Ikpeazu Is Not Giving Ikonne The Essential Ingredients To Win Election – Megwara
In this exclusive interview with Honorable Kingsley Megwara on AF Television online TV program FOCAL POINT, issues as regards Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries and other political issues were discussed.
Note: This interview held before the PDP presidential primaries, so some of the interactions is belated. Read Full Interview;
Interviewer: Chief, during our last discussion there were lots of punches all over social media and you were made a talking point on different discussions. (laughs) This is another time to discuss again. Let’s get into it; How do you see the interactions, the reactions, the punches?
Megwara: Well, first of all i would have wanted the reactions to be civil. When you go down to the gutters and begin to use profanity or you begin to use derogatory languages, it takes away from the actual discussion. In all of those interactions I always try to be civil. It’s not about Kingsley Megwara, it’s about the people of Abia State, they have questions about some of the things we did in ASPIMS, by the way ASPIMS is the agency that is charged with Ambulance services in the state.
It is also charged with sensitizing drivers about the need to be civil on the road, and I’m extremely happy with what I did with ASPIMS. When I got there, there was nothing to work with, and now we’ve been able to procure four ambulances that came from the state, also in course of my administration we bought two additional ambulances. So I had ambulances stationed, one at Ururuka road and one very close to Aba, and another one that covered the axis of Uzuakoli. We had them strategically located so that our response time in the event of an accident would be minimal, so we were operating with six ambulances until I resigned from there.
Additionally, when Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu was the General Manager there, he started a wonderful project, building our own clinic in our premises. We called it the trauma centre, well I called it the mini trauma centre. I met that thing almost at the Lintel level, we completed that project, roofed it and everything.
What I wanted to do is; non-life threatening accidents would have been treated in our facility instead of going to FMC or Amachara; so we had that idea. I came into a facility that didn’t have electricity for eleven years, we brought back electricity. I came into a facility and hired thirteen new nurses, fourteen drivers that they had to take turns and eleven paramedics, so the staff strength was automatically increased, we had people working and it brought back vitality and made the place healthy again. They were being owed three months salary when I came; I’m the first General Manager that paid two months salary at the same time trying to catch up because if you don’t get this workers happy, you are not going to have the best coming from them.
Interviewer: Oh so you left backlog of Salaries?
Megwara: Well when I came in as General Manager they were owed three months salaries, when I left and the Director of Finance is still alive there, we were owing one month of salary because they brought in this agent that said “oh all of the areas we make money the state will now take it”, and we were getting five million Naira every month subvention. We have about two hundred employees that we were responsible for; Aba and Umuahia. So they can smear all they want, the records are there for everybody to go back to ASPIMS to verify. What is even more important is that the employees are there. Go to Aba or you go to Umuahia and ask the employees “How effective was Kingsley Megwara when he was General Manager?” Whatever the employees tell you, believe what they say. If my political friends, I don’t call them enemies, will come now and take a jab at me, I will say “Where are the ambulances I bought when I was the General Manager? The last information I heard was that they don’t have any ambulances again. They auctioned all of the ambulances, they said they couldn’t maintain them. They were Mercedes Benz bought by the State; they were used Mercedes Benz ambulances purchased by the state from Germany, so you have to have a good maintenance culture to keep them. I was maintaining those vehicles until the day I left, why then all of a sudden we don’t have one today. So Emenike, when people question what I did in ASPIMS, I’m proud of what the employees still say about Kingsley Megwara till date.
Interviewer: So let’s move into other issues which is obviously trending and you know in our last discussion we discussed about a whole lot of political issues and recently there’s been a whole lot of political issues going on in your party the PDP, especially during the primaries we began to see a new wave of withdrawals and I termed it withdrawal syndrome. A lot of people came out to say they weren’t participating , also almost all the prominent gubernatorial aspirants in that particular primaries pulled out.
The Deputy Governor pulled out, the current senator representing Abia South Senatorial Zone, Enyinnaya Abaribe pulled out and a lot of other people. Why do you think this pull outs are happening?
