In this interview with CHIEMEKA ADINDU, Etim John who claimed to be chairman of the APC in Cross Rive State speaks on the state of affairs in the party after the emergence of a new chairman for the party.
As a major stakeholder of the party in the state, how do you see the emergence of Senator Matthew Mbu Jnr. as the new chairman of the APC in Cross River state?
It is a welcome development. I see it as God’s own orchestrated plan, God’s divine arrangement because we cannot continue to be too long at war. I am one person who believes in the development of any society and more so, as a politician; politics is about negotiations. Politics is all about going to the election and winning, not just about being a politician for just the word, politician. An honest politician will always want to defend his political party no matter what it costs him in the end and must make sacrifices here and there.
So having won the congresses and it has been a back and forward arrangement of argument, disagreement and so on. A large house is bound to have disagreements but when the disagreement is going to bring down the whole family, one is bound to make sacrifices. If the situation is that I should step aside, I should give up for the house to be strong, why not? So with the emergence of Senator Matthew Mbu, we all know that Matthew Mbu was a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So he is a humane person. He is intelligent. He has seen the ups, the downs, the depth and height. So for me, it is a very welcome development for the party. I pray to the Almighty God to give him the wisdom, the understanding and knowledge to run the party in the fear of God so that he will not allow the party to crumble in his hands. And for me, as a stakeholder of the party, I have decided to give him my support with all my strength and vigour to ensure that he succeeds in the office to drive APC our great party to victory especially in the immediate upcoming elections of the Northern Senatorial zone and the State House of Assembly in the North. That is my position.
Was it wise for the National Working Committee of the party to have waited this long before stepping to resolve the matter?
Well, as I’ve said, I want to tell you something about politics. A lot of people go into politics and when they do not have what they want; they feel bad because they don’t even know what politics is all about. If you go to the students companion, go and read, it you will see one of the clauses there in student companion. It says, “as costly as elections,” that means there is nothing in this world that is as expensive as politics or elections. So whatever resources you spend, whether in court or anywhere just because of politics or because of elections, if you are not prepared to go into it, you better don’t even start because when you start you will spend and is something that when it’s spent, it is gone and gone. You can’t even ask for it. (laughs).
Are you saying there is no compensation?
Who will compensate you? If there is compensation it is the party that will decide to do anything for you and if they don’t, you go your way, but continue with the party because another is there . That is why we as politicians, as I said, I support the National Caretaker Committee in every decision they take. Hundred percent, holistically and I remain a bonafide member of the APC, a dogged APC person, an APC man who will go with APC to any extent and drive APC to victory. That is the allegiance I owe to my party, even though that thing is shifted. But for the sake of peace, I still stand by that allegiance because if I was the one who was agreed to continue, definitely somebody must support me. So why don’t I accept whatever that has been done and then thank God for the wisdom of the National Caretaker Committee to bring peace through this avenue.
How prepared is the party in the upcoming bye elections in Cross River North?
I can assure you that APC will win the elections. The reason is very simple. It is not that we were not prepared for any elections; the truth is that when it comes like that because we are divided and fighting ourselves with court cases here and there, the PDP just went there and picked it. But with our agreement today, all of us the stakeholders of APC, the timber and caliber who make the face of APC in Cross River state were in a meeting. Yes, there were hot arguments. In fact, to the extent that we nearly fought ourselves but, you know that’s politics for you and we calmed down and we all said, this person here is acceptable to us. Led by our Honourable Minister of State Power, Prince Goddy Jedy Agba (OFR) who is our leader; he is a gentle man to the core and he is a very neutral person. He came up and said gentlemen, what do we do? Let us go ahead with a neutral person and let’s move on; we need peace and we need to win. In fact, some members who were very angry; he went round trying to pacify them. So for me, having agreed, there is nobody there who did not agree. So anybody who is waking up to go anywhere saying he does not agree, we will remove him from the party because he is not a party man.
So we all agreed that Senator Matthew Mbu should go on and we also addressed the press that he should take over. For us to agree, it means a united house now. so everyone of us will work to ensure that we bring out a credible candidate that will represent us and of course, by the grace of God, we will ensure that we help our brothers in the north to come out to win and by the grace of God, we will win.
Some aggrieved members of the party under the aegis of APC Councillorship Candidates Forum destroyed properties of the party in the state recently for being neglected. Was the issue also resolved?
Let me tell you something, those who claim they were councillors, I don’t know them to be councillors. While I was the chairman, who led the party to elections, there were those who bought forms from me, they were screened and they went to Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) and they got everything and they contested the elections. So none of those councillors went to destroy properties and if you check, they went to where their factions are. They bought their forms and everything and their names did not appear in CROSIEC list, those are the ones that went to destroy their properties because the other group could not see themselves through to the election so that is why they were angry that they spent their money, bought their forms but they were not allowed to contest. So those are the ones, for me I don’t recognize them as councillors.
A councillorship candidate is one who buys his form, recognized by CROSIEC, goes for primaries and then wins the primaries and becomes the candidate; that is when you call yourself a councillorship candidate. But if you are an aspirant and you come out to say you are a candidate, were you recognized by CROSIEC? The answer is no. so if you did not go for primaries, then you are not a councillorship candidate. So they are only claiming that they are councillorship candidates. They are not.
There are two APC Secretariats in the state (cuts in)
It is the new chairman; whichever secretariat the new chairman decides, he will use that one. Two, he may even decide to go for a new secretariat. That becomes his option. That becomes his own responsibility.