New Telegraph

Political Tsunami In Enugu Caused By Failure Of Governance –LP Rep–Elect, Okereke

How do you receive the electoral tsunami that took place in Enugu state and particularly your victory despite huge challenges from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

You can call it a tsunami or anything but one thing I know is certain, it is the will of God. This is because no matter whatever you have done or planned, if it is not the will of God it won’t come to pass. And again for those who talk about parties in power and all that having their way every time, nobody is God and that factor is one of the things most of us in this part of the world always forget. And if you come to the past election that just ended, one; we did a good job.

What I mean doing a good job is that we went to the nooks and cranny of the state and our constituencies and interacted with our constituents with our leader, Rt. Hon Chijioke Edeoga. He is the only candidate that went to all the 260 wards in Enugu State. And he didn’t stop at that, there are other works he put in place and then keep charging us to go home and work, go home and work, go home and work; interact with your people. One of the days he sent me a message telling me that one of the areas in my constituency where we don’t have much presence.

I tried to find out he knew, he was there without even us in the constituency. This is to show you that it is hard work, it wasn’t just a tsunami. Yes, we thank God for our national leader Mr. Gregory Peter Obi, who changed the narratives, dynamics of the campaign this period. You didn’t see people frying corn and selling ‘akara’ (bean cake) and all that; it’s issue based. Go and verify. For those of us who have not been in public office before, we now have to do extra work, we don’t have something to tell you to go and verify; but trust me because it’s a different thing entirely, it’s no more business as usual, no more the ‘ojebego’ slang.

So it’s something different, something monumental that we all need to sustain because one may assume he has won this election, you have to sustain it. The people have so much trust and believe, there is so much expectation from us especially in the Labour Party because it’s no more business as usual. So for me, how I’m taking it, it’s more work because they say that the reward for good work is more work. So more work for us, more work for me especially in my constituency that has somehow a different terrain than what we have in some other places because my place has more rural places than urban.

So I have to get to the people more often, interact with them, engage with them; it won’t be a four years thing anymore, it has to be a continuity that they will always say that we voted for him, he went in there and remembered us. So for me what I’m thinking is that I have to go and have a quality representation of my people, they will go home and say thank God we voted for him.

You talked about the uniqueness of your constituency majorly being rural, what then will be your areas of legislative interest in the House?

For those who followed my campaign, I dwelt so much on youth empowerment, youth engagement; in agriculture. I’m among those who are not so much a fan of Okada, Keke as empowerment. It’s good; I’m not kicking against it. But we can do more. There are some agricultural activities you can start at the back of your house. Being a rural area, there are free lands, free in the sense that to rent wouldn’t be too expensive, it’s owned by families, they can come together, maybe form a cooperative and engage them.

That way you have started helping them, and look at other policies that will better their lives. The aged people, you find a way of reviving the rural hospitals so that they can access the ba- sic medical services because it’s among the two factors that will help us project our people so that the youths will no longer be used for ‘thuggery’, they will not engage in all this miscreant activities going on here and there. They will be useful and when we engage them positively, and meaningfully in the next four years, in the next election, everybody who wants to talk to the youths will have a clear road map of what you have for them.

It will no longer be giving them N5000, N1000, N2000 or buying them drinks, no, it will now be purposeful leadership engagement, and a lot of things will now come up. Even as a rural area it will be purpose driven in the sense that our people, if you’re not in the township, you wouldn’t be regretting it because you are in the village, no; everybody will see that people will be flocking in there, development will come more, banks will come in, communication companies will put up their mast because most places in the constituencies don’t have network.

But when people are now go- ing in there to buy these products because they are readily available, there will be an increase in economic activities, our people will now come in to develop the place and you see companies coming to set up companies.

Apart from hard work, there must be other factors responsible for Labour Party’s tsunami in Enugu State in terms of how the electorate feel about the leadership of PDP for almost 24 years; do you think it has something to do with that that they decided to shift?

