Recently, a member of the All Progressives Congress in Abia State, Prince Paul Ikonne, made a scathing statement over business mogul cum politician, Orji Uzor kalu’s joining of the party. In this interview, the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Benedict Godson, not only admitted that Kalu was an asset to the party, but disassociates the party from the statement, saying that Ikonne assumed what he is not and was on his own. He also spoke on other issues as they affect the APC.
In the South East it seems that APC is not widely accepted. If that is the case, what measures are you putting in place to ensure the party wins majority of the states in the zone in 2019?
I don’t understand what you mean by the party not being accepted in the region because one, in the South East, a Peoples Democratic Party member in the House of Representatives in the person of Tony Nwoye has moved over to APC. I can tell you that a former Senate president of this country from the zone any moment from now will be in the APC. I can tell you that this party is widely accepted by the Easterners. The truth of the matter is that we are not into propaganda; we believe in practical things, we believe in what people see, we don’t like saying what is not possible. What happened in Ondo State will be happening in the South East. Definitely, APC will have majority of the states in the zone after 2019. With the assistance APC in the South East is getting from people like the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okoroacha; Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology; and Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour, I’m not talking about the Minister from Abia because if we have one we don’t know, the zone will go places. I was present the day His Excellency Orji Uzor Kalu was received into APC and my Zonal Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Emma Enuku, said some credible things that gave me hope that they have really discussed the way forward for the party in the South East.
What are your feelings about the joining of APC by the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu?
It was a wonderful thing, I believe it is a miracle because with the presence of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in APC, the party will go places in the state and the South East in general. It’s a good one; it’s a welcome development from the party.
Going by this, would you say the party has arrived in the state?
Yes, the party has come to stay in the state going by those who are in APC in the state like His Excellency, Orji Uzor Kalu; former Deputy Governor, Chris Akomas; Senators Chris Adigheiji and Nkechi Nwogu; our former governorship candidate, Dr. Nyerere Anyim; High Chief Ikechi Emenike’ Elder Eunice Uzor Kalu; Chief Tony Ukasanya; Hon. Stanley Ohajuruka; and many others. I can tell you that the party has come to stay in the state. With the type of men and women we have in APC in Abia State, I can tell you that if election is properly conducted, not rigging, the party will surely win in Abia. Some members of the House of Assembly from other parties in the state have moved over to APC. I cannot make their names public now. In fact, let me be specific, some members of PDP and APGA in the state have joined APC, including Dr. NCNC Okoli, popularly known as MACRO, a former chieftain of PDP, who is now our chairmanship candidate for Aba South in the December 17 Local Government election. The factional chairman of PDP in the state, Hon. Chidi Nwosu, is now with us. I can tell you that a whole lot of them are now in APC and it is very strong in Abia presently. What I can say unequivocally is that the coming in of Orji Uzor Kalu to APC is a plus to the party; it is a boost to the party. It is in the interest of the South East in particular and the nation at large. I want to tell you again that he is being accepted and received by the state chapter. We are expecting his arrival to the state for us to celebrate this. He has registered in his Ward in Igbere and we recognize him. When he was received by the National Working Committee, I was there. I represented the state. The chairman of the party in the state, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, sent me to represent him and the state. Nobody can dispute or say that Kalu is not a factor in the country not to talk of the state. He is a good thing that has happened in the party in recent times, including in the zone and the nation at large. Let me tell you something: recently, one of Abia governor’s media aide, Ebere Uzokwa, resigned and joined APC and he is the chairmanship candidate for Obingwa, the governor’s Local Government. For him to have resigned and joined APC, he must have seen the light.
A chieftain of APC in the state, Prince Paul Ikonne, recently said that Kalu’s joining would not add any value to the party. How true was that statement?
