Iheukwumere Okogwu is the 2019 Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) House of Assembly candidate for Afikpo North East State Constituency of Ebonyi State, but recently dumped the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with UCHENNA INYA, he speaks on his decision to join the ruling party and its chances in the state, among other issues
What informed your decision to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) instead of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) as expected by many political pundits in Ebonyi State?
For me, political parties are just nomenclatures; what matters is the calibre of people in a particular political party. I have watched the political dynamics of Afikpo and the players involved in today’s politicking and I decided to join the APC for obvious reasons.
Looking at the PDP, all you could see is an establishment that is even obsolete and not ready to embrace the present day realities. Afikpo has had its fair share of bad leadership, people who only care about what they stand to gain without considering the people they lead or represent.
We need to chat a new course and change our political landscape in Afikpo and going by the constituents and players in these two major parties in the state, APC seems to be the way forward to what Afikpo needs in leadership or representation, which is lacking and has retarded the town and denied us of development. We are only living on past glory as a people.
What are the things you will add in APC that were not in your former party, ANN?
The major problems with political parties in Nigeria, is that they lack internal democracy, which does not allow them to present credible candidates to the electorate. So, with my local government area, I will advocate for internal democracy within the party because that is the only tactics to dislodge any other political party in this coming election.
As long as I live, I will live to serve my people and humanity and that is not going to die with the APC. Those values I possess as a person will be identified with the APC because my duty will be to bring like minds to the party, people who can add meaningful value to what we are already doing in the party.
Because my supporters were never coerced by an external force into supporting me, they do that out of conviction and obedience to their conscience, so they should expect a better me in all my dealings. I will keep making a conscious effort not to disappoint them for the trust given to me. Just like they say; to whom much is given, much is also expected from, I will live never to disappoint them.
Your new party will be facing an uphill task in Afikpo where there are prominent politicians like Iduma Igariwey, the member representing Afikpo North/South federal constituency in the House of Representatives and Chief Mudi Erhenede, among others. Do you think APC will survive them in the area?
People make a lot of assumptions, especially on issues that pertain to politics, but the part they normally miss in their assumptions is not considering the factors involved in the game as it were and now.
People keep referencing what former Governor Martin Elechi did with the Labour Party and what Governor David Umahi is doing with the APC but I do laugh because they are not the same and can never be. Elechi never moved to Labour Party with his face and full strength to chart a course, he was rather dormant in the scheme things as it were.
Now Umahi, came with all the boldness in the world to join APC, believe me it can never be the same result. The big names and the political office holders you see or hear their names in Ebonyi PDP cannot do more than their strength and antecedents can carry them, some of them took cover under Governor Umahi to scale through in the last election.
Now that the cover is off, let’s know how far they can go. Those re just big names and most of the names you hear are not street credible. In Afikpo, we know ourselves and how far our individual political strength can take us to. We are on ground and unfortunately for them, big names don’t work in Afikpo.
What do you make of Governor Umahi’s defection to the APC?
It’s a very welcome and commendable move. I respect Governor Umahi for who he is and his belief system. No man is perfect just like he is not. Umahi is an agent of change and a believer of possibilities. His defection to the APC is healthy for our democracy because of the competition that has brought within the political class and which the masses are the major beneficiaries.
His defection brought Ebonyi State into the Nigerian political map and has awakened our leaders and representatives to act, so as to build love and acceptability within the people. Umahi is a pace setter and a goal getter and I won’t be surprise if an Ebonyi man will take over the presidency come 2023.
Will you vie for any position in 2023?
I don’t see politics as a means of livelihood or survival; I see it as an opportunity to serve and add value to the society.
As a person, I am happier in service and fulfilled once people appreciate my service or support. I came into politics is to serve and add value to the system and the society. If my people says it’s time, who am I to go against the wind.
All I want is a better leadership and society where value will be attached to life. 2023 is still far and a lot is still in between, but when we get to the bridge we will cross it and God’s willing it will please God to liberate our land.
What are your expectations in this 2021?
The year is going to be a good year because of people’s consciousness which was raised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are approaching the year prepared because of the last year experience which took almost everybody unaware. Afikpo have suffered enough due to the darkness that enveloped the town.
Going forward, I expect the epileptic power supply in Afikpo to be a thing of the past, having in mind that the sub-station under construction at Amasiri will be commissioned and energized to serve my people. Once this power issue is resolved, businesses in the area will flourish.
Ebonyi, is already politically charged in this 2021 and elections are in 2023, I pray we experience a violence-free society that will be devoid of any kind of killing and other political vices.