interviewBy Clifford Ndujihe
Senator Clement Annie Okonkwo, who represented Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Sixth Assembly, led the delegation of a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the merger talks with other opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). In a chat with reporters, Okonkwo said it was in the interest of the South-East to join other regions in the push to rescue Nigeria from the shackles of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
You were quoted as saying that your party, APGA was dead following the formation of APC. What informed that view?
I was misquoted. I made my point clear that the major political parties in the country are surrendering their party to form one strong platform and that if the merger works the political parties involved will cease to exist and this is what the law says. This is the first time that this has happened. What we use to have is alliance and not merger. I never said that APGA is a dead party. But the truth of the matter is that if the merger talk is successful there won't be anything like APGA. Some people on their own have destroyed the party.
To be specific, a sponsored court order by the governor of Anambra State has kept APGA in an impotent condition from the national to state level. Today it has become very difficult for somebody to do anything that will yield good result in APGA. Most of them are in PDP but are still pretending to be in APGA. I will like to thank the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the only governor from the South-East that supported the merger of the major opposition parties into one strong platform, APC because there is no way this country can be rescued from the hands of the greedy and selfish PDP members.
So, to ensure that this does not continue, the people of the North have surrendered their major opposition parties, the oldest political party, the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP and the leading political party in the area, the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC; the South-West has also sacrificed their own party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. So, I don't see any reason we in the South-East should not support the merger talk. I commend Okorocha for his courage to support the merger and this will make APC a strong political party because it has received the support of all the zones in the country. And each zone also has a governor.
The North-Central has a governor; the North-East has a governor, the North-West also has. In the South-West, there are governors, South-South, there is a governor and the South-east cannot be left aside, we also have a governor. So, people who are thinking that the merger will not work will be disappointed at the end of the day. I see APC as a party that is going to rescue this country from the problem of insecurity, corruption and others that the PDP government has failed to solve because of their selfish leadership system.
Do you think Ndigbo stand a chance of producing the president on the banner of the APC?
When we were talking of the Igbo president, a lot of people thought we weren't serious. As far as I am concerned, I believe that APC is the only party that can compete and defeat the PDP in any election. So, the opportunity is that as time goes on, we are going to contest the presidential primary election and if we win, we will have the opportunity of producing the president. One of the policies of the party is that internal democracy must be maintained and once it is maintained we will progress.
In PDP, there is no hope for the Igbo nation. Presently, from the president, vice president, Senate President and the Speaker there is no Igbo representative. The Vice President, Namadi Sambo is from the North, the Senate President, David Mark is from the North and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is also from the North and they are all PDP members. Tell me, is that how we will achieve the Igbo dream of producing the President?
APC is dominated by the South-West and North. With APGA already divided, don't you think the South-East would be a minority in the party? As the President of C21, how do you hope to convince the Igbo to buy into it?
Our people find it very difficult to believe in reality. The truth is that it will be difficult to convince people to move in at the same time but when they start seeing result, they will be convinced to join the movement. What we want to do is to put an enlightenment programme to enable them understand our plan. I believe that by the time we are through with that, the Igbo will understand that the only political party where we can achieve our vision is the APC.
How are you tackling the problem of logo facing APC, which was occasioned by the crisis in APGA?
Everybody is aware that for the past six months, there have been crisis in APGA which has also witnessed several court cases. So, it will be very difficult for any merging political party to accept an APGA logo because they will believe that it will attract a lot of litigations. But we are still making our case very clear to ensure that all the parties are accommodated.
With APC merger talk still in progress, are you still going to contest for Anambra governorship under its platform?
The major thing we are doing is to build the party. For me, I am still in still contesting the election but it is not a do-or-die affair. The most important thing is to make sure that APC wins the next election in Anambra State. So, if the party supports my ambition I will fly the flag of the party.
APC fielding candidates, how do you think the 2015 election would look like?
This is the kind of election that Nigerians have been waiting to witness. A lot of unimaginable things will happen. PDP will lose a lot of states. For 14 years of PDP leadership at the federal level, the masses have been suffering one problem or the other. You can imagine how many families that have lost their loved ones either through Boko Haram attacks, Niger Delta militants' attacks, kidnapping or plane crash. It means that something is wrong somewhere. With the birth of APC, the country will witness another style of leadership that will end the sufferings of the people. A leadership that will provide jobs for the people, a leadership that will provide security for the people, a leadership that will provide electricity for the masses of this country and of course, a leadership that will develop this country in all aspect.
What gives you the confidence that APC will beat PDP at the presidential and state elections?
PDP is a failed party. They don't care about the masses and with the kind of people in APC, PDP is going nowhere.
What is responsible for the problem that Chief Victor Umeh is facing in APGA?
Everybody is aware that the crisis is sponsored and masterminded by Governor Peter Obi who believes that he has nothing to do with APGA again and thinks the best way to pay the people of APGA the good thing they did for him is by destroying the party. Unfortunately for him, we have moved on.
Obi will be rounding up by next year, how would you assess his achievement so far?
I don't like discussing people. But honestly, people are scared of going to Anambra State because the insecurity there is too high and it was caused by unemployment in the state. We have thousands of graduates roaming the streets of Anambra and the state government is not doing anything about it.