Mr Iniobong Ememobong is the Publicity Secretary of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He speaks with INIOBONG EKPONTA, on the recent wave of defections of notable members of his party to the All Progressives Congress (APC); the tussle for the control of the PDP at the centre and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Going into the crucial 2019 election year, and with the current bickering in the PDP, which many defectors argued to be their reason for defecting to the APC, do you think the PDP is in good stead to do well in future elections?
Well, whether you put your house in order or not, immediately you are not in government at the centre, people of feather weight character would still defect. Are you saying that the marriages that people have been divorced from were not in order? People still find near perfect marriages break. Immediately it is in the character of the partner to be itinerant to test and see and the other partner is not willing to allow testing, there would be defection. So when you look at the character of the people defecting, go and look at their private lives, look at what businesses they do. They have been defecting from running a club to running a bar to transport businesses and none had worked, so they are perpetual defectors inherently defecting from church to church. When a person is not able to manage simple relationship, how would that person be able to manage political relationship? Check even their educational qualifications, you will see that they are defecting either from studying Law in one university, attempting to study Public Administration, defecting to a private university, their life is full of defections. Jeff Kennedy said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of controversy. So defectors are lily livered people.
This is why my greatest respect is always to Senator Bola Tinubu, he has never been a PDP person and I’m not sure he will be. And that’s a gentleman who was the only surviving governor of the opposition and today we can see what he has made of the opposition. So, if people keep defecting, where would you get them? They are playing a politics of anywhere ‘belle’ face, so that anywhere there is food, they go to. So today if you have money, they can defect to NUJ.
Don’t you think your party is facing this betrayal due to imposition of certain candidates on the people against popular choices?
No, you would not use the word imposition. Let me ask you a question, which senatorial candidate of the opposition party in Akwa Ibom stood for nomination? PDP donated all their senatorial candidates to them, donated even their governorship and deputy governorship candidates. So you can see that PDP was sufficiently large and the interest were compounding in such a way that anybody who loses nomination would allege imposition. You see nomination has its own procedure and process and therefore you must understand the concept of nomination. You want to go for election and you know that before going for election you must obtain the ticket of the party first, rather than concentrating on the people who would be delegates to lobby them and sell yourself to them, you begin to put up billboards and become very popular to the masses, whereas, you have not yet crossed the first hurdle of getting the ticket to be able to get to the masses.
So, at the end of the day the masses would find a person who is very popular with them, but very unpopular with the delegates who are going to decide who the candidate would be. So you see the politician desiring election should understand what nomination is and what election is. You should know who to meet, when and how? You should know who forms the electoral college that votes for who becomes the candidate, because at the end, you have very popular aspirants who would not become the candidate because they did know where to start from. For example you have aspirants who would sit on television and discuss things with exactitude and people will know them and appreciate their brilliance, but they don’t know their ward chairman.
With the current wave of defection from the PDP, your party still has work to do to put its house in order, what are you doing to assure those still committed to the party that you will have a hitch-free platform for them in 2019?
The case is before the Supreme Court and we are hoping that accelerated hearing would be granted so that we can dispense of the matter very quickly. But however, in the interim we are having stakeholders meetings, we are having caucus meetings and that is why we are asking our people down the line to be able to integrate, let’s keep hope alive. The nominations of the party have been progressively better than the past, so nominations will be transparent and those deserving will obviously have tickets. So we have given them hope that all hope is not lost, we must continue to keep faith. You see that we have a government that is performing, that’s the greatest hope. And recently, Leadership newspaper owned by an APC bigwig, in fact their former presidential aspirant, recognised the governor as the best performing governor in Nigeria.
So that’s the hope we have that we have a product that is marketable, a product that is doing what Akwa Ibom really needed to do. Look at the Eket-Ibeno road. I’m not sure people would have thought that road would be constructed in this life, but go and look at it, it’s excellent. Go and see the road leading to the rice farm in Ini Local government area, you won’t believe it was a thick forest, and government cut through it, and the people are excited. Go to Ibiono and see. The Paramount Ruler of Ibiono used to come out to the council secretariat to receive the governor because no one could go there, but today I’m sure the man can close his eyes and drive to his palace. You see the mind of man is ephemeral so he forgets a lot, we will keep reminding the people of the great things this party has done for them.