Though still a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Omuma Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr. Felix Ekpendu has vowed to rally his political followers, associates and residents in the state to galvanize support to ensure Senator Magnus Abe, the gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party SDP, emerges governor in the forthcoming 2023 gubernatorial election in the state. Kpiritim, as he is popularly called, spoke with EDITH CHUKU in this exclusive interview. He explained why he thinks APC cannot win governorship election in Rivers State.
Have you defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC?
But you are busy galvanizing support to frustrate your party in the state and the governorship candidate, Tonye Cole.
If you are following the political terrain of Rivers State, by now you should know who is up. In Rivers State, the three aspirants that anybody can think of, the only person that is contesting election in Rivers State that everybody know that is capable of winning is Senator Magnus Abe, forget about the political party. That is why APC cannot win election as long as guber election is concerned. If APC had allowed Abe without the selfish ambition of Amaechi’s third term agenda, at least nobody would have argued it, APC would win election without much stress, just like in the national level, whether you like it or not, Tinubu is unbeatable, anybody that picked Tinubu, that person should be shaked with two hands.
In Rivers State here, you look at the political party he just joined, it’s not up to a month Abe joined, these three weeks he joined SDP, everywhere in Rivers State has turned to SDP, including a faction of PDP is working for him, are you not aware? They have all left, some of the assembly members that were robbed, they have joined SDP because of his ambition. Go to rural areas now, are you seeing Tonye Cole as someone who is serious to win election? Who knows him in Rivers State? When they want to talk about politics you are talking about Amaechi. Is Amaechi running election? When they want to talk about politics in PDP they are talking about Wike. Is Wike running election? Who is the other guy they are calling Sim Fubara? Does anybody know him? The political power brokers in Rivers State don’t know him, and what we are going to do in 2023 in Rivers State is that in politics it’s about candidate, that’s the truth. How many people are you close to? How popular are you? How many people have you touched their lives as a person who wants to contest not godfather, we are not going to do politics of godfather here again. That time is over, political godfather is over. So, you can see, people that left APC joined Abe in SDP, some joined Wike in PDP because of money they are collecting from state government. But when the chips are down, they know where to vote, I can tell you because I have opportunity of being close and being among those organizing Senator Magnus Abe programme.
Is this not what you call anti-party politics? You are of the APC till date, yet campaigning and supporting the SDP governorship candidate against your party’s decision?
You just said a very wonderful thing I love. When this discussion started, you asked if actually I’m a member of SDP now, even as I am supporting Tinubu. Let me ask you, is there anything called anti-party in Nigeria again? Can anyone prove it? Have you not been seeing what Wike, what is happening in Rivers State? Everybody coming to lobby Wike, has Wike left PDP? He has told you that it is all about candidate, and at the appropriate time they will tell Nigerians where they will vote. So, are there no more members of PDP? Politics is interest, we are wiser now, all those threats of anti-party is no more. So if you say I am doing anti-party, well, the APC should suspend me na, when we finish our assignment, we remain where we are, because we want to teach some of these leaders that they can’t eat their cake and have it. Amaechi was minister for eight years, after we laboured with him, most of our friends lost their lives, but God saved us, we survived it and we could not be empowered, nothing was given to any one of us, he went and made money to give Hausa people, did he pass, no, he lost. So you are coming to bring a candidate that we should support, no, we don’t need a stranger, we need a man that we already know, so, that is how it will play.
Is that to say you supported Bola Ahmed Tinubu against your brother, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi in the APC presidential primary?
That is what I am saying. I don’t believe in brother when it comes to politics. I’m not ethnic maggot, I play genuine and transparent politics, I play politics of capacity, politics of wisdom, politics of those that know the right thing to be done and how to do it. I supported a Muslim. As a Christian, I supported a Yoruba man as president, that is me. Tinubu is my candidate, from the day we were trying to put it together, the organization I belong, to call him to declare before he accepted to declare. It’s because among all the candidates, he is better, you can see it in Lagos, you don’t need anybody to tell you.
Are you happy that Amaechi lost the presidential primary?
Yes. I am happy, I am happy, now ask me why am I happy. I am happy because Tinubu is better than him. Check those around Tinubu, they are all empowered, Ameachi, the people he empowered are those that tomorrow they are hungry, is that empowerment? When you give somebody commissioner, is it empowerment? It’s a constitutional matter that every local government must produce a commissioner. So let us know those that were empowered, those things that he put on ground. I will tell you those that Tinubu empowered physically and where they are today. You don’t want anybody to be bigger than you from Rivers State, but you want to be a president, no.
How far are you willing to go for Sen. Magnus Abe.
We are going to do anything humanly possible, humanly, not God, God is already doing his own to make sure Sen. Magnus Abe emerge. In fact, in the state, the power brokers, no matter the party they belong to, have resolved to make sure that Sen. Magnus Abe wins.
Chris Finebone, Adawari George, Ibim Semenitari, Ogbonna Nwuke, and many others have left the APC, does this not bother you?
