Efa Esua, a member representing Calabar Municipality in the Cross River state House of Assembly, in this interview with our correspondent in Calabar, David Odey, says PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would defeat incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari. He also spoke about the governorship race in the state, automatic ticket and other issues.
You have just come out of party primaries. How did it go?
It was tension soaked. But in all we give God the glory. It went well.
But we learnt that your party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gave House of Assembly members automatic tickets?
I don't think that statement is correct. If the party had given every member automatic ticket all of us would have got the ticket. From the feelers we are getting, not all our members got tickets to return in 2019.
Those who are not coming back vied for other offices. For instance, the Speaker, John Gaul Lebo has got the ticket to contest for the House of Reps in the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency and few others whose tickets were zoned elsewhere. Who else is not returning?
All what you have said confirms that there was no automatic ticket for any member. Maybe by way of zoning, which is constitutional in PDP, it may not have favoured some people. Even those that zoning favours, there were other considerations.
There was an event where John Gaul Lebo said you will replace him as speaker. Can you recall what he said?
I think he said deputy speaker. He didn't say speaker. As you know, governorship is in the north and rightly so. And that is what I support. That shows that the speaker can't come from the south because the deputy governor is from the south. So the speaker should be domiciled in the central senatorial district. Deputy speaker can come to the south.
Are you likely to clinch that position in 2019 if you win?
Well, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. What is before us is election. We were not elected to come and be speaker or deputy speaker. We were elected to represent our constituencies. It is after that then the politics of who becomes what will then play out.
Still on the issue of automatic ticket, some aggrieved members of your party are threatening to defect to APC and other parties. What is your opinion about it?
Well, it depends on what you call automatic. I had said earlier that there was nothing like automatic ticket. There are incumbents. You know the legislature is not tenured like the executive that must go for eight years and no more. In the legislature there is no term limit; like the case of Ekweremadu who is going for the fifth term. Legislature is not subject to limitations. As long as your people believe in you, you can still continue to do it. That is how it works.
How about the Ayade 2019 project which your group supports?
Ayade Believe is my group. We are still kicking. We are still very strong, even though we have to affiliate with the Team Ayade, a wider and broader umbrella support organization which I am also a member, and by the grace of God coordinating Calabar Municipality. So we are combining the two because the subject is the same. We want to ensure that he returns as governor and we are working very assiduously to achieving that.
Considering the formidable opponents such as Senator Owan Enoh of APC the governor is going to face, what are his chances?
You know in Cross River state, we are peace loving people. We have taken time to zone the governorship of Cross River state. The south which I come from did two terms. Central did two terms. It is the turn of the north. Anybody that wishes to become the governor of Cross River state from the south, does not wish the south well, given the fact that soon after the completion of the turn of the north, governorship must come to the south. That is our permutation.
But there is no zoning in APC. Why should he be affected by your party's zoning arrangement?
If APC does not have zoning it is quite unfortunate. If they don't have zoning why did they domicile their presidential candidate in the north? Why didn't they give it to the south? That shows that they also respect zoning. Don't forget that in the advent of this fourth republic, it was the south that first got it through Olusegun Obasanjo after which the thing went to the north when Yar'Adua unfortunately because of death, left power and Goodluck Jonathan had to go in. So, it is the turn of the north to complete their eight years. So, APC recognizes zoning for the presidency, why can't they accept zoning in Cross River state? And this same APC, who are they? 95 percent of people in APC are PDP members, those that feel aggrieved one way or the other.
How do you view Atiku's emergence as the presidential standard bearer of PDP?
It is a wonderful thing that has happened to this country.
Do you see him defeating Buhari?
He is going to defeat Buhari. Can you compare Atiku with Buhari? Is it in education? Buhari is still searching for his certificate. Atiku has his. Atiku has several businesses booming. I don't think there is any basis for comparison. Atiku is the best thing to happen to Nigeria