Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha is the Ebonyi State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview with Sunday Ogbu in Abakaliki, the party helmsman reiterates the imperatives of zoning and micro zoning of elective positions in the state ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Can we meet you?
My name is Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha. The All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman in Ebonyi State.
Ahead of the 2023 general election, Ebonyi State All Progressives Congress (APC), set up zoning committee to zone positions. Do you think this would engender internal party democracy?
You are all aware that the national body of APC zoned all positions and then, there were also micro-zoning of the positions zoned to states, and then what you saw on the 26th in Abuja, was the most peaceful convention ever had in the history of Nigeria democracy. It was then that the family members of the APC entered into a house and came back with a decision.
You should not also be surprised that such might be applied in the state here. We have leaders of the party. And we have resolved that positions and contest won’t bring disunity in our party. We had already warned that whatever thing you are asked to do in the interest of the unity of the party and for us to move and still be in control of the state, you must have to do it collectively.
Like I always say as a party Chairman, whatever position you occupy, you are not occupying it for yourself. You are occupying that position not because you are the most qualified, but because of the unity of the party. Because of God’s grace, you came on board. You have to make sure that others are carried along.
Do you have confidence in the zoning committee?
We set up a committee and this committee we have confidence in it. They are credible people; they are qualified to handle such position. The committee is yet to come up with their report. It will be unfair to start speaking of zoning in the state, since they are yet to come up with their report. We believe very strongly that they will do the job assigned to them without bias. I know they will be firm and they are going to do it to give the best to the party and then to the state at large.
Why is the All Progressives Congress so emphatic on this zoning arrangement?
I want to let you know that constitutionally, there is nothing like zoning. You have the right to go and contest. If we tell you that position like this is zoned to this area, we have our reasons; to maintain a standard for a minority area to be able to vie for a position. That is why we come up with this idea of zoning. There are certain areas that if you throw the contest open, decades to come, they might not attain certain elective positions.
But with this arrangement, it can guarantee certain areas the opportunity to become governor of the state. It can guarantee certain areas senatorial seats and it can guarantee certain areas the chance to become members of the house of representatives. So if we have this standard, you will now know when it will be the turn of your area to contest certain position. But if you leave it open, there are certain clans that are more. If not for collective agreement, Ikwo local government area had twenty wards, so assuming it is an election that councillors would vote, Ikwo has twenty councillors and there is no other local government area that has up to twenty councillors.
So if you say it is councillors only and for example, Afikpo South has eleven councillors and Ikwo has twenty. If there is any time Ikwo and Afikpo South councillors are going for contest or to nominate somebody, will anybody from Afikpo South emerge? But if you maintain zoning, you will now have opportunity to contest, maybe after two tenures. So obviously it will help certain minority clans to also have the opportunity to produce certain persons in certain positions.
Democracy means effective representation of the people. Do you see zoning providing such effective representative in contestable positions?
With the understanding of family, you know too very well that you are my strength, while I am your weakness. If we understand as a family that I know your strength and weakness and as such let us cover each other, we can work. That is the round table conference we are creating now. Purchase of forms have not commenced, but we know too very well that there is a guideline now.
Do you see your party winning the gubernatorial election considering the multiplicity of those who are declaring for the plum job?
It is by reaching out that we can win election and the APC is reaching out very well. I have said it earlier that those aspiring for governorship can be more than twenty. It was also like that in the convention. There were too many people that came out to contest for the national Chairman of the party. But in that understanding, on that election day, a lot stepped down for the other. And finally, it was narrowed down to our new brand Chairman. That is how it is going to be here too, many people are going to come out. It is an open contest game, but I assure you that at the tail end of it, we don’t want people to come and spend our family money for nothing. We will at the end, narrow it down to one person. That they are all coming out is because we have more than enough qualified people that will handle the affairs of the state.
Since there is nobody that it has been narrowed down to, you never can tell if it will be me or you. So, we are discussing and all of us are moving towards the same direction of building our party. The direction that makes sure that unity reigns supreme. The important thing is to build the party .
The issue of zoning positions has been a worrisome one in the state since there is no acceptable document to that effect. Do you see this serving the future zoning palaver in the state?
We are coming out with a blueprint that will not only be for the governor. We are coming up with a party blueprint what we want the state to look like. It is the way we are driving the state to and not your own agenda.
We do not want a situation where someone will come with his own agenda. What we want is party agenda on how we will move the state from a point to another. We have seen what the governor has done in this his six years plus in office. We wouldn’t want the thing to go down.
We want somebody who will sustain it and move forward, that is where we are driving to. So, do not come and say it is you that is contesting governor. It is the entire APC body that is contesting for governor. If you are flying our flag, it is not your project alone. It is our collective project. It is our blueprint that you are driving. It is what will make people to know that APC is the party that is in charge. And they mean well for the entire state. So, it will still be narrowed down.
It is not like what you are seeing in PDP where they are dragging and killing themselves. When we enter into the house, we have leaders that will talk to us. I have seen what you have in mind, I can borrow your idea to run the state. What we have is a collective project and not an individual project.
Recently, there is a news making the round that traditional rulers in Izzi land endorsed a candidate. Do you think it will not further cause rancour in the party?
They only expressed their opinion. You know that traditional rulers are supporticians, they are not politicians. They only say who they feel they should support. It was not the ideas of all the traditional rulers in Ebonyi State. It is an idea of a traditional ruler from a particular clan. They don’t want to keep hiding their feelings on how they feel about it. It was not wrong for them to say how they feel. There is nothing wrong about that because they are not partisan politicians. They won’t contribute on the voting process on the primary election day, but they have expressed their feelings. They have made their opinion known to their subjects to vote for. The party will still make her interest known. If the party deems it fit and consider that he should fly our flag, the important thing is that he is flying our flag and not his flag and all of us will wear that tag and make sure that Ebonyi is better.