For those who may not have known that in Ebonyi state, contracts are awarded by the state governor, Chief Martin Elechi to his contract firm, M and J Construction Company and that of his Deputy, Chief Dave Umahi, Brass Construction limited.
In this Interview, Mr. Chaka Nweze, of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Ebonyi state, who was the local government council Chairman of Ohaozara LGA under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and hails from the same community with the National Chairman of the ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu spoke on issues that bother the state.
How he became council boss
The truth of the matter is that shortly before I became the council chairman, I was A very strong member of PDP, and the PDP government then under Sam Egwu was a very masses-oriented government, a lot of developmental projects were scattered all over the places and so it was easier for people to make up their mind where they wanted to go to. At that time, we had little or no opposition in the state, even though Ogbonnaya Onu was running for governorship in ANPP, people had made up their mind to go PDP way, so at that time it was easier for us and people voted massively for PDP irrespective of the fact that Onu came from the same area.
No, it is not true. In 2007, you cannot ascertain what happened because crisis ensured before the election. There was an allegation that I made away with election materials which was not true because it has been investigated and proven not true. It was like an imagination, people were massively supporting my party at that time where I ran the local government and when Onu was running, he approached me to talk to the people to vote for him. Even though, ordinarily, I would have done
that, but as a party man, I felt it was like anti-party for me to tell the people not to vote for my party and vote for Ogbonnaya Onu who incidentally is my brother. So I had this problem and I said no its either I resign from PDP and join him or remain in PDP and vote for my party. So when I took that decision, it was difficult for Onu to harvest votes from my place, so what he did was set the people against me. On the Election Day people had already made up their mind that I was going to carry the election materials which I never did, so around 7: 30 am at the pre-election briefing at the INEC office, houses were set ablaze, the traditional ruler’s house was set ablaze; Dave Umahi’s house was equally set ablaze among other houses.
The 2007 vote for PDP in Ohaozara
Why he left PDP for ANPP four years after.
Yes, it is not a matter of complain, it is a matter of the content of the complaint. The content of the complaint may be different. Why I left PDP was, I and a whole lot of other supporters of PDP were not comfortable by the way and manner the PDP was being run under the leader of Engr. Dave Umahi when he was the state party chairman. When the crisis was starting, we made strong complaint to the National Headquarters of the PDP that the way and manner the party was being run was tantamount to spoiling the party and that something urgent need to be done. That advice was not heeded to and we even went to the office of the then National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo that the founding members of the party are being sidelined out of the party. I was suspended for a flimsy reason that I don’t attend party functions. I was never invited to any party function even Obinna Ogba who was the party chairman was suspended for the same reason and I challenged them to show me evidence of invitation to any party function that I refused
to attend. Those were the flimsy reasons they were giving and a substantial number of us including Idu Igarawey were all suspended and we saw it as a ploy by very few individuals who have the high propensity to eat what belongs to everybody and so that was a way to edge most of us out of the government.
The running of Ebonyi state
If you check the way and manner the state is being run, the way contracts are being given out, you find out that it is just few individuals. I may not go into mentioning names but I can bet you that when time comes, I will but contracts in Ebonyi state revolves around not more that 5 or 6 people in a state of more than two million people and some of these jobs that are being given out are not even being executed. That was how most of us started complaining, that we can’t run the state like this; that we can’t run the party like that. We even issued a threat that if nothing changed, we will leave the party and when nothing was done, we left because we have freedom of association and we are all human beings. We needed a platform that we could use to run an election and remember they had suspended us and so we took our decision. I am sure you will be surprised how I found myself in ANPP, it was not a unilateral decision of mine, it was a collective decision and you know politics is a group game. A decision was taken because ANPP was seen as a party that was already on the ground comparatively to other political parties like the PDP. So we needed a platform that is already rooted that we can fine tune. Irrespective of whatever transpired between me and my brother (Onu) is in the past and does not really matter. What mattered was that we needed to move ahead and incidentally the man at the head of affairs of the ANPP is my own brother despite what happened in the past, it does not mean we are not brothers. So it was an easier place for me and the rest of us to move into ANPP.
The ANPP and election petition tribunal
Yes, so far so good. We didn’t just go to tribunal because we wanted to go there. We went to tribunal because we felt we won the election. As a matter of fact we won the election because the people of Ebonyi state needed a change because of the way and manner the state is being run so we needed a change and the change people of Ebonyi state needed was demonstrated at the polls despite the intimidation of the ANPP, using money inducement, police and the army, people still came out and voted. We also went to the tribunal because we know that by electoral act, whoever has the highest number of valid votes that meets the 2/3 spread in all the LGA wins. So we did our calculations and so far, the tribunal is coming out well, the result of the forensic analysis is out and if I have to be specific, you cannot believe it, approximately one hundred and seventy something thousand votes were thumb printed by less than four hundred people from the forensic examination.
But the tribunal refused to accept the result of that forensic examination.
Yes. Most times you are at the mercy of the judges but we are right now on cross appeal. It is unheard of in legal profession that you grant a petitioner to go all out and prove his case and the petitioner has gone out to bring expert to prove facts of his case and you say you are not taking it so why did you grant the motion to do forensic? That is why we are on appeal asking that they should take what they have asked us to do which we have done and I am sure that once the forensic is admitted, the truth will be out.
The allegation is highly unfounded. You don’t have only one clergy, the clergy is made up of so many men of God and they have many associations. If the clergy is disenchanted with the way the state is being run, even if I am the head of CAN, I can voice out what is being done in my state that I don’t like. If clergy A says he was not part of it, it does not mean that clergy B was not part of it and it is not all the clergy in Ebonyi state that is saying we are not part of it. The clergy is just voicing out what they feel is wrong in their state after the entire tribunal door is open to all.
The clergy and advertorial
ANPP and PDP
Yes off course because the ANPP is the masses movement and the person at the helm of affairs will be executing masses oriented projects and for crying out loud, what is governance, the well being of the governed. ANPP is not unmindful that any mandate you have now is a mandate given by the people.
Bridges are not what government is all about. Government is about getting your priorities right. The question would have been, how do we better the lives of common men in Ebonyi state? You cannot tell me to cross any bridge when there is no food on my table; it is only when there is food on my table that I could move out, what does a bridge mean to me when I cannot even eat?