Kiaka Goodnews Eegbara Gilbert was a councillorship aspirant for ward 18 in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State under the PDP. Barely five days to the election which was held Thursday, February 11, 2021, he backed out of the election. In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, he explained why he backed out of the contest, and also promised to support whoever wins the councillorship election.
You were an aspirant for the PDP councillorship primary elections. How come you suddenly backed out just few days before the election?
Yes, precisely five days to the councillorship election in the state, five days to the election I backed out.
Were you scared, did you foresee defeat, or you were threatened?
No o o! scared? (laughs) not at all, none, it has nothing to do with all you mentioned.
So, why did you back out?
It was for the better. I received a call from NYSC headquarters, Abuja that I’ve been nominated for the presidential honours award. The election was scheduled for 11 February and I was also requested to report on 11 February too in Abuja for the award ceremony. And of course it has been my long awaited dream, and when it came I couldn’t turn it down, because I knew the honour attached to receiving an award from the president.
Was it easy to take the decision you took to sacrifice the councillorship aspiration for the National Award?
I must confess, it wasn’t an easy decision at all, knowing that I was called upon by my people to contest that position. Again, you know, election in Nigeria is capital intensive and time consuming.
Were there fears that you were not going to win in that election if you had not backed out?
We were quite optimistic that we’ll win the election. The immense support I received from my people was immeasurable.
How did your supporters, sponsors react when you told them you were backing out?
Most of my people understood what it meant to win a national honour, so they advised me to go ahead to receive the award. But some were quite disappointed. But I know that with time they I’ll understand that I took the best decision.
If you’re given another opportunity will you still join the councillorship race?
That depends! Joining politics again simply means resigning from my civil service work which I have been offered by the president. Therefore, if another opportunity is given for that same position I’ll gladly turn it down with reasons and support a credible candidate.
What specific project did you embark on that made you a national awardee? And how were you able to achieve the project?
I built a modern ICT center, equipped it with 10 desktop computers, a printer, 10 UPS, Wi-Fi connection, trained over 200 students from 5 villages (Peremabiri, Egbematuro, Ikoromagbini, Iyorogbini and Diebu).
When I conceived of the idea, I wrote to NYSC Yenagoa for approval, after approval I began to draft my Proposal and send them to the community leaders. When I shared my idea with Snr Comr. Paul Eris aka General Ogunbos, and Marcus Princhard, the CDC Chairman, they immediately keyed into the idea and promised to finance it, to my greatest surprise, they began to dole out money to the tune of roughly N4,000,000. It was quite difficult to execute the project. To keep it short, it was just pure grace of God that made it possible.
Don’t you think it was a selfish decision knowing that the councillorship position would have given you the platform to serve humanity and impact lives?
But you can agree with me that self-development is the first and essential step towards developing others. The decision was the best for all of us. Councillorship position is just for 3 years and you go back home. But with a permanent job and scholarship to study up to PhD level, that’s a possibility of growing up to a directorate level in civil service. I called this the sure platform to serve humanity and impact more lives.
Any intention to support the candidate of your party, who was your then opponent, or you will mind your business?
Why not, I’ll support the best amongst them. We were about 4 in that contest and I have already thrown my support for the most credible.