In this interview the leader of APC in Delta State and the governorship candidate in the last election, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, spoke on wide on the huge interest APC is attracting amongst prominent politicians in Delta state, how the party is repositioning to takeover power come 2019.
We hear APC Delta is banking on boosting its ranks with new entrants in order to capture Delta state in 2019? Tell us about how APC is going about this?
Yes, it is public knowledge that APC as the national ruling party in the country is attracting expected interest of critical political players in Delta state who share the common mission of dislodging the PDP that has misruled the state for nearly 17 years! We are excited by the decision of known opposition leaders and strong former PDP stalwarts who are now joining forces with us in this endeavour! In particular, Chief Great Ogboru is leading the whole structure of the Labour party in Delta state to join us! The former speaker of the Delta State house of assembly, Hon Victor Ochei, as you must be aware, apart from being the state leader of Accord party, also set up a statewide structure to pursue his then governorship race in the PDP. He is also collapsing these structures into the APC. There are others, former commissioners and government appointees and party stalwarts of the PDP that have joined us or are warming up to do so!
Talking about Chief Great Ogboru and Labour party; recently, there was controversy between theparty and Ogboru where the party through its state Chairman Chief Tony Ezeagwu, denied the party’s involvement or participation in any merger talk with APC or any intention to do so. The party even went ahead to suspend Ogboru and a number of other persons! How is this going to play out in your merger talk?
To start with, the Labour party got it wrong! APC was never in any merger talk. Mergers don’t take place at state level and in any case, APC merger of parties ended in July 2013 when the APC was born! What we were having with Ogboru/ Labour was a discussion to fuse his/its structure in Delta into the APC. They are to join the APC not merge! Two, it is common knowledge that Ogboru and his group is the soul of Labour party in Delta state! There was no real Labour party until Ogboru led the then DPP members to join and populate Labour and there will be no Labour party once Ogboru and his group leaves the party as it’s about to happen! Thirdly, it is evident that Chief Tony Ezeagwu’s real intent is to play a spoiler role in an attempt to halt the emergence of a robust and formidable APC in Delta state. This is a time renowned political tactics and we at APC are not falling for it. We know the purported controversy is contrived, so we are going ahead with our discussions and arrangements with Ogboru and his people! Also you must be aware that Ogboru has resigned from the Labour party and together with his people formed a new group known as Light of Labour. Thisis how we will relate to them going forward!
So, what are these arrangements APC is having with Ogboru and Light of Labour? We understand your existing State Executive Committee ( Exco) is to be dissolved in order to give way to a Caretaker Exco that will accommodate the new entrants, is this true?
This is not true. Our existing Exco will not be dissolved and cannot be dissolved until new congresses are conducted in the future. In any case, the situation with Delta will not be different, all over the country, individuals and groups are joining the APC daily and the affected state Excos are not dissolved. Let me say that what the APC party in Delta did was to set up a Welcoming Committee to handle all issues of individuals and groups wanting to join the party. This 9 man committee is headed by Hon Fred Okpowhoro. However, in recognition and appreciation of the capacity each individual or group is bringing into the party, as in the case of Ogboru, Ochei and others who are bringing in strong groups and impacts, the committee is empowered to reach arrangements with them that will provide them comfort and a sense of belonging and to allow them have a say in the affairs of the party.
How does the party plan to achieve this accommodation and comfort?
A; One major arrangement the party has in mind is to put in place a Leadership Council that will have memberships from both existing and new entrants. This in reality is a deliberately expanded Caucus of the party to accommodate the new entrants. This will be done at the State, LGA and Ward levels, ensuring that a high level of integration is achieved throughout the state. This organ will act to accommodate all views and work in harmony with the state, LGA and ward Excos to entrench the party. Another arrangement in the works is the setting aside of a minimum period of two weeks for intensive registration exercise for new entrants.
Is there any programme or time table for achieving all these?
A; In a week or two from now, the expanded State Executive Committee (SEC) of the party will be meeting to approve all the arrangements reach with groups joining the party; in particular, the Ogboru, Ochei and Pdp groups! Also at that meeting, the timetable for welcoming the new entrants will also be approved. This will include the period for intensive new entrants registration; leadership visit to our national party, and date for a grand rally to receive the new members and groups!
So when do you plan to have the said Grand Rally/ Reception?
We are currently in discussions with our party at the National level and the indications we are getting is that it will likely happen in June.
Now, to other related matters, what is the party doing to unify all its various factions particularly as you prepare to receive a deluge of new members? We know of Chief Adolo Okotie Eboh faction as well as some others?
In truth we have only one APC in Delta State. We do not have any faction. The Exco headed by Prophet Jones Erue is the only Exco and is duly recognised by the party at the national level. Yes Chief Adolo heads a group consisting mainly of his former executives in the defunct ACN that merged into APC. What we know is that he went to court to challenge his loss at the state congress held in 2014 that saw the emergence of the current Exco. The case is currently at the appeal court. No known leader or party stalwarts are with him other than a few members of his old ACN Exco. As is normal in any political party, there are always a few cases of individuals or tendencies nursing varied grievances within the party! These do not qualify for categorisation as factions! But I believe the intention of your question is to know what the party is doing about internal dissents and what is being done to unify the party. I can tell you that we are indeed working hard at this. Even to the Adolo group and others, we are continually extending an olive branch of reconciliation. And much progress is being made.
We hear too that the issue of Federal appointments in the APC government is also generating problems for the party in the state. That no party member from Delta has been appointed to any position because of infighting? Is this true?
This again is very untrue! There are no problems over appointments in the state and Delta State APC has not been treated differently from other states. Some just appear to be out there to cause disenchantment on non existing issues! Delta state got a Minister like every other state and we are currently awaiting the appointments of party stalwarts as board executives, chairmen and members very soon. This process is being handled by the federal government in conjunction with the party at national. The party at the state level is looking eager to have our members well represented in these appointments which we believe will further position us to build the party stronger in the state.
Finally, so what is your take about the continuing hardships Nigerians are suffering; worsened power situation, return of fuel queues, worsening economy etc? People are now saying this is not the change they wanted or voted for?
I would ask that Nigerians must exercise more patience and continue to support President Buhari. As you know and from my personal experience in corporate restructuring, most times, things do get worse before they start to improve! As you also must know, our economy has ran on corruption for so long that the abrupt attack on corruption has the unfortunate effect of defueling the economy initially! Even when we may feel the President is slow, however, the deliberate steps he is taking in the critical sectors of infrastructure, power, petroleum and agriculture will soon yield the desired results! Patience and support will pay Nigerians handsomely!