He was one of the movers and shakers in the PDP when the party was formed in Akwa Ibom. But he has since jumped ship and has found himself in the APC. As a major stakeholder in the state, Enefiok Ekefre believes all is not well with Akwa Ibom, especially in the area of the fulfillment of election promises by the current governor. He told TNN that since the constitution allows the electorate to eject a leader that has not performed well, the APC was in a better place to take over. The interview was processed by EDITH CHUKU.
Let's take it from the point of view of your decision to move from the party you are part of at the formation stage
So what happened?
Well, I keep telling people that it's not a new thing. Politics is all about being fair, it's about sharing of facilities, who is taking what and what. Even in religion, you have the right to move from one church to another. It's all about interest. To me, the interest of the people is number one.
Politicians keep saying “the people” whereas it's actually their interest they are pursuing, how do you reconcile this?
If that is the perception of some people, well, they are entitled to their own opinion. I tell you, we don't have political class, we don't have because we are operating an ad hoc arrangement. Some days ago, the national chairman of the opposition party, PDP, openly admitted that the party made a mistake in the past, they did a lot of nonsense and actually apologized and also Ibrahim Mantu, former deputy senate president also come up with the decision that he was part and parcel of the criminal rigging machine of the party and all that; even the late president of Nigeria, Umaru Yar'Adua, when he was elected, he also admitted, that the process that took him up was not credible. So these are some of the political developments. If you read some of the history of some of American presidents, George Washington, you will see that two or three presidents, a similar thing happened. The man opened up to American people and said I was not the best man for this job, but the people say oh! This man is a good person, let us surrender to him because he's honest. So, politics is about honest leadership and it's dynamic, it's not a one day business. Some years back, if you told my dad that a black man will be president of the United States, he will tell you no; but somebody made it possible.
I know that you were in the PDP before now; can you also admit that as a chieftain of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State, that you were at some point part of the rigging machine of the PDP?
I wouldn't say that because this one is a self confession. Mantu made a self confession; there is no compelling reason for me to either say one thing or the other. Let me also collaborate what Mantu has been saying; a situation where the police, you have a police that are sent to go and enforce the electoral process and you came and you have envelope for police during election and all that, what does that entail? That means that you are buying the police in favour of working for you, that is exactly what Mantu is saying, that the security agencies are not willing to enforce the law, the ad hoc INEC official; that is why somehow to me, am not in sympathy sometimes with the ad hoc staff, like civil servants who are presiding officers and all that. So when the government comes into power and they complain, I tell them shut up because sometimes they take some money and undermine the electoral process. For example, if you alter election result after collecting about N10,000, that is N2,500 per annum and since human nature is operating on the logic of the fish, you have to sacrifice the small fish to get the big one. When somebody realizes, even your wife, when they realize you are a fool, they use you, that is what is happening, instead of the presiding officer doing the right thing and they compromise for peanuts, so who is to blame? When they install a government that is not amendable to collective interest of the people, they start complaining. I tell them shut up, that's my position.
Are you very excited about the development initiative of the current government?
I am not part of the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel, I am not part of the administrative arrangement of the government because for one, it's almost half time. Normally in politics, every four years, you go back to either renew your mandate or the people reject your mandate and the choice is left for Akwa Ibom to make because every community has a kind of leadership that they want.
But for you as a citizen, as a stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom project, what do you think of the government, three years down the line?
Well, I can authoritatively say Udom in a way is all about time and is not a grassroots person, he came in from another sector which I am not conversant with and it's either he is running Akwa Ibom like a bank and you know the other class are not important to him. For example am told workers are not paid, but workers are going to work and they forget about the right to protest as ingredient of democracy. I cannot see wrong and keep quiet and watch them but I pray because this situation cannot be permanent, because the true side of it, because the constitution of the country has a time frame, whether the government is good or bad definitely it will end one day.
So can you say in the last three years Udom has not fulfilled his election promises?
When the government came into power, they talked about car assembly plant, I don't know if the plant is still running in the state, talking about car assembly plant and many, many other things, you know that car assembly plant they said he will build armoured car, he will build this and that, I don't think industrialization is in the place.
I am a business man, I have elementary knowledge about industrial establishment, you don't buy industrial equipment in the shop. It's like buying aeroplane, you have to ask them, look, I want an aeroplane; this is exactly what I want. You pay deposit for it and they start fabricating it for you after presenting your prototype but here in Akwa Ibom they will tell you look we are coming to do so, so, and so thing, I then now ask them a question, how long will it take for you to come in with the equipment?