Megwara: Emenike, first of all I want to opine on your program that I think my party may be in trouble in Abia State and when I say that, I don’t say it to make anybody feel bad, I say it because it’s the truth and I don’t like when people say Megwara please don’t say all these truth; party is supreme; that’s rubbish. The supremacy of the party depends on the people who are members of the party. This phrase called ‘party is supreme’ is only meant to hoodwink people, Party is supreme is as old as 1972. Members of any political party who are not questioning the day to day activities of that party are headed for trouble and I think Abia PDP may be in trouble, just may be in trouble and that trouble I can only attribute to the incompetence of the party Chairman.
It’s either Asiforo Okere is highly incompetent or is highly being pushed around, I don’t know which is which. To have Guber aspirants of notable figures pulling out of the major elections; that we would lose the likes of Ginger Onwusibe today, that we would lose the likes of Darlington and Ubani Dannie; and we go to Ukwa, Adolphus Nwagbara is not happy with the way things are going on. You come to Umuahia, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; you cannot call him today and hear what he has to say about the party. So when you have the essential ingredients that makes up what we call a party, the people who are potentially those who would help us win elections and everybody is disgruntled because of the process. You cannot sit in a room and decide who your three man ad-hoc delegates would be, we’ve done this process before and Kingsley Megwara will always stand on the truth. Why are all of this candidates pulling out? Because they no longer believe in the process. If you have a Governor who advisers will come and say, “Onye isi me ihe a, onwe ihe ga’eme”, well my brothers ihe nwere ike ime. You don’t insult leaders of the party and expect to win elections. It’s never done anywhere and I’m not going to be a party to any action that looks like a criminal enterprise.
Interviewer: But the question is, which also we have seen on social media, a lot of prominent PDP members who are still in the PDP are also saying this. They are saying that this is the process that has always been in existence, It’s always been this way. Why is it now that those who used to enjoy it before are no longer enjoying it and are rather unhappy. If that is the culture of PDP, what is the problem?
Megwara: No I have never seen it with this level of impunity, it has always been an arrangement, and party men and women would agree with me. The three man Ad-hoc election has always been an arrangement where you respect people. Emenike when you seize to respect integral member of the party then you’ve gotten it wrong. There can never be an Nnamoha in a party that is as big as PDP when this young boys running around the governor will tell him Onwe ihe g’eme, that’s what is putting anger in all of these men. The governor’s critical advisers; and I’m not going to mention names here and as we go further we would begin to expose those putting us where we are. They have made it extremely difficult for Prof. Ikonne who by the way may come onboard and surprise a lot of people; I didn’t vote for him and I have my reasons but I’m not going to judge a man until he gets into the theater of operation and you know what he will have to do.
They are not giving Prof. Ikonne any chance in the next elections because of the way things are. We cannot lose this amount of important members of our party and expect to do miracles next years in the election. I am saddened that my party has come to this level and people say “Megwara are you leaving?” Leaving to go where. We are going to be inside the party to fight and clean up the party. The PDP as I know it today is not what it used to be and again I repeat it’s either Asiforo Okere is grossly incompetent or is grossly being pushed around.
Interviewer: What do you think Asiforo Okere has done wrong? Because obviously he isn’t the leader of the party. The leader of the party is the Governor of the state.
Megwara: Well, the Governor may be the leader of the party but Asiforo Okere has a critical role to play. There are certain things the Governor will say, push this or push that, and he would say “Nnanyi ukwu, m’gagi emeli nka”.
Emma Nwaka as Chairman will never tolerate some of what I’m seeing, Akimbode will never have tolerated some of what am seeing today. As at now, we’ve conducted elections, we still don’t have elections coming out of Arochukwu, we don’t have results coming out from Ohafia.
Interviewer: There are results already how can you say there aren’t results?
Megwara: We haven’t seen them, because this people are clamoring and saying they didn’t even see election materials not to talk about those conducting the elections. Why will I be in a party when all these complains are coming. Lets take Umuahia North State Constituency for example, people were there waiting to see election materials and to see one Young Onyike who is supposed to be the one conducting. He was no where to be seen and there were no materials and yet you write a result in that and basically make people angry.
