From Chuks Collins, Awka
Prince John Emeka was until recently a staunch national figure/member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)and former Minister of State for Transportation who has really paid his dues.
Leading the way forward, he has just decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC)along with many top pppoltical figtures and thousands of supporters across Anambra State.
Here he spoke to CHUKS COLLINS in an exclusive interview on his reasons and expectations
Switching camp by someone of your political status is surely weighty and serious. So, what’s it all about?
Well, in political leadership you are always out for what is best for your people -where they stand to benefit in terms of education, agriculture, infrastructure, jobs and empowerment, etc. It’s my firm belief that Anambra North Senatorial zone, especially my core area of Omambala need help from the centre. We need to be connected to the Centre of Nigeria to be able to have infrastructure development, education, empowerment and all other life enhancing facilities. That is, things that would make them excel.
So I believe that All Progressives Congress (APC) government will remain in power. I believe that working with Sen Andy Uba we can key in to the Federal Government and attract all that we need in the state. It is very important that we have somebody who has been there before and understands the dynamics of how our Federal Republic works.
But curiously, the people in this part of the country are seeing things differently with the obvious marginalization body language of Mr President in terms of appointments, policies, the raging Fulanization/Islamization agenda accusation and seeming protection of murderous herdsmen.
Well, APC being the party in power has the major responsibility of protecting all citizens, and keep the nation together. If am the President, I will be really worried if I have multiple agitations. However, it’s okay for anyone to agitate if you are marginalized or feel marginalized; including myself I will agitate if I feel unfairly treated. But the process of going about it matters. People would want to embark on arms struggle, or want to get involved in politics to be able to get to the centre to enable them present and represent the views of their people. I am totally against anything that has t9 do with arms. Rather, am for raising your voice when marginalized, am for seeking for what is best for your people. That is what leadership is all about. But how you go about it is the big question.
I repeat, am completely against arms struggle. We have been through the Biafran war and it wasn’t an experience anyone would want to go through again. Though I was about seven years old then. But I still recollect jet fighters bombing the Otuocha area, and the terror that a young boy of seven would feel.
So if I have a better way of actualizing my agitation I will pursue it. More so we have a Constitution and processes that we can pursue. Yo7ng people must agitate because nobody want to be a second class citizen. Not at all. And I will never agree for my people to be second class citizens. On Islamization allegation, I don’t know or see how that is possible because we have Christians in the North and in the South. There can be some radicals, people that want to spread their religion by force. There are different tools of spreading religions. I think the most powerful tool is through the television and all the media. It can reach a lot of people. It’s a free world.
My concern is that I will never support anyone trying to spread your religion by force. And I don’t think that anyone will convince me to change from being a Christian. I never felt that pressure that everyone is being forced to become Muslim. How? When? Where is the pressure?
Sir, considering the forthcoming Anambra governorship election, experience shows that marketing an APC candidate here can be a bit daunting, even with very popular faces like you in the lineup.
There’s no doubt about it, yes. A lot of issues including very damaging negative propaganda against the party by the opposition parties in the state. We all know that in politics propaganda remains a potent tool. Today APC is witnessing more and more of our people coming into it. That can be explained that this party like any other formidable party belongs to all of us. I didn’t see in the APC Constitution where it says its party for Fulani, North, East or West.
The constitution is there for all to verify. Anyone is free to join and participate actively in all its activities. But if you keep yourself out, that is your choice.
Personally I feel like this is a Nigerian party; the party at the Centre, that has bright chances to retain power. So we like to be present at the table where Nigeria business is discussed so that our people benefit from it. It doesn’t stop our very dynamic young ones who are everywhere from participating in the power equation where Nigeria is discussed in a proper way.
Just within fourteen days a former card-carrying PDP Minister, two Senators and even a Board of Trustees member of the PDP, as well as other highly placed members of other parties joined APC in Anambra state. What’s is happening ?
Well there’s nothing strange or abnormal. To start with, we are looking at APC as a Nigerian party. Also we are looking at the candidate of the party who has touched so many lives not minding where you come from, for so many years. It’s therefore not surprising to me. Any very discerning politician, looking at the qualities of the APC candidate, looking at the possibility of the party remaining in power, looking at situation in the country; am not being sentimental, you can simply conclude that what is happening is surely what it should be.
Am not being personal, it’s acknowledged that every party in the nation today has its own issues. I have been a top member of the PDP in Anambra state. I was even involved in the primaries, etc. Well, all parties have been having their internal issues, so it’s not for me to come out here to point out, say, the PDP. No. We all know there are problems even at the national level. But I wish them well because almost all of us are products of PDP.
Apart from your personal convictions about APC, what are your hopes and expectations from the party with regards to your people, assuming your candidate wins?
First of all I have to acknowledge it openly here that the candidate is a man with listening ears, accommodating and humane. A situation where more voices of reason say this is how it’s going to be fixed; I don’t think he will play Mr Know all. He will listen. I also believe he will be equitable in distributing things. I believe he will focus on where and how to get the state going. I know he’s someone that will engage technocrats in their core areas to get the state working optimally. That is my hope and belief, having worked with him before at the Federal level I know that he has the good of Anambra state and the South East zone at heart.
Assuming Senator Uba wins, what three things would you like him to address immediately, at the state level; then for Anambra West Council area, your core area?