Well most people don’t have proper representation, good governance, we yearned for change. It’s not as if I’m criticizing anybody because I’m not perfect but I always ask people, look around you, is it the way you want it to be? If it is not the way you want it to be, then you can do better, you can change the narrative, we can try something new. And the tsunami in Enugu is as a result of a failed government, failed proper representation. There are places that felt the impact of the government, nothing is totally bad, but on a scale of one to ten, for me I will rate three.

I’m not being economical with the truth or the Marks but it’s simply because I believe we would have been somewhere higher than this. And then people said let’s try something new because I know that when somebody holds power for a long time the person becomes a demi-god but when I know that I can lose power, then I will sit up. Watch those who won this election, there will be a drastic improvement that people will be wondering so this was possible before now. This is because everybody has seen that it is possible that we can lose.

In the governorship election the margin of lead between LP candidate, Chijioke Edeoga and the PDP candidate, Peter Mbah is about 3000, and your party has gone to court; how do you see the governorship result and any hope of recovering the ticket?

Is it the one given to them to announce or the proper result? This is because as much as I’m trying to be fair to everybody, we can’t keep celebrating injustice and bad leadership. That I was given result to announce doesn’t make it that this is the proper thing, so this is now a test for the judiciary for them to prove and restore their glory because in all this we are already before them, Nigeria is already before them both in the presidential and the governorship and it is for them to now say yes, we are, as they call themselves, leaned gentlemen; that they are gentle indeed, and they will do justice to the cases and they will do justice to truth before them. If you have gone through the petitions filed by our principals both at the state and federal level, you see, it’s well-crafted prayers. In the case of Enugu, one of the prayers is involved in the issue of forgery; even NYSC has written and reconfirmed that this isn’t from us. Someone who wants to lead the state …. (cuts)

Do you really believe those letters we see in the social media came from NYSC?

If that is not true, the institution would have denied it, NYSC; the accused would have made a statement or even gone to court to challenge it. But none of this has happened. So it’s assumed that most of us who didn’t write to the authority assume this is true because you notice that when results are announced, use Abia State as a case study, there was jubilation everywhere; but at the national level and state level, Enugu state, there seems to be mourning, so people were robbed. So I wouldn’t make so much comment on that because it is before the judiciary. But like I said before it’s a test for the judiciary to do the proper thing.

Shortly after the election crisis erupted in the LP, some people went to court and got an injunction to suspend the national chairman, and even recently the Imo State chapter of the party had a primary to elect a governorship candidate and about three or four candidates emerged from parallel primaries. Are you worried and how do you think the problem could be solved?

It shows that the Labour Party is now a force. So everybody wants to identify with the L P. That’s one; secondly, in quote the ruling party is scared because the only attack or trying to create problem where there is no problem for one who you see as a threat, and you have seen that NLC, TUC have gone to show solidarity and support for Abure; you see all the 36 state chairmen going to say we are with you.

Penultimate week there was a NEC meeting in Asaba, our presidential candidate, all the leaders and the national Assembly elect were all there. What does that show you? There is no rancor within the party. It’s just people trying to cause confusion. I will give you a case study, very close to my election somebody started pasting posters that he is the candidate, you understand, he was being sponsored by somebody just to create a little discord here and there and for people to assume ah! All is not well here oh. And then give their vote to the wrong place.

So it’s also a time to call the people to remain steadfast in supporting the LP. So if you allow this to get to you, that means you’re not well schooled, it’s just a mere distraction. So I will tell our supporters especially in Imo state and other places, don’t lose focus, we are one party, there is no rancor, there is no two leadership, it’s only mere distractions because those whose elections are coming up wouldn’t want the word you used before, tsunami to affect them because leadership has failed in their states, if they have not failed they wouldn’t be worried.

They would have used the same slogan, go and verify like you see our leader, Mr. Gregory Peter Obi will always say vote for competence, vote for someone you can trust, vote for someone who can do it. So if the various leadership of those states in question now are not troubled by their bad governance, they wouldn’t be worried by having parallel primaries all over to scuttle the chances of the Labour Party.

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