BY Chioma ONUEGBU
Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem is the National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Akwa Ibom State. Before now, Enoidem served as a commissioner in the Akpabio administration and was a co-founder of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview he reviews the state of the polity, measures the performance of the administration against the promises and finds no permutation to bring back the president who he claims has lost physical and other capacities to govern. He also reviews the political contest in Akwa Ibom and projects that the plots of the All Progressives Congress, APC would come to nought in what he describes as the PDP dominated state. Excerpts:
Following your closeness to former governor, Godswill Akpabio as his commissioner, a lot of Akwa Ibom people believed you would join him in APC. Why did you stay back in the PDP?
The first reason is because I am Emmanuel Enoidem. Secondly, I have something I live for. My life was founded on certain basic principles that cannot be violated. One of them is consistency; others are sincerity, truthfulness and commitment. The third reason is that I am not that kind of politician who believes in only winning elections.
I was a co-founder of PDP in Akwa Ibom State as far back as 1998. Akpabio was not a co-founder of PDP, he only joined us in 2002 and by God’s grace, he became a commissioner, later he became a governor and now a senator. I was already in the party when he joined us.
Again I don’t like the APC not for the name but because of the symbol, the broom; I can never dump the umbrella for the broom. I also know that APC as a party is an assemblage of strange bed fellows. It is one organization that will not stand the test of time. If the APC loses 2019 election, as I know they are going to lose, the party will be in shambles. It is not like the PDP. The PDP is like a sleeping lion, even at the point we lost election. When I was opportune to become the National Legal Adviser, I knew that we were going to wake up the lion and that the Lion is going to roar again.
How did you see Akpabio’s action?
When Akpabio left it was a surprise to everybody. I don’t believe in that type of politics where one is only comfortable in a comfort zone. I am the kind of politician who makes comfort, who is comfortable with every situation. I am not a politician who wants to remain in power perpetually. And I see no reason, no explanation Akpabio should join APC apart from selfishness. I am not a selfish person to the point of jettisoning my ideals just because I want to be part of the government at the centre. I told people in 2015 that even if Akapbio and Udom Emmanuel leave the PDP to APC that I will stay back. Today nothing has changed to make me contemplate a decision contrary to that position I took; there is no basis or reason to even make me contemplate joining Akpabio to APC.
On Christmas day December, 25, 2017, I went to see Akpabio at his country home. Before I could even inform him of my mission, he told me things are not normal that he wants to leave the party, and I told him that such words should not come from a leader and that he should not allow others to hear that kind of thing because he has absolutely nothing to do in APC besides moving around with them in ‘Agbada’.
In Nigeria today, it would have been President Buhari on one side and Akpabio on the other side as the leader of a major opposition party. The two of them would have been the most serious politicians in the country, but he abandoned the role of opposition leadership in Nigeria and succumbed to pressure. The same pressure is being mounted on everybody, I don’t know why he succumbed and abandoned his role as opposition leader. He abandoned opposition leadership in the NationalAssembly, what is he doing presently? Nothing.
I remember on 28 July, 2018 when we had a meeting in Abuja to receive people that were coming from other political parties, the way he was talking, the way he was behaving you could see this was not Akpabio. His colleagues, Dino Melaye, Olujimi and few other senators called him and invited me to be part of the discussion, and I went. And I listened to him and by the time we finished he was blaming Governor Emmanuel.
I told him, sir I know that you have made up your mind to leave the party, but have you sat down one day to look at the consequences of you leaving PDP? I said sir by God’s benevolence you have become a political leader in Annang land, the entire Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, how do you think they are going to look at it?Because I believe when you leave there is going to be a lot of dislocation in the state politics. And that is exactly what we are seeing now; people insulting him. They cannot comprehend how a man can serve as a commissioner for six years, Governor for eight years and Senator for three and half years and stand on podium to criticize the party that gave him the platform all those years. It is unheard off and not something that can be condoned. Any outrage against Akpabio today is in order.
There is growing fear that the ruling APC Government may employ “federal might” during the elections in order to wrest power from PDP in the state. What is your take on this?
It is a mind game. They don’t have the numerical strength to win election in Akwa Ibom. The highest number APC can get during election in the state is 30 percent. So the 30 can never torpedo the 70 percent will of Akwa Ibom people. Some of us had been short-listed to be arrested before the election and we are waiting for them. Even if they want to bring Brutaai, Army, SSS, Navy, Police, they will not win election in Akwa Ibom State. I am saying this loud and clear that they will fail because they don’t have the number. And Akwa Ibom people will not be intimidated because this is not Ekiti election, it is not Osun election or Edo election. I heard that they are saying they are going to stage manage insecurity in the state, so that they will postpone elections here for a later date. Even if they had to postpone the election here, PDP will still win Akpabio and his group, any time, any day and any moment.
