Chief Edet Nkpubre is a former South-South National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He has been a consistent crusader for the governorship of Akwa Ibom state to shift to Oro Nation on the principle of the tripod. In this interview with CORRESPONDENT, IDONGESIT ASHAMERI, he says though he remains a loyal PDP member, the party, however, should be ready for protest votes against its candidate from Akwa Ibom people. He maintains that PDP governors should be blamed if Jonathan loses the 2015 presidential election. Excerpts…
What is your impression of the PDP governorship primary that produced Udom Emmanuel as candidate of the party?
The PDP governorship primary in Akwa Ibom was manipulated, corrupted and the candidate Udom Emmanuel was imposed on the people. A protest letter had been written and signed by ex-governor Victor Attah, Etiebet and I to the national headquarters of our great party, intimating them of the fraud. And that was followed up by the protest by the 22 aspirants, other than Udom, who stayed 40 days and 40 nights
in Abuja to present their protest to the national party and to the Presidency. Unfortunately, these issues remain unresolved. As far as I am concerned the primary in which Udom emerged was fraudulently manipulated. Governor Akpabio or the wife identified Udom somewhere and they foisted him on all of us undemocratically. That is where we are today and that is why APC is making inroads in Akwa Ibom today. We granted a press conference in Abuja and foretold what is happening today. We warned the Presidency and the party of the injustice and the manipulation which we noticed before the primary. We suggested during the reconciliation, which the party organized to bring all members together, that the list of delegates should be signed by a group of people not one individual. We suggested the party chairman, the governor, Attah, Etiebet and me to authenticate, to raise the level of integrity of whichever list shall come out. Today nobody knows which list was used in the primary. Nobody knows whether the list that was used came from Abuja or Akwa Ibom. The list was not made available; no one knew who were supposed to be the delegates. My name, as a former South-South Vice chairman of the party, was not even in the list of delegates, because they knew I might not support Udom candidacy. Some of us were not even allowed to vote. That was the level of manipulation, the level of fraud; the level of deceit that went on during the primary and whoever emerged from that process, as far as I am concerned, is not acceptable to a majority of us.
But the leadership of the party has given its ticket to Udom Emmanuel. The INEC also recognizes him as the party’s governorship candidate for the April 11 election. What will you and your group do at this stage?
I have said it all that he did not emerge through a democratic process and that is why the PDP should be ready for a protest vote against that candidate. Edwin Clark, a few days ago granted a press interview. And what was the core of it? He said that whatever happens to President Jonathan in this election is caused by the governors; governors imposing candidates. And he was surprised that the party allowed governors to impose candidates on the people. Whatever happens to Jonathan in 2015 should be blamed on the governors, particularly the so-called PDP Governors’ Forum. They have manipulated Jonathan, not because they like Jonathan but because of their own selfish interests. First of all, they contrived the so-called consensus; that Jonathan should be the only candidate and Jonathan saw it as a favour which he needed to reciprocate. In reciprocating, he gave all powers to the governors, powers of life and death over the party. The governor chooses who will be councilors, the governor chooses who will be local government chairmen; the governor chooses who will go to the state house of assembly, the federal house of reps, the senate and the governor chooses who will be the minister. Invariably the governors are the ones driving the country. The governors, when they come together, choose who will be the president of this country. That is where we are today, very critical issues. Power has been surrendered to the governors. When hawks are driving the PDP Governors Forum, then you know what I mean. They are not driving it for the interest of the country and the party but for their personal interest. I am surprised why people have so much short memory. If Yar’Adua did not die some of them from the South-South in particular would have contested after the tenure of Yar’Adua. These are people who did not want Jonathan to be confirmed as acting president of this country. They spent their resources, energy and time to make sure that Jonathan was not confirmed as acting president. I wonder why Jonathan believes suddenly that these people love him and are working for his interest. We were the people who were excited by Jonathan’s presidency in 2011 because that was the first time a South-South man would be the president of this country. Some of them supported Jonathan half-heartedly. Unfortunately when Jonathan became president he forgot what happened and they hijacked him and the man forgot that they were enemies. Jonathan should not forget that enemies don’t leave their position. The day they see you at your weakest point, they will strike you. It is because they are afraid of your strength that is why they are aligning with you. The day they know they can take advantage of you in any way, they will and that is what is happening today. They pretend to support Jonathan. They are not. They are supporting their interest.
You mentioned how the 22 aggrieved aspirants of the party stayed in Abuja for 40 days and 40 nights trying to present their protest to the President to no avail. Why do you think the President refused to meet with them?
I strongly believe it is because Akpabio told Jonathan that these people have no political relevance; that those of us who protested have no political relevance in Akwa Ibom state; that he has all the power to do and undo in Akwa Ibom and Jonathan believed him. Otherwise, why should 22 out of 23 people who contested the election come out protesting for one reason or the other and you dwould not listen to them? All of them came from constituencies and local government areas. You think they are nobodies; that they bought forms and went out to contest election that they were not even allowed to be voted for, even their brothers? Ekpenyong Ntekim is from Okobo. The younger brother is the chapter chairman of PDP but he could not get one vote from his blood brother because those who were accredited, who were delegates were fake delegates. You can do that in the primary, you can manipulate the process during the primary as it is been allowed by the national PDP and the Presidency. The problem is the general election. That is why I am saying that if anything happens that a South-South president fails to do 8 years, the chairman of the so-called PDP Governors Forum or the forum itself should be held responsible.
As a PDP chieftain and former national officer of the party, don’t you think recommending a protest vote against your party is anti-party?
No, I am not saying I am going to do protest vote. What I am saying is that a lot of people would vote in protest of that process. There are 22 aspirants who are not happy with Udom?s emergence vis-à-vis the process that brought him. They are aggrieved till today and have refused to back down and support Udom. They have their supporters. Where do you think their votes would go?
But I learnt most of the G22 members have been settled with huge amounts of money to support Udom. So where will this protest votes come from?
I am not aware of that and even if they have collected money, it is Akwa Ibom money. You see there is something people don’t know about such money. If Akpabio gives you money, it is not his money. It is Akwa Ibom money. People would vote what their conscience tells them. They won’t vote as slaves. So I don’t believe money will make people to sell out their conscience and their future. The people are concerned about what will bring peace and harmony to Akwa Ibom.
We have a situation in the country today where the PDP is seemingly embroiled in internal crisis and the APC is gradually emerging stronger and popular than before. What does this portend for the general election that is few days from now?
Lamido made a statement that yes, APC has made mistakes and PDP has made mistakes as well but that he still stands by PDP. For me, PDP has made mistakes. The PDP has humiliated so many people. I hope these people would forgive PDP. I am a PDP man. I am worried that what we worked for to build the party is been threatened. I am worried that other zones have done 8 years and now that it is the turn of the South-South person, because of manipulation, because of the parochial interest of the PDP Governors Forum, Jonathan’s 8 years is been threatened. I want the people of the South-South in particular to hold the governors responsible should the zone fail to do 8 years as other zones.