Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, in this interview with a select media, talked on the crisis running the Cross River State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He also spoke on the reasons behind his long battle with some APC stakeholders in his State, as well as his role in the votes President Mohhamadu Buhari gathered in Cross River at the last elections. EZEOCHA NZEH was there for The AUTHORITY, and brings the excerpts.
What is your take on the allegation of anti-party against you from your party?.
These allegations are not strange to me. You can cross check everything I am going to say because they are verifiable. From 1999 to 2015, I have had no reason to dine with the PDP. It was a political fallow season. You will probably be surprised to hear that when I contested for governorship in the opposition in 2003, there was an attempt in broad day light to assassinate me and I ran out of the country to return after two years. At that time, I was offered to contest for the senate by the PDP, and I declined. In 2012, when I contested against PDP candidate, offers were also made to me and I declined. If you talk to Cross Riverians, they know us by character. So, when I had a political fallow season, if I did not accept overture from them, what will attract me now as Minister. If for 16 years, I declined everything that tended to be offers to me, now that I am minister, what do I intend to gain. Is it that if I support them, I will become President? This is a crafted blackmail intended to decimate my reputation. Thank God as Journalists, you have the capacity to verify what you get or the information you receive.
When the people coming together to fabricate these things are said to have the capacity to win election came in, the first person to send a message that if the APC is to win election in Cross River, Usani Usani has to contest is Senator John Owan Enoh. But when the former governor of Cross River state felt that it was too risky for them to allow Usani come in, he told him to go and fight for it so that whether it goes the way of PDP or APC, he will be in charge. Meanwhile, that former governor was zonal coordinator for PDP presidential campaign. When the National Chairman came into office, they caused him to believe that I was supporting the former Chairman, Oyegun and I wonder what type of sense that made because Oyegun did not contest any election. So, even if somebody was supporting him, of what value would that support be?
Secondly, the National Vice Chairman, South South, Hillard Eta, who is spreading this falsehood, did the same thing against me during Oyegun’s Chairmanship. For over two years, he peddled these falsehood and they realised too late that these fellows were not the character they think they are. My silence for a while is because somebody worth occupying a public office should be able to recognise where rule and order should prevail. I have always been quite and not talking on this issue because the constitution says we should not go to the press. But when the managers of a system violate their own rules, then it means that the anarchy does not allow the institution to run. Now, I have decided to speak out because further silence in the phase of the falsehood in the market will suggest that I am guilty.
To suggest that I worked for the PDP can only be authenticated by the indices we lay across. Find out if in the course of the recently concluded elections, if they did not say, vote for the Presidential candidate and for the rest, vote for us. Go to Calabar and verify. Find out if the National Vice Chairman South south won one polling unit in his own ward for the President. There are two wards in my community and the PDP did not win any unit. I accumulated over 4000 votes while the PDP got about 1000. Assuming I was working for the PDP and I produced results against them, which one is more viable to believe.
What would you say about the factional leadership of APC in Cross River State?
When they say crisis in APC, we don’t have factional leadership in APC. Before the current Chairman came, congresses had been concluded. He decided that they will dissolve the state executive whereas as soon as that was concluded, we were given certified true copies of the results of the congresses supervised by INEC as prescribed by law. One day, they just came and saId, we dissolved it. We sought redress in court and till date, the subsisting judgement in that regard showed that Hon. Godwin Etim John is the chairman of the party. So, impostors are just buying their ways as a result of favours that does not accrue from any due process. So, there are no factions in the party. Every action being taken in response to this situation by them is contemptuous. They have also gone ahead to write a petition to the President alleging these same things. Incidentally, I have given a response to that petition. These people have no interest in this party. They came to destroy the party and run back to PDP. For the South south zonal chairman, I put it on record that in 2012, I sponsored him to be ACN chairman in the state. In 2014 when we were discussing zoning of positions in the South South, I proposed his name against the wishes of Cross River indigenes and they told me he will disappoint us, but I stood by him. I honour principles and preserve accords and so, I put his name. Whatever their anger is, I have given every room for us to sit and discuss, but you will understand that when a society is growing, those who stand as victims are those who have honour and that is our situation.
On your suspension by the APC national leadership.
