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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ojukwu would have joined APC — Okorocha


Ojukwu would have joined APC — Okorocha
Governor Rochas Okorocha, the host of the rally, spoke to select newspapers on why he dumped PDP, APGA leadership crisis, why he chose to join APC and the prospects of the mega party in the South-East zone. The Nation was there.

At the beginning, when the APC was to be formed, there was the fear among some South-East leaders that the interest of the zone may not be fully protected in the new party. What is the merger deal and why are you so sure Ndigbo would be better secured politically under APC?
The APC in the South-East is a done deal. I said so because the South-East has not had it good in PDP. The South-East is looking for a political party that will have a say as to what happens at the national level. Today, the South-East has no say at all as to what happens at the national PDP, because any time in any political party or setting, a particular zone does not produce the president, the vice president, the speaker, the senate president, and is not the chairman of the ruling party, then any other thing you’re talking about does not give them any good representation.
But for the South-East, they’re better off in APC. APC came as a result of failure of PDP. There wouldn’t have been any APC if PDP was doing well as a party. So, Nigerians are yearning for a change, something that can provide them an alternative hope due to the failure of PDP, especially in the South-East. If you look at the history of South-East since the inception of PDP, there is nothing to show as a PDP zone, nothing, absolutely nothing.
Today, the issue of the Niger Bridge is still a political discourse. The road from Enugu to Port Harcourt, a very simple thing to do, is still an issue of politics. So, the South-East is worst off with PDP, and APC is indeed their best alternative, their very best alternative. And I can assure you that every South-Easterner, majority of people in the South-East will be in APC, except for those who have made politics a business, and who have always enjoyed the patronage of PDP. Such people may still be found hanging around PDP. But in the real sense, the ordinary person in the states of South-East will be in APC.
Talking about the issue of APGA, it has been… APGA to me is not a political party. APGA is just like a cultural thing for Ndigbo; it’s not really a political party. You cannot say that APGA controls the South-East, no! South-East is being controlled by PDP. So, this notion that APGA is a South-East party does not really arise. It’s only with my emergence as a governor now that we began to give APGA that sense of an Igbo party thing.
If you look at it critically, you’ll agree with me that APGA is still a minority even in the South-East. People are comparing APGA with ACN that controls the South-West; that’s called a regional party. A party becomes regional when it is in total control of the region where it operates. I was in PDP. I didn’t come under PDP because I know their failure of internal democracy would not guaranty me a free and fair election on primaries.
But for us, APGA is like an identity for Ndigbo. It’s like a way of life, so it’s not a bad thing. It is rather a thing that belongs to us, that’s why I say to people that every Igbo man in any other political party is in APGA; every PDP member is an APGA man; every APC member is an APGA man. APGA is not therefore a party per se, but it’s like a fallback thing for Ndigbo, assuming politics is not played the way it ought to be played nationally.
But for now, we should not allow ourselves to miss this opportunity, where you have the South-West that has the control of their zone giving up their identity of ACN; CPC giving up their identity; ANPP giving up theirs in a merger, not in a coalition, not in an alliance to form a brand new party to challenge PDP, and APGA will say it will not join, what will you be after the merger? You become so inconsequential that you either have to go and chose with PDP.
The question remains all these our marriage and alliance with PDP, how have we faired? There is nothing APGA can show for their support for PDP in the last election, absolutely nothing. I will not deceive Ndigbo. For me, I’m not ready to deceive Igbos; I must take them to the right place.
We must have a party that cuts across the length and breadth of the entire nation. Why will I be in a party that I cannot have a say in what happens in the North or South-West or South-South simply because I find myself in the South-East?
I want to go to Maiduguri and see my party members receiving me in their local angle, go to my place, the same thing applicable. I don’t want to be a 100% shareholder of a N1000 business. I’m the Chief Executive of N1000 company. I want to be a one percent shareholder of $1 billion business, even if I’m just an ordinary member. So, we’re looking at the bigger picture for our people. I hate to sound like a sectional or tribal leader, because having being born in the North, having being an Igbo man brought up in the North, and having being empowered by the West, Nigeria remains my constituency. So, I’m looking at the bigger picture.
There is this fear that APC is a party owned by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Will it be healthy to give up everything and join such a party?
ACN could be described by critics as Tinubu’s party but not APC at all. Some people have also said it is Buhari’s party; it’s not anybody’s party; it’s a Nigerian party. APC is a Nigerian party, and to what advantage will Tinubu make out of it? What advantage will Buhari make out of it? How are you sure they’re even running for the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? If they do, they’re Nigerians.

