BY GBENGA OKE
Chief Bright Ugwoegbu is a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State. He spoke with Journalists on the controversy that trailed the PDP senatorial primaries in Orlu Senatorial District, the reconciliation efforts of Governor Ikedi Ohakim and his developmental strides in Imo State among others. Excerpts:
The primaries are over now and the battle over who gets what has shifted to the courts. What is your assessment of the situation?
The problem has to do with internal crises in some of the parties. In some cases, the matter is different, different in the sense that some people who are not popular think political office is their birthright, the moment they lose it, they start looking for ways to grab it from the side and when the matter is decided in the court, the delegates who are the electorates, their contribution will be eliminated because it seems some of our courts have already been compromised and such situation puts the party in a disadvantaged situation.
During the election, such developments put the party at risk at the elections. So if a party fields a candidate that is not popular, during the general election, the people are going to speak through the ballot box. Unfortunately, the parties’ constitutions are either weak or not properly enforced in Nigeria leading to the emergence of aspirants who after losing the primaries will now resort to activities which make it appear that the tickets are their birthrights.
As a stakeholder in Imo politics and Orlu zone, what do you make of the senatorial controversy between Chief Hope Uzodinma and Senator Osita Isunazo?
The Imo case especially that of Orlu senatorial district, I do not see it as a complicated matter because the people have spoken at the primaries and the victory was very clear. It was clear between the winner and who lost the ticket. The winner got 2,140votes against 870 votes, if the incumbent was a very effective representative of his people, he would not have had any serious competition.
The Orlu electorate is very sophisticated and well exposed and are ready to pursue the case to a logical conclusion. We are surprised the way the ruling was given because the judge claimed the winner, Chief Hope Uzodinma was not cleared to run and it is only the party that is in the position to state whether they cleared their candidate to run or not. If a candidate is screened and cleared and he has been issued the certificate to contest, what then is the bone of contention?
Now that both parties are in Court laying claims to the ticket, what is the way out of the logjam?
Through the judicial process the disadvantaged person now is the real winner of the senatorial ticket and he has already gone through a judicial process to vacate that ruling.
Are you saying reconciliation within the party may not solve the logjam?
Governor Ikedi Ohakim has set up a very strong and high powered committee headed by Orlu political leader, Chief Arthur Nzeribe and I am sure they have already finished their investigations and made recommendations to the Governor. The governor knows how vital Orlu people are in the power play in Imo State because of the 12 local governments and the governor knows how vital the Orlu votes are in the context of Imo politics.
From the look of things, majority of the people now in Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN) are aggrieved
(Cuts in) Those who left the PDP are chieftains who could not cope with the administration’s reforms and they have no option than to leave the party to seek refuge under other platforms. Majority of them are inconsistent members and they lack skills for resolving differences. But it is better for our party because if some of them had stayed, they would have created more confusion for the party. Presently as it is in Imo State, opposition has been using propaganda and the advantage we have over them is that Governor Ohakim has performed well.
What happens if the matter is not resolved?
If the matter is not resolved and the ticket not returned to the actual winner whom the people had chosen to represent them, our great party will suffer. We have great leaders in the party who have felt the purse of the people in the area and I am sure they will not allow the party to field a weak candidate.
With the present crises within the PDP in your zone, don’t you think this will affect the chances of the party at the polls putting in mind the rising profile of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Imo?
Honestly, I don’t see the ACN as a serious threat in Orlu because ACN boasts of former governor of the state, Chief Achike Udenwa who had eight years as governor and two years as a minister and there is nothing to show for it in Orlu. So running under the ACN platform, I wonder what he has to tell other people. So, I don’t see any serious threat coming from ACN in Orlu senatorial district.
With the picture you have just painted, are you saying the former governor did not perform and Imo State will once vote for the incumbent, Ikedi Ohakim?
The state has transformed rapidly under the leadership of Governor Ohakim and the level of service delivery which the administration has given to the state is monumental. They are not only feasible but life transforming and has affected the lives of every indigene of the state.
From employment, infrastructural update, re-orientation, investment opportunities and most importantly, installing a leadership that is pro-active in nature in carrying out governance of the state. Infact this type of massive development is new to a lot of people in the state. Governor Ohakim is a very intelligent, sensitive and transformational leader who has done the state proud in the last four years.
Comments are moderated. Please keep them clean and brief.
ACN is no threat to PDP in Imo- Ugwoegbu