EXECUTIVE PLATFORM: I Contributed Blood Equivalent For APC'S Victory In Cross River, Says Eba, Party Chairman

Feb 26, 2024 - 13:53
Feb 26, 2024 - 14:34
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EXECUTIVE PLATFORM: I Contributed Blood Equivalent For APC'S Victory In Cross River, Says Eba, Party Chairman

In this exclusive interview with the THE BEAGLE NEWS team of JUDEX OKORO, VICTOR UDU and EKANEM ASUQUO, the State Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bar. Alphonsus Eba, stated that he contributed blood equivalent for APC's victory in Cross River, maintaining that the party is totally committed to instilling discipline among party members to forestall anti-party in future elections. Eba, national secretary of forum of APC chairmen, fielded questions on wide range of issues including the setting up reconciliation committee, need to install discipline, impeachment threat, and the call for all APC members to join hands in building the party ahead of 2027.

 

EXCERPTS:

The by-elections have just been concluded, how do you feel about the election and what were the challenges faced?

 

Well let me point out that in Obudu, Obanliku and Yala II we were swimming against the tide because of the heavy damage that had been done before that election. Obanliku had a deficit of over 116 votes and Yala II had over 300 votes all on account of our own party members. But we said let's go and try our best, and I must say we did very well. I feel very good about the outcome and the efforts that most of our members put in except the regular renegades, who as usual, worked against the party. For instance, in Obanliku  just 2 polling units, with very low 19 or 22 votes or there about. Then in Yala II, our candidate won with a margin of 19 votes. So, for us we went for an election and we got victory some how even when we were contending against our party members who did not want APC candidates to win in Obanliku and Yala 2.

 

Of course, our primordial challenge, which had prompted the party to inaugurate disciplinary committee to look at those complaints by the candidates, and some senior party stakeholders against some persons majority of whom were involved in the anti-party activities in the first election and repeated in by-election, was anti party. We say if the first was a mistake, the second might become a deliberate act to graduate from that and we don't know what next one would be. Therefore, the party had better rose up to that challenge. However, some  committed party members worked even harder in spite of all odds. The governor and government gave maximum support to this party. I must commend the governor because he himself has a clear picture that our party members were not faithful enough and it behooves on this party to take necessary action against such members.

 

But some party members are calling for reconciliation committee in view of what they described as dismal outing in the by-elections in the north senatorial district. What is your reaction?

 

I don't understand what they are talking about. Some of the people calling for reconciliation committee are some faceless people. Who sets reconciliation committee? I am the state chairman, the only time I ever set up a reconciliation committee in this state I know the seasoned people I brought in.  So, just ignore such calls. For those calling for my resignation, just ignore them because they do not exist. We know those who are behind them, but we are not in a hurry to run into conclusion, there will be due process.

 

Recently, the APC Stakeholders Forum had issued a statement purportedly removing you from office and appointing an Acting state chairman.

 

All I can say is that the aggrieved party members were seeking for attention and because  of the harsh economic realities of the moment I feel for them.  We know what may have actuated their actions perhaps is hunger. But by the special grace of God, this party is working with the governor and in the next few days or weeks am sure we'll start rolling out appointments and may be people like that will get something that will put food on their table and their sense of reasoning will get some level of decency.

 

However, the fact- finding reports of the party had indicted many members for alleged anti-party activities in 2023, which was however over looked, and that the recurrence of such misdemeanor particularly in Obanliku and Yala 11 constituencies in the recent re-run have awoken the consciousness of the party. On February 9, the State Executive Committee, to ensure sanity in this party after receiving complaints from some members, set up a disciplinary committee in compliance with article 21.i,ii, iii of the party's constitution. It was regrettable that people have gone ahead to pass judgement on themselves even when the party has not done so but we are guided by the provision of the constitution to do what is just, right, fair and for overall best interest. The position of the party to bring peace,love, unity and growth is the foundation which our administration has upheld. Nothing else would have been a threat to the peace, love and unity than injustice, impunity, misconduct and anti-party activities.

 

Does such actions hold waters according to your party constitution?

 

The APC constitution is our guide as stated in Article 21 (1) and down the line. The wheel of justice grinds slowly but it achieves the whole result. If they like, let them arrange press conferences; if they like let them masquerade and do whatever they like. But I can only repeat that this constitution has provided the only way I can be removed as chairman. I contributed blood equivalent to the victory of APC in the state. I came with a clear cut mantra of love, peace, unity and growth. I worked day-and- night as an evangelist in the field. I stayed out of my family; I abandoned the masters degree programme. But my consolation is that the former Governor Ben Ayade, the present Governor Sen. Bassey Otu and every serious minded member of the party appreciated that and that's what keeps me on.

 

 My tenure will finish in 2026 and I'll leave this party in a very formidable level so that whoever is coming in will carry on from an already prepared work. I will use the power of the constitution to fight anybody that fights against this party. I don't have any other work for now. And while I am here, don't temper with my only child, APC, because if you do I would devour you and I'll do that in accordance with this constitution.

 

Recently,  you just set up a committee to try those who played anti-party during the elections, but some of them are accusing you of having played anti party too in 2023 general elections.

 

Well, we in Yala 1 had our internal crises. Some House of Assembly aspirants felt aggrieved and contravene the provision of this constitution and the matter went as far as the Supreme Court and we lost at the Supreme Court. Labour Party (LP) in the February 25, election had shown tremendous capacity and defeated us in Cross River state. However LP went into an election where they had no governorship candidate  but they had a house of assembly candidate. So, we had to go into a political holy matrimony where you tell your people in the whole state to support the APC in the governorship election while we support their candidate in Yala where we the APC had no candidate and that was my word because told them, PDP, that there's no place you'll win. It was a proper meeting that was not in the hidden. I went to the NUJ for a press conference. I had the approval of the state executive committee of the party. That was a political strategy to win more votes of the Labour Party. If we had not done that, the PDP man in Yala 1 would have gotten it express and the enemies would have celebrated more, saying the state chairman of APC had lost elections in his constituency.

