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» » » » » Umeh is Settling Personal Scores - HON. EKWUNIFE
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Member, representing Aniocha/Njikoka /Dunkofia Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife spoke with DORIS NNABUENYI at her campaign office in Awka, Anambra state disclosing why his opponent, Chief Victor Umeh and his campaign materials are being attacked by hoodlums; why she left All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and her stand on the confusion in her party over authentic candidates in the state among others. Excerpts:
You have spent two terms at the House of Representatives, how has the journey

It has been a mixed bag of challenges and opportunities. I say challenges because our nation has gone through some trying moments in the last couple of years and as you know, we represent the people so whatever happens to our people affects us, especially in the discharge of our responsibilities as lawmakers. It also presented us with opportunities on the other hand, because the diverse challenges thrown up allow us to look critically into our extant laws and see how we can amend relevant sections to fit into the realities of our time. Other laws that are obviously obsolete are also repealed and re-enacted.
Debates on the floor of the 6thand 7thAssembly have been very robust and I am glad to be a part of the process in the last eight years. It is not for me to blow my trumpet but I have represented my people very well in the last eight years and they can testify to this. I have so far sponsored 15 Bills and 9 motions in the House of Representatives and I believe that is a significant feat.
How would your experience rub off on the senatorial seat and why do you want to be at the senate?
The reward for hard word is oftentimes greater responsibilities. It is simple: I am going to the senate as an experienced lawmaker and as such will be eligible to handle some responsibilities that first time legislators might not be entitled to or considered for. As a matter of fact, the debates on issues on the floor of the green chamber is often more intense than those in the red chambers because of the larger number of representatives. 360 representatives usually imply that you have about 360 opinions on a particular issue at each point in time.
So whenever you are to present your Bill or motion on the floor, you have to be prepared to accommodate varied opinions and what I called ‘hard tackles’. So you see that such a background has equipped me better and placed me on a vantage position than even those who go straight into the senate from other fields of leadership. I now understand the politics and intrigues of the game as a legislator. This will definitely translate into more dividends of democracy for my people. Make no mistakes; the legislator is not just there to make laws for the good governance of the country, high level politicking is involved in who gets what for their people.
Also the fact that I am a member of the ruling party, the PDP gives me an edge over all my co-contenders when it comes to connecting our people to the Centre. My aspiration for the senate is not motivated by the desire to go to Abuja and bench warm the seat in the red chamber; but to enable me bring dividends of democracy and double all what I have done in Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency across the entire Anambra Central.
Your party, the PDP has been enmeshed in confusion over the authentic candidates for the 2015 election. How do you feel about it?
By the Electoral Act, it is the exclusive preserve and prerogative of a political party to present its candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for all elective positions. Doing otherwise will be an aberration. It’s this kind of rascality that exists in partisan politics that fuelled the seeming imbroglio in Anambra PDP. Thank God the verdict of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday February 6 has done justice to this issue.
What is your reaction to the recent legislation in Anambra State House of Assembly?
The passing of such unpopular Bill into law was an aberration. It was fatal to the legislature that embarked on such futile but avoidable exercise. The worse misfortune that can befall a legislature is to make a law that cannot be enforced or executed. If you look very closely at the ingredients of that law, you will discover that its substance or base is founded upon the exclusive list of the Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) which falls squarely within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Assembly. However, as you are aware, those are issues of the past and we have to move forward. Our victory at the Appeal Court clearly puts paid to all of that and we thank the judiciary for remaining the bastion of the oppressed.
You were in APGA before, what actually led to your dumping the party for PDP?
Let me make it clear that I am still a firm believer in the core values and ideals propagated by our leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu of blessed memory which is to improve the lots of the Igbos. In order to realise these ideals, I think it is necessary for us to play at the centre. We cannot afford to come to Abuja and be playing opposition politics which will only further disadvantage and impoverish us. All these, coupled with wide consultations with my Constituents informed my decision to defect to the ruling party. Regional politics will not take us anywhere in the nation’s political space. My people have long been in the relegation and I believe it is time for us to play at the centre.
Recently, the APGA candidate, Victor Umeh accused you of destroying his billboards, what is your take on that?
I am not a crude politician neither do I indulge in campaign of calumny. I like playing by the rules and giving others their due respect. Let me say for the umpteenth time that I do not employ the services of miscreants and mischief makers in my campaign organisation like Umeh does. Umeh has personal scores to settle with people all over the state and beyond. It is rather unfortunate that despite the fact that he knows where his problems are coming from, he still prefers to shift his woes on my campaign organisation.
It is a known fact that Umeh has created a web of enmity around himself in the manner in which he has led the party for 13 years. Besides, the way he conducted APGA primaries in Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu states where he is alleged to have openly favored unpopular aspirants against the interest of his party faithful for material reasons left much to be desired of good leadership.
Here in Anambra State, the conduct of the Local Government Elections and the selection process adopted by Victor Umeh as the party Chairman left majority of his party faithful disgruntled to the extent that the whole world is aware that they do not mean well for him. Just the other day, a group of unhappy young people, numbering over 800, under the aegis of one Association of past Councilors, openly protested against Umeh’s candidacy and made it clear that they will work against him in the coming elections. Do not forget that I was also a member of that party until my aspiration to represent my people at the Senate, Anambra Central.
His sins are uncountable. One can go on and on and I’m wondering if he thought the people are so naive. He should be advised to look inwards for his woes. Violence remains his stock-in-trade and this is evident in the recent several attacks by his supporters on my teeming supporters and campaign materials.
A lot have been said about insecurity in Nigeria, would you score Jonathan high?
President Goodluck Jonathan has done tremendously well to hold this nation as a united entity for this period of time, given the spate of insecurity induced by some disgruntled elements who do not have the interest of our nation at heart. If Jonathan could perform this well in the face of these challenges, we can only imagine what he would have done given a conducive atmosphere. Insecurity is not about Mr. President alone, it is the collective responsibility of everyone. I believe he is on course and very soon all these will be in the past. The history of every nation is usually replete with notable high points. This is certainly one of the high points in our nation’s history. You will agree with me that Mr. President is having to weather the storm generated by past regimes in this country and I tell you that on a scale of 10, President Jonathan has scored no less than 7.5. He deserves to be given more opportunity to continue the Transformation of this country which he has set in motion.
There is apprehension within the PDP that the APC may win the Presidential election, do you agree with that?
The elections would soon be around the corner so let us watch and see how they are going to do it. Nigerians are beginning to see for themselves now that those who are chanting the ‘change’ song do not have any blueprint on how to go about it. The tactics of campaign of calumny, intimidation and threats as employed by the opposition does not win election. They rather throw out the harbingers as lacking confidence in themselves and further expose them as unfriendly elements to the society and the electorate.
But the South East people are lamenting that despite their support for Jonathan, they are still being marginalised?
I do not know about any marginalisation by Mr. President to short-change any part of this country. It is almost the same outcry from all the other geopolitical zones. Each zone is crying foul that Mr. President is less favorably disposed to them. The question to ask is: Who is the president giving all the favors to? Mr. President is one of the most detribalised leaders this nation has ever produced and he has shown it in all the awards of major projects across the country. The facts are there for you to find out. The Federal character has been in place even before President Jonathan came on board and I believe every action of government has been guided by this same method.
If you win this race and become the Senator for Anambra Central, what would be your priority?
My answer to this is very simple. Service, Service, Service to my people. My priority will continue to be the people of my senatorial zone whose mandate would have placed me there as they have done in my last two elections to the National Assembly.
Source: Dailytimes

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