An astute politician and foundation member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Chairman Security Subcommittee of Godswill Obot Akpabio’s governorship campaign committee. Elder Aniefiok Ekefere spoke exclusively on state and national Elder Aniefiok Ekeferepolitics. Excerpts:
You were one of the pillars of PDP in Akwa Ibom state. Why are you leaving the party for APC
Well, I was among the first twenty politicians who brought PDP to Akwa Ibom state. We stated in Barr. Essene’s house, in Abuja, where we used as party office. The party came up with policies and manifestos. Imposition was not part of its policy. Politics the world over, in the normal sense of it is popular participation. People must take part in the politics of the day. Somewhere along the line the PDP derailed. The party became personal enterprise to some people. Some of us who were brought up in the days when politics was politics we knew that power belongs to the people and you had to campaign, sell your ideas to the people to secure their votes. Before you knew it PDP introduced forceful imposition of candidates. They declared some people elected when actually there were no candidates or elections or primaries. So, the essence of asking the military to leave power was defeated. The leadership decided to impose people on the generality of Nigerians which in my thinking is not different from a military dictatorship. Those of us who felt aggrieved had to team up to leave the party.
In the past three months thousands of members from your former party, the PDP have defected to the APC, what is responsible
There are many factors responsible. PDP had a very bad foundation. Take for instance Akwa Ibom state. It is one of the states always in debt in spite of the huge allocation from the federation account. The government in power did not empower the private sector to create jobs as a fall back. Every person in Akwa Ibom wants to be a councilor, chairman of council and all that. Politics became the mainstay of the state. The governor shared public funds, abused his office and all that, then you have no alternative than to move away especially when your opinion does not matter. You cannot question the government in power. You can’t feed yourself, you only depend on the government .The government did not create jobs, they encouraged the youths to be redundant, they made them believe that redundancy is a profession. A true politician who has his future in politics cannot remain in such a party. As we talk now PDP is not sure of fielding candidates for the next general election at the national level. Even at the national level the party is in disarray. So every right thinking politician is bound to move out of PDP to any other political party. So the people are moving to the APC where they can express themselves.
PDP is threatening to recover the mandate given to elected officers who decamped to APC. What is your take
Nobody is sure of PDP . The party is now factionalized. The constitution of this country clearly spelt out that when your political party has major disagreement, elected officers or members who have political future can move on to any other political parties of their choice to actualize their political aspirations .That is why you find distinguished senators, Honorable members of the House of Representative moving out from PDP to the APC. If the case in court between PDP and Sheriff drags on to 2019 how do you express your ambition? What am I doing in a house that is collapsing?.
You said you mentored the likes of Sen. Akpan Udoedeghe, Obong Victor Attah. How would you assess Akpabio’s 8 years in office
Chief Akpabio is a wonderful person and a friend. As a governor of the state for 8 years he had his problems. He had good intentions for the people of the state but was overtaken by challenges. His programs were not people-oriented.
You have witnessed most of the landmark judgments, what is your assessment of the country’s judiciary
In this country we have two legal systems, one for the rich and another for the poor and justice for the highest bidder. The judiciary interprets the law based on technicality, not what is in the law books. There would be a time when there would no more be patriotism with empty stomach. We the political class must be very careful.
What’s the hope for your new party, APC , in the State
Hopes are very high that Akwa Ibom state would fall into the change agenda of the APC in 2019. Buhari came into APC with huge capital, that capital is integrity. He said openly, I will come and fight corruption. And I will not allow corruption to kill Nigeria. Nigeria must kill corruption and he is doing just that. With the way things are going APC will be in control of the people in the state.
Are you sure APC will win in Akwa Ibom come 2019
Before 2019 there would be no more PDP in Akwa Ibom state. That is the only way we can recover our stolen common wealth. In the current war against corruption declared by President Buhari Akwa Ibom state should have been in the fore front of the fight against corruption campaign because they have to protect their resources as the highest earner from federation account in the country.
What impact has the federal allocation to the state made on its economy
Today, Akwa Ibom state is the third most indebted state in the entire country. That is why the state should support Buhari just to recover its stolen money, the money needs to be recovered and put back to public use. This is to enable state government embark on developmental projects that will create jobs for the youth. The former Minister of Finance, Okonji Iweala said in one of the fora that what the government of Akwa Ibom state has used in development was just a little of the revenue that accrued to the state. Some people in the state will never like Buhari because his search light on criminals would put many politicians in state in prison. I thank God for former governor Godswill Akpabio who, in his wisdom, built a prison with executives wing at Ikot-Ekpene. Remember he took the then vice President Sambo to the prison facility and told him this is the executive wing of the prison. I don’t know whether it is for you or me. Akpabio knew what he was doing, he was not wrong.
What is the problem with our leaders
The constitution of Nigeria is our major problem. The oath of office is another problem. In the United States of America the constitution clearly states ‘I will defend the constitution of US at all times’ but the constitution of Nigeria states ‘I will rule my people to the best of my ability’, if the best of your ability is to steal, you have fulfilled your oath of office.
What is your assessment of the senate of the federal Republic of Nigeria
Nigerians may have forgotten so soon that a one time Senate President Okagdigbo awarded a contract in anticipation that the budget will back it up and when there was no budget for the contract, members of the senate threw him out of the senate. But more things are happening today and the lawyers are defending them.
What is your take on zoning of political offices
Zoning is the byproduct of injustice. It is not democratic. In many serious democratic systems in the world the rule of law is superior. The President of the United States can come from anywhere and there will be no problem because he is coming to implement constitutional provision of the country, not of the zone he comes from. Here in Nigeria, when you get to power you steal money and work for your zone , the other zone will wait for the tenure of a man from their region. The only credible qualification is that he belongs to the zone.