Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, whose election into the Senate was recently nullified by the Court Appeal, in this interview with journalists in Awka, spoke on her defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC, her chances in the new party and against Chief Victor Umeh and why Anambra Central must not give their votes to a neophyte to become senator, Clifford Ndujihe reports for Vanguard …
On criticisms trailing her defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and why she moved
For the six months I was in the Senate and in different courts for PDP petitions from FCT High Court, Federal High Court, Appeal Court to Supreme Court. I spent the whole six months going from one court to the other. Everybody was claiming to be the candidate of the party.When we did our primaries, and I emerged as the candidate, other people started declaring themselves as candidate of the party and went to court. When the election was nullified, I thought that they would have used that opportunity to reconcile all the factions. I made every effort for reconciliation to happen but it was impossible. I sent a letter to the party notifying them of the nullification of my election and requesting for fresh primaries to be conducted by the party. I actually do not want to criticize the party but at the same time I felt that with the nullification, the party should have been proactive enough to put the house in order because there are certain things candidates or members can do, and I believe that there are certain obligations the leadership of the party should carry. When we had stakeholders meeting in Awka with the state chairman of the party, all other members came and at least two of those that took me to court came and I saw the vehemence. One of them said, if the Court of Appeal didn’t nullify the election that he would have nullified it in the Supreme Court.
Result sheets from different wards
When I took the microphone, I said they should look at our result sheets from different wards and polling units, with that you know who ran the election and who has the capacity to win election again for the party. Some of them claiming to be candidates lost in their wards. After that meeting I left, that was on a Monday or Tuesday and the party sent out a paid publication that they are postponing indefinitely all activities relating to congresses and primaries until Olisa Metuh (detained national publicity secretary of the PDP) is released from detention. The publication was in almost four national newspapers. Even when they cancelled the election some leaders from South East called me on phone and said that since they have nullified the election and requested for fresh election, why don’t we use this opportunity to play national politics? But I was scared of what people will say, will they say that I was entering another party? So, I said let me continue with my party, but when that publication came out, I had no choice anymore than to move because this is a time bound election, if we do not do primary before Tuesday or Wednesday next week (January 19 and 20) no party will have a candidate anymore. And they said that they are postponing indefinitely, giving condition that until Olisa Metuh is released, and who knows when he will be released? At that point I had no choice anymore because I believe that Metuh’s detention has nothing to do with lawful activities of a political party. That was the last stroke that broke the camel’s back.
Your reason for leaving PDP for APC appear plausible but there is this impression that you are an itinerant politician, that in the last seven to eight years now that you have moved to four or five parties, PDP, PPA, APGA, PDP and now APC, giving an impression of restlessness
Victor Umeh, moved from PDP to APGA and when he was fighting in APGA he thought he wouldn’t win, joined to form Accord (Party) with the intention of moving to Accord, until he succeeded in staging a coup against Chekwas Okorie and he stayed back otherwise he would have been the chairman of Accord now. That’s three parties. The constitution has given the right to freedom of association and freedom of movement, you can’t hold anybody.
On her chances in APC
I went through APC’s manifesto and constitution, once you are a member of APC you have the same right and privileges with old members, the only difference is that you are not executive of the party.
Capacity and capability
What should be paramount for any political party is the capacity and capability of the candidate to deliver and the sincerity of that candidate to face the electorate. That is what should be considered. I’m very hopeful and very certain of winning. We are not foreigners irrespective of political parties, affiliations and our religious background. I believe and I’m very confident that I will win the primaries because they are not going to import foreigners to come and vote.
On how stakeholders in Anambra Central received her defection
Some initially didn’t know what was going on and were a bit skeptical but those of them who followed the trend of events in PDP were very happy and supported the movement. We have started explaining to some of them that didn’t know and they now understand. That’s exactly what happened and it has caused a rush into APC in this senatorial zone and even beyond.
I am from Anambra South, Igboukwu in Aguata Local Government, that is the biggest clan in Anambra, then I married to Anambra Central and I bet you that because of me many people in Anambra South are moving into APC.