Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
A Chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC) and one-time House of Representatives member, who represented the Abia Central Constituency, Hon Iheanacho Obioma, has called on the Igbo to support the return of President Muhammadu Buhari to pave way for the Igbo to succeed him in 2023.
Obioma who hosted a meeting of the LGA leaders of his constituency, where he intimated them of his intention to run for the Abia Central Senatorial seat, which is currently occupied by the former governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Ahamefula Orji, said that the latter is only sleeping in the Senate and should not be allowed to return again.
He also spoke on diverse issues relating to the state government, his party, APC, chances of his party winning at the polls. Excerpts:
You have just intimated LGA leaders of your constituency of your intention to run for the Abia Central Senatorial seat, why do you think you are a better candidate than Senator T.A. Orji, who is currently occupying the position and who is warming up to go for a second tenure?
First and foremost, I want you to know that the Senate is an institution I am very conversant with, I am no more a learner on the job. When you talk about the National Assembly, some of us could be said to be synonymous with that institution. It is an institution I know in and out and I understand what it takes to be there and what is expected of someone in the National Assembly. I have been in the House of Representatives; even as a first-timer, it was not as if I used it as a learning process, I went there with my experience in life, adapted and became part of the leadership there. It is one institution that my spirit accepts wholeheartedly, not for the sake of money, but knowing what is expected of me. I did my bit during my time in the House of Reps and was not faulted. Even as we speak, so many people still come to me to talk about my time in the House, telling me how rewarding it was to the people then and urged me to seek for a higher office, and I laugh and promised them that I would do that. It is in fulfillment of that promise that I have come out today, not to disappoint my people over this clarion call, which have been coming from all over the place. Coming to why I think that I am more qualified than any other candidate serving or intending to serve from Abia Central, including T.A. Orji, if you have counted one, two, three, going to the next classroom will not be a problem. I have tried it before in 2003, I had a strong contest to go to the Senate and up till now, I and other majority of Abians, are convinced that I won that election, but it was denied. So, I can tell you that if I had gone to the Senate in 2003, by now I would have been preparing to retire, that is the truth. So, I am going to a familiar terrain, a place I know very well, as well as know how it works. I know how to make laws, what it means to defend my people, what it means to defend Nigeria and what it means to be a leader. And all these things, when I combine them, I know that I will be a good Senator, a good leader and a better representative of my people.
How do you intend to unseat the former governor, who is the incumbent Senator for Abia Central, as an APC candidate?
I still believe that the so-called incumbent Senator Theodore Orji will in one way or the other drop out of the race. This will happen when all his maneuvering fail him because it will, and he will not be able to run, he will drop out of the race because he will not stand to face that shame, knowing that he will lose. You are aware that he lost in the last election, which seat he is occupying now in Abuja. He failed the election, even in his own booth, and bulldozed his way into the Senate, but he will not have the same opportunity to do that again in 2019. That he is in the Senate today is due to his style of politics of the end justifies the means. He manipulated the result that sent him to the Senate, it was not through the vote of the people because he lost in his own booth. He will not have that same chance again. Then, he was a governor, and had everything at his disposal, now that he is no longer a governor, and does not have the same INEC that wrote that result for him, nor the police and army that assisted him, a better aspirant like me will floor him
flat. So, he has to check whether he will come out and face the disgrace that is awaiting him here, but I think that he will take the honourable part so as not to disgrace himself at the polls. But if he decides to come out to contest, it would not be a contest or an issue that T.A. Orji is running for the Senate, he can’t run because he will not win. If he failed woefully as a governor, is it now that he is out of Government House that he is going to win? There is no way he can win. And that is what I can tell you, so I don’t think about him, I will be happy that his party will make the mistake of fielding him as a candidate, and that will mean that from the onset, they have lost the election. And I don’t think that Abia Central people will want to find him back in the Senate because he is a sleeping Senator in the Senate. Anytime they show him on TV, people keep asking, is that our Senator, because he has added so much weight and now often sleeps in the Senate. He is enjoying himself in the Senate and no longer has anything to offer to Abians.
You spoke so confidently of your party, APC, that it is the party to watch in Abia, knowing very well that PDP has been here for too long, and has mastered the methods of election winning, whether genuinely or not. Why do you think that your party will come and suddenly take over power from the PDP?