It is very shameful for those who have benefitted from the state to contemplate using the federal might to intimidate Akwa Ibom voters. It is wrong for someone who has been a leader in the state, occupied the highest position of authority to contemplate arresting people because of election. They should hide their faces in shame. It is the highest form of cowardice and shamelessness for anybody to bring security agencies here because he wants to seize power. That is not election.
Akpabio alleged that Governor Udom Emmanuel was unfair to his senatorial district and hence his decision to leave the PDP, do you agree with him?
He was looking for excuses. Let me tell you, Akpabio had no explanation to give for leaving PDP, apart from the fact that he wants to be in power at the federal level. They gave Akpabio Senate Minority leader in 2015 , he never performed the function of that office for one day until he left on August, 8, 2018. Akpabio was a governor for eight years and nobody controlled him from the outside. He should allow Udom Emmanuel to operate his government. Attah did not dictate to Godswill Akpabio as a governor, he did not. He should allow Udom Emmanuel to run his government. And one day in the house of the deputy governor Moses Ekpo when this thing was brewing in January 2018, and in the presence of the deputy governor I asked him, sir you were a governor, did you allow anybody to manipulate you? Why can’t you go and face the responsibility that God has put on your shoulder at the national? You are no more a state leader; you are a national leader. I told him that so it cannot be any excuse of the governor not developing Ikot Ekpene. It is not Ikot Ekpene alone that is Akwa Ibom. There are other parts of Akwa Ibom that Akpabio did not have the opportunity to develop. Udom Emmanuel has to touch those areas. Even in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district to be objective Akpabio did not touch Ikono and Ini local government areas in his development strides. Yes, he performed as a governor, but he could not have touched everywhere. Governor Udom Emmanuel is touching those areas. Are they not in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district? Godswill Akpabio did not touch Oruk Anam but Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing a lot of things in Oruk Anam, is that not part of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district? So it was not becauseGovernor Udom Emmanuel is not touching in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district that he left, it cannot be. I can say and authoritatively, that Governor Udom Emmanuel has been a good successor to Godswill Akpabio, in all ramifications of the meaning of that responsibility. He has done it very well, I can testify to that. In terms of protection, he has offered him protection. The most important role of a successor is to cover the tracks of his predecessor. Governor Udom Emmanuel has discharged that responsibility more than any other person would have expected him to do to the extent of going to court to file a case to protect his predecessor.
It is not everybody that can do that. In terms of continuing with his projects, for those that he could do he has done them, and there those he cannot convince himself to do just like Akpabio could not convince himself to do the science park, Udom Emmanuel, has not convinced himself to continue with Akpabio projects. Those he convinced himself he is doing them like the dualized road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene he is doing it.
You are very passionate about 2nd term for Governor Emmanuel, has he done enough to deserve it?
It is not about being passionate. Governor Udom Emmanuel came with a five point agenda. Look at his five-point agenda of industrialization, poverty eradication, creation of jobs, political inclusion and consolidation of infrastructures. Put down the five point-agenda, list his projects and style of governance and see if he has not performed beyond expectation. Most of the people that fought him during primaries are now in PDP. That is political inclusiveness.
You cannot say that governor Udom Emmanuel is not developing infrastructure in Akwa Ibom state. Governor Udom Emmanuel to his credit today has not less than 10 industries that are functional in Akwa Ibom state and these industries are employing people. None was in existence by the time he came, this is part of the industrialization he promised Akwa Ibom people.
How do you react to recent allegation by some chieftains of the opposition APC in the state that the PDP is planning to import mercenaries ahead of the election?
We have no business in importing mercenaries into Akwa Ibom State because Akwa Ibom people are with PDP. The people who are in need for violence like Akpabio confessed ‘Warsaw saw war’, that was the foundation of the agenda to infiltrate the state with militants, so if anybody should be blamed for instigation of insecurity in Akwa Ibom State it should be the APC chieftains. We know what they are planning; they want to come under the cover of official security to bring militants that will carry arms against us. We are aware of all those things; we are aware of all their nefarious plans and we are conscious about that; we are alive to them.
As the national legal adviser to PDP, do you see national election influencing the election in Akwa Ibom state?
We lost the centre in 2015 but we won in Akwa Ibom because this state is a PDP state. I am sitting down here to tell you that inside of all the noise they are making, my personal intelligence shows that APC does not have more than 25 to 30 percent of the voting population in Akwa Ibom state. So it is not possible for them to get more than 30 percent.
