Acting vice chairman, central zone, of the All Progressives Congress in Cross River state, Vodina Enya, fielded questions from DAVID ODEY, our correspondent in Calabar, on a number of issues regarding the quest by Usani Usani, minister for Niger Delta, for the governorship seat, the chances of the APC candidate, Senator John Owan Enoh against the incumbent governor, Prof Ben Ayade, the battle between the NDDC chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba and the PDP candidate, Dr Sandy Onor. He also spoke on Senator Florence Ita Giwa's return to the PDP and many more.
There was mass defection of APC members to PDP in the central senatorial zone recently. What is your view about it?
Actually what happened in Bahumono axis were people who defected from PDP to APC.
But there was also mass defection from APC to PDP?
I am not aware of that.
How about the defection of Senator Ita Giwa, Ambassador Sony Abang and Ernest Irek to PDP?
It is politics. You know we have just finished our primaries and a lot of people are disenchanted. They are not happy about one thing or the other. What I think a good politician should be doing is to see how issues can be resolved amicably. Defection, as far as I am concerned, is not the best. Senator Ita Giwa left APC for PDP for a mission. And when that mission was not accomplished, she left again for PDP for reasons best known to her. She came into APC and wanted to be the deputy governor. You don't come in and decide for the people. It is the party that should decide who should take one office or the other. Their defection will not affect APC in any way. As far as I am concerned, APC is going to take over Cross River state in 2019. As they are defecting to PDP, more people are coming back to APC on daily basis.
You think the defection will not undermine APC during the election?
The defection of Ita Giwa is not a threat. Go back to her antecedents. Most of them are not on ground. They just trooped out because they want to play to the gallery. They will go ahead to announce that they defected with 5,000, with 10,000 whereas they don't have such supporters.
What do you make of Usani Usani's unrelenting quest for the governorship seat, as he has gone ahead to even name a running mate?
As far as I am concerned, Usani Usani is a member of APC. At the right time we will work together. Where you are having this interview is the APC headquarters, Barracks road in Calabar, Cross River state. When there was sale of intent and nomination forms for the party primaries, all APC aspirants came here to purchase the forms. They filled the forms, submitted them and came here for screening. I am talking about the APC led by (The late)Dr Mathew Achigbe, the authentic chairman of APC in Cross River state. There were five contenders for the APC governorship ticket. They traversed the
length and breadth of Cross River state seeking support for their governorship pursuit. I never saw Usani one day moving around the local government areas to seek support for his governorship ambition. I don't believe he was serious about becoming the governor of this state. I never saw Usani moving around the state saying he wants to contest election. What is his support base? Who are the people he is moving around with as National Assembly or state house of assembly candidates? They are not there. At the local government, the chapter chairmen are not there for him. He wants to run a one-man show. Politics is a game of numbers. The more they come to you the better for you. Even if he wants to run a one-man show, I don't know what is on his mind. But I still believe that he is one of us. At the end we are going to work together to ensure that APC wins the state in 2019.
What are the chances of Owan Enoh against an incumbent governor who has a heavy war chest to prosecute his return bid?
As a matter of fact, we are fighting against the incumbent, Governor Ben Ayade. Senator Owan Enoh has what it takes to give Governor Ayade a run for his money. Let me assure you that come 2019, we are going to take over Cross River state. Look at this Cross River state. I am a Cross Riverian. Look at the state, if you are a Cross Riverian. This is not how Ayade met the state. There is a complete breakdown of infrastructure. There is total decay. Let us not go
far. We are in Calabar. Look at the state library, the stadium; they were the pride of this state. Go to Tinapa, go to Marina Resort. Everything about the state is dead. The roads are impassable. If they are patching one small pothole, they say Ayade is working. As a governor, that is your responsibility. If I may ask, since Ayade came to power, have you seen one kilometre of road he has constructed? Roads in his northern senatorial zone are so bad that the people there call the dust from the roads as 'Ayade Powder'. Have you seen one block of hospital he constructed? The salary he pays is selective payment. He pays one group and leaves out the others. As far as I am concerned, Owan Enoh is one of the most organised politicians in the state. Ayade is not organised. APC is taking over this state come 2019. Place it on record that on May 29, 2019 or if they are going to shift it to June 12, Owan Enoh is going to be sworn in as the new governor of Cross River state.
People say it is going to be a big fight between Ndoma Egba and Sandy Onor for the central senatorial seat. Do you agree with that assertion?
Ndoma Egba is a system stabilizer. It is just the level of enlightenment in Nigeria, if not, people like Ndoma Egba should not be knocking on the doors of the electorate before they vote for him. Ordinarily, Ndoma Egba should be a household name everybody should embrace. When President Jonathan was acting when Yar'Adua was ill and he later died, constitutional crisis was brewing and the doctrine of necessity was made possible by the likes of Ndoma Egba who was in the senate then. If we have this set of senators we had today, Nigeria would have slipped into a mess in 2010. But because we had people like Ndoma Egba who were level-headed, who knew their onions, the system was stabilized. The coming election in the central senatorial district is already a walk-over for Senator Victor Ndoma Egba. Nigeria has reached a level where experience matters. The 8th Assembly we have today under the leadership of Bukola Saraki is an apology to Nigeria. We need people who are level-headed. We need people who are experienced. We need people who are tested and have capacity to ensure that our President, Muhammadu Buhari returns as President so that the system will continue to be stabilized. People from the central who want the peace of this nation and who want the country to be stabilized will vote for Ndoma Egba. He is going to win the election convincingly. One thing about Senator Victor Ndoma Egba is that he doesn't like much publicity. If a politician is buying a phone for you, he would want the whole world to hear. That is not the nature of Ndoma Egba. He will do something for you worth millions and billions but he won't want it to be publicised. Let him begin to blow his trumpet so that people will know about what he is doing. He has made people that are making other people.
What about Alex Egbona versus the outgoing Speaker, John Gaul Lebo for the Abi/Yakurr federal constituency seat?
It is a walk over. John Gaul is an opportunist. He is not on ground. I know what I am talking about. I am from Abi. Apart from that, I am from Cross River central. That is my immediate constituency. He is not on ground. He is not even popular. Alex Egbona is a household name. Go to Abi , Alex Egbona is a household name. Go to Yakurr, Alex Egbona is a household name. Alex Egbona is one of the greatest political tacticians we have in Cross River state. And so when somebody like John Gaul wants to run against him, I pity him. If I have an opportunity to meet John Gaul, I will advise him to keep his money. If I have to advise him, I will tell him to go back to the House of Assembly. To contest against 'a man of timber and caterpillar' like Alex Egbona, well, it is a herculean task for him. He does not have what it takes to shift Alex Egbona from where he is standing. Alex Egbona is a household name in Abi and Yakurr.