The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, South-east, Chief Anyim Nyerere, speaks with Onyebuchi Ezigbo on Igbo presidency, APC’s in-roads in the South-east and other challenges facing the opposition party. Excerpts: How can you rate APC’s penetration in the South-east? APC is doing very well but we are not used to making noise. You see,God is working for us and things are working out for us naturally. This is because people over the years have not really had theirdesired expectations as it concerned the dividend of democracy and impact of good governance on the people. They are naturally yearning for this change which APC has come up with and everywhere you go people are clamouring for APC and this change. I believe that God has ordained this change at this particular time. What do you make of the campaign spreading around the South-east that APC is not an Igbo party? These are campaigns of calumny. We are talking about Nigeria and a party that all Nigerians belong. How do you ascribe it to one ethnic nationality? You see, such campaigns or propaganda is just designed to scare people away but they do not know the more they try it the more they attract more people to our party. Talking about being a Yoruba party or Hausa party, are there not Hausa’s and Yoruba’s in PDP? Look at the number of Igbos in APC. So it is not true and there is no amount of such propaganda that will deter people from embracing this change. For the first time in this political dispensation, the Igbo are taken into the main frame of Nigerian politics sincerely, not deceitfully. They are only using the propaganda to scare people away. The APC is a national party and the Igbos are duly represented and their interests well captured. Some people have said the continued operation of interim structure of leadership has not allowed the opportunity to fully extend its influence to the grassroots and that this is beginning to have negative impact on the party? No! This is a process. If we are hoping to make a change, we must be ready to do something right. It is not easy to have fusion of people from diverse political background coming together as one. But APC has been able to achieve that peaceful fusion among the merging parties. In the South East, we have been able to harmonize the state interim executive structures in all the five states. Last week in Owerri, we were able to resolve that to the glory of God. The interim executives at the states were elected and we have been directed by the national leadership to make sure that they are inaugurated before the end of December. Even before now, we had various committees working on our membership drive and this has been yielding positive results. What is the situation in Imo State, especially the threat by the All Progressive Grand Alliance to reclaim the state from APC? That is an illusion; people living in a dream world. We believe in free and fair election, where the wishes of the people should prevail. It is not a matter of making noise. APC is on ground in Imo state and in other areas of the South East. You saw what happened during the Anambra governorship election, that is, if it can be called an election. The conspiracy against our party means that something is happening. There is an Igbo adage that says anyone being talked about, has something to offer. If APC is a push-over, why then the hues and cries; why the conspiracy and gang-up? Allow it if you think they are not the party to beat in an election. As far as Imo state is concerned, APGA is living in a fool’s paradise; there’s no longer anything like APGA in Imo state. Party politics these days has gone beyond a family affair and people can no longer be deceived. Even the smallest boy in the street knows what he wants these days. Based on what happened in Anambra where in spite of the acclaimed popularity of your candidate, you still lost the election. Why? We did what we could under the circumstance in Anambra election. For the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega to come out openly and acknowledge that what happened during the Anambra election was against their expectation and was not normal, what do you need to be told? Can the abnormalities in Anambra state produce a credible result? The answer is no. So whatever you are seeing in Anambra cannot be taken as a victory for anyone because the umpire, that is INEC has come out openly to tell Nigerians that there were fraudulent practices and abnormalities in the Anambra election. Having said that, how can Nigerians accept that there was an election in Anambra? This was why APC was calling for its total cancellation. We as a party has told Nigerians and the world that we do not accept the election conducted in Anambra state and we have gone a step further to go to the court to pursue our case which we believe is the final hope for justice. We have also tried to challenge what happened in Anambra state by carrying our protest march to the INEC office. We warned that if what was experimented in Delta and Anambra states is what they want to try in 2015, that they should better have a rethink, because once beaten, twice shy. It will never succeed. Nigerians will never accept it, not even APC. Your constitution stipulates a timeframe for the interim executives and some people have already started to agitate that the interim leadership has over-stayed its welcome; what would you say to that? There is no breach against the constitution but the period of the interim structure will soon elapse. What the interim leadership is doing right now is to prepare ground for the substantive leadership. After the membership registration exercise, we are going to organize congresses and then the national convention. By God’s grace before the end of the first quarter of 2014, we would have had our national convention. We are in the process now and have started mobilizing for the membership registration. Do you think that the APC can offer an opportunity for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction? Why not? The Igbo people are eminently qualified to do so and I do not think anything can stop them from aspiring to be President. The Igbo people are Nigerians and constitutionally entitled to do so. In looking at it, one of the best things that could happen to this nation is to have a president of Igbo extraction. If that happens, you will see a change, the desired change in the polity. But isn’t there any sign of interest or movements towards the direction of having an Igbo politician declare for presidency ahead of 2015? You know the ban on politics has not yet been lifted, so nobody will come out openly now to campaign. We have had people making a case for Igbo presidency, even the Ohaneze and other well-meaning Nigerians outside of the Igbo race, like the former governor of Kaduna state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa have been quoted as having said that the best thing that could happen to the country is have Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. We have so many Igbo sons and daughters who are yearning for the right time to come out and declare their interest and aspiration in the presidential contest. APC has been making in-roads in the North, South-west and even South-south and recently five governors left PDP to join APC but none of them are from the South-east, is it not a sign that the party has not gained acceptance in your area? As the days go by, most of our political leaders in the South-east will soon begin declaring for the APC. Former top members of the PDP are now in APC while some other from other parties are resigning and joining our party. Our doors are open to welcome new members who want to join us. Most of them have declared interest that they would come and register with APC. You know it is a continuous process. As far as we know, the entire South East is for APC. What is your political ambition in 2015 and beyond? People sometimes try to shy away from realities. I come from Abia State where there is a dire need for proactive leadership because over the years what we have had in Abia is better imagined than disclosed. So who says Nyerere cannot come out? I offer myself for a service that will emancipate the people of Abia state come 2015. The Bible said if you know what to do and you fail to do it, then it is sin. I have what it takes to make my State better and I will not hesitate to present myself to offer such service to the people of Abia state. What are some of the things you will be offering the Abia people which the present PDP administration has failed to do? Education is something that every Abia person should have access to and money should not be a hindrance. If I get to the helm of affairs in Abia state, I will look at what the state of things are and see how to approach the problem of education. But one thing that is paramount is that every Abia child should have the privilege to go to school comfortably without having to drop out of school because of money. It will be fashioned in a way that Abia people will be happy with our education system. If we will be in a position to offer a holistic free education from primary to tertiary level, we will not stop at doing that. We would do something to ensure that Abia people will go to school without tears.
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