The same people who we will expect to come and vote for us are seeing this kind of madness going on. Emenike I feel for my party I have no idea of what is going to happen and I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be in this party I have always been in PDP and I’m not going anywhere but I’m very critical of what we are doing now because I want us to get it right. We are not giving Prof. Ikonne chance. We are not giving him any chance to prove himself.
Interviewer: it seems you are shielding the Governor of Abia State who is obviously your party leader. You said that there are some young people that are directing him, but the ball ends in his court. He is the person in charge. Don’t you think he should have stood up and set the records straight and make things happen properly?
Megwara: Well, Emenike if you notice, I have been very critical of the Governor. He is my friend and some of us in 2015 believed that he is the best thing that could have salvaged our state from where we saw it, I have said to you in previous interviews that am very unimpressed about what we have done in the last seven years. When we came on board in 2015 this state was owing about 37 billion Naira in debt. Today, its about a 100 and something billion Naira in debt. When we came on board the issues of salaries was not as bad as it is today. When we came on board the pensioners issue wasn’t this bad. When we came on board this state being addressed as the dirtiest in the federation wasn’t like that. All of these things I see make me unhappy.
I have a lot of comparative analysis between us and Ebonyi state, look at Ebonyi just Ebonyi of yesterday. We get more internally generated revenue than Ebonyi, we get more from federal allocation than Ebonyi. My brother when I say these things , Kinglsley Megwara is not angry at anybody. I’m not disgruntled. I just want the best for Abia State. For every time I leave the shores of this state to go to America to see my kids, when I’m coming back I’m saddened to know the way things are and it’s not about me. When I leave this program, tomorrow you’d see the likes of Chikamnayo start talking about Kingsley Megwara. Yes Chikamnayo, Kiingsley Megwara has said, it’s not about me, it’s about Abia State and it’s about our collective interest. They will go petty and call me a Returned Taxi-Driver from America. By the way Emenike, I did drive a taxi when I was in America.
Interviewer: You did?
Megwara: Yes, I did drive a taxi when I was going to school in America. I was a dishwasher when I was going to school in the United States. Every menial job I had to do to sustain myself to go to a fine University, Georgia State University google it, a very fine University from Atlanta Georgia. So, Chikamnayo will leave the fact and talk about me. By the way, they even said it was yesterday I got married. Well, I have five wonderful children from ages 42 to 2 years old. My first son is 42 years old, and the second is 29, third one is 24 and then I started this next generation dynasty kids. I have a 3 year old and 1 year old. So that’s me, but please folks leave the private life of Kingsley Megwara and face the issues.
Interviewer: Okay, let’s look at court issues. Obviously a lot of court cases are being filed in Abuja against the primaries and of course we’ve talked about the issue of the three man delegate which is the bone of contention. Do you see PDP scaling through these cases that are being filed at the moment?
Megwara: Everybody has gone to the court. It is either they nullify what we have done or they are going to validate it. I do not know. I’m not a lawyer, I am a criminologist. I don’t know what is going to happen going forward but I fear for this state. I don’t want to see a repetition of what happened to Dr Okezie Ikpeazu. In the first four years, in fairness to him was very rough, the resources that would have been used to make this place better was being used to service the court system in this country, quote me. What we would have been using to clean up the mess in this state, the energy and resources were going out of the state. I see a repetition of that happening peradventure Prof. Ikonne wins governorship it’s going to be litigation, litigation, litigation, so why ab-initio we didn’t give a resemblance of sanity in the process so that we can at least distort the hemorrhaging that will come from this litigation. For the next four years if Ikonne becomes Governor it’s going to be court, court, court and we don’t need that.
Abaribe has gone to court, Nana Nwafor is in Court, Omerekepe is in court, everybody is in court. I don’t know what the result of that will be. Are they going to nullify what we have already done or are they going to validate what we’ve done, I do not know but I am not happy that there’s going to be a repetition peradventure Professor Ikonne wins, he is going to be in court for a long time and I do not like that.
