ORJI KALU IS PARADING FAKE MEMBERSHIP CARD - ABIA STATE PDP CHAIRMAN
http://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/nwaka.jpg Senator Emma Nwaka is the chairman of the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with James Ume, he sheds light on Orji Kalu's 'return' to the party, the achievements of the Governor T A Orji-led administration in the state. Nwaka specifically declared that the former governor of the state is parading a fake membership card.
Please take us inside your chairmanship journey so far.
Thank you very much. I came in at a time that the major stakeholders of the party were like working at cross purposes. They needed a leadership that was acceptable to everyone. When my name cropped up, I found general acceptance from General Ike Nwachukwu, Governor Theodore Orji, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Senator Abaribe, among others. Since I came on board, my major concern has been to make sure that I do not let them down. My major concern was how to bring everybody together, and give them assurance that I will be fair-minded in dealing with every person. My mantra is establishing a level playing field for everybody. To a large extent, we have succeeded in doing that. One thing the leadership here has done is to gain the confidence of every person. If at the end of the day, one loses out in a political contest, it is not that the party shows favour to any person. Here we do not emphasise money which is what has been causing problems in many political parties. I am not into money politics because I'm contented. One thing that is important in life is to respect oneself if one wants others to respect one. That is one of the things helping us here.
As the PDP chairman, how have you been able to insulate the governor and the government from the regular politicking?
I did not insulate anyone. We have a wonderful man as the governor of Abia State. In the PDP hierarchy, even at the national level, there is the President as the leader of the party. There is also the chairman of the party who runs the party's administration on the day-to-day basis. We need the cooperation of the governor. In this state, we have a governor who is disposed to working with every person. Although he is doing his last term, he works like a man who wants to do another term. The political heavyweights in Abia are pleased with him. We have realised that for the party to replicate its giant strides in the 2015 general elections, we need to maintain the momentum. What is working for us here is that we have a governor who has respect for all and sundry. He is not into this divide-and-rule thing. In some states, the bone of contention is who will succeed who. But here, the governor is maintaining an open mind. I see a situation whereby the person who succeeds the governor is the person whom various interests want. For sure, we want the best for Abia State. We don't want charlatans here anymore. We don't want somebody who will make Abia State a pariah state, which is what it was under Governor Orji Uzor Kalu. We don't also want a governor who spends half of his time abusing everybody in Nigeria. Orji Kalu then would abuse Obasanjo in the morning, in the evening he would abuse another person.
In another morning, he would invite traditional rulers to plead on his behalf. That is the time a governor ought to use to attract projects to his state. Under this leadership, we enjoy a situation where the state is working in harmony with the federal government. A proof of this is the fact that people from Abia State are occupying very important positions in the federal government. It wasn't so under Governor Kalu. For your information, I'm a close pal of Governor Kalu. In 2003 when he wanted to run for second term, (I'm from Isukwuato) we needed to embark on a campaign tour to the area. I told him there was nothing to show in Isukwuato as to the successes of the government for four years. He asked me what could be done. I told him of a road, which is so dear to our people. The road is Nunya road. When he came to campaign, there was nothing to commission. So the day he came to campaign was the day he did the ground breaking ceremony for that road. But, under Governor T.A. Orji, there is no local government that has no state government presence.
Can we say that you joined Governor Kalu to deceive your people?
No. He was the chief executive, I was just complaining.
Did Governor Kalu complete that project?
Governor Kalu eventually did not complete that project. It is Governor TA Orji who finished the project. His failures made me leave him. I'm a lawyer and had to go back to my private practice.
Former Governor Kalu left the PDP and formed another party. Along the line he wants to come back to the PDP. What is your stance?
What is new that he is bringing to the party? He couldn't run his party. He ran it aground. He had Imo and Abia states sometime, and lost both within the first term. Doesn't it tell you something about Kalu? Orji Kalu is not a good politician, but a good business man, perhaps. I will ask him to concentrate on his business. He has ran a party, won two states; instead of maintaining the tempo, he is now running back to the party he left. And all he has to show for his failures is celebrating that he has been accepted into the PDP.
Has he been accepted?
Who said so? It tells you something about his person. We are becoming very wary of him. The fears expressed by some elders of the party are now justified. In fact, God has a way of doing His things. Sometime ago, the PDP chairmen of Igbere Ward A (Orji's ward) and Ward B, returned the wards register of the party to the LG party chairman and said they had resigned from the PDP. Subsequently Orji Kalu invited them for a meeting; that was on the 10th of January; only for us to hear that on the 17th or thereabouts that the same people who resigned their membership of the party have readmitted Orji Uzo Kalu into the party. They are no longer members of the party. On what capacity did they do that? As the state chairman of the party, I issue out cards to registerd members. In every ward, we assign unique numbers to every ward, accordingly. The card Orji Uzo Kalu is parading doesn't fall into the register we gave to Igbere Ward A, not even Igbere Ward B. He granted an interview in the Sun where he quoted his number. Our book of 'life' in the state PDP is the membership register. Any person can carry a card, but if your name is not in the register, you are not part of us. In sum, Orji Uzor Kalu is not a member of our party. In fact, if you know him, he won't like to end his politics in Igbere wards A and B. One day, he will come to me and I will ask him where he got the card he is parading.
From the picture you painted, a crime has been committed already. How did he get the card?
See the interview he granted the Sun, you will see the number he quoted. Check our register whether you can find the number he quoted. The local government chairman where Orji Uzo Kalu comes from was at my recent press conference. He brought out the register, and you discover that the number doesn't fall into that category. People print naira and dollars; he could have done same.
