In an exclusive interview with the National Vice Chairman South-south APC Ntufam, speaks on current political situation in Nigeria
Read Excerpts below:
Sir, for the purpose of the interview please introduce yourself.
My name is Ntufam Hilliard Eta, national vice chairman south-south APC
Sir, it is assumed before now that the south-south region has sympathy for the PDP and with the forthcoming elections around the corner, what plans are there for the zone in changing this narrative?
Well for me the assertion that the south-south zone has sympathy for the PDP is not completely correct. If you study the political history of Nigeria vis-à-vis the role of the south-south in that history, you will find that where we are today has always been where we have found ourselves. And l will tell you this we have always been the stabilizers of the polity of Nigeria and that is the same role that we are playing today. You are aware of the circumstances between 2011 and 2015 there were some distortion of the role of the south-south in the body polity of Nigeria. In 2015 a citizen of Nigeria of south-south extraction, in the person of Jonathan was contesting the Presidential election and given the level of our political development, the people of the south-south thought it was their duty to support their son in quote and that amounted to the electoral victory that the PDP recorded in the south-south. After 2015, there has been a paradigm shift in the sense that, once again, the south-south has started the process of wanting to play the role that it has always played in the Nigerian polity, like I said, to stabilize the polity, and I’ll give you examples, after the elections of 2015, the APC had only one senator in the person of senator Alimikhena of Edo state, only one, but as I speak to you today, three and half years down the line, the APC has grown from that one solitary senator to about 8 senators, that shows you that the south-south zone of the APC is the fastest growing zone in the APC family and that does not agree with the narrative that the south-south is at all-time sympathetic with the PDP, so you asked me what we are going to do to change the narrative, we are going do so much to affirm the narrative that has been the lot of the south-south from 1960 to 2011. That is exactly what we need to do, to collaborate with progressives from all over the country, stabilize the polity and continue with the change agenda.
Sir, in your affirmation, I think there are plans the zonal executive have to make that impact on the south-south, of recent we have issues in the south-south where it concerns APC in some states, factional issues, how can those plans that you have from the zonal party work out in the face of the seeming factionalization of the party in the south-south?
Every time you have to deal with these issues in public, this particular question seems to be a recurring decimal. My answer has always been that a political party is a human organization and in any human organization no matter how minute in terms of number, there must necessarily be disagreements, acrimony , so it is not different, even in our nuclear families, our fathers, mothers and kids, there usually must be some disagreements because we are not robotic, we are not mechanical so to think that there will not be disagreements, there will not be divergent views is to say that we are no more humans but one of the fundamentals of politics is conflict resolution, what you should rather ask me is whether our party is on top of all of these issues and my answer is the affirmative. Let me also tell you that you can not name any political party anywhere in the world without its fair share of acrimony and disagreements. What is wrong is where people disagree in a disagreeable manner. When they become vicious and tend to take the laws into their hands, that is when it is wrong,. But to say it is wrong to disagree, I will not accept that that is a requirement for democracy, I think rather that disagreements, attrition, the lack of consensus for me could be a catalyst for development. Development does not come in an environment of consensus, you know somebody must have felt bad, somebody must have disagreed with darkness and so he decided it was time to discover electricity. So it is not always that disagreements are wrong, or disagreements are in itself antithesis to development. So the APC has not lost its way, we have not lost the plot, we are focused, have our sights on the ball and by the special grace of God in 2019, the naysayers, the wailers will have a narrative that will do damage to their heart conditions, because what they feel will happen in 2019 will be very far from what is going to happen in 2019.
Contrary to people’s opinion, most APC stakeholders believe that President Buhari has done so much to deserve a second term? Do you agree with this?
Oh completely, completely. You know I come from a very small state in the south-south sub region, cross river, and even if I use my state as an example of what Buhari has done In the past three and a half years, I will be a very ungrateful and unappreciative person not to reward him with a resounding vote in 2019, because I’ll tell you, whether it’s in the appointment of personnel, whether it is in the provision of infrastructure, whether it is even in his plan for our people. He stands heads and shoulders above those who came before him. I’ll give you an example. My brother in quote was president for 6 years, I can assure you that not one kilometer of road in the state of Cross River was asphalted by my brother, but as I speak with you, one of the most important roads between Akwa-Ibom and Cross River is under construction by Julius Berger and you now tell me, that a man who thinks of me in that manner should not have me love him back? When I read pundits on the pages of newspaper and Listen to them on radio and television, I laugh because I think they are completely insulated from the realities of the south-south. The south-south will not vote for Atiku, I can bet you the south-south will give a resounding support in terms of vote to the man who has remembered us even though he is not from the south-south. Let them go back and look at the railway master plan that even our brother came and saw and did nothing to include his region in that plan. Today, Buhari is planning to build a railway station from the old and beautiful city of Calabar to Lagos and you are asking me to bring another man who I don’t know what his agenda is, I would prefer to put my lot with him and see the realization of that Calabar-Lagos rail system, i would like for the completion of the Calabar-Etu road. I would like for the man to also award the contract to construct the most important road in my state, that is the Calabar-ogudja road that transverses 11 LGA’S out of the 18 LGA’S of my state, he is the only one that has the will to do this. All others are interested in sharing party money. Because for me, my regard of a politician is predicated, on the antecedents of the politician. I am not God to know what you are going to do tomorrow. I can only judge you from what you did yesterday and all the people who have come out to contest for the position of the President, we know their yesterday, it is that their yesterday that must determine how we deal with them today so that we can secure our tomorrow. Regardless of what we say, regardless of what the wailers say, regardless of what the naysayers say, when you take the record and the antecedents of the present president, you cannot but have hope, that for once, a black man can be a GOC and not steal money, a black man can be a governor and not steal money, a black man can be a head of state and not steal money, go through the continent of Africa and look for me a man, look for me how many leaders we have in the African continent who can beat their hands on their chest and say, I was here, I was in this office, I was in several of these offices and I never stole money, and a lot of people have said that it is not about corruption, I dare to disagree with them. It is about corruption. When we cannot provide health services to our citizens it is because the money that was provided for the health services have been stolen, when we cannot build roads like we have not been able to build roads in the past 16 years of the PDP government, it was because the money that was allocated for the reconstruction of roads had been stolen. So you cannot say that there is no nexus between corruption and under development. You cannot rewrite history, we cannot revise reality, and they want to do revisionism with us? And we say no! Our position is that we know the presidential candidate of the PDP, we know him, we know his antecedents and we know his yesterday, we also know the presidential candidate of the APC, we know his antecedents and we know his yesterday, we prefer to put our lot with him because with him our tomorrow is assured