Interviewer: There may be a scenario where there are inter-party issues and of course now in our election period you have to factor in the court and there may be another external court issues again from left, right, centre.
Megwara: If you get the real figures and facts of what it takes to procure al this SAN and the “Bubuyaya” that is involved in our court system you will know what am talking about. There are several things I won’t be privileged to say to you.
Interviewer: Okay Honorable, the PDP primaries are obviously over except for some few places where you just talked about, even though some people are already rejoicing that they have won, like the Abia North Senatorial Zone which Honorable Uko Nkole is still insisting that it’s unfinished but obviously Senator Mao Ohuabunwa is celebrating that he has won. The Arochukwu State Constituency issue somebody is already celebrating that he has won, but what do you think the PDP in Abia State should be doing at this moment after all this activities?
Megwara: Emenike I sympathize with Professor Ikonne because usually, after every primary you start from day one to go back to all of the aspirants to say “umu nnem bia’ni ka anyi mara otu anyi si eme ya “. He doesn’t have that leverage at this time because most of these actors are in court. It makes it extremely difficult for him. The Governor wants Ikonne to succeed him but he is not giving him the essential ingredients for that success. I have criticized the Governor’s performance as very lackluster. What are we going to tell the electorates about the messy situation with our pensioners? What are our marketing tools going into next year’s election? I see a lot of pot holes for Professor Ikonne, the healing process should start right now.
Some of our brothers that have left us and are gone those are irretrievable former members of the party but there has to be some healing. If we have any chance next year, APGA is breeding down our neck. Be it Professor Greg Ibe a fine gentle man by the way; Chief Udensi, they are breeding down our neck. Look at what is going on now in the Labour Party with this extra oxygen coming from Peter Obi and perhaps Kwankwanso, I don’t even know what is going to happen here. Alex Otti is right there. Most of the major players who failed this last process we just did from PDP, are either going to Labour or APGA so we are going to have a very competitive election come next year.
As a party what are we going to do to make sure that Professor Ikonne will have a chance and I am saying this because we have a compelling interest to make sure this thing is right. But i will tell you this, I am not going to be party to any party that will not mean well for Abia State. I will not be any party to any political block that is not going to be beneficial. I Kinglsey Megwara is looking for competency over mediocrity. The job to be done after Okezie leaves is a lot
We need to get back to the track. Are you happy with the way Abia State is? We are the laughing stock of the nation and I am pained by that. I want to see a situation where for a start we deal with the issue of pensioners. I don’t want to see this men dying one by one without collecting their pensions, it’s wrong. Salaries in this state, what do we need to do about it? State being in complete dirty situation, what do we need to do about it? Infrastructural decay in this sate, what do we need to do about it? Those are the major points that i want us to see and if Professor Ikonne is the answer, so help us God. If he is not, men and women of this state are no longer going to be fooled, their eyes are wide opened and looking, we are going to take competency over mediocrity, we have to get it right.
Interviewer: If you were sitting with the PDP chairman, Asiforo Okere which obviously you have made some statements against, what would be your advice to him at this critical period?
Megwara: It’s no longer about Asiforo Okere, it’s about Professor Ikonne. Asiforo Okere is no longer a player in the game right now. It’s Professor Ikonne going back to the drawing board and say, okay I want to be Governor. A lot of my members are disgruntled, I have lost about nine guber candidates who are major players in all of the areas they come from. What do I do from now? The healing process have to start from him if he will have any chance. The result of the areas that have not been called, look into it and see if there is any credibility with it. We have already screwed up with the three man ad-hoc formation and people are aggrieved about it, I’m equally one of the people that said we did not handle very very well, that blame goes to Dr. Okezie Ikepeazu, he is the leader of the party and we have done this thing before without this “bubuyaya” you are hearing about.
So Professor Ikonne needs to go back to the drawing board and decide how he will have to act going forward. It pains me that when some of us are critical of what is going on just to get it right. It affects my own party but i don’t believe in ‘party is supreme’ anymore, we’ve swept too many garbage under the carpet and that is why we are where we are. Lets expose ourselves with the primary purpose of getting right. We have to rebuild PDP, this is not the PDP that we once knew.
