To the Chairman/Publisher of Orient Magazine, Newspaper & Communications Limited (MNCL), Chief Godwin Ezeemo, the use of dangerous divide and rule tactics in politics by the ruling All Progressive Congress(APC) as well as its engagement in crass impunity do not augur well for the nation.
In this exclusive interview with Cyril Mbah in Abuja, Chief Ezeemo, who doubles as the leader of the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA), said God’s hand is in the crisis within the APC and the PPA was being repositioned to play a more active role at the national level in the 2019 general elections. Excerpts:
Sir, as a stakeholder in the nation’s politics, what do you think about what is happening in the ruling APC.
Well, I would say that whatever is happening now with the APC is how God wants it to happen. Anything that happens at any second or any minute, God knows about it and He knew it would go this way before now. Whatever anybody will be saying about the political development still remains a guess-work because only God knows how the crisis will end or what it may produce in the end. N-PDP’s desire to join APC and the APC not willing to accommodate them is still God’s design. It may be a way of bringing down this particular order of governance or it can go another way, but nobody can say for sure how the entire episode will turn out. The best response is for Nigerians to wait and see.
Many Nigerians have accused the APC of towing the same line of doing things like the party which it defeated in 2019. How do you react to this allegation sir?
From what I have personally observed about the APC, I do not think it is towing the same line like the PDP. The PDP never concentrated on specific programmes but was busy sharing things to everybody and a lot of things were done in a wrong way.
On the other hand, the APC has engaged in a type of divisive amnesia whereby it favours one group against the other as if all of us are not Nigerians. I believe so much that we are all black people and any person that comes into office as a leader should be able to accommodate everybody whether or not one group voted for you.
A President becomes the father of the nation and not a section of society when an aspirant to the presidency wins an election. Such a person should become a leader and forget whether one group or section of people voted for him or not. A good leader ensures that every citizen of a country shares the same right and even if as a leader you want to favour on group against another, there are ways to do so in a discrete form and not make it so obvious that your bias is noticed even by children.
Do you not think that this style of administration you have just described also amounts to impunity?
Of course. Yes, it is also impunity. It is impunity on its own right. I think if Nigerians should wake up now and start thinking in the right way by choosing what really will assist them in the future, it will be better for this nation. Where we find ourselves and our geographical location has given us undue advantage over many nations.
Yet, we are not making good use of our enormous resources. We have been given everything that nature can afford but we cannot account for them.
Nigeria is like the biblical characters that were given seeds to plant but one wasted his own. Nigeria was given enormous resources to manage. It is now left to us to make good use of the opportunity and make our country the best in the world. Nigerians, irrespective of their religion, tribe, language and social or political affiliations, should contribute their best quota to the development of the nation.
As the leader of the PPA, what is the way forward for the party?
The PPA will participate in the general elections. In fact, we are right now working towards having a presidential candidate and fielding other aspirants at the state and local government levels but if we cannot get the type of presidential candidate we want, someone who will move the party along the line of our choice, we would look at the other candidates that have the interest of the nation at heart and support the person.
Many people think that the fortunes of the PPA have actually dwindled and that the party will not be able to muster the required capacity and resources to make serious impact at the national level. Do you accept this thinking?
I do not accept that line of thinking. We are right now re-strategising to make the PPA play politics more actively at the national level.
The process is going on right now, although I will not be able to give you the nitty-gritty or fundamentals of what we have been doing to reposition the party.
All I can say is that the process of restructuring the party is going on and we would soon make serious input at the national level. This was why I told you we may have a presidential candidate but if it turns out that we cannot get one, the party will definitely back another person.
In your opinion sir, what is the way forward in the politics of this nation with crisis erupting in almost all the political parties despite their number? The other day, the INEC chairman said by the time the 2019 general elections take place, the nation may be saddled with more than 100 political parties. Will this encourage or undermine political development?
The way forward, for me, is that we should do the right thing. Nigerians should be thinking about restructuring. We must restructure the nation before we can get it right.
We must remove friction among the people that make up Nigeria and the best way to do so is to restructure the country.
We must learn how to share things. It is a natural thing to own things together and it is a natural thing to share things. It is of no use for one man or one tribe to think it owns the country where there are other tribes. It does not make sense to aspire to take everything to oneself.
When this happens, the outside world starts to wonder whether the black man is an animal that does not think logically. Only animals want exclusive domination. It does not make sense when human beings want to have everything to themselves alone without thinking about others.
We must learn to share things like good brothers. There is love in sharing and when we cultivate this spirit of sharing, our lives and the nation will change. We must forget about tribal or religious superiority and regard others as equals.
What advise can you give to existing and emerging political parties in terms of engaging in political education? There’s little or no voter education less than one year to a major general election in the country.?
As far as I am concerned, many political parties in the country are coming on board with the wrong perception of politics and governance. Many parties are coming on board because it is a normal thing in Nigeria for every Tom, Dick and Harry to own a political party.
Some do not even have offices or followers and no ideology or programme for the development of the nation.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is partly to blame for getting the entire process wrong and for all the confusion in the political space. It should start now to think of better ways to enhance the politics of the nation.
INEC should have started long ago to de-register some of these political parties which have not met the minimum requirement for the registration of parties including the provision that parties must have at least offices in Abuja and the states as well as a representative in at least one state house of assembly.
People will cook up all sorts of documents and submit and INEC will register them without even bothering to inspect or verify their claims. INEC is part of the trouble. INEC is not doing the right thing.
Many parties have not met the minimum requirements to still exist as political parties and it is still registering more parties. INEC should start deregistering political parties that do not meet the guideline it produced for the registration of political associations as parties.
Finally sir, what is you advise to Nigerians in terms in obtaining their PVCs and voting in the 2019 general elections?
My advice to Nigerians is to tell them that the ball is in their court to get it right. It is said that “as one makes his bed, so will he lie on it.” If Nigerians want to be great, they have the option with their PVCs; if they do not want to be great, it is entirely left to them. One can take a horse to the stream but cannot force it to drink water.
Nigerians should open their eyes wide enough and choose the right people who will serve them well by voting such people into office and staying where they cast their votes to ensure that the votes are not manipulated.
Nigerians should shun those who approach them to buy their votes for N1,000, or N2,000 because when you sell your vote, you are only cheating yourself and your descendants. People who sell their votes should not complain when the chips are down.