Chairman of Ebonyi State APC, Dr. Eze Nwachukwu, tells EDWARD NNACHI that the just concluded party primaries in the state were free, fair and credible
Some party members are insisting that the just concluded governorship primary of your party in the state was marred by irregularities. What is your reaction?
As far as am concerned, the election was free, fair and credible. In any political system, those who think they could also win will always find it difficult to accept the reality when the results are announced. I don’t understand what they mean by irregularities. The guidelines for the primaries were made available weeks before the election. The party’s constitution is there; the appeal committee is there and the National Working Committee is also there for them to make use of. So, I feel if anybody believes he was not fairly treated, such a person is free to forward his or her grievances to the appropriate quarters.
There are also allegations of candidates’ imposition. Don’t you think the aggrieved party leaders could work against your party in the general elections?
I am not aware that some party members are aggrieved, because of imposition. The party has its structure, procedure, guidelines and constitution. It is clearly stated in the constitution that when you have exhausted all these channels and think you did not get the necessary justice, then such aggrieved person may seek redress in the court. For us in Ebonyi State, we have had our primaries and candidates have emerged. About 80 aspirants, who wanted to contest the 24 seats in the Ebonyi State House, bought forms for instance. It is just normal that those who lost out would naturally complain. There is an interplay between the wish of the people and one’s personal aspiration. The wish of the people will always swallow every individual aspiration. We are aware that some contestants were planted as a mole in the party, but we allowed them because the constitution allows any registered party member to contest an election.
Some of the aggrieved aspirants are also insisting that the Ebonyi APC candidates would lose at the polls in 2019 because they were not the products of the real wishes of the people. What is your reaction to this?
We have nine governorship aspirants and all of them have their supporters and well wishers across the state. I know that they are all credible, capable and qualified. Any of them that emerged at the end of the primary, just like Sonni Ogbuoji, automatically becomes the candidate of every member in the state.
All the aspirants have resolved to support the winner, work with him and unconditionally ensure that he wins the governorship election next year. We have held several meetings and they have given me their consent. Above all, even before we started, all of them signed an agreement that they would not leave the party. This is to show the extent of trust they have in the party leadership. We have also promised them that we will be fair and just in our dealings with them. We have the documents which all the aspirants signed intact in the secretariat.
Do you think that your party, which has never won any election in Ebonyi State since 1999, can defeat the PDP in any of the election next year?
The argument about whether the APC could win election in Ebonyi State is a foregone issue. It is definite that we are winning everything, not just the governorship position. When talking about the voting strength and number of votes that led to the declaration of anyone as the winner from whatever political party in the state, from 1999, we know the range and during the APC membership registration we were mindful of this technically. So, our membership strength, for now, is far above the number, including the one that led to the declaration of Dave Umahi as winner of the 2015 governorship election. The difference between the APC and other parties is that we have our data bank. We have electronic registration of all our members and here in Ebonyi State, we have all the phone numbers of our members. It’s not difficult for us to mobilise. We shall be reaching and getting across to them during the campaigns and before the elections.
Don’t you think that the lingering face-off between the national chairman of the APC and some state governors portends danger for the party ahead of the 2019 elections?
The crisis we have now is not more than what we had in 2015. So, crisis is a tradition in a political party especially when we are drawing closer to elections. In Ebonyi State, people have been calling me all sorts of names; there have been several allegations against me in the social media, but as a leader, mine is just to keep my mouth shut and continue with my strategies of reconciliation which I am doing currently. The people, who are insulting us on the social media would be the first to congratulate us when we win the elections next year. The challenges we are facing in the APC is also happening in the Peoples Democratic Party. Some prominent members of the PDP are threatening to join the APC which some of our members are saying is crisis-ridden. The political structure of Nigeria is flexible that, even on Election Day, people can still defect. I believe in Mr. President; I believe in the national caucus of our party and I know that the crisis, in no distant time, would be resolved. I know that the president, in his usual good leadership style, will help to settle the crisis. People never believe that we could have problem-free primaries; but it came and passed. Other pending issues will be resolved.