PDP remains better option for South-East –Rep
In the beginning, Hon. Chris Emeka Azubuogu, member representing Nnewi North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, was a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
But during the last general elections, Azubuogu decamped from APGA to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was pronounced winner of the election of his constituency, which the APGA candidate, Chief Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr) is contesting at the tribunal.
The House of Representatives member spoke to Daily Sun during the Nnewi Economic Summit and Exhibition held last month, saying that his new party, PDP, is a better option for the South-East despite APC being at the centre.
He also spoke on PDP playing the opposition at the centre, among others.
Before going into politics, what have you been doing?
I have been an engineer for many years before going to the National Assembly. I am an entrepreneur, I have been in business, specifically, technology business and I’m quite exposed in the area of manufacturing and agriculture.
Before now, your party was the ruling party, but now it is in the opposition, how is it, being in the opposition?
To be honest with you, it is a very awesome experience for the ruling party to be in the opposition but Nigeria is going to be better off for it. Reasons being that the experience we have gathered as the ruling party, if turned around positively in the opposition, it will help us. One, we are looking at the democratic experience. All this while, for the 16 years the PDP has been ruling, Nigerians were tied to one party ruling and by God’s blessing, Jonathan allowed APC to be formed from other small parties put together to make a strong opposition that presented a platform for alternative government in Nigeria.
Take a clue from America where after eight years of democracy, they handed over to the Republicans and they do that interchangeable. So, that if after four years you are not doing well, it offers them the opportunity to change the government. But the good thing is that you have a strong opposition that is constructive and robust; one that is constructive in its criticisms. The party will benefit because the only checks and balances built in the democratic process is the opposition of which without it, you have an autocratic government. If you have a weak opposition, it is as good as having an autocratic system of government.
So, it is a great experience that for the first time, Nigeria is changing from one political party to another. You now see that it is a level process for everybody; you now see the ruling party now in the opposition. So, all in all, it is good for our democracy because it will deepen our democratic experience. That will make everybody happy that our democracy has come to stay and with that, Nigeria will be better of. So, it is not about the party but about Nigeria. For us in the National Assembly, once you are inside the House, Nigeria is the only party you have and you do everything that will make Nigeria to be good. If you criticize the government, it is not out of hate. It is out of love for Nigerians, so that you will do what is best for Nigeria.
Do you see your party PDP sustaining its position status because recently, we saw your members in Bayelsa State decamping from PDP to the ruling APC?
Bayelsa’s case is very peculiar and there is a difference between party members and political contractors, those who cannot live without government. Once they are not in the ruling party, they will want to shift grounds. Just like I said that our democratic experience is getting deepened and the parties we have are not that democratically based but with time, it will. So, I want us to see it that way.
Some people who feel aggrieved or who felt that someone who is not supposed to be there, those are the ones revolting, I assure you that they will definitely come back. Come to think of it, APC today is called one party, but if you come to APC, you will see a clear line of ACN, ANPP, CPC and others. It is a convergence of everybody. So, don’t worry, people going there are going there for a purpose. So, the same thing is happening. When some people went to contest for a position in the National Assembly, some people told them I wish I knew you are from PDP, they felt insulted.And today, CPC has the presidency, AC has the vice presidency, the new PDP has the senate presidency. If you go there, you will see everybody trying to maintain their emblem. So, don’t worry about those leaving the party. They might be going to APC thinking that they will get something from the PDP. If they don’t get the ticket they want in APC, they will go back and revolt. It is part of the process. So, the democratic process is revolving. People have a way of managing issues when there are disagreements in a party.
Let us come back to your state, Anambra, which is an APGA state. After the last general elections APGA members in the state accused PDP of rigging the election, what happened?
It is out of ignorance. Anambra as we know is a PDP state, not an APGA state. Everything that APGA has done in Anambra is because of the the development encouraged by the PDP, without mincing words. Like today, the APGA we have will always want to work with the government at the center.
There was clear understanding that Anambra was going with the president and that everything will be PDP. It is out of greed that when it was time for state assemblies, the PDP were not interested. They wanted the governor to have his way because there was already a governor. State Assembly is what he needed. Even in the scheme of things in Nigeria, can APGA put up a proper opposition to APC? It cannot. So, PDP remains a better option for any state in the South-East. So, our position in the National Assembly will help Anambra State too. We never had any issues there. For eight years since I was there, we worked with all the National Assembly members in the PDP. If every major political player in Anambra State is in PDP or was in PDP then, and they will still remain; because even the major financiers of President Jonathan’s election were from PDP. We all agreed to vote for Jonathan and people that were working with him. It was a straight line. The day we were voting for state assemblies, everybody came out and voted. So it was based on a clear understanding. The only person that was trying to cause confusion was the former APGA chairman, Victor Umeh, who was the major problem. In fact, if you look at it, the strong people in APGA were those who would have made APGA to win in that election. But the person they brought out cannot perform better than me, so the constituency decided on who they wanted. They will always say that this person will always perform better than this person.
