Ebonyi 2023: I remain only committed to PDP and its candidates – Emma Kanondu
In the concluding part of this exclusive interview with Orient Editor, CHARLES OTU and Reporter, SUNDAY ELOM N, Afikpo-born People’s Democratic Party, PDP
Chieftain, Chief Emma Kanondu maintains that he will never support any
candidate of another party outside of his party in 2023 despite friendships as he has remained a dyed-in-the-wool die-hard of the party in nearly two decades in politics. Excerpts!
What’s your take on your Party’s Congress coming up later in the year vis-à-vis what’s going on in the ruling APC now?
Like I had stated earlier, the APC cannot be regarded as a political Party. At least, events in their controversial congress have proven that they can never be united. It remains a gathering of strange bedfellows.
But then, our Party in Ebonyi has to be very careful with the forthcoming congress. It must ensure it is free, fair and credible and without impositions of any sort. If we get it right in terms of equity, fairness and justice for all, the Party will easily clinch power in 2023. The leaders must look well into the issues of zoning of offices, seek for and support only those who have passion for the Party and ability to deliver if given the mandate to run the Party. It is a very serious and critical business that guarantees how elections would be won and lost in 2023.
What is your take on the allegation by the National Assembly members of your party that Governor Umahi is using Ebube-Agu security operatives to witch-hunt the opposition party members?
We are no longer safe. Do you know that this journey I embarked on, I have been proposing it since June. Reason is because, if you pass from Afikpo to Awka, you meet more than 20 checkpoints and that is how people are being harassed. Close to Awka, I saw where people were asked to alight and raise their hands while they trek. So, we are living a military environment. As you are passing, you don’t even know who is police or Army or Ebube-Agu. As you are going you only pray that God will help reach home for the day because the Ebube-Agu people in Ebonyi don’t put on uniform and so you don’t know when you see an armed robber and when you see Ebube-Agu or police.
The kind of society we have now, everybody should be careful because we are living in a very strange time. The National Assembly that are complaining have the cause to complain because what we are experiencing in our State is very strange and His Excellency even worsened the matter by coming out openly to tell people that Senator Pius Anyim is a leader of IPOB. It makes nonsense of governance. It makes nonsense of relationship. Even though he has withdrawn the statement and they have settled, I pray such a situation should not arise again.
Do you feel the factionalization going on in PDP in Anambra State may happen in Ebonyi State?
Yes and that is why I’m advocating that the Party in Ebonyi should be able to do a free and fair primaries, all inclusive. Let everybody be carried along. Even as I am, I can contest for the governorship of Ebonyi State. I am eminently qualified to do so and if I am contesting, people should give me a level-playing ground, because if you give people a level playing ground, nobody likes to go to court. But of course you know everything in Anambra is about money. They have so much money and that is why there are plenty of quarrels here. But in Ebonyi nobody is ready to pay any Senior Advocate of Nigeria to go to court.
It is this administration that is making people hear about Ebonyi negatively, apart from that, Ebonyi is a very peaceful place where I used to leave Abakaliki by 1:00 a.m. to Afikpo without any problem but today, if you try it, Ebube-Agu will catch you.
How can you rate the education system in Ebonyi State?
Although I’m not a professional in that sector, at least I am a father and I have children. They are doing well in education except that the education sector is the one that I wouldn’t want to rate Umahi because Sam Egwu started it from a very high level. In fact, the only thing that whenever I remember it, I remember Sam Egwu is education because Dr. Sam Egwu raised the bar so much that ordinarily, somebody will just say that Umahi has killed education if you are judging him with Sam Egwu.
Elechi too, because of the free food for the school boarders he did, a lot of parents were relieved and there were scholarships here and there but today there is no Scholarship in Ebonyi State again. But if I want to be selfish, I will tell you that Umahi is doing wonderful in education because he has rebranded my alma mater, Government Secondary School, Afikpo.
I also want to give you information about something that is coming that will make the governor a hero. He wants to give some of these schools back to missions and old boys associations. If he can do that, I’m sure people will rate him well in education sector but for today, it is not easy for parents because having passed through Sam Egwu that gave free education and Elechi that gave food to students to come down now that you have to bring food, boarding fees which if you do not pay, they will flog the child and send him away.
