Dr. Chris Edeme is a well regarded statesman and notable player in the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta State. He hails from Ndokwa West local government area of the state. In this no holdback interview with journalists at his Kwale residence, Dr Edeme asked the people of Ndokwa ethnic nationality not to expect much from the administration of Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as the Governor of Delta State.
As a key player in the opposition political party in Delta State, how do you see the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa?
Dr. Okowa is a Deltan from Delta North Senatorial district. Before the elections, my party, the APC brought out a Deputy Governorship candidate from Delta North, Ndokwa West local government area to be precise in the person of Chief V. O. T. Abanum and I told my people, the people of Ndokwa nation, to forget about the governorship for us to vote for a political party that will protect our interest because if we have the Deputy Governor, it will be the same thing as having the Governor, we are still in the corridors of power.
The elections have come and gone and Dr Okowa won. However, I expected that Dr Okowa would have done better for our people because the kind of support that he had from Ndokwa people in spite of the fact that their son was Deputy Governorship candidate for another political party – the recognition Ndokwa people have received is not commensurate with the support the people of Ndokwa gave to him. Dr Okowa has upgraded three Technical Colleges and he did not deem it fit to consider the ones in Ndokwa nation.
Ndokwa nation may be five times bigger than Ika nation and the Ika nation has a lot of tertiary institutions, Ndokwa nation does not have one, yet, when he wants to upgrade the technical colleges, he still gave the one for Delta North to Ika nation. Where are we in the Delta State politics? When it comes to politics, they will say we are all Anioma people. When it comes to benefits of governance, they will say to your tent oh Israel. So, Dr Okowa has gone ahead to elaborate on the fact that there is no hope for the Ndokwa man for any government that will be headed by someone like him from Ika nation.
Before the elections, we were telling our people, remember your history. They said no, now it is manifesting. Dr Okowa has made appointments and the highest appointment he has given to an Ndokwa man is a political adviser in the person of Chief Festus Ochonogor. I don’t know the value of that appointment as it concerns empowering our people. Against a genuine advice, Ndokwa nation supported Dr. Okowa yet Ndokwa West does not have a Commissioner. There is no Ndokwa son that is in the Governor’s office either as Chief of Staff, Chief of Protocol or protocol officer, what are we together for?
So, I hope sincerely, that if there is going to be another elections, re-run election which we look forward to, Ndokwa people have learnt their lessons, they must stop to live in self denial.
What is the way forward?
The way forward is for Ndokwa people to agitate for their right. I feel these things should be shared using population, contribution to the state economy, voting strength, all those things as parameters. It will not be fair that out of all the ethnic nationalities, one keep getting short-changed in terms of appointments, if they are shared appropriately, Ndokwa sons and daughters will get fair share of the appointments. Let Dr Okowa know that he is short-changing us. Our people should be able to complain about the maltreatment.
The leaders are also part of our problems as they exploit our situation, they don’t insist on fair sharing, they are not using politics as vehicles of social re-engineering. They should be bold to demand for our rights, they should tell Dr Okowa the truth not about singing his praises.
What are the chances of the APC at the Tribunal?
APC has bright chances against Dr Okowa’s PDP at the Tribunal as they will be able to prove that there were no elections. If procedure for the elections will be strictly followed, the elections will be cancelled.
But the APC in Delta State is in disarray which led to the national executive of the party setting up a fact-finding committee for Delta State?
To say that the APC in Delta State is in disarray is the greatest understatement of all times. All through the period of campaign, I did not see anybody who was bold enough to paste President Mohamadu Buhari’s poster in his car or house, except me. I was the only person who had the courage to paste the posters on my door and my car, even the Hausa people were coming to my house to collect Buhari’s posters. People were threatening me through my mother, my mother will secretly come and remove the posters from my walls.
Now the elections have come and gone, General Buhari had good representation in Ndokwa and now those who had no confidence in the ability of General Buhari to win want the party to remain the way it was before the elections. They claim they belong to APC but they were not available during the elections, they were not at APC organized rallies. So, if the fact finding committee was borne based on the perception of the national executive that the party is in disarray, if they come, by the end of the day, they may have the gut to dissolve the party executive and search very deeply to put committed members of the party as leaders and then, empower them to build the party or the party will lose again because.
I know the way the PDP operates, they will come and buy people in the opposition and at the critical period, they will use them. Do you know what happened in the last election? Some of our agents ran away on election day so that when you go to the polling units, you will not see your agents. I hope the fact-finding committee will have the courage to dissolve the current executive and put those that have unalloyed loyalty to the party. After the elections, different groups have been meeting, groups that want change and groups that don’t want change. There is a group of APC patriots that christened themselves, operation rescue APC in Delta State and the other group, the APC professionals. They contribute money on their own to do whatever they are doing. They are not so wealthy but, they are committed to the APC.
Your advice for Governor Okowa?
The first thing for Dr Okowa to do if he wants the state to be economically prosperous is for him to determine how many Ministries that the state deserves. Having known the number of Ministries he needs, he should divide them based on Federal Constituencies or local government areas because, there is no local government or community that has no expert in any field. He should make sure that he is fair to all. As a Deltan, whether there is going to be a re-run or not, he should go all out to serve the people. Ndokwa people should not be afraid to air their views. They should stop praising the government when it is doing nothing for our people. I tell you, the level of neglect can make a man to cry.