Chief Okey Nwagbara is a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) from Abia State. He has never failed to voice out his dislike for what has been happening in his party in the state of recent and by extension the nation.
In this interview with OKEY SAMPSON, he spoke about the recent visit of the Minister of Information and Orientation to Abia and the controversial high rating of the state in the development index of the country. He also spoke about the re-entry of the former governor, Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK), into PDP and many more.
Recently, the Minister of Information and Orientation visited Abia and rated the State Government high in infrastructural development and good governance, what’s your reaction?
I was actually astonished to see a man as experienced, as intelligent and as exposed as Labran Maku, coming to praise what was shown to him, not what was done. One of the embarrassing aspects of that tour was the appearance of traditional rulers, waiting for the minister at every point he stopped, to welcome him. That made me to contemplate surrendering my chieftaincy certificate to the Eze that gave me the traditional title because I realised that the values of traditional institution in my Ngwaland in particular has been reduced to nothing. That will not happen in any other part of the country.
That apart, the minister’s visit was supposed to be pure dividends of democracy visit, it was not supposed to be with consent of the state government. These are some of the areas I fault my party, PDP most times. When you want to checkmate the activities of elected officers, that visit, as I said, shouldn’t have been with the consent of the state government so that they would not hijack it. He should have been taken to places like Port Harcourt Road, from Port Harcourt Road to where Uratta Road ends, Omuma, Osusu, Ohanku, Ngwa Roads and indeed numerous other roads in Aba zone and then he would be properly guided in his rating.
We are not doing good to ourselves that the Minister of Information could visit the state and instead of showing him bad roads, of which we have many, they went and showed him some little pictures that Abia State has good roads, they don’t lack bad roads. So, what I am saying is that whenever any delegation from the federal government visits the state, let them be shown the bad roads, of which we have many so that the government at the centre could assist us to remedy the situation instead of showing those painted, coated and patched roads and by this, you are not doing your people any good.
If Maku is serious with what he is doing, let him without the consent of the state government, come down to Abia State; we will show him these roads and after that he would be able to realise that there are so many roads, that Aba as a city has no roads. When we talk about building roads, it doesn’t mean when you patch a junction that got deplorable since the past one year and when you patch it, you claim to have built a road; no, that is not building road. We were here when the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, former governor of old Imo State, built roads, not when you resurface an existing road, you say you are building road, that is deceit.
Look, let me tell you why I like OUK. When he was in power, he liked constructive criticisms and he always made amends but now it’s a different game. But we can not stop criticising because we want our party, the PDP, to be the best in Abia as it is in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and other states where their governors are performing.
Government said it had started the reconstruction of roads in Aba and you are still saying there are no roads in the city, how do we reconcile this?
Your designation is wrong, let me correct it. There is a big difference between building of roads and patching of roads. Patching of roads is fixing a particular portion or portions of road, which got bad. Building of road means total reconstruction of an existing road or completely constructing a new one. So, what the Abia State Government is doing in Aba presently is patching few roads.
Anyway, we thank Gov. T.A Orji for having the mind to patch some roads in Aba but let me remind the government that there are many roads in the city that are begging for attention. Since the spirit of patching of roads has visited Abia State, let us remind them that some of these roads, including Ukwu Mango, which collapsed the same week it was commissioned, also need to be patched.
With what is happening, only God knows what will be the fate of residents of the city when the next rainy season, which is not quite far from now sets in. So, there is a difference between patching and building of roads. The Abia State Government is only patching junctions of roads that are in the public’s view. Everyday they keep on telling us about Aba/Owerri Road; if they are serious with the reconstruction of roads in Aba, let them go to Ngwa, Uratta, Omuma, Osusu and so many other roads in the city. If you are a Christian, after visiting some of these roads and seeing the hell people are living in, you will definitely not go to church again all the rest of your life, you will say you don’t think there is God but there is God and He cannot come down from heaven and do roads for us here. He will do it through somebody in government. My brother, if you go to these places I have mentioned and many more, you will shed tears for your fellow human beings and it becomes more worrisome when the government that has failed its people woefully is being rated high.
The former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, was recently re-admitted into the PDP, what’s your reaction?
You call him the former governor of Abia State but I see him as future president of this country. Orji Uzor Kalu’s re-entry into the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is a very wonderful development; it’s going to make PDP healthier. As a democrat and one of the registered members of PDP in Abia State, I’m too impressed with his re-entry. It’s going to make PDP in the state like I said earlier, healthier and, in fact, working. The party in the state has not been working all these years but Kalu will bring in his ideas, his manner of carrying people along, his pure democratic practicality and his open-door way of doing things that made him a successful businessman, acceptable by all the presidents in the world.