 

However, I have never lost election in my polling unit neither have I lost in my ward or my state constituency since I started active politics. Where ever I stand, that is where I win. They don't call me Okadigbo for nothing. I am a political mahogany and Iroko put together. A tiger does not speak of its dignity but when the come comes to become we shall come out and that is why I have come out. So, I never played anti party. What is legally permissible and approved by the state executive committee is not anti party. The case of anti party is that we had candidate  for an election but you choose to work for our main rival the PDP that is what is called anti party.

 

 

Some stakeholders have accused you being high-handed and you don't carry them along in running of the party, especially in the northern senatorial district. What do you have to say about that?

 

That remains a fake allegation. I am not the state chairman for the northern senatorial district only.  I have a very solid relationship with everyone who is a faithful member of the party but I also have a very bad relationship with anybody  who is an activist of anti party. I don't condole anti party activities. If you are one person that cannot reach me go back and check your conscience. I am one of the highest extroverts you can ever imagine. Every major stakeholder that is a member of my party from the northern senatorial district and even across party lines I relate with them. I have some few elements  that perhaps are the founding whatever that are playing anti party and we would get to them out. The committee I just inaugurated would work in the open.

 

But some party members are challenging that you don't have the powers to try them at the state level.

 

Well, those people challenging our power should go and read Article 21 down the line that gives the state organ party power to set up disciplinary committee. Somebody has kicked  that the procedure was not followed; that it ought to have been the ward or the chapter.  This is because they are intellectually vacuous. if there's an allegation against the ward, the chapter takes care of it and the procedure is contained. If the allegation is against the chapter, the relevant organ is the state. The party suspended  a ward chairman first because of the weighty evidence and he is not removed from the party. As a party, we exercise disciplinary powers on our people that are at the lower rank of the structure for allegedly playing anti party. We also got complain against  the chapter exco members from that constituency except only two persons were all involved. So, should I go back and tell the chapter to constitute a committee? That would be against the rule of natural Justice that says you cannot be a judge in your own case. What we have done, as the next organ of the party that has adjudicatory powers over them, is to put up a five man committee of a member from the zonal structure and four people from the state executive.

 

Recall the fact finding Committee constituted on April 3, 2023, we got all this report and they came with the same design that state chairman must resign. Now, they think they  can come with such design again. I am even one person that you need to beg to stay in this office. I am not bragging that I am indispensable, but I have given my all and the Governor appreciates so much that a few people like me can do the work.   The inconveniences are too much. For now, I am the national secretary of forum of APC chairmen. The 36 state chairmen found me worthy and that is after governor Ayade had tried me in due process and said I was the best. Governor Otu came and I said I want to go to the federal and he said no I still need you in the state and that is why I'm here. I'm not here because of some charlatans, some comedians and some faceless people whom I don't know if they are even members of my party.

 

 

 From what is happening in the north presently in terms of elections, will it not be right to say the north is predominantly PDP?

 

It's not something to say so because of the political  dynamics. Hon. Legor Idagbor, wonderful young man, in his outreach he did so well particularly towards the end of his government. I followed and saw his activities,  but there is this ill feeling of our people towards third term. When we brought him out to get that third term, our people were against it so that was a protest vote. Governor Ayade, wonderful material, one man that today would have been able to provide solutions to the economic problems of Nigeria set out to be a Senator. But in our party's calculation we thought our people would embrace the fact that this man is going to become number three man and we felt being the first governor that has done more for us than any other governor has done for us in the north (I stand to be contradicted), bit it was not to be.

 

We thought Ayade going as number three man in the country was going to help us but little did we know that we were only opening the flood gate for external interference. Governor Ayade did not run elections against Sen. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe.  Ayade ran elections against the powers-that-be; the interest that we're interested in Senate Presidency; interest of some persons that were very angry right from the military institution, the INEC, from the elites in the north and the youths he relied on. So, a lot of them became very funny and were rather running to take peanuts that were available then forgetting that this man, Ayade, put food on their table for 8 years. But some of them, who earned between 100 and 200 thousand times, sold out and preferred peanuts during elections and that is human nature. Those are the things that befell us that year, leading to our unfortunate lost to PDP. So, if you say north is a strong hold of PDP, no problem. They have House of Reps, they have Senate, they have upper hand. I would take that but we have what is bigger for us as the deputy governor of Cross River state is from the north.  The party state chairman is from the north. The north will benefit through the governor, through the deputy governor and state chairman and some commissioners in terms of infrastructure and human capital development. So far, the governor has not ceased in continuing with the international airport. In the next few weeks, road projects across in the north will commence.  So, the north is not an enclave of the PDP. Our people are already feeling the good governance. The Assembly man in Labour Party out there is just waiting for the appointed time to join us. He is a product of political mathematical calculations.

 

On the whole, I don't like crying over split milk rather all I do is to put resources together to buy brand new tin of milk and I'm preparing this party towards 2027. The number of calls that I've received from the number of people that want to leave PDP and come and join us can only tell you if PDP was such a safe haven and yet everyone wants to run away from it, my brother it has become a den of hell fire. Between now and sometime next year, almost everybody that you know that is carrying the umbrella will throw it away and will want to run to APC not because I am inviting them but because they know that place is hellfire and APC is a heaven.  So, I don't know how you mean if they have the upper hand we are fine with our lower hand.