Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Ebonyi State, Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor, has allayed fears that her recent appointment by Governor Dave Umahi as his Special Assistant on Inter-Party and Labour Relations would deter viable opposition in the state.
Her appointment was viewed by some as the end of opposition in the state considering the position she occupies as the leader of an organisation consisting mainly of opposition parties. Adibe-Nwafor, who is also the state chairman of KOWA party told Daily Sun that her appointment would enable her function more effectively as it would enable her be abreast with government activities.
How has it been running the activities of IPAC in Ebonyi State?
It has not been easy. You know as a woman, heading the affairs of an organisation predominantly occupied by men is not an easy one but I am trying my best. Since I stepped in as the chairman, there have been positive development in IPAC and members appreciate it.
Apart from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), all other parties that make up IPAC are in opposition and part of its duties in this sense is to put the ruling party in check. How has IPAC under your leadership been playing this role in Ebonyi?
IPAC stands for good governance. We have been checkmating what has been going on here in Ebonyi State to make sure that the interest of Ebonyians is the number one priority. We make sure that the government of the day is implementing the promises it made to the people of the state and I thank God that the governor, David Umahi, is trying in that area to cater to the welfare of the people. The man in charge is really doing his best in the area of good governance. You can see for yourself the good works he is doing. In the area of infrastructural development, he is doing great works there; in agriculture, he is doing so well such that Ebonyi is now competing with other states. In so many other areas, the governor is really trying. So, we as IPAC, we have been putting the government on check to ensure that it doesn’t go to sleep.
The Governor newly appointed you as his aide; in that light, how objective does one expect you to be in carrying out the duty of checkmating the activities of the same government since you are now in its payroll?
I am the Special Assistant on Inter-Party and Labour Relations but even at that, I am not a PDP member. In fact, I am the chairman of KOWA party in Ebonyi State. The reason why other parties are involved in that area is so that they will be able to checkmate what the ruling party is doing. I don’t think I will be biased while carrying out my duties. I will make sure that I carry other political parties along so that we can achieve our target.
Men are almost in total dominance of party politics in Ebonyi State. Leading IPAC as a woman, what practical steps are you taking to encourage women’s participation in politics, and indeed, increase the number of women who sit on the table where political decisions are taken?
Currently, many women have been brought on board. Some of them are party chairmen. On my own, I am making effort to increase the number who play active role in politics and anytime women come around, I admit them immediately because I need more of them in the system. Before now, the women were so afraid but when they see other women participating actively, they get encouraged to come on board. Just recently, we had a programme with the Alliances for Africa (AfA). That one was tagged ‘She governs campaign.’ We are now bringing in the younger ones so that when they get to this stage, they will not be afraid of participating in politics. So, there are lots of young women we have groomed on issues of politics. We encourage them not to be afraid of participating in politics. So, I have been trying my best to carry the women along. In parties now, if we plead with all the parties to include women in their executive positions, you will see that a woman can actually be a chairman, secretary, and hold other positions and no just woman leader. So, we are talking to the chairmen of other parties to try to accommodate women in their party executives; not just woman leader or organising secretary. Let them also include us in strategic positions.
How would you rate the 2019 general election especially as it affects Ebonyi State?
The 2019 general election in Ebonyi State was free and fair. This is because if you check the margin of victory in the governorship election, I can tell you that it was free and fair. If you rate the margin, you will see that that of the PDP was very high. In the first election, the presidential election, the turnout was low but that of governorship and House of Assembly election, the turnout was high.
Before the 2019 general election took place, lots of issues came up. One of such was the endorsement of the PDP’s candidate who is also the current governor, Chief David Umahi, for a second term by a section of IPAC , while the other members kicked against it. Those who kicked alleged that they were victimised and persecuted by the powers that be. What would you say about that?
Nobody was victimised. You know that at the national level, there was something that they formed; the IPAC national level; the chairmen formed Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while others joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). Then, they now instructed we at the state level; those that their parties fell under that CUPP to watch the political space and know what to do. They told us whom they were supporting for presidency. So, that was what actually happened. Some were not in that area so they chose to support the party their national was supporting at the national level. So, I think it was a matter of choice. There were parties that did not have governorship candidates and they chose to support whoever they wanted to support. Nobody was actually victimised. I know somebody that was complaining that he was attacked. I learnt that it was there members that even attacked them; may be, they did not keep to their terms. I did not know when the thing happened, I only heard of it. I did not victimise anybody as IPAC chairman.