Why don't you want Orji Uzor Kalu back to the party? Is that not an infringement on his freedom of association?
Freedom of association is not the same thing as imposition. When you look at the party's constitution, it says the ward executive can even refuse any person membership of the party based on what they know about the person. The stakeholders of the party in Abia State say from what they know about Orji Kalu, if he comes in, there will be trouble. And there is already trouble. You can see him abusing the state governor. That's a man who wants to be a member. He is already saying the state governor will come for social justice and all that. He also says he wants to reclaim the party, instead of leaving it to 'madmen'. Who are you calling madmen? The bifurcation in the party all this while was because of Orji Uzor Kalu.
Reasonable men like Tony Ukasanya, Ojo Maduekwe, Onyema Ugochukwu and many more said they couldn't work under this person. We started knowing them as Abuja politicians. Then he had a free hand here. Abia paid dearly for it. Take a tour of Abia State and look for any iconic landmark that Orji Uzor Kalu left behind. He had eight years and it is just now that we are building the state secretariat and a conference centre; we are now doing those basic things that we require to show that we are a state. When the minister for information said he was coming, we were very happy because we had much to display. The minister couldn't even see one quarter of what we are doing in Abia State. Within two years of TA Orji under the PDP, he has done much. I do not bother him as state's party chairman. I do not say there is money, let's share. We know that the only way I can move this party forward and redo what I did in 2011 is for him to work for the people. Then I can boast of what he did and ask the electorate to give us another chance; and that we shall improve on what he has done. This is unlike before when the issue was always 'bring and let's share'. Things have changed. We now consult. It is no more a situation where mother and child will sit down somewhere and take a decision, and say that is the decision of the party. We just had a meeting with all the stakeholders to brainstorm. Here I disburse money through vouchers. We have a bank account. To audit the account is the easiest thing to do. We have a picture of how the party funds are expended. That is why we have peace here. I don't interfere with the state funds. Ask anybody. That is how I run my family.
What are the activities you are lining up for proper electioneering, which will soon start?
We are not talking about the election yet. Our focus is to deliver the democracy dividends to the people. With that, it will be very easy for us to replicate our performance in the 2011 general elections. Right now, we want to embark on the tour of the LGAs to see their strength and know how we can make them better.
Give us a highlight of most of the projects handled by the current administration in the state?
This administration will be two years in May 2013. If you look at TA Orji's achievements under these years, compared to the eight years we had under Governor Kalu, we have so much to celebrate. Under the PPA, he didn't do anything. They won't allow him. He accepted it. These days, you don't become anything here because you are taken to one shrine or the other. The governor assesses whoever is qualified for a position and gives to the person. You don't pay allegiance. One thing about bribery is that once you collect money from someone, you become the person's slave. You can't caution the person even when he is going wrong. It doesn't happen anymore in Abia State. We have a situation now where all the leagues in the state sit down and iron out issues. It is not a family monopoly anymore.
It is an achievement. Again there is security. Governor TA Orji has been celebrated all over the world for what he did to achieve security in Abia State. Otherwise no one would have been here. The chief of army staff commended the governor recently on his strides. Again the governor is accessible to any security man all the time. That is why we have peace. Hitherto contractors don't go to site because of kidnappers. It is now over. When people will celebrate TA Orji is after he has left office. He has given Umuahia a facelift. Umuahia was looking like a local government headquarters before. Plans are underway to get Shoprite here. People often go to the old Umuahia and say nothing has happened in Abia. They refuse to go to the area where we have the Central Bank of Nigeria to see the secretariat we are doing. It is called Ogwurube Layout. This is just two years under the PDP government. This is also seen in every local government. Before now, because the governor was quarrelling with the hierarchy in Abuja, we didn't have a representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission, but now we have. It is attracting a lot of projects to this area because we belong to the NDDC. Hitherto about 42 oil wells belonging to Abia State were given to Rivers State. Today the wells are back in Abia state column.
Under TA Orji, we have tranquillity returned to the state. Tell us the wrought this government inherited from the previous administration?
We had a state of insecurity and a pariah status where people feared to say they were from Abia State. Today, every person feels proud to say they are from Abia. In appointments at the national level, it is a different ball game. Under Orji Kalu, it was hard to get the military here to restore peace. Also the shakers and movers of society now sit under one umbrella to plan the way forward for the state. Like it is said, two heads are better than one.
Do you foresee the return of Orji Kalu to the PDP?
If he wants to come back, it should not be through the window. Again what is he going to add to the party? But this is a man who found a party and couldn't run it. It died in his hands. His party won two states and lost them. He ran for a senatorial seat and lost it. In his recent interview in the Sun, he is abusing everybody. He assumes he has the magic wand. His aspiration is to become the president of Nigeria. Some day he will say he is out of politics; another time he is running in his village to rejoin a party he had left. If he has a card, its validity ends in Igbere.
What is your relationship with the national leadership of the party?
It is very cordial. As their point man here, I have not failed them. Ask Olisa Metu. I went to the Senate at 32 under Babangida. I trust my capacity to lead the state chapter of the party. And that I have been doing so very well and they are proud of our achievements in the state.
We have many political sub-camps in Abia State. The real politicking will soon start. Do you think these camps won't conflict under your leadership?
I look up to God for everything I do. I do not have any fear. We are dealing with responsible people in Abia. I look forward to having consensus candidates. It may not be very perfect.