His re-entry into the PDP will bring a very good advantage to my party in the state because he is going to make the party more acceptable in the state because the way the party is being run in the state, people no longer like the party. But his re-entry into the party will bring a lot of dividends to the PDP in the state.
I laughed when I read in the newspapers that some people from the state went to Abuja to block kalu’s re-entry into PDP.
Kalu is one of the founding fathers of the PDP and you do not expect some people to like his re-entry into PDP because some of them were brought into PDP by him. When he was in the PDP, some of them were in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), some were in the civil service; some, who went to Abuja to meet with the chairman of PDP, were retired permanent secretaries. Some had never been anywhere before; so he made them. So, for them to be against his re-entry into the party, my brother, that question is open for everybody to answer. You have to check the mentality, the blood flow, the activeness of their brain; that would give you the picture of who they are. What they did amounted to someone, going behind his Maker, asking people questions why must He be his Maker.
All these people, I repeat, were made by OUK; they never tested the rudiments of politics before in their life history, never! And from what they are doing, you will now know that OUK has a salvation in his name. Apart from one or two people in modern-day Abia politics, nobody is as active, as experienced, as adventurous as Orji Uzor Kalu. He has age and destiny on his side and he is exposed. Those people opposed to his return can’t go where he has gone; they can’t see what he has seen and they lack vision. So, if they are kicking against his re-entering the party, it’s their own cup of tea, they are not speaking for Abia people. He has come into the party, he has come to stay and there is nothing they can do about it. Let’s just watch, in the next few months, you will see the development of the party in the state.
What do you have to say about the alleged harassment of party executives in Igbere Wards A and B by the military over the PDP registration card given to OUK?
By virtue of the constitution, the military and particularly the army’s responsibility is to defend the territorial integrity of the country. They have no right to delve into the internal matters of any state. They were invited to the state during the kidnap era, but the army in Abia State are trying to delve into other areas that are not their responsibility and it is our duty to bring this ugly development to the notice of the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of defence staff. They should caution the army to stop the harassment of innocent citizens of the state.
No matter the amount of harassment, I want to use this medium to thank the chairmen of Wards A and B of the PDP in Igbere for doing what is right. They should not be deterred and God will protect them, as they have done the right thing.
I read the other day in one of the national dailies where the PDP chairman in the state stated that the PDP card given to OUK was fake and I said to myself, could people bring themselves so low because of politics? Could people, because they want to remain in office at all cost, forget yesterday? I know very well that Senator Emma Nwaka had a very short-lived tenure in the Senate and he was once a commissioner during Kalu’s administration. From this brief history, you should be able to know that he was made by OUK.
But one of the problems we have in the state is that the so-called Abia politicians forget yesterday but I, for one, cannot forget yesterday because without yesterday, there will be no tomorrow. There is nothing like fake card in the PDP because all party cards come from the national headquarters of the party. Like the one I’m having, it was signed by Baraje when he was the national publicity secretary of the party. So, as far as I know, there is nothing like fake PDP card.
Are you in support of the formation of Njiko Ndigbo and the call for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction?
I am not only supporting the formation of Njiko Ndigbo and its ideals but I’m also calling on well-meaning Igbos, both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, to come out and support the efforts and vision of OUK and fight for the presidency that is the right of Ndigbo, right now. It is not given out free; you have to fight for it.
Igbo man should be supported to be the next president of this country. Look, let me tell you something, Igbos are the most widely travelled people in the world. It is an Igbo man that will restore the pride of this country. If it will be possible to give Igbo man the presidency of this country for only 30 days, you will see miracle. You see Nigeria as a very large country, yet it is very small if you have the brain on how to manage Nigeria because the resources are there.
If Igbos refuse to support OUK now as they refused to support him when he was telling the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to do the right thing, they felt he was insulting Obasanjo; no, he was giving advice like a son would to his father but Obasanjo saw the advice as insult and some Igbos, who had not been successful in any of their life’s endeavours, felt OUK was insulting Obasanjo and everybody suffered for it. But now, he has started again with another vision; it is their duty to bury whatever is the acrimony they have this time around and come out to support OUK. I don’t know whether he wants to run as the president but all I know is that the masses will want him to come out and contest as the president of this country so that he can solve so many problems we have in this country in so many areas. He is the only one who can give hope to the Igbo future.