From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Apart from his grey hair which has become his identity, Eseme Eyiboh, a former member representing Eket in the House of Representatives and spokesperson of the sixth Assembly, is a quintessential communicator and reporters’ delight.
Speaking to Daily Sun in Abuja recently, he drew a comparative analysis of his previous party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and his current party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), contending that they are not on the same pedestal.
He also speaks on the future and chances of the APC ahead of the 2023 elections, declaring that it has no opposition with the feeble resistance from the PDP. He also provided the answers to what he is missing outside the National Assembly, and whether he will contest for governorship seat in the 2023 general elections.
What are the chances of APC in the 2023 general elections?
Like any other political party in this country, I think, there is no way the management of a political party in Nigeria could be done without conflict of interests, intrigues and the outcome usually has never been beyond dialogue.
PDP went through it and for the APC, there is always the issue of a pre-convention interest, intrigues, and post-convention management where you begin to look at the issues of various dynamics and how to weld together the diversities that originated the intrigues and conflicts in the first place.
So, when that is done, you are set to roll. But I can tell you that the strength of the APC is that it is populated by people who reasonably believe without conceding that they have the capacity to run for any office in this country including the management of the party. And when you have people with that pedigree and capacity, there is the tendency to what is going on here.
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Can you stake your neck that APC has bright chances of winning the 2023 presidential election?
My only disappointment in the APC is that they don’t have an opposition because PDP is not an opposition. The potential available in the APC to win any election at any level is too high for any other political party to compete with. So, to that extent, there is no opposition to confront the APC in the 2023 presidential election. That is my only disappointment otherwise, if the APC were to have any opposition, then they would have been able to task it and take it to the end to see how far it can go but unfortunately, APC does not have any opposition.
The APC primary in 2023 is going to be greater than the general elections. You will ask why I am saying so; the only problem of the APC is that they have performed without informing. They have not been able to inform Nigerian people as much as they have performed.
Look at the rail system, 95 per cent of trade and commerce in this country, is through the maritime corridor. There was a time in this country that the maritime corridor was choked. Militancy, piracy, pipeline vandalism, and all of that were the order of the day.
Oil production was not going on and since that happened, the economy was at the abyss. But, today, this present government has ensured the safety of the maritime corridor unless as a result of natural occurrence.
Look at rail transportation and with that level of service in infrastructure provision, the party is still unable to take it to the public domain to help it improve its reputation management. So, I insist that they have performed without informing.
What is responsible for that is largely because of the poor leadership recruitment process. Sometimes, you take very good people into very wrong places and at other times, you take very wrong people into the right places. When you begin to have a mix of these in leadership recruitment, institutions will not be able to evolve. That is the only problem otherwise, APC has done very well.
Regardless of our perception of the current APC leadership, they are very exceptional and innovative, otherwise what would have made five governors of the PDP dump the opposition party to join the APC if they are not motivated by the various achievements of the Federal Government or lured by sophisticated party programmes, which of course is an add on.
With the crisis rocking the party at national and state levels, what is giving you the confidence that the party will organise a rancour-free convention?
There is an Igbo adage that says that when two brothers enter the room to settle conflict, if they come out smiling, then there is no peace but if they come frowning; know that there is peace.
The replete of various conflicts across the states of the country is not a sign of the weakness of the party or prevalence of injustice; rather it is showing the interest members have in the party. It is showing the population of people with capacity and pedigree. It is a reflection of the internal mechanism because when one’s equity is internalised in a system, it promotes competition.
And we are bound to have various degrees of conflict. However, I can assure party members and all Nigerians that there will not be any implosion of the party after the convention and even after the 2023 general elections. That I am very sure.
Are you satisfied leaving the PDP for APC?
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I was a member of the PDP and used the party’s platform to go to the House of Representatives. By that time, I was motivated by the founding principle of the PDP, which was clearly about talent hunting, issue of social justice and bringing up a new generation of leadership.
But, later, PDP derailed, declined and went into the abyss where its principle was founded on injustice, deterioration in human values and lack of internal democracy.
So, I can tell you that I now found haven in the APC where I will be able to articulate and lay my views not necessarily about contesting elections. I now found the APC as a political party that has been able to differentiate politics from governance.
Governance is practised at different sphere. Look at under APC government, have you seen many states dominated by the APC, then the governor is PDP either on account of judicial intervention or INEC decision. So, there is no interference, confirming that there is difference between politics and governance in APC and that is the jurisprudence in democracy.
What is your take on zoning?
Zoning is a very simple principle intended to address perceived injustice in a democratic culture. The injustice the zoning intended to address is looking at the cubicle of the participants within the process of who is not getting what and all of that, but that does not mean that it must diminish the principle of merit. I support zoning, but not to the exclusion of merit.
Every zoning must be accompanied by character which means that there must be prescriptions. Democracy comes with prescriptions which cannot be limited to the sympathy of let us give to this people and all of that because at the end of the day, the consequences of poverty recruitment will affect everybody. Zoning to me is very fantastic but it must not be zoned to a vacuum but must have a character.
What are your fears for the 2023 general elections?
For me, 2023 general elections sound like prophesy foretold when you talk about development in Nigeria and electoral democracy. It is going to be a year that the party primaries and elections proper will be quite different from others. It is going to be a reflection of the deep understanding of Nigerians and participation in democracy.
Article 25 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights espouse the issue of participation and it is domesticated in our constitution in Chapter 2, section 14, which says that the primary purpose of government shall be welfare and security of the citizens and that citizens shall be guaranteed of participation.
However, that participation cannot happen when the citizens are not throwing in all they have into it. The level of political education and enlightenment going on is enormous.
It can be seen on the number of people going out to get voter cards and discussing politics in social media, groups and all that; it is not just amazing. It is a sign that there is going to be more participation. Democracy in 2023 is going to be enriched by citizenship.
Violence is not going to escalate and we are also going to consider the issue of the Electoral Act, particularly the issue of political thugs wasting their time carrying ballot boxes.
With the electronic transmission of the results, by the time they finish whatever they are doing with the ballot box, the result would have been declared. The 2023 general elections are going to be a transparent and open system that will help to widen the span of electoral democracy. I am not entertaining any fear for the polls.
What are you missing most outside the National Assembly?
I am not actually missing anything at the National Assembly because I just found out that after leaving the National Assembly, I now came to see my true mirror outside, where people begin to ask you why are you coming back here, making me feel that they are missing me and I get worried too that the National Assembly from when I left is quite different from what is going on today.
Will you contest the governorship election in your state?
It is not the issue of contesting but we want to first analyse and see what we can bring to the table for the citizens not just going to contest elections for the purpose of it.
I should be able to appraise myself in terms of pedigree, capacity, acceptability, and roadmap of what I am going to do differently because everybody has priorities and all of that.
So, I am prioritising myself and looking at a couple of those things, especially what I am going to do and what I will be able to do better not just for myself but also for the society. I am placing all those things on the scale and whatever comes out, I will submit myself to it God’s will.