The National Chairman of Action People’s Party and National Publicity Secretary of Inter-Party Advisory Committee, Mr Ikenga Ugochinyere bares his mind to Udora Orizu on salient issues affecting the nation and what to expect as the Colation of United Political Parties begins a search for a consensus candidate
As the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) National Publicity Secretary do you think IPAC has lived up to its objectives?
They have not done much to make their presence felt in the course of deepening our electoral process and ensuring a violence free intra party political process. But the Peter Ameh led leadership has one thing in mind, to build a consensus because it seems that before now, there were pockets of divisions here. Not all political party chairmen are on board, some feel that the IPAC is not protecting their interest. He’s trying to do the most important thing which is to unify all the different interests to have one particular platform and expand our reach with our development partners in the EU and all the election agencies nationally and otherwise and also have more seat for us at the table in terms of negotiations with INEC. The critical thing is to play our key role in ensuring that we participate in deepening the course of elections, have free and fair elections, having an electoral system whereby people who are popular will emerge whether they have money or not. Presently he’s on a campaign against vote buying which they are working with INEC and they are designing the format of the ballot stand and all those things that will help to ensure vote buying is reduced and issues that has to do with setting up electoral offenses court and so on. We are working with the parliament, INEC and our development partners to ensure that the 2019 elections which is our major task is hitch free.
With Atiku’s emergence as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, what is next for the coalition in its bid to get a consensus candidate?
When people ask about Atiku’s emergence, they try to make it look like Atiku is already a faith accomplished project in terms of being the consensus candidate of the coalition. The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) is made up 40 political parties out of which 20 has fielded presidential candidates. We do not only have Atiku Abubakar. The SDP has fielded Donald Duke, the PPA has fielded Peter Ameh, the NIP has fielded Mrs Atuejie, C4C has fielded Geff Ojinika and so on. It’s a coalition of equal partners, with that said when we go into issues of capacity, competence, national reach, structures of different political parties and the presidential candidate will be put on the table and at the end of the day, the best candidate will emerge as the candidate of the coalition. Before we even went into that, everyone knows from the day one that it’s only one person that will fly the flag of the coalition and everyone has signed on that we are willing to relinquish our individual party aspiration. The method of that election will likely be that each of the political parties that have presidential candidates including the ones that don’t have presidential candidates will go into the political conclave and vote for the candidates they want and the candidate who has the highest number will be the candidate of the coalition. So, Atiku’s emergence is the same as the emergence of the other presidential candidates in the CUPP. All are equal. Anybody who scores majority support of members of the coalition, will be the coalition candidate and everyone including the PDP have agreed that the consensus candidate that gets the majority support will be the flag bearer. I don’t know why people keep talking about Atiku Abubakar, we must accept facts that are real, one the PDP still has the highest number of governance in the coalition, highest number of senators, representatives, state assembly, so give and take I can tell you that PDP is the leading candidate when it has to do with the CUPP in terms of structure.
What do you have to say on the recent issue of some South east PDP chieftains disputing against Atiku’s choice of Peter Obi as his running mate?
I think the bickering over the announcement of Peter Obi is a mere display of political interest. I want people to see beyond an internal struggle for relevance by some chieftains of the PDP. You need to understand that the presidential candidate has the right to choose who to work with. That he’s supposed to do so in consultation with the political party and other key stakeholders is another thing. When I talk about key political stakeholders, maybe the national political stakeholders, the NWC of their party, the chieftains of their party and other key individuals. But if there was one or two people that was not consulted, it’s not something that should call for people to be celebrating that there’s already a problem. They are reaching out. All those issues will be sorted out and they are going to have a united front. What we are selling mainly is the candidate, the Vice President is there to assist the candidate when they win to achieve his programmes. The person that Nigerians should be holding responsible that will be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and leader of the federation is the president. I can bet you that we are going to have a united presidential team before the elections.
Most women are not happy with the outcome of the primaries, what do you think political party leaders should have done to carry women along?
The gains we recorded on women participation in politics were destroyed by the APC. Before the APC came into office, the PDP had women about 10% participation of women. PDP had Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Deziani, Oby Ezekwesili, Stella Oduah and so on. More women were encouraged, some of them were deputy governors, a lot were in senate, House of Representatives and State Assemblies, but with the coming of Buhari, it’s like we had a 360 degree turn-around. The funny thing is that he promised women that he was going to give them 30%. At the end of the day, his body language of saying that women’s role is in the kitchen helped to demoralise women. The APC became so intolerant of women they had to charge women exorbitant fees at their primaries. As far as APC is concerned women are not in the front burner. And that’s why the hope the opposition is offering in the agreement that we signed the opposition is already saying that key appointments is going to go to young people between the ages of 18 and 34 whether male or female, and then our mothers will 25 per cent to 30 per cent.