Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Senator Sam Egwu represents Ebonyi North senatorial zone in the National Assembly. Before his journey to the red chamber, he had ruled Ebonyi State as governor from 1999 to 2007. In 2008, he was appointed minister of Education by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He speaks on his re-election bid and other issues of interest.
Your re-election bid is being challenged by the Izzi people on the grounds that it is the turn of their clan to the produce the senator. Are you not afraid they might vote you out since their son has the ticket of the APC?
In every election there must be agitation from some people who feel they have not been well represented. We are in democracy; we are in emerging democracy you know. We are still at a level where representation is like ‘my own local government has not gone’, ‘my ward has not gone’. It is like every ward; every local government should taste the position irrespective of whether you are performing or not performing; irrespective of whether you are qualified or not qualified. There is nothing bad about that. It is part of the democratic process and in this particular case; Ebonyi local government in particular has not gone to the senate, from the time this republic or democracy started; even from the past republic. That is the statement of fact.
But, you see, there has never been a time there was an agreement either written or unwritten that we should rotate either clockwise or anti-clockwise; even in Izzi, there are four local governments you know, Izzi has been there twice: Andrew Nwankwo has been there; Chris Nwankwo has been there. Abakaliki had been there three times: Polycap Nwite, Nshii and Ngiji Ngele, then Ohaukwu had been there through Anthony Agbo and then myself. If you go to the Izzi bloc the Abakaliki and Izzi local governments have gone more than once and you should start asking why has Ebonyi not gone once and these LGAs have taken two or three times. So, it is just un- fortunate that they have not gone. It is not that they don’t have people but you know politics; the factors that come up in politics have not favoured them to present a candidate. I am sure that there has not been a scheme to say that Ebonyi must not go. After all, they are part of the senatorial zone. But I know in politics, like a democracy, you must indicate interest and you must go through a party nomination for you to emerge. So, the point I am trying to make is that it is not a deliberate action to stop them from going.
So, they have every right to agitate to be represented. Like I said, it is not something that you dash to somebody; you must contest it. When they contest, the votes go to the person the people feel should represent them. And in this my particular case, you should know the genesis of the whole thing. You will find out that even before I indicated interest, there was this request that I should go back. Nobody will tell you from any of these local governments that I have ever called them and said that I want to go back to the senate. It was a demand that I should go back from the people. And our people will tell you that there is nobody they put sugar in his mouth that spits it away. So, that is the truth of the matter. And you must have also heard that this issue of going back was…I don’t know if you know how it came about? It was something that was decided by the Izzi bloc; they want me to go back. You must have heard it.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been out of power for close to four years now. Considering that factor and others, do you really think that it still has the capacity to unseat the APC in 2019?
PDP has greatly been rebranded. Even, our chairman has apologised for the areas we made mistakes in the past. I am a PDP person so we believe we have what it takes to win. But you know it’s not going to be easy. Anybody that tells you it is going to be easy is not being honest to himself because we are going to fight an incumbent government. Fighting an incumbent is not an easy thing. And this incumbent is somebody that has his sup- porters too. They came on the mantra of change; fighting corruption, making sure that all the security issues are addressed and the other one is on the economy. So, it’s left to Nigerians to judge whether all these issues have been seriously addressed.
There is fear that the election might not be free and fair. Do you nurse such fear?
Rigging will not work out this time around because the awareness is much now. The people are very aware and they will want to guard their votes. If they are depending on rigging, I am not sure that will work.
Most people believed the elections in Osun and Ekiti States were free and fair and these people fear that the Federal Government might use federal might in 2019. What do you think?
That impression is there but it may not work out very well. The Osun and Ekiti own is a situation where those elections were held for those particular states and for those particular days. So they were able to mobilise the entire security apparatus and INEC. That will not happen during the general election because election will be happening simultaneously in all the states that are doing election. So, they will be overstretched that the best thing they will like to do is to allow a free and fair election. Based on that I don’t think any state will allow INEC to go contrary to what is stipulated in the electoral act. It is not going to be possible. I don’t have any fear.