Let me tell you, in this election APC will lose at the centre. Except you are not a keen follower of what is happening. The reason for this is that we don’t have a president in Nigeria. The man that is called president of Nigeria does not have the ment…capacity, the physical capacity to run the country. There is no way Nigerians are going to make the same mistake they made in 2015. In 2015 they said Buhari is not corrupt, they said Buhari is a retired General so he will improve on the security situation in the country and there will be peace. In 2015 the APC said, that there will no more corruption in the system, and that the economy will be stabilized.
Those are the three promises that APC came with, in 2015. Under Mohammadu Buhari’s presidency, have they discharged any of those things. Have they discharged in the area of security? Of course they have not. You know that Boko Haram has increased not just in intensity but in the spread. For economy, all indices of development in 2015 were positive in Nigeria. We were the fastest growing economy in Africa. We were second in the world with 7.2% GDP. At a time after Buhari came our GDP dropped to minus nine (-9) Today as we are approaching elections they are saying it is 1.9 perecent. What has happened to increase it from minus nine to 1.9 percent. They are the only people that can explain their position, that in 2018 our GDP is 1.9%. It dropped from10.8percent in 2015 as they took over. Today Nigeria has become the world’s headquarter of poverty, we have overtaken India that had been consistently in that position. China has about 1.9billion, and India has about 1.2 billion people. We have overtaken these two countries in poverty with 200 million people and with the oil that we are producing. That is for the economy. Now on corruption. Buhari said anybody who talks about subsidy is fraudulent but Buhari paid N4.2 trillion on subsidy without appropriation. So his own corruption index has gone beyond remedy. There is no corruption that is worse than NEPOTISM. Nepotism is the worst form of corruption anywhere in the world. Where you have a National Security Council in a country that is multi-ethnic, multi-religious like Nigeria and you are carrying ten of them and put in one section of the country, that is the first time it has ever happened. Not even under the military rule did that happen. Go and check appointments of Buhari on certain positions in the country, 75 percent are in the north, but some people from the south are struggling over themselves to support this man to come back for a second term. Nigerians are saying no this is not the Buhari they knew; this is not the Buhari that contested election in 2015; this Buhari is completely different from the Buhari of 2015. That is why we are saying Buhari, APC cannot win this election in 2019. Physically he is not fit. Presidency of Nigeria is not a sick bed. It is a very rigorous, demanding and executive office.
We need very strong and focused people. Buhari is said to be working for three hours per day. How can we move forward when the president can only work three hours a day when other country’s presidents are working 23hours per day?
Political analysts are of the opinion that your senatorial district candidate Dr Chris Ekpenyong is not a match for senator Akpabio who is seeking a second term. Do you agree with their opinion?
It is not Chris Ekpenyong that is going for election first of all. It is not a no-party election, it is a party-based election. It is APC going for election against PDP; theumbrella against the broom. This election a lot of things are going to be at stake. Akpabio insulted the Annang. When we in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district offered him free second term ticket; all of us contributed money, hired buses, public address system. He came to Ikot Ekpene stadium to say that he can contest election on any political party and win. People were surprised and the next month he defected to APC. Does he think that we have forgotten that in a hurry? You think we can forget how Akpabio carried the mandate that we gave him and went and donated himself to Buhari in London in a very subdued manner. All of us in PDP are going for this election, not just Chris Ekpenyong.
And how many people even left PDP with Akpabio in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district? This is what matters. All the PDPgenerals in the senatorial district are intact. The only person that left with him is Otu Robert who has already retired from active politics.
It was rumoured in some quarters that before your party primaries that you were called upon to contest the senate seat but you declined because of fear of Akpabio, how true is this?
I am not afraid of anybody. I respect people and when I respect people I respect them totally, so I cannot be afraid. I declined to run not because I was afraid of anybody or afraid of the election. I looked at the fact that where we were now, Ikot ekpene senatorial district is divided into 3 zones, the Abak zone, the Ikot Ekpene zone and the Ikono/Ini zone. Thse are the three zonrs. The Abak zone is already having the deputy governorship position and Moses Ekpo is already on seat and he is returning as a running mate for 2019 election. And I knew that he is going to return so I now said to make the polity healthy, to give more chances to the party let’s give another zone of the senatorial district.That was my decision, that was the logic. And I told the governor then that that it will not be in the interest of the party for me to fill out for that position; that we may lose votes from the other zone. What is happening now is that head or tail Chris Ekpenyong, will win his local government, head or tail Monday Uko will bring that LG to PDP in this election, so we are sure of one local government. If we get all the five under Abak zone, that is six already out of the 10 local governments of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, we have won the election, so these are considerations. As a good politician I didn’t want to be selfish, it was not because I was being afraid of anybody. (Source: VANGAURD)