Well, just like what I was saying before, you were talking about Emeka Beke saying Tonye Cole will win, I don’t know how he is going to do the magic of Tonye Cole emerging. In fact, if Tonye Cole gets third position in this election I should be happy with him, I will congratulate him personally, because it is not about making mouth in the media, because they have access to the media anybody can say what they want to say, we are in the grassroots, we know the grassroots very, very well. We know where to enter both in the town and villages, and not a man that tomorrow you go with escort to communities. If I am driving my car, I drive my car to rural areas, and see the wrong people and the right people, both bad and good I meet them on the road, so I should be able to tell people, I am in the position to tell people what is on ground, not a man that goes home, his own community here in Elibarada with police escort, and you come and tell me that people will tell you what is in their mind. No, you have been in government for some time you have not favoured them for anything. Has he ever won Eliparada before ahead of the Chief of staff of Government House? Go and check his result sheet, then some of us will produce our own result sheet where we come from. So, Emeka Beke has never won Elibarada before. Go and check the record since Wike left Amaechi. So, the chief of staff of government house in PDP used to win him. I am not against him, as a party chairman what do you expect him to do, he has to defend his party he is chairing, because he is chairing APC. But let him chair them well because this same thing that is happening is what made our leader, Amaechi never change his mind to resolve with Magnus Abe so that we can catch this state since, they used to tell him they can do it minus anybody. Today, Chris Finebone you’ve mentioned, the same person was always a party to that clique that say we can do it minus Magnus and anybody. As Magnus left now, is APC remaining in Rivers State? If you are following up, you will understand what I am saying, even those that remained and answered APC that go to their party secretariat or that follow Tonye Cole, 50 per cent of them, I don’t want to mention names that are not even with him, they can’t vote him, they will vote Abe. Do you think Abe is a stupid man to go and take SDP ticket? He has finished his survey, we have done a good job, we know the survey we did, still doing.
As it stands now…
(Cuts in) As it stands now if they conduct election today Abe will win.
(Cuts in) Win SIM of PDP, Tonye Cole of APC, Dawari George of AA…
(Cuts in) okay, let me tell you something, there is no argument. Apart from Opobo, every other local government in Abe’s Federal constituency, six left will be won by Abe, 90 per cent. In Obio/Akpor, it’s no man’s land, we are going to have what we call dry vote because we are using technology, it’s no more like before where a governor will use money to manipulate, in last election. How many votes came out here with dry vote? That’s the question you should ask. In this Obio/Akpor, was it up to 300,000 votes that came out? That is why Abe concentrates in Obio/Akpor and PHALGA.
Obio/Akpor, LGA of a sitting government?
Can I tell you, the LGA of a sitting governor, Amaechi was won by Wike in 2015, the records are there. Are you not aware? The same thing repeated in 2019, it was won by Wike in 2019. The time of governor is from here has gone.
As we prepare for 2023, what should Rivers people expect?
Well, I think you just asked a beautiful question which is supposed to be the focus point of what we are going into. In 2023, what we need in Rivers State, that is why when they talk about Tonye Cole, I say abeg, please make una help me tell the man I don’t know what he is talking about, when they talk about SIM I say hold on, we need a man that knows Rivers State, as you saw, Tonye Cole last time was mentioning Isiokpo as a local government instead of Ikwerre Local Government, he said it’s Isiokpo Local Government, he visited Isiokpo Local Government. Is it the kind of governor we need? The other governor don’t even know any local government aside Obio/Akpor, even Opobo. I don’t think he knows Opobo his local government very well. The one that is contesting in PDP, they are not good market because what we are expecting in Rivers State is a man that knows every tribe and know the name they answer and know their problem, a man who understands the political terrain of Rivers State, who is old in this system, that has paid the price.
Will you say same regarding the current governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike?
The governor, Wike may be saying that he is trying to, that he is going to campaign with his achievements, which achievements, Cross over? And people are hungry, I have been in Akwa Ibom for some time now, I know what is happening, Akwa Ibom is economically vibrate than Rivers State now, Bayelsa here the same. They are more politically vibrant than Rivers State. When you talk about vibrant, I mean when it comes to what they want in terms of who leads them, now, that is why you see them, like the man they brought in PDP, he is a business man. Are you aware that economically, Akwa Ibom is more vibrant than Rivers State, check, Bayelsa here is more economically vibrant than Rivers State, because as at last time I checked, five they brought, Bayelsa was there, Akwa Ibom was there, Rivers State was not there, Lagos was first, these are the things we are looking at, Rivers State has to go back to when it was competing with Lagos, today Lagos, tomorrow Rivers State, Kano, these were three States that were competing before, so, how did it get bad. Tonye Cole may claim to be a businessman, but business is different from politics. Since you don’t know the problem of Rivers State, how can you come as a foreigner and say you want to solve their problem, a foreigner can’t solve our problem, it’s those in this terrain that knows our problem, where there is insecurity, Abe knows, where we need to invest in agriculture.