Does APGA still exist?
The party exists with Victor Umeh as the National Chairman. The party cannot just fold its maps and join the APC because we still have issues in court, but I’m optimistic that once these matters are all over, we will come to the round table, discuss about the full merger with other parties. I don’t think APGA will like to be a very tiny party in Nigeria that cannot even guaranty itself a state, and it is not ready for that. But because of the issue in court, and that is why I think that it is not proper for APGA to submit their certificate now. Since I’m there already as the APGA APC, that is good enough.

So can you conveniently say Imo is now an APGA state?
Imo is an APGA state until the merger is consummated. Once the merger is consummated, then we’ll be in the APGA APC as far as this state is concerned.
I also know we are not in disagreement with the national leadership of APGA. Umeh remains the chairman of APGA as far I am concerned, but I am saying that there is a better picture for us that will benefit our people and you will see that the moment we conclude this court case.
But some are alleged to have been planted by the Presidency to ensure APGA becomes an annex of the PDP…
For PDP, they want to annex APGA, really really, but I can’t be annexed by the PDP. So, I’m telling you that in the last election, there was what is called alliance with the PDP for presidential election. We did, especially in my state, it was people like us that guaranteed victory for PDP in the presidential election. It wasn’t the PDP governorship candidate then, no. It was people like us that had the magic that brought about that victory. We’re saying that we need a better thing; this is all about politics really.

When you said that APGA is the minority in the South-East, controlling two states, the PDP see it the other way round; they see those two states as very strategic…
When you talk about APGA as a party, it is a minority party. But if you ask APGA as an Igbo thing, then I’ll tell you that everybody is APGA. I think I made that point clear. So, there is different APGA, when you bring the term APGA. Let me shock you that if Ojukwu is alive, he would have been the first person to join this merger, because if you remember his relationship with Buhari and the rest of them at the time of ANPP, Ojukwu was the chairman of Board of Trustees of ANPP. So, he would have been glad to join this. I’m sure he wouldn’t have joined the PDP. I think we’re doing what Ojukwu would have done if he is alive today.

In 1998 you were denied the ticket, do you have any regret that if you were allowed then you would done better?
If I say I have regrets, I would be questioning my creator and I don’t want to do that. But there is nothing now in this my head that I didnt know as at that time. I have been consistent with my policies. If you remember as far back as 1998, I have been talking about Rochanomic; Rochas’ economic theory. The four tier system of government is there, decentralization was there. I had all these things lined up. So, there’s nothing that I am doing now that I wouldn’t have done then. That is why when I came into government, it did not take me one hour to key in, in fact I stated working on the 28th of May before my swearing-in. And since that day, there has not been a one hour break. Because I knew what to do from the onset. So I am not in this to learn. If not how could I have come up with a thousand projects in two years. It is unprecedented in the history of mankind.
The truth is that what this government has done within this period has not been done in the history of Imo State in the past 30 years. What is happening here can only be the handwork of God.
Some of us are not in this business to look for money. We want to use what we have to give to the system. Then, when I wanted to be governor they refused me so I went and picked a party, APGA, and won the election. If I had run under PDP one million times and the whole people wanted me, I would have lost.
PDP has this characters that do not produce for Nigeria the much needed leaders but politicians who are not thinking of the next generation but the next election, that is my grouse with the PDP.
The only election I won before this one was when PDP had no hand in it, when Abacha conducted the elections for constitutional conference. PDP has this kind of trend that if you are independent minded or have a mind of your own, then PDP will not allow you to have political power. Unless they feel you are a dummy that could be controlled and that is not what will bring progress. Until they change from that, they cannot move this nation forward.

If your mother had been alive, would be doing things the same way you are doing it?
Oh my God! Today when somebody mentioned that, I wept. If my mother had been there, that would have been a different story because she was indeed an inspiration but all the same, for whatever she is not there for, my wife quickly jumped into the shoes, providing motherly care and encouragement because sometimes it is not easy to run a government, sometimes you get pissed off by people’s attitudes, at times you feel like taking a walk out of the whole system. You ask yourself what is even there for you but somebody is there to pat your back and say listen, ‘you are on a divine mission.’
Will you seek reelection in 2015 or are going to …?
2015! I tell you, I have not decided. But I’ll soon make a decision, but definitely, I will run for an election.

Was there a pact that you will do one term?
No, there was never a pact. But it has always been my desire to serve in Imo State for one term, even now, I desire to do a term. But that is where I need help and prayers because here, I might take a risk of being lynched if I say I am not going to continue, unless I do something to make them hate me, but now it would be difficult to get out of that entanglement.
And again remember, I have always run for president and it has always been my desire to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to give that which is inside me which would bring about the development of the country. So, these things are conflicting at the moment so I would simply wait and see.
TheNation

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