Chief Hilary Eke, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Imo State, spoke with Amby Uneze in Owerri, on the activities of the party in the state and her efforts to see that APC won the last rerun elections in the state. Excerpts:
What has really been happening in your party for some time now?
By the grace of God, the party has been moving well since I was elected the state chairman of our great party in Imo State. I remain grateful to God and I also appreciate Governor Rochas Okorocha, who found me worthy to be appointed the chairman of the party in the state. I want to specially thank the governor for having worked in a manner that had quieted the opposition in this state, because what he had done so far is enough to believe that APC actually has a manifesto that touches the lives of the people. In fact, he had made the party proud because of his activities and the numerous projects in the state, which have given me enough energy and strength to move the party to greater height.
As for the rerun election, which took place some weeks back, we were adequately prepared for it and that was why we won because the APC has brought good things to the state. And because people like to associate themselves with good things, which APC represents, they had to vote for us. Those who criticise the good work of the governor are in the minority. It was because the governor has always made us proud, that was why we came out of that rerun election with victory. So, it was a victory we merited and we are grateful to God.
Having won the three remaining state House of Assembly seats and that of the Okigwe senatorial rerun election, one begins to think that the APC did some magic. How true is that assertion?
From the work and sensitisation we have been carrying even in the grassroots, coupled with the developmental strides of the governor, people are beginning to know the truth. The manifesto of the party and with the revolution the president has been involved in at the national level, especially the anti-corruption crusade, people are happy with the APC government and when you have development even in your locality, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you what to do.
Again, things are beginning to be better. Even the security provided by INEC did a marvelous work. So, the usual snatching of ballot boxes and other election malpractices that was the order of the day by the opposition was minimised and the peoples’ votes counted.
That is why if you look at the figures and compare with the population, you will know that it was the real peoples’ votes. Another factor was that as we prayed to God that we really needed that senate seat, our prayers were answered, even though we encountered many challenges because it was actually a fight between Senator Ike Ekweremadu of Enugu State and the Okigwe people.
The involvement of Senator Ekweremadu was that he felt threatened that if Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu wins the Senate, it would threaten his position as the deputy senate president. He (Ekweremadu) invested money into that election, but it was not possible for them to rig because we were very much on the ground. Our successes were the good work of our governor, that of the president and the hard work of the party because we mobilised our people to cast their vote for our candidate.
You have mentioned Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who is the Deputy Senate President, is it possible for a non-ranking member of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, to just come and occupy the position of a Deputy Senate President?
The position of the deputy senate president was a position zoned to the South-east and because as at that time, the APC had no senator, it was given to Ekweremadu on a platter of gold. If APC had had a senator at the time, he would not have been given the position to occupy. He is occupying it on a temporary basis.
Now, APC has a senator from the South-east zone in the person of Uwajumogu, it is only normal for the position to go to where it rightly belongs, that is, for Uwajumogu to take the position of the Deputy Senate President, whether his is a ranking officer or not, this is a right that is zoned to the party in power and to our zone.
There is no how we can be in power and allow any other person from the minority party to take the position. We are in charge and therefore we should be in control. Supposing all of them are new there, somebody must be Senate President and deputy. After all, those who went to the senate the first time among them were Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
Therefore, you cannot say the person for any position for his zone must be a ranking officer when it is the person’s right and for his zone. What I am saying is that, that will not be a hindrance for Uwajumogu to be a Deputy Senate President.
The marginalisation of the South-east has even continued in this regime as against the campaign in the beginning by the party, is it because the party has lost focus or what?
Marginalisation of the South-east cannot be confirmed at this point because positions are still being shared. However, I believe that before the end of the sharing of the position, the zone would get her fair share of the positions that are due to them. But now, we have a senator. I also think that whatever is due for the South-east would be given to them at the National Assembly.
Does your party believe in zoning or sharing formula?
I cannot say that my party doesn’t believe in zoning, what my party doesn’t believe is stupid and foolish zoning. We believe in fair sharing, equity; we believe in live and let’s live and we believe in justice. APC is a national party and we conduct our primaries in accordance with the Constitution of our party, which gives everybody the right to contest for any position. We show zoning by voting and you cannot go and relax because you feel that the position is zoned to your area. No, power is not given, it is taken. We believe in quality, and let the right person occupy that position in place of a mediocre.
What is your advice to the people of the state in the midst of the demolition going on in certain parts of the state by the government?
I urge Imo people for their understanding in the government desire to relocate the Ekeukwu Owere main market, Orji and Nekede mechanic villages respectively. I believe that government has good intentions for the people of the state. We all should give it our support so that government will achieve her aim.