Chief Emeka Charles Kalu, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, is the National Coordinator, Peoples Democratic Party Coalition (PDPCO) and a former governorship candidate in Abia State. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he spoke on the recent defection of Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC), among other issues. Excerpts:
What is your view on the recent defection of Governor David Umahi from the PDP to the APC?
David Umahi’s action is a betrayal of trust by a man who leaves where he was being celebrated as a king to a place where he will play second fiddle. Whatever that must have precipitated Umahi’s action is secondary as it does not determine the state of the PDP as a party. So, we must move on to more important things, rather than dwelling in the past. The political terrain is a jungle and if you do not tread cautiously, thorns will damage your boots, or at worse, damage your very legs. PDP has moved on. At this point, I can say that I don’t think his calculations worked out the way he speculated because he could not move over with the PDP structure in Ebonyi State. This is because the owners of the PDP structure in the state quickly took over what belongs to them. At the same time, Umahi could not get hold of the APC structures because those were in firm custody of others. So, where does that leave Governor Umahi?
Governor Umahi alleged the marginalisation of South East by PDP. How would you react to this?
This is very ironic. First, it is not an allegation that the South East is being marginalised in Nigeria largely as a result of the mindset in many quarters that the civil war of 1967-70 is not over. This same set of people believes that the South East must continue to pay the price of trying to break out from Nigeria. So, this is not an allegation. It is a fact we have lived with for decades, but which was amplified out of proportion by the way this administration has handled the business of running Nigeria, forgetting that the generation that is suffering now has nothing to do with the civil war and so punishing them. This action will only generate bad blood and stunt our progress journey. That notwithstanding, I am not of the school of thought that the solution to Nigeria problems lies in tribal presidents. But, I also believe that since the founding fathers of this nation in their wisdom considered the principles of federal character, it means that they understood the sensitivity of tribes in the Nigerian context. Therefore, this is the right time to have a president of Igbo extraction because it will calm a lot of nerves and allow some bad blood already heating up the polity to naturally resolve itself. But, certain conditions must be met. The presidency is a great office and whether it is occupied by Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, it is all about who will fix our country Nigeria. I know we have been disenfranchised and marginalised, but the fact still remains that we the Igbo have not done what we need to do to make sure that we become a people that will produce a block vote that will determine the presidency.
In the North, they invest in voter education. But, in the South East, we watch Premier Leagues matches on election day. That is the problem. How can we keep talking about disenfranchisement when we are not doing the needful? If you want to make a difference, you have to lead by example. We must claim our place by boosting our demographics. The governors should invest in voter education to increase our demographics. Then our quest for the president of Igbo extraction will begin to gain the deserved momentum.
Don’t you think that the PDP is losing its grip of the South East geo-political zone?
No, I really don’t believe so. This is because Ebonyi State we know is a pure PDP state. The governor that defected had been an APC mole in PDP, a crony to APC all these while and we already knew that. I vividly remember that in 2019, while we were on the presidential campaign trail coming to Ebonyi State, the governor was leaving the state. You can understand the clear message that when a presidential candidate of your party is coming into your state, everyone knows that you are the chief campaigner. But, that was not the case. David Umahi ran away from his state so that his APC masters would not get angry that he supported his PDP candidate. That was the level of his hypocrisy and we all knew it. As a governor, David Umahi was contributing nothing to the party, except protecting his personal interests and carrying the wishes of APC. In Ebonyi State, we have the likes of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim; former Senator, Chief Obinna Ogba, and so on and so forth. These men are party men who have proven loyalty to the party. They are not stooges to APC. We have our structure intact. The defector has already started to see the ripple effects. This is because not all the lawmakers have accepted to lose with him. Rather, they chose the light that is going to shine in Ebonyi come 2023. I am optimistic that our great party, the PDP is standing firm in that state. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm. Bear in mind that David Umahi’s reasons for going across are false. He is using Ndigbo to make his case and also insinuating that our great party has been unfair to the South East. He can now see that the odds are against him. PDP has made him and placed him where he is, even giving him the opportunity to make his own brothers in charge of the party structures in the state. But, he miscalculated by not realising that PDP is not a party of dummies. Rather, it is a party of people with intellectual capabilities. He has been disappointed now because I know we are very strong in Ebonyi State. As for Imo, that state will return to PDP come what may. It did not go to APC by choice. Rather, it was by force. You know that anything you obtain by force is not yours. Don’t worry, it is all about interest and a working state. We want Imo State to work and it will work.
You want to share a story with us? You want to advertise? You need publicity for a product, service, or event? Contact us on WhatsApp – +234 803 3018 881