In this interview with CHIEMEKA ADINDU, the member representing Calabar Municipality and chairman, house committee on judiciary, Ntufam Efa Esua says the governor has been intimidating his political appointees with sack threats if they did not dump the PDP. He also believes there’s going to be a balance at the state house of assembly as wrongs will no longer be condoned. He confirmed his loyalty to the PDP.
What’s your position on the defection of the governor from your party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC?
The position, of course you know, the governor has defected. And he has made it in a very undemocratic way by forcing all the political appointees to go and get APC card otherwise they will be sacked. For me, that’s an intimidation, that is what is playing out. And then other commissioners and all of that. But I don’t have a problem with that, he’s the one that appointed all of them; like the LG chairmen, they were not consulting anybody so there was no form of election, campaign and all of that. And of course you know then, APC boycotted the election. So he has defected, but I’m still a member of the PDP because it’s even illegal; the constitution made it very clearly that if you decamp from the party you contested and won election, you ought to have relinquish your position. So I’m still a member of the PDP, not only me, some reasonable members of the legislature are still members of the party.
With the look of things, majority of the state lawmakers are in solidarity with him. What do you think of the political tension at the state house of assembly since you are now of the minority?
There will be nothing like tension. In any parliament, in fact when you see unholy romance between the legislature and the executive, it means there is something wrong. The parliament is supposed to be a watchdog. This is even when the thing will be exciting because before now it was one family and a lot of wrongs were covered but this time, there’s going to be an opposition, so I see more function; anybody can belong to any political party just like the National Assembly. So this one I think that whichever one that suits you is the one you will join. So I don’t anticipate any tension whatsoever.
It now means that we are likely going to have a minority leader.
Yes, those positions are going to be filled, everything you have in the house now except for the speaker, deputy speaker which has to be one. Every other position, you have the majority you must also have minority. That is how it works.
Would you like to confirm the number of lawmakers that are still with the PDP?
That will be difficult to do for now, you know we’ve been on strike, JUSUN, the legislative workers have been on strike for two months now so we’ve not been able to have a sitting. So, it is when we resume plenary then, those that are going to APC will say so and then we will know how many they are and how many will be left.
Considering the economic situation in the country, do you think the PDP will be able to compete favourably with the APC in the state since the sole sponsor, so to say, is no more with them?
Governor is an individual and governor is in his second term which will end in 2023, he will return to the Northern senatorial district, if he has any intention. He cannot run for the governorship election again. If he has any other election to run, it is in the Northern senatorial district. So he will not come from Obudu to claim authority in municipality. Finance belongs to the state, every indigene or citizen; even those who are residents within the state are entitled to the benefit of whatever the state has. So that won’t be a problem. PDP will always be able to finance her own projects regardless of whether there is a governor or not. There are also many people that can fund the party; it mustn’t be the governor and I can’t see anything fantastic that the governor even did. PDP Cross River state exco is the only one that are left without vehicles. If you go to other states, you will see states that party officials are driving vehicles but in Cross River state, we don’t have it. We will get there, everything is not about money; it is who has the popularity to be able to muster support, that is what is going to happen, it’s not going to be a situation where one person will sit at the comfort of his parlor and write names and call himself a bulldozer and all of that, it won’t happen again like that. So people will have to face the electorate and tell them why because me, I will like to hear what they will say why Cross River state should vote for a Fulani party with this kind of hardship that is going on in the country. I want to see. We had two major offices in Cross River, the Chief justice of the federation and the head of service of the federation. Buhari removed them, APC removed them. So I want to see what special benefit we have derived from APC and I want to hear when they will campaign to know what they will say. But I don’t think they will have anything to say.
From your perspective, who do you think got it wrong; the governor or the PDP?
Well, if you know the genesis of the whole problem, you will understand that PDP used to play politics of inclusion where all stakeholders will sit down and select who is going to lead the party. That has been our style. The governor came and sat with a few persons and his brother and just wrote names of people. For instance, I didn’t know who was my ward chairman because they just sat down and did all of that and we said no to that, the man wanted everything for himself even after selecting all the local government chairmen and their deputies. He went further to select all the ward excos. He did not consult stakeholders of the party, those that founded the party before he joined. He did not consult; so he expected that we should sit down and watch, nobody does that. So, that’s where the problem started. So they took us to court, they first went to the Court of Appeal, they also went to the Supreme Court but were defeated so they cannot lay blame, it was lack of inclusiveness, that is what led to the problem.
It’s just been reported that the PDP secretariat in the state has been repainted and converted to APC secretariat. Are you aware of this?
That’s the plan of the governor now. I’ve just been told that he went there which even while he was the governor in PDP, they didn’t pay the rent. They went there to remove the PDP flags, trying to repaint. It cannot be done by any other person than the governor.
In what ways do you think this whole game will affect the Northern Cross River Senatorial district seat owing to the fact that there is still a petition by the APC candidate at the election petitions tribunal?
I wouldn’t want to talk about matters that are in court because I understand that they have even adjourned it for judgment. So when judgment comes, we will hear. We cannot preempt; but I don’t think that Stephen Odey who claims to be the senator has defected, I don’t think he has.
Now, would you say that the governor’s action is a disappointment to the PDP considering the trust that was bestowed on him?
The answer you have it. Somebody that became a senator on the platform of the party, the party that has been strong since 1998, hand over to him trust, effortlessly but, he now threw all of that because he wants to play politics of the family. Nobody is happy. It’s a huge, huge disappointment and it’s a lesson that will be learnt but, I think we’ve gone beyond that. What is ahead of us now is to make sure that we mobilize the party and have our stakeholders meeting where leaders of the party all over the country will come around so that we will dialogue and know what next to do.