It is widely believed among Abians that APC has what it takes to defeat the incumbent government because they will make sure that the incumbent government does not use the military or police against them as they have always done over the years. APC will make sure that the votes of the electorate count and that whatever result that comes out from the election will be announced without mutilation or total changing of results, just for the people’s wish to come to pass. Abians cannot vote for to a party that will not be able to defend the result. Everyday people are trooping in to register in APC because they desire change. When we had a mega rally here, you saw how people trooped out to the venue, did that look like a party which the people did not like, no! Whenever people hear that APC is meeting, the entire state would be lightened up as people are full of expectation that the party is on a rescue mission. Secondly, if you look at the caliber of people in APC, you cannot find it in any other party, that is the type of party that wins in election. We have in APC people of means, with resources and influence, PDP and their governor have not served Abians well, but have rather put them into more hardship.
That brings me to this question of your assessment of Abia State government, no doubt there are lots of complaints, ranging from non-payment of salaries and pensions to lack of infrastructural developments. Do you think that Ikpeazu’s government has done well?
Truthfully, Abia people are praying everyday for the emergence of a force that will remove this government in power and whatever they represent. Abia is facing the problem of an impotent government, which is not advancing the fortunes of the governed, a government that has crippled everybody. People are not paid salaries, no infrastructural development; in short, people are unhappy with the way they are being governed. And this thing has lingered for many years and today, people think that there must be a change. Why they are calling for that change and believing that it is possible is because they believe that the party in power, that is, the Peoples Democratic Party, no longer have that INEC that will write results and impose them on the people. The PDP as you know has never won elections, including the incumbent governor, and people think that this is the time to rescue Abia citizens from the clutches of tyranny. If we get it wrong now, it will be unfortunate, and the only party we think that can rescue Abians is the All Progressive Congress, APC.
There is this problem of killings by herdsmen, which is making a mess of the security situation in the country, don’t you think that the PDP will use it against the government at the centre and encourage the people, particularly Ndigbo not to vote for APC, both at the state and federal levels?
We are aware that there are killings, but it is not peculiar to Abia or Nigeria alone, and I can assure you that President Muhammadu Buhari is not happy about what is going on and has been doing a lot to stop it.
As the father of this nation, I want to tell you that no father will be happy when people are killing his children. Sometimes, I am forced to believe that all these killings are aimed at sabotaging his government because of his doggedness in his fight against corruption. Corrupt people are not the easiest people to deal with in any society. Besides that there are a lot of other good things that the Federal Government is doing. Before this time, going to Enugu from the Tower takes motorists a minimum of four hours, but today if you are going to Enugu, you can get there in 1hour, 20 minutes, somebody made that possible. The same thing is with Onitsha, Owerri, etc. In the past years, the PDP used the Second Niger Bridge to deceive people to vote for them, did they do anything, is it not now that the government is doing it? Herdsmen problems are being witnessed in other parts of the country, which is the only problem they are facing, but in Abia, there is herdsmen problems and internal economic problems, the type that has never been experienced here before, strangulating everybody, yet the so-called government that is shameless is still talking about the votes of the electorate. The PDP and their governor have failed the people of Abia and don’t deserve a second tenure.
There is the issue of marginalization of the Igbo by the Buhari government like most key positions were given to the Northerners. And you know this is one of the major reasons the Igbo are kicking against the Buhari administration, saying that he should not be voted for a second tenure, what is your take?
Every day, we talk about the marginalization of the Igbo, on why we have not been allowed to become president, if we don’t vote for Buhari to have another four years and a new person comes, it means that the Igbo will stay another eight years before they can think of smelling the presidency. We talk about being hated by the other tribes, the only time we can confirm that is after Buhari’s second tenure and someone comes up to say that an Igbo man cannot be president; we can now say yes, they don’t want us, but now we are very close to it. Buhari is the only person that will make the Igbo dream come to reality. If the Igbo were the Yoruba and they find themselves in this situation, they will do everything within their reach for the president to continue even if the person is the worst president because of their own chances in future, but here is a man that is doing so many things for us and some people are kicking against his government. We have yet an opportunity and should not allow anybody to deceive us. All these propaganda cannot help us, any right thinking Igbo man who wants the Igbo to progress and come to power and limelight should know that we have just four years to come out and showcase ourselves in the presidency, if we make the mistake of voting in a new person, it will be difficult for us to get there, I can assure you that.