The National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),
South East zone, Deacon Austin Umahi in this interview with Felix Uka
says power is not given but taken as he lays bar the interests of the
zone as it concerns the 2019 general elections, doggedness of the PDP
to wrestle power from the APC. He gave insight into the skirmishes
within the party, yet gave reasons as to why the PDP lost the last
Anambra governorship election.
In politics, what matters most is interest. You get your interests
negotiated. What is the South East negotiating for? Are you gearing
for the presidency in 2019?
I continue to tell people that the united we are, the better for us.
Power is not given but taken. You go and take power. You negotiate
right but you must have a united front. You must have to see people
that are dogged and determined. We must have to see people that are
focused. When we get to the bridge, we cross it. The issue remains
that we are very much interested in repositioning the party. When the
time to share offices comes, we will discuss it. And I assure you that
the South East under my leadership will not be relegated in Jesus
With sorts of skirmishes within the PDP, do you consider the party
strong and cohesive enough to wrestle power from the ruling APC during
the presidential elections come 2019?
My dear brother, the truth of the matter is that in no distant time,
you will see a political tsunami in this country. And what is it?
Everybody is disenchanted. The truth is that you cannot deceive the
people too long. The country is becoming too enlightened. Even the
village woman, if you tell her that you provided light, she would want
to see the light; if you tell her that you’ve built a road she would
want to see it. Whatever you claim as achievement, she would want to
see evidence. And those are the indices. The people are hungry and
disenchanted. The people are ready to vote out any government that
fails to take care of their stomach infrastructure and that is why
people are yearning for the return of the PDP to power. The indices
are clear and glaring and the people are speaking. Nobody will deceive
Nigerians again because they have compared and contrasted and of
course, know which way to go and 2019 will tell you where we are
Before the Anambra governorship election, PDP boased that they would
take over power from Governor Willie Obiano. To many of us, it was a
litmus test for the party. Now, with their failure to achieve their
target, don’t you think ousting Buhari in 2019 is going to be a
The issue of Anambra State is not a good case study because I actually
mounted the podium and I said that we are taking back Anambra State.
But the issue of Anambra State is one that the PDP will go back to the
drawing board and redesign and re-strategize. The people that voted
out PDP in Anambra State is PDP. That problem of Anambra, we have set
out to ensure that we get it right. How do we get it right? By making
sure that we install elected state exco and that is going to happen in
couple of weeks.
And by the time we do it will instil a lot of discipline. Some people
felt the party was hijacked and out of anger they decided to work
against the party that they belong. And you cannot use it as a
measure. It is not a good litmus test because if you come to think of
it, you will have to ask yourself the people that actually worked for
Gov. Obiano. They are PDP people and if they had put 1/10 of that
effort in our election in Anambra State, I think I would have been
celebrating now as somebody that has Governor in Anambra State. So, it
is not a good test because we know the reasons: the immediate and
remote causes and we are addressing it. Something best will happen in
How do you assess the last elective convention of the PDP more so as
it concerns the fallouts?
By the special grace of God, that was the most transparent, freest
convention since the inception of the People’s Democratic Party in
1998 and I must commend the electoral panel. I must commend His
Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; the 11 Governors of
the PDP, and everyone that participated in that election.
My dear brother, the truth of the matter is that the PDP is
repositioned. And what is repositioning? It is about re-engineering,
it is about rebranding, it is about getting it right where we have
missed it. And I can assure you that the successful convention is a
big plus and it has jumpstarted us because as we are talking today we
have hit the ground running.
Some aggrieved persons who reportedly participated in that convention
have gone ahead to form their parallel leadership. How would you react
Well, those are the people that want to be noticed. But I had to
contact each and every one of them. I wanted to know the reasons for
this kind of attitude. And I saw that everything was geared towards
‘notice me.’ They just wanted recognition. They don’t have anything.
In a contest, you must have victors and of course, people that will
lose it. When you are going into a contest, it is an option of you
win, or you lose. So having lost an election that was the best
election ever; people were satisfied with the conduct. Come to think
of the Unity List, at the age of 18 nobody forced me to vote where I
wanted to vote. It was something very clear. Yes! It is possible that
I could be given a name but is an option. When I enter inside that
polling booth I vote the person I want to vote because I am an adult.
So, the way and manner I voted should not perturb anybody. That’s the
way my conscience has directed me. And the people voted. What is
democracy? It is all about the people. What is the splinter? I see the
splinter as charlatans; I see them as people that want to be noticed.
And I feel so sad because I saw some South Eastern persons involved.
We are not known for that kind of attitde. But it is unfortunate that
they are Abuja gorilla politicians. They are not politicians from the
South East. We don’t know them and they don’t know their wards. Ask
them the names of their wards and their chairmen, they won’t know.
They just stay at Wadata and make noise.
There is this concern that the All Progressives Congress [APC] might
be using these individuals to destabilize the newly reformed PDP.
What’s your reaction?
Well, in the third word, you are bound to see anything. Yes! There is
a possibility of that but the most is important thing is that if you
know that you are, for example, going to Abakaliki and you know the
road to it, you must focus on your mission and avoid distractions. The
most important thing is that PDP is repositioned; it is repositioned
to regain. Those things, we see them as distractions. We are not going
to be perturbed because worse of it all is that the class of these
people that are making these noise, I see them as attention seekers.
They are the people that when you go to their wards you won’t see
their names. Yes! It could be hijacked by the ruling party but the
most important thing is that we are not giving them recognition. We
are forging ahead because we know our destination and we are focused.
We cannot be distracted.
Given that in politics, number is important. Does it mean the party
does not have any intention of finding out their grievances and
possibly offering solution for a more united PDP?
I have to tell you the truth. First and foremost, as a zone, all the
people that contested the election, before the election, we as a zone
invited them. We said ‘come let us reason together as brothers because
we, from the East, are wise and reasonable people. We said ‘let us
agree and discuss as brothers’ and then know what belongs to who so
that we don’t go to Abuja not united. That was exactly what we did.
And again, and most importantly, there is serious internal conflict
resolution mechanism in the People’s Democratic Party [PDP]. Before
the convention, we already had a committee headed by Governor Seriake
Dickson of Bayelsa State. He actually moved into action. We didn’t
want to be reactive this time, we had to be proactive and he has
contacted all the people that vied for the National Chairmanship
position of our great party.
That apart, we sent a text message and as well communicated in writing
to all the people that vied for different positions in that convention
to meet with the Reconciliation Committee because we see people as
very cardinal point. This is because the PDP is about the people. We
want to carry everybody along.
We just finished our convention and all of a sudden they want to start
seeking unnecessary notice. We have provision to see each and every
one of them. We want to accommodate them. The umbrella is too big and
large to accommodate them. If they decide to come back today, we will
welcome them but if they continue to display this level of rascality,
we will not hesitate to sack them if they are at all they are members
of the party.
I have called the Chairmen of the PDP in Imo and Abia States and asked
them to find out if these people are real. If they don’t retract that
the statement they made in Abuja within 48 hours, we will not hesitate
to sack them out of the party and we will forge ahead as a stronger
party. We want to strengthen this PDP. We want high level of
discipline. There is no room for radicalism again.