It is as bad as that but I pray it will be better. Maybe it is because of the current state of the economy.
How do you feel about electricity in Afikpo that has not had light for nearly a decade now and that is where you live and do your businesses?
In fact, this issue of electricity in Afikpo, if not that I’m a Christian, I would suggest that people should go and find out what is exactly the problem because one; I am aware that immediately Umahi took over as a governor, it is not a question of whether we are together in one Party or not, he mobilized EEDC to bring out all the poles from Nkalagu to pass through another route so that Afikpo will have light but the thing didn’t work.
At one stage, I was lucky to be in a meeting when the owner of EEDC and his management visited the Government House and the governor had an open quarrel with them, that he was disappointed that after spending his private money, Afikpo could not have light. He even brought Niger Delta Power Company to see if they can divert the light and give light to Uburu because of King David Hospital so that from there Afikpo can get light.
For me, they have tried. It is just that I will rather lay it at the table of the Federal Government because the power-station they are building, the work there is very slow. Our National Assembly member, Hon. Idu Igariwey has been doing so much. Almost every week he comes home and goes there. They are working but the work is very slow.
It is only if the EEDC that owns those lines routes it outside because the poles are inside and so, any time it rains, they will collapse and they have to change it from wood to concrete.
But they once said that the work had gotten to 70% completion that we were expecting it to be completed last year, what happened?
That is what we heard in the news that they had been mobilized to bring light. Actually, they brought it for about three days, it rained and the whole pole fell. In fact, if I were the Chairman of Afikpo North, I would not have been going to work. I would have just remained in my house because it is a very big shame if you go to the local government Secretariat, the three poles that fell even on top of the main gate have not been removed till today. Ordinarily, I can use my money and remove those poles. It is an eye-sore.
So, the governor has tried but the problem we have in Nigeria is that this thing they talk about of our governors being Chief Security Officers makes a caricature of governance because the whole power is in Abuja. So, do you know that even as a sitting governor, our governor doesn’t have power to order Emeka Ofor to come and restore power because he is not the person that gave him the contract?
Hon. Idu Igariwey even took the company to court over this light issue and that matter is still in the court. So, our representative has tried so much. All the poles in Afikpo were bought by individuals and people in authority and not the EEDC but that is why I said that we are living in challenging times and do not know what we can do.
How would you rate Rt. Hon. Iduma Igariwey in the House of Representatives so far?
Wonderful, because Idu has done marvelously well. In fact, do you know that initially I didn’t know that legislators also construct roads? Go to Amaizu road, he built it on concrete from Amaizu Junction to Mgbom. Even the primary school in my village, Igariwey has re-roofed it and brought chairs and modern tables built by Innoson. He gave over 500 seats to the students. He has done it in about six schools: three in Afikpo North and three in Afikpo South. If any other person that has been in authority had done like that, the educational sector would have been marvelous.
Outside what they call empowerment, Idu has distinguished himself because what Senator Ama Nnachi does is not it. People should grow. Our people are tired of carrying sewing machines and motorcycles to do okada and die on the road. Even though Ama Nnachi is my party member, it is easier to vote for these people than to see the person and ask him questions until he comes back.
If Idu Igariwey contests in 2023, I will vote for him because I said he has done something in my village.
Is there any way PDP holds their representatives to account?
The country we are living in and the type of democracy we are practicing, that one is not possible. Immediately after an election, it becomes even very difficult for members of parliament to pay party dues. In the Party’s constitution, there is a part of your salary that should go to the Party for maintaining
If Umahi runs for senate in 2023, do you think he will succeed? Will you support him?
I am not in his party. If his party decides to give him a ticket, good for him. If he runs against Ama Nnachi, you can’t compare a governor that has State money with a senator that earns a meagre salary. But under Buhari’s administration, I don’t it is still business as usual. It is wrong to compare Umahi and Ama Nnachi but however, I have told you that I will not vote for any other Party except PDP.
So, if Umahi wants to run for senate and he comes to PDP as an incumbent governor, we will give him support in PDP but if it is in APC, he will go to APC people and they will vote for him.