Emeka Etiaba, a lawyer and politician, is one of the sons of former Governor Virgy Etiaba of Anambra State. He aspired to rule Anambra State in 2010 with the initial endorsement of late national leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, but that ambition was frustrated in favour of the incumbent governor, Peter Obi. In this interview with Head of Politics, MAXWELL ODITTA, Etiaba says he is resolute about contesting the governorship of Anambra State when Governor Willie Obiano might have rounded off his good works. As for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid, he says it is merited.
You have experience in the two dominant parties in Anambra State, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance. As far as I am concerned, they are the only two existing parties in Anambra State. You have been aloof for a while. How would you compare the atmosphere in the two parties?
I haven’t been active, probably not playing party politics. But I have been very active in the area of policies. I have been very active in terms of legal representation of political parties aned their candidates.
But going back to your question, comparing PDP with APGA is an unfair comparison. The reason being that APGA is a small party when you compare the two. So, the two machineries cannot be compared together. But if you ask about what I think concerning the two, I will tell you that there is more of political tolerance and internal democracy in PDP than you have in APGA. For me, APGA is the story of one man who does as it pleases him. In PDP, it is not the story of one man. It is the story of a political party.
People may argue that the leadership of the PDP has been unfair, but you are talking about the leadership. You are not talking about one person. Unlike the APGA where you have one man dictating what goes on. But that is what I think. The two cannot be compared. PDP will always rank better in terms of internal democracy.
In APGA, it seems your leaving has been better appreciated than your presence. Recently, there was this altercation between former Governor Peter Obi and the party national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, in which Umeh revealed that but for his efforts of one Chief Rommy Ezenwata, and that of Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr), that late Odumegwu Ojukwu had already settled for you as the next governor of Anambra State at the time, persistently insisting that Obi will not change for good. He also revealed that it took them two months to convince Ojukwu to give Obi another chance. What happened to that phrase, Emeka, my namesake you will be the next governor of Anambra State?
The story you have heard is the truth that man who told the people he worked against the last decision of the great Ikemba really did it. When I raised the issue that they worked against the wishes of the great Ikemba, when I said they subverted his decision, they denied Ikemba ever endorsing me. So, over five years later they have come to confess, or Chief Umeh has
come to confess that he did it. That is very good. At least, prosperity now knows that I was not a liar, but he among others are the liars. So, I will leave it at that. But he only thing I tell anybody who cares to listen is that what goes around comes around. Today, you are the one meting out injustice, tomorrow it will come to you.
So, I don’t have a problem with who he worked in concert with to subvert a freely given endorsement by the great Eze-Igbo. Life goes on. And for me, I have not yet gotten to the end of my political career. If it would be, it would be.
What was the relationship between you and Ikemba who we now know actually endorsed you?
It was a relationship between a father and the son, it was a relationship between the leader of APGA and a member of APGA who was keen on moving Anambra State to the next level and he would fulfil his political ambition through APGA. That is the story and nothing else. The Ikemba was always there to encourage any young man or young woman who had anything to
offer. He saw in me the qualities he wanted for the leadership of the state and he so quickly endorsed me, but that is the story of the past. We are living in the present which is that Ikemba is no more, which that we have a governor in place in Anambra who is working assiduously to make sure that Anambra moves to the position where it should be in the comity of states.
And the governor is working hard because he met an Anambra State at a point where Mr. Peter Obi left it. If I must tell you that means it is not the desired place for this state. The governor has been doing quite a lot to take the state from the dungeon where he found it to the promise land. And I must confess to you that he has been doing a good job of it.
But the impression, Obi’s media aides give us that he did wonders in Anambra State and that Governor Willie Obiano is lucky to have inherited legacies. But then we are hearing from Obiano’s own people that they are like starting from the scratch. You were close to Obi’s government at a time and I believe that you are close to this government. You can tell us the difference.
You said the media aides of Obi said the government did well for the state?
That is what they are paid to say. But that is not the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is that Chief Willie Obiano has kicked the ground running, trying to make things work in Anambra State. While the government of Peter Obi was doing micro projects for Anambra State, but he was doing mega projects for his personal self. The present government was actually started giving Anambra State a direction. You will realise that before Willie Obiano, all you hear was Anambra State will do this, Anambra State will do that, the government will
do this, the government will do that. Once you heard the creation of mega city in Lagos, Peter Obi in Onitsha will announce it that he is creating a mega city. Once the Lagos State government talk about monorail, Peter Obi will go to Onitsha and say he is commissioning one. That was all. When he hears that foreign investors are in Lagos State, are in Ota, Ogun
State, he will say that he is bringing foreign investors. Go to Anambra State and tell me where you find foreign investors, beyond the brewery that up till today, Anambra people are trying to ravel how much of our money was invested into the brewery and how much of it belongs to Peter Obi through his surrogates.
