, you operate with your own private vehicle, you will pay your driver, you will pay your security and you will use your money to run around for party activities. In this situation, your guess is as good as mine. There is also non-involvement of the party leaders in the government palliatives to the state. Most of the social releases, social programs and public empowerment programmes sent down to the state in most cases are rooted through an opposition government.
Almost all the social welfare programmes are rooted through the governor on a platform of a different party. For instance, in the school feeding programme, the food suppliers, the cooks and all the rest of them wear aprons which are inscribed: ‘Willie is working.’ Willie Obiano is the governor of the state and the way people see it is that you are advertising the opposition party to the disadvantage of the main party sponsoring the programmes and it is like that because our party was not brought into focus when these things where done.
The last time, the Federal Government sent trailers of bags of rice to states, as l am talking to you as the chairman of APC in Anambra State l have not seen a single bag of that rice. Some of them where brought and rebagged and pictures of the governor placed on them and the governor takes glory. So, for the fact that the party is not involved when it comes to giving palliatives and all these things to people, how can the party grow?
What about the issue of membership…
Yes, the other one is the absence of authentic membership registers and party cards. You cannot say that somebody is a member of the party simply because the person says ‘l am a member.’ There must be identifiable way of knowing your members, we have no authentic way of identifying members and that is why we are in support of this idea of registration of members because we have no authentic register in Anambra State.
On record, 99 per cent of members of the party in Anambra State don’t have membership cards and when 99 per cent don’t have party cards, there is no other thing that will make you feel proud to say l am a member. When you don’t have a register where your name is written and you don’t have party’s card, how do you commit yourself fully to the activities of that party, So these are the major things that are needed to be sorted out and l think about six or seven of them.
You said at a time that the party’s leadership should help Anambra APC by not compromising the process of selection of a governorship candidate but you have not mentioned that as part of the problems…
The issue there is that if there is an understanding among the leadership of the party in Anambra State that interference of the national leadership will not play out again. It is because the leaders don’t agree and because they have not seen the need to work together and because each of them always feel that he or she can always go to the national, drop money there and the national will do their bidding explain why these things are happening.
But if they are brought together to see reasons why they should work together, they can just on their own say let us nominate this person, let this person go on our behalf and l will tell you that every other person will fall in line. If all these people l mentioned agree on a candidate, how will the national leaders come in to impose somebody on us? It is just a fallout of the disunity among the aspirants.