Ntufam Hilliard Etta is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC) and an activist in his own rights. In this interview with CLEMENT JAMES, he bares his mind on a number of issues
As a staunch member of the ruling APC, what is your take on the current divisions brought about by the last congress? Thank you very much for that question. For me, you must know that I have no comment to make concerning the activities of an illegal contraption.
But suffice it to say that when you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. Injustice and inequity have been sowed in the party and we are reaping the fruits of the injustice and inequity in the party. So, if you are a student of history, you can never be surprised at the outcome of the purported congresses.
If congresses have gone this way, what do you think will happen to primaries?
Well, until the court determines whether this contraption can continue to go ahead and conduct convention, we cannot have a clarity on the issue of whether the NEC was properly, constitutionally and legally constituted on the day it was announced that the NWC had been dissolved.
That is the key to all of these. Now, if the court agrees that it was indeed, the NEC, then one can begin to wonder whether it would be possible, under these conditions, to conduct primaries.
But if the court decides that it was indeed the coming together of a few members of APC in Aso Villa and not the NEC, then I can say that the NWC of the party will have onerous responsibility of conducting congresses that will be free, fair and transparent congresses that will see to the emergence of the leadership of the party to take over the reins and that leadership would be saddled with the responsibility of conducting primaries. That is my position on that.
Before the congresses were conducted, APC had series of cases in courts. Why have those cases lingered till now?
For me, I think that there is a conspiracy between a section of the judiciary and the PDP to kill the APC. I say this because there are over 40 cases asking the courts to adjudicate on the legality or illegality of the Governor Mai Buni-led committee and it is ominous that no court has found it necessary to clear the path for APC to do the normal politicking. The court has not found it expedient to give timely judgments to them. Because we need to get to the Supreme Court to know whether there was a NEC meeting on 25th of June, 2020.
We need to know whether that meeting in the Aso Villa was the NEC of the party. We need to know that but the courts seem not to be in a hurry, and I suspect that it is a conspiracy. With what is happening in the party now, do you subscribe to the thinking that it is President Muhammadu Buhari who is holding the party together. Otherwise, the party would have imploded?
The coming of Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria and his being the Presidential candidate of APC showed us that he was very popular among the electorate in Nigeria but it does not also mean that at the expiration of his tenure, APC will go into extinction.
We have our work cut out for us because if we say that we are a progressive party, then we need to es- pouse the progressive ideals for which the people will identify and internalize, and because of those progressive ideals, vote for our party, independent of the allure of the personality of President Buhari. I am very conscious of the fact that if the party can deal with the situation of attempting to dissolve structures from the ward to the national level, if we can get over this, then the party will definitely win the next election.
But you see, the conspiracy by the PDP and a section of the judiciary is that APC should not emerge. However, as a progressive party, there are progressive ideals adopted all over the world but it behoves on us to put together those progressive ideas and ideals and sell them to the nation, so that the day Muhammadu Buhari will not be on the ballot, what the people will see will be those progressive ideals.
This is important because anybody who wins our ticket will know that there are bodies of ideals or ideas that he has to identify, internalize and implement.
Why were you not at the U. J. Esuene stadium during the APC congress in the state?
First of all, I am in court for it to validate my position. Governor Buni and his cohorts are usurpers of my office. I cannot probate and reprobate. I cannot say that these people do not have any right to sit in my office and I now go to talk about the outcome of their activities. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I could not have been there because I am not a hypocrite. I am not pretentious to my position. I take strong positions and I stand by them. I do not believe that the Buni-led committee was legally and constitutionally constituted.
The meeting that was held in Aso Villa on the 25th of June, 2020, to my mind, was illegal and unconstitutional and I have approached the court to find out whether it will affirm my position or otherwise.
So, I cannot for now begin to bother myself with what Ben Ayade is doing in Cross River State. For now, I leave the matter on the laps of the courts. Ever since you started this fight, it seems nobody has supported you. Why do you continue on this lonely path of trying to get back the office of the Acting National Chairman of your party?
I am old and mature enough to know when my rights are infringed upon. I do not need any body or company to know that I have to fight for my right. I am not in court because of anybody but to assert my right. I went to court because my right as the Acting National Chairman of our party has been infringed. I do not care who supports me or not. What supports me is my conscience, my convictions and God.