You can check his previous assignments, or where he has worked before. You can’t compare it. The electorate know who they wanted. Did everybody not vote for Jonathan that day? Every man and woman, there was no separation, they were bent on voting for the PDP all the way.
So, why is it that you and your opponent in APGA are still in the tribunal?
It is simply because they have chosen to be in the tribunal. It is not so for the state Assembly members because they knew that the state Assembly was given to them, but it is not so for the National Assembly.
You said that Anambra is a PDP state but in the last eight or nine years, APGA has been in power in Anambra?
It is because of the nature of the Igbo man when they disagree. Let us take for instance, the second election of Peter Obi. Do you want to tell me that if the votes Soludo made in PDP were added to what Andy Uba made in Labour and what Ukachukwu made in Hope, at that time they wouldn’t have stopped him? Peter Obi took over second tenure because they made sure Soludo didn’t win the election. It was their choice. When Peter Obi wanted to hand over to Obiano, because of the support of Mr. President, he handed over to him. If PDP wanted to win that election, they would have fielded a candidate that will win the election. But they said okay, the president said let us leave it because of the understanding that they will support the president in the presidential election and the National Assembly elections. If not, people will misinterpret it. If you have an agreement with somebody and you don’t keep your own part of it, whatever you see out of it, you take. The president had all it takes to come into Anambra and win that election but he didn’t. He allowed Peter Obi to have his way. And if somebody offers you benevolence, you cannot take it for granted. Let me tell you, if a strong candidate was to run for that election with the support of the Federal Government, Willie Obiano couldn’t have won the election. I was in APGA and we were an assemblage of the PDP.
Now that the central attraction, which is the presidency, is no longer with the PDP, what will happen in Anambra in 2017?
You can’t predict what will happen in Anambra. If the present governor wants to stay, either he has an understanding with the ruling party, APC, or he subordinates himself to the PDP.
No, you said it is a PDP state, so what I want to know is whether PDP will be able to take over in Anambra?
It has always been a PDP state. PDP will take it. Like Nigeria, that it was before a PDP government and now is no longer PDP doesn’t mean anything. What will happen in 2017 is not what you will talk about now. Any party can win, it can be PDP or APC. It is the people that will choose. And let me tell you, people are now interested in choosing the candidate that will rule them well. Whether PDP or APC or APGA, people are interested in the right person.
During the time the House of Representatives wanted to elect its leaders, the ruling party and the legislators were on a collision course, now that the leaders have emerged; have you people been able to settle down for business?
The legislators were not in any collision course with the ruling party. APC had problem on their own and like I told you, these are special times for our democracy. There was an internal problem in the APC because of the variety of people that make up the party; there was disagreement among the members.
PDP as a party was quietly staying there; we didn’t interfere in what they were doing. But whenever they are able to showcase leadership we assumed position. So, PDP does not have any problem, we are not quarrelling with anybody. So, APC’s problem is not a problem of the National Assembly.
There is this speculation that before the expiration of four years, many PDP members are going to decamp to APC, how do you look that?
I don’t think there are basis for such speculations. It is clearly out of ignorance. I have already told you, there are people who are not in any party; there party is AGIP, ‘Any Government in Power’. And there are political contractors. When they decide to move because they are looking for what they will gain; in such contracts, you don’t stop them. There are people who had left PDP and gone to APC, but will still leave again. Governors left, everybody left for the APC and you are saying that people will leave, where are they leaving again to? Is it those who are in the National Assembly? The PDP caucuses are strong, both in the Senate and in the House of Reps. We have about 12 to 13 strong states. So, anybody saying that is not wishing Nigeria’s democracy any good. You need to have a strong opposition for democracy to be entrenched. Election is over; you can’t continue to carry out election for ever. We don’t base our actions on mere hearsay and speculations. When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. So what you have to do is that if you are in any position, you maintain your position and do well in it. If you excel in whatever you are doing, people will always vote for you. If you are a good politician and you go to any political party, you will win elections there.