What do you say about the specialist hospital in Akwa Ibom that is not functioning, what do you say about the five star hotel in Ikot Ekpene that is not functioning, Tropicana also, what do you think about these projects?
Well, in that aspect, I won't say Udom has failed or not because for example, some called for a powerful private sector or government. You go to Ikot Ekpene and say I want to build 4-Point by Sheraton. What is the economic benefit of Ikot Ekpene that supports that life style? There was no prospect, it was purely political. The thing is that Tropicana, five star hotel, and all that, it's unfortunate that here in this part of the world, every governor, anyone that comes is playing politics with people's life on project. As far as I am concerned, that project has failed.
And the hospital?
I won't blame Udom 100 per cent. It's because they are playing politics with everything. When the present government took over they said they will do so and so and everybody will and everybody clapped and women here danced around but today they are complaining, the place was not completed. Don't you think that is abuse of trust and violation of social contract by the people in power? That is why sometimes, people say you are part of this why do you say this because my people did not send me to go and join the people that will squander the future of my Akwa Ibom.
You are in the APC
And APC is battling to make sure they take over power from the PDP in the state; what new thing do you think the APC will bring to the table, considering the fact that at the federal level, the APC has failed?
Well, failure to me is a perception. For example, there is no criminal that will be friendly with the police. If a government said look, I want to build a police station in every hamlet, in every villages so that there will be no criminal, no criminal will like that kind of a government. What is happening is exactly that, because some people, I want to tell you, and you are aware of it, Nigeria in the past years, we were living on a rented life-style and you see some people, they have money, they build houses, they don't have a fall-back, they don't have investment, any business idea, but they are everywhere building houses here and there, so this man came and said who are you? It's like going to somebody's compound and the owner of the compound asks you please, can I know who are you? Not because you don't have a name, he wants to know who you are, because you must have a pedigree. The problem why the present federal government is not popular, it is committing a class suicide, everybody feels that a retired general is supposed to join the caucus and conspire with the civilian criminal partner that has been ruling this country over the years, say look give me my own let's go and the man says no, it cannot be like that, so that is the thing with Udom ideology and not everybody will like it. That is exactly the problem with Buhari; a situation some people are powerful than the state, instead of building institutions, they are building individuals. Is that how to grow a country?
So what new thing is the APC coming with for Akwa Ibom people?
Well, it depends on who will be in-charge of the leadership. You know leadership is all about the style and the personality involved. For example since this government came into power uptil today, we don't know what he said in the handing over note, and nobody tells us exactly how much is coming into each of the local governments; so the APC government, you know when you come into the system and you see lapses you want to study. I think that APC government is working on the formula that they will share to the masses that will bring a lot of changes from the way we are doing things.
But your house is seriously divided; you have a group that is loyal to Udoedehe, you have a group that is loyal to Nsima Ekere and all of that. So with this disunity, how will you take over power?
(cuts in) For record purpose, I didn't want to, I would have kept quiet. I don't want to respond to that kind of allegation because that is an allegation. In this country, we have only one APC. In politics, the people like to do anything but it's part of the beauty of democracy but otherwise no faction, you are a member of a party, some policies might not go down with a lot of people, but that's the beauty of it. What is the essence of politics and power, it's all about crisis management, and what separate boys from men. So the party is on-top of it.
Ekere is about the loudest aspirant for the governorship position
And I know you have an affiliation with him; there are allegations that he is not running the NDDC transparently.
Well, Nsima Ekere, one, he's my friend, I know him long time before he became a deputy governor of this state. I knew him in Port Harcourt many years back and constitutionally, the constitution made provision on when a public servant should resign, and he is very stable, so far now our party has not called for nominations. What people are saying are just speculation, Nsima has not formally told anybody am contesting. When Nsima buys the form then we start talking, that is one. Secondly, you are talking about Nsima not running the NDDC well, they have consultants, they have organizations that supervise them like ministry of Niger Delta, and the president is there, security agencies, and the board so Nsima is not running the NDDC as a one man ship. somebody like Victor Ndoma-Egba, a reputable senior advocate of Nigeria, a former senator from Cross Rivers state is in the board serving till date for policy formation. The duty of Nsima is to implement the policy of the board. So the only person that can sack Nsima is not sitting in the beer parlour talking about how Nsima will be sacked and all that. The first question you should ask is, are they the ones that appointed him, it is in the position of the president to sack or to commission anybody, so if Nsima is sacked, well, I don't think, it's not in the picture today because the president has not said that. So any other person that talks about Nsima not running the place well and all that, I don't know where they derive the power, because so far, the NDDC is moving well.