interviewBy Gbenga Oke
Senator Emma Nwaka is chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State. In this interview, he sheds light on the controversy surronding the purported return to the party of the former governor of the State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu among other issues concerning governance in the state. Excerpts:
How have you been able to insulate the governor and the government in the regular politicking?
In this state, we have a governor who is disposed to working with everybody. Although he is doing his last term, he works like a man who wants to do another term. The political heavyweights in Abia state are pleased with him. We have realised that for the party to replicate its giant strides in 2015 general elections, we need to maintain the momentum.
What is working for us here is that we have a governor who has respect for all and sundry. He is not into this divide-and-rule thing. In some states, the bone of contention is who will succeed who. But here the governor is maintaining an open mind. I see a situation whereby the person who succeeds the governor is the person who various interests want.
For sure, we want the best for Abia State.
Former Governor Kalu left the PDP, and formed another party. He now claims to be back to the party. Are you aware?
What is new that he is bringing to the party? He couldn't run his party. He ran it aground. He had Imo and Abia states sometime, and lost both within the first term. Does that not tell you something about Kalu? Orji Kalu is not a good politician, but a good business man. I will ask him to concentrate on his business. He has run a party, won two states; instead of maintaining the tempo, he is now running back to the party he left. And all he has to show for his failure is celebrating that he has been accepted into the PDP.
Has he been accepted?
Who said so? It tells you something about his person. We are becoming very wary of him. The fears expressed by some elders of the party are now justified. In fact, God has a way of doing things. Sometime ago, the PDP chairmen of Igbere Ward A (Orji's ward) and Ward B, returned the wards register of the party to the local government party chairman and said they had resigned from the PDP.
Subsequently Orji Kalu invited them for a meeting; that was on the 10th of January; only for us to hear that on the 17th or thereabouts that the same people that resigned their membership of the party have readmitted Orji Uzor Kalu into the party. They are no longer members of the party.
On what capacity did they do that?
As the state chairman of the party, I issue out cards to registered members. In every ward, we assign unique numbers to every ward, accordingly. The card Orji Uzor Kalu is parading doesn't fall into the register we gave to Igbere Ward A, not even Igbere Ward B.
Our book of life in the state PDP is the membership register. Any person can carry a card, but if your name is not in the register, you are not part of us. In summary, Orji Uzor Kalu is not a member of our party. In fact, if you know him, he won't like to end his politics in Igbere wards A and B. One day, he will come to me and I will ask him where he got the card he is parading.
From the picture you painted, a crime has been committed already. How did he get the card?
Check our register whether you can find the number he quoted. The local government chairman where Orji Uzor Kalu comes from was in my recent press conference. He brought out the register, and you discover that that number doesn't fall into that category. People print Naira and Dollars; he could have done same.
Why don't you want Orji Uzor Kalu back?
When you look at the party constitution, it says the ward executive can even refuse anyone membership of the party based on what they know about the person. The stakeholders of the party in Abia State said from what they know about Orji Kalu, if he comes in, there will be trouble. And there is already trouble. You can see him abusing the state governor. That's a man who wants to be member.
He is already saying the state governor will come for social justice and all that. He also says he wants to reclaim the party instead of leaving it to 'madmen'. Who are you calling madmen? The orderliness in the party all this while was because of Orji Uzor Kalu. Reasonable men like Tony Ukasanya, Ojo Maduekwe, Onyema Ugochukwu and many more said they can't work with him. Take a tour of Abia State and look for any iconic landmark that Orji Uzor Kalu left behind.
He had eight years and it is just now that we are building the state secretariat and a conference centre, we are now doing those basic things that make us a state. When the minister for information said he was coming, we were very happy because we had much to display. The minister couldn't even see one quarter of what we are doing in Abia State. Within two years of Governor Orji under the PDP, he has done so much.
I do not bother him as state party chairman. I do not say there is money, let's share. We know that the only way I can move this party forward and redo what I did in 2011 is for him to work for the people. Then I can boast of what he did and ask the electorate to give us another chance; and that we shall improve on what he has done. This is unlike before when the issue was always 'bring and let's share'.
Things have changed. It is no more a situation where mother and child will sit down somewhere and take a decision, and say that is the decision of the party. Here I disburse money through vouchers. We have a bank account. To audit the account is the easiest thing to do. We have a picture of how the party funds are expended and that is why we have peace here. I don't interfere with the state funds.
Has the current administration per formed in the state?
This administration will be two years in May 2013. If you look at Orji's achievements so far, it cannot be compared to the eight years we had under Governor Kalu, we have so much to celebrate today. Under the PPA, he was unable to do anything because they won't allow him work but today, the governor assesses whoever is qualified for a position and gives to the person.
Do you foresee the return of Orji Kalu to the PDP?
If he wants to come back, it should not be through the window. Again what is he going to add to the party? But this is a man who founded a party and couldn't run it. The party died in his hand. His party won two states and lost them. He ran a senatorial seat and lost it. In his recent interview in the Sun, he is abusing everybody. He assumes he has the magic while his aspiration is to become the president of Nigeria.