I started administration at a high level in 1992 and I know what administration entails. I know that administration is not done in the open market or village square, especially when you have rules guiding a particular system. If, for any reason, I am accused of committing an offence, the constitution provides how the procedure should be. I did not receive any invitation to answer to any query; neither did I receive ay correspondence suggesting that I am under punitive measure. So, I just presume that it is one of those media rumour and so, didn’t need to apply myself to it. However, I saw a letter from my ward chairman saying I remain a bonafide member of the APC in the ward he controls and that I have not committed any offence to warrant a disciplinary measure. So, I remain a member in my ward and that is where I stand. The question is, why would anybody want to suspend me? All methods, legitimate and legal has failed them in a bid to stop me from my governorship ambition and so, they adopted a cowboy method thinking that pronouncing suspension on air will make meaning. It does not make any meaning
You said President Buhari is the only image of APC, so, what would be the faith or future for APC after Buhari
Like in every vocation or activity in life, even the environment that is natural is dynamic. Therefore, the future of the party will not be determined by the projections of today because tomorrow may turn a new live. The determination of the strength of a party does not also lie in the internal melee, but the actions and reaction of contending forces. That can always change the fortunes of the party. At the end of the President’s second term, if Christ tallies, God will give us what befits us because my Bible tells me that a leader emerges from the system and the nature of the people. So, whatever happens, it may be a stronger or weaker party, but there will still be a party.
Would you have made any impact in the governorship election, if you were given the ticket
I want to tell you that it is true that the PDP rigged elections and it is not in any way a hidden secret that they rigged election in Cross River. The truth is that the University of Calabar where the returning officers were drawn from is managed by the Vice Chancellor who is from the local government of the governor and majority of the returning officers were drawn from that local government. There were instances where people who retired from the military became returning officers. In my ward, the presiding officers were speaking my language and no youth corper served in his local government. These are proof that PDP rigged the election. Assuming I was a candidate, I won’t assume I will be declared because the reasons for declarations are beyond the ordinary. Legitimate and legal processes shows that we are the real candidates of the party. You can verify that and will find out that the only record in INEC suggestive of a congress or primary, puts me as candidate of the party. So, whatever makes INEC to keep publishing what we don’t understand is what we cannot unravel. As at today, even though there are cases at the Appeal level, the subsisting judgement remains valid until an appellate decision is taken. The only valid judgement so far is in our favour. Evidence available suggests that these people are playing a game midwifed by the former PDP governor of the state. If you find anything otherwise in documents that we are not the candidate, prove it.
Do you think all these are plots to stop you from returning as minister and would you want sacrifice your ambition and dialogue.
For me, what matters in life is not money or position. When the Bible said Herod exhorted himself above the knowledge of God, it is this type of attitude. Who is who to determine the fate of another man? So, when they behave like that, I don’t care. God gives positions and l don’t need to depend on anybody to get positions. I got this one without lobby. God must have used people to promote me to this point. Go and find out when I served military administrators as commissioner. There were times when I said instead of this, I will resign. You heard what I said on the floor of the senate during my screening when it was insinuated that I had a parley with the PDP. If you cannot serve the devil, don’t eat his food. That is my philosophy. I wont put my hand behind and collect and then pretend. They were too arrogant to sit in discussion even though I know that I have greater political fortunes in the state than they have put together. My fortunes in politics are from the life I have lived with my people and they know me. It is not a matter of being ambitious, but recognising that we all can form a whole.
Don’t you think with your suspension, the APC nationaL chairman tried to make a statement.
I tell you something. When Socrates was already 70 years old, he found a man whose worker was stealing his proceeds and the man killed that worker and the son of this man came to him and said daddy, you said this man committed evil and you killed him. Are you not committing the same evil like the man? Because the Athenian philosophers were afraid that at every time, Socrates will prove them wrong, they decided to imprison him. He told them I am already 70 and will soon die. If you kill me, the uprising will be faster, so allow me to die naturally. They refused and killed him and the uprising came earlier than anticipated. If you think suspending me is managing the crisis, let me say it is provoking the crisis because he will lose a lot. I know that I am not serving any suspension. Did I register in Abuja? Did anybody tell you l have membership of APC in Abuja. We are all members of our wards. When election came did you see us in Abuja. I have mentioned here that in all attempts to stop me legally and procedurally having failed, they adopted a Cowboy method but that is not the way to stop me