Education, infrastructure and the Youths. There’s need to keep our youths busy. To me these three things are somehow interwoven. Getting the youths engaged will ensure they do not get in the wrong direction. We have to ensure the education they get is the best, especially the Information Communication Technology which is driving today’s and tomorrow’s world. All schools must be given adequate attention. Get specialists in the areas to come and advise us. Again, note that in all area, infrastructure is key.
Looking around the state today drives me to tears, considering the huge resources coming to the state as daily and monthly revenue. Big I know to if Senator Uba wins, which I know he will; he will surely change all that. Because he’s passionate and concerned about the welfare and needs of the masses, and exudes an undying love for Anambra state. To that extent I hold him in high esteem.
Considering that the incumbent outgoing governor is from your area, there’s the that mobilizing and convincing people from your area to support anyone would be challenging.
Well, without sounding like an attempt to run anyone down, as a young pupil under my parents, at the end of every term you come home wit( your report-card to face the music. This is because your report card will show whether you have been a serious student or not.
So for our dear governor the term is coming to an end and he’s going to present his report card to the people of Anambra state an they will judge. All we are going to do in our campaign is to make it issue-based and tell citizens of the state what the APC administration is going to do for them -our education, infrastructure, empowerment agenda, etc.
Then hope is what everyone is depending on. Looking at the caliber of people that are coming into the APC I sincerely think that the hope of Anambra people will be rekindled. Believing that the government will take care of them, and provide the basic necessities of life for the state’s economy and the people to thrive and excel. So we are all very anxious and hopeful.
Literally all roads in the state are near inaccessible. How is it Anambra West Council area ?
My response is simple, disaster! It’s sadness, despair! That’s our collective feeling. We are speechless and overwhelmed by the level of abandonment and hopelessness. It is sad that the governor is from the next door. We actually feel betrayed because nobody imagined things would be this bad. There is limit to coverup because the failure is collective. We just cannot pretend anymore. We are all vicariously liable. No life-enhancing infrastructure/projects/programs, for a whole eight years, we have only seen white elephant projects that are going to be abandoned.
Most roads in the state are closed or cut off. Even the APGA candidate now accesses his home through another town. As a top stakeholder from the same area with the incumbent governor please help speak to him on the general situation in the state?
Every APGA member who want to defect comes to me. They bitterly cry out that ‘what has the governor done for us to use in campaigning?’ These are coming from staunch APGA people from Anambra West, Anambra East, Ayamelum, Oyi Council Areas and other parts of the state. I simply assume the governor and his kitchen cabinet are not interested in the people’s feelings and welfare. Or there is communication breakdown. There is a big gap somewhere between the government and his people. After all have seen them host any meeting with citizens, or have you heard of any channel of reaching out or contact?
Am actually not competent to explain. I only know that his party men come crying, saying we have very bright chance of victory because APGA has nothing to campaign with.
For example, the Amansea junction has become a nightmare to all users of that road. Unfortunately it’s the signpost of Anambra state. It takes anyone at least four hours on one spot. And only two tippers of stone can save the situation.
It was quite shocking to me because I drove into Anambra state two days ago and I spent three hours there, from 6-9pm. It was quite traumatic. I don’t understand why the Commissioners and Special Advisers cannot convince the governor to ease the pains and stress that people go through daily on that road. This can be achieved by dumping stones there temporarily. They ought not to have allowed it get to this scandalous level for the world to see the hollowness in the administration. I know someone would claim it’s a Federal road. Yes, but the federal government is in Abuja. We are the ones making daily use of the road and bearing the pains. I therefore call on the governor, appeal to the governor to help us out, give us some relief because there is nothing in it. It’s inexplicable that a journey of fifteen minutes not take three to four hours at a spot. Something is wrong. Very wrong and I cannot comprehend or understand it.
From the look of things, what’s the possibility of South East getting the presidency in 2023. Everyone appear to be singing that song?
It’s my wish and belief that South East participate, mobilize all to APC and win more states it will enable us make our claim at the national level that it’s the turn of Ndigbo to be at the helm of affair the nation. But before that, we need to be at the table. More states need to join to enable us demand that. Actually it should be the turn of Ndigbo. It’s one of my main reasons of joining APC. And I think a lot of prominent Nigerians will support us. A lot of prominent APC members have spoken out. We cannot be a one APC State in a comity of zones with five, six or seven states under the party and you start shouting give us, give us.
Therefore I advise Ndigbo to come into APC, join other Nigerians and go and claim what is rightly yours.
It’s now less than two months to the Nov 6,2021 Governorship election. But the APC has not actually started any serious campaign. Yet they have not kicked off active campaigns.
We have already kicked off. We have an active Director General who is overseeing things. I have been involved in a couple of our public and private campaigns, consultations and organizing things. The momentum is daily building because of the caliber of person our flagbearer and the party. I have been involved in Anambra politics and know that the crescendo of the open air campaign will peak up real soon. We must do it. We must soon take our message to the people. I will be personally involved in the door to door campaigns because of the issues involved. I need to tell our people why and what we stand to benefit when we pool our support and votes for the APC.
Every citizen of the state, especially my Anambra West Council area people must brace up. Things are tough and really difficult. It’s double jeopardy for us in the state, no roads, no hospitals, no infrastructure or empowerment of any kind. Because if we muster a winning support for the APC candidate to win, we will have a governor that listens. It’s important that when you are managing the people’s resources you take proper care of the citizens.
The flagbearer is one who is going to take the state to the Centre and put it in its rightful position. He will work on the provision of infrastructure, education and empowerment so as to keep our hope alive.