You must be quite close to Governor Obiano and must be playing a big role in the government of Anambra State as it is today. Is that your own political resurgence?
I am not plating a big role in the government of Willie Obiano. But what I am doing is associating with a government that has direction. I am willing to do it even for a political party that is not my political party. I have found the truth in the man called Willie Obiano and then I am willing to go the whole hog and support him to make sure he succeeds. As for playing major role or big role, I am not playing any role at all. I am just a friend of the government and I am also trying to contribute the much I can in terms of advice from my office.
Once your governorship ambition hits the rock, you tended to have withdrawn from any elective or electioneering challenge. How long will this be? Are you not thinking of what the future holds for you politically?
Like I tell anybody that cares to listen, my political ambition ends up with the governorship of my state. I don’t believe in if the desired is not available, the available should be desired. I am strictly for the governorship of Anambra State, and for today, it is not vacant. That is the way I see it. I don’t belong to the school of thought that says if the governorship is not available, you go for senatorial, if it is not available you for the House of Reps, or for the House of Assembly or perhaps the chairmanship of a local government. I am gainfully
employed. You are in my chambers and we are talking, and you saw clients coming and go. So, I am not looking for an employment opportunity. I rather would serve my people at a given level and that level is not available for today. So, rather than sit back and criticise every move the government makes, I will dispassionate opinion and advice about the goings on in the state.
If you are talking about my governorship aspiration hitting the rock, of course, we all remembered that Victor Umeh, who is shouting today against Peter Obi, refused to organise primaries between me and Peter Obi and ensured that my ambition in APGA was extinguished. And I went to PPA. At PPA, the then owner of PPA, Orji Uzor Kalu, came up with a made-up primary where he anointed whoever he wanted. But you know that from date day up till today, neither PPA nor Orji Uzor Kalu has rested. Orji Uzor Kalu of late is crying that he is no longer contesting for Senate and that they should refund him his money. My message for him is that as they refund his money, he should refund me my own, because he also took my money. He took my money under the guise of a primary. So, if he wants his money given back by PDP, let him start by given me back my own N5million.
If you look back on who was used then to deny you of your governorship ticket in PPA, I think that it is this same Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, if you look at the whole history, the whole think might have been plotted from APGA, because just after that incident, Uche Ekwunife joined APGA. She eventually defected to PDP about the same time with Obi.
The truth is that I don’t want to drag Mrs. Ekwunife into this matter, because she saw an opportunity and sought to utilise it. That was essentially what she did. So, whether it was a conspiracy between herself, Peter Obi, Victor Umeh or Orji Kalu, all that ended up in frustrating my ambition. But the fortunate thing and the good thing is that I still live to fight tomorrow.
I am sure you are a bit close to those who are campaigning for the re-election President Goodluck Jonathan. Do you think that campaigned, that bid is deserved? Do you think that Jonathan deserves to be re-elected as President.
I have answered this question a bit of times. Going by his report card, he has done much better than most of our presidents have had. In aviation, in the rail-line sector, power, roads, education, most especially agriculture. He has done much better. I know how much was spent on rail-line and railway and nothing came out of it. I know how much before now we have budgeted and spent on fertilizer, that is boosting the agricultural sector. But today, we know that today, the story has changed. And the current Minister, Adesina, is doing quite a lot.
A lot of people criticise the President and they want to pigeonhole him within the confines of security – that the security situation is bad. My question is very simple. What would them alternative politician parties and candidates do to stop young girls of 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 from disguising themselves and bombing themselves and others what can they do
about it. If they have any solution, what cant they give the solution. Will they save Nigeria only when they become President? Can’t they protect the country they want to rule. So when you talk of situation issue, you have to look at it also that a lot of people who are doing something negative in the area of security blame it on years of neglect. It was not years of
Jonathan’s neglect, but neglect generally. So, the fault cannot be that of Jonathan. The government is doing the much they can through the Army to curb it. The fight is not more like the conventional fight. It’s guerrilla warfare. If you look the other way, somebody comes out from the bush, shoots you and goes back into the bush, and so on. So, it is merited. Is there a lot of work to be done? Yes, there is a lot of work to be done.
That leads to people insulting the President and the office of the President, I look at it and say it is also a pity, because most of them are public office and they also want to be President. They don’t want the office of the President respected adn they also want to command respect. He get what I mean.