The party in totality disassociates itself with that statement. I want to tell you, I am the spokesperson of the party in Abia, Prince Ikonne is a member of the state Exco and he is not the spokesperson of the party and he does not in anyway have the right of the party to speak for the party. That is number one. What he said was his personal opinion, which is best known to him, but we the party people disassociate ourselves from that statement; it does not hold water, it does not have facts, it’s not the truth. Kalu’s joining of APC is a plus to us and it’s a welcome development. This same Paul Ikonne made the same type of statement when one of our big fishes, Senator Nkechi Nwogu, who is one of the major contributors to the party office we have at Mission Road, Umuahia today, she contributed massively, joined the party. When the woman joined APC, the same Paul Ikonne made similar insinuation, saying negative things that were not right and does not have the party’s backing and does not have the party’s interest. He said a whole lot of things about this woman who assisted us heavily to build this party in the state. Ikonne is a member of the party no doubt but he should participate in programmes that will build the party and not doing things to pull it down. This man that was coming in or the woman he was criticising, I can tell you since she joined the party, she has made massive contributions to the party financially and otherwise and it is the same thing we are expecting from Kalu. We don’t want someone sitting in his hotel room or at someone’s backyard playing somebody’s script, no. We have passed that stage; we don’t want that, nobody should play anybody’s script. We have national officers, we have leaders, we have financiers, we have stakeholders, we have one house and we are doing well. This party is united in the state and well organized. Paul Ikonne is just a member of the Working Committee in the state, he is not the state chairman and neither is he the spokesperson of the party. Therefore he does not have the right of the party to speak for the party. In fact, he is on his own. We don’t want this business to be a selfish business. We are no longer in a small party, we are now in a mega party, in a large house. We want to tell the world that coming in of Kalu into APC is God’s blessing to us and we’ve received him. I will want to tell the public that nobody should listen to Paul Ikonne on this issue; nobody should listen to side stories. If you want to hear the position of the party on any issue, I am here to speak for the party or the state chairman. Kalu has done well, he is a man of the people and we believe he is going to give a massive contribution, a massive change to this party. Because of Kalu’s joining of APC, we’ve received over 5,000 defectors from PPA, from APGA and PDP and more are still going to join and someone is sitting in one obscure place to say he will not add value to the party. If Paul Ikonne is popular, he should show this now that his younger brother is contesting the chairmanship election for Aba North Local Government. He is the deputy chairman of APC in Abia South and as such should concern himself with what happens in his zone and not to assume what he is not.
Does the party in the state intend to reprimand Ikonne for such unguided utterance?
Well, the party could have done that, but for measures taken by Ikonne himself. Put your investigations down. The same Ikonne who made those unguided statements had gone to apologize to Kalu privately. But that is not how to do things. If for instance you insult someone publicly, you must come publicly to apologize. Not a situation where you say this man is a thief publicly and you go behind to say “please I did not mean to call you a thief, I am sorry”, it’s not right. I can bet you now, put your investigations down, that same Ikonne has gone to beg Kalu. He did the same thing to Senator Nwogu and I don’t know what he stands to gain from this.
There is fear that APC in the state will be hijacked by Kalu. What’s your reaction?
It’s not true; this is a national party and not a personal business. From my little interaction with Kalu’s family, I don’t think they are that kind of person people think they are. Kalu for one is open, he wants to move the party forward, he wants to develop the party in the state and the zone at large. Kalu knowing what political party is knows how to play by the rule and he can not hijack the party, it is mere propaganda to bring down this man.
What are the prospects of APC taking over Abia State in 2019?
I believe Kalu’s coming in is a plus, it’s additional percentage to us knowing his person, his capability, we will go places with him. Despite Kalu’s national posture, he has to come back home because politics is local and we’ve discussed and we’ve agreed he’s coming back home and I believe with his presence and that of other leaders of the party we will move places, in fact APC will take over power in the state in 2019. I can assure you that in 2019, the next Abia governor will come from APC, if not for any other thing, the calibre of men and women now in our party and for the fact that votes must count in that election.
APC won the Ondo governorship election, defeating the ruling PDP. What signal does that send?
The signal is very straight. It’s just to tell people that APC has arrived and we’ve come to make changes. You saw the margin, the places PDP won were given to them. It was an open election there was nothing hidden anywhere, it was not like before somebody will sit in a room and write result. It has started. It started in Edo and that’s how it’s going to continue. The next election, which is Anambra, we are going to take that state, I can assure you. I know that a lot of people are crying over the economic hardship in the country. It is not APC’s making. This is a problem caused by PDP for 16 years, but with time we are going to bring that change that we promised Nigerians.
Comparing PDP’s administration in the state and that of Kalu, would you say the former has been able to match the latter’s antecedent?
No, no, no, they’ve not been able to match Kalu’s antecedent. Apart from electricity and roads that Kalu built in all the senatorial zones when he was governor, most of the projects you see in the state today, including the Commissioners’ quarters, were done by Kalu’s administration. I don’t want to run anybody down, but there is no basis for comparison. Had it been that the immediate past governor, T.A Orji, continued or started from where Kalu stopped, the state could have had a new face.