Interviewer: One of your very close ally in this political system, the Speaker of the House of Assembly Rt.Hon. Chinedum Orji emerged also through this same process that we are critical about. He also emerged as a flag bearer for PDP for Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency, What’s your take on that?
Megwara: Well first of all Engr. Chinedum Orji is not my ally, he is my brother and I believe he is very competent. He has done well in the Abia State House of Assembly, I am very proud of what he has done , never in the history of that house have you seen the quality of what has come out from that house, most of those members have done very well in their various constituencies which by the way is not their primary function. The primary function of a legislator is to make laws, this guys have been able to bring about dividends of democracy in their various quarters. I think Engr. Chinedum Orji is going to do well, he is already going to enjoy ranking peradventure God helps him to win in the general elections. If you do that election fifty times Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency however formation, three man delegation, twenty two man delegation, fifty five man delegation, Engr. Chinedum Orji is extremely very popular in this side of Abia State so he is going to do well and i wish him luck.
Interviewer: Okay, Let’s go to national discourse at the moment. The Igbo presidency issue is still on, its becoming a little bit clear that the chances of Igbos is very slim. Do you see any chance?
Megwara: I may not see any chance of an Igbo man being president from the PDP. The last time you and i sat on this table you asked me about Peter Obi and i told you that there about 20 people running to be president that i know have the paper trail and qualification to do so and i said it’s Peter obi, it’s Peter Obi, it’s Peter Obi, it’s Peter Obi until i got to twenty. What they’ve done I’m sad that even some of our brothers are part of what is happening.
Interviewer: Even the Governor is not in support of Peter Obi. He supported his friend Wike.
Megwara: Well, that’s just the Governor, but we have 17 men from the 17 local governments who are going to put their vote.
Interviewer: But he controls them; he is the leader of the party and of course he must have given his friend Wike the blank cheque, don’t worry about Abia. I am in charge.
Megwara: Well first of all if I were in the Governor’s shoe’s, I wouldn’t have come up front to quickly endorse Governor Wike. I have not followed Governor Wike very closely but I have followed the fact that River State is very rich. Whatever might have informed Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to have thrown his weight behind Nyesom Wike, I do not know but as a elementary politician I don’t see the pathway to Governor Wike being President of this country. It hurts me to see and know that Igbos did not rally around Peter Obi.
Interviewer: Some Igbo leaders, not all Igbo leaders because of course you are Igbo, I am Igbo. A lot of Igbos are in support of Peter Obi.
Megwara: Yes. Let us see what is going to happen in the coming days, with Peter Obi going to Labour Party the momentum is on his side now. Nigerians want somebody who will come in and clean the mess after President Buhari, that’s what i hear in the streets and so I am not happy that in Abia State it doesn’t seem we were giving him any chance by virtue of the Governor saying ‘I am supporting my friend’. It’s good to support your friend but we are party men and women in PDP, there are seventeen people in 17 local government who will go out there to Abuja to cast that vote. I don’t want the kind of powers that governors currently enjoy in the system. I do not like the kind of powers governors currently enjoy in this country, It’s dangerous and it is not democratically progressive for all of us . i think that my friend Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu probably in the coming days may regret his support for Nyesom Wike.
Interviewer: (laughs) Thank God you said you think. But there are information that Peter Obi has moved to Labour. Are you going to be in PDP and support a Labour presidential candidate?
Megwara: Well, Emenike I am in PDP, I am In PDP and I am in PDP. I just want things to be right in this State. I have no plans of jumping any ship at this time but we must get it right. If Peter Obi emerges from the Labour Party there are several people who are going to cross party to vote for Obi as a presidential candidate. By the way the numbers will shrink in the next elections if peradventure INEC and all of this propaganda that they are going to get it right in the next election. Okezie Ikpeazu won with about 282,000 or 284,000 votes in the last election, whoever will win governorship in this state will be under a hundred and fifty thousand, a hundred and sixty thousand, a hundred and seventy thousand. That’s my prediction. We are not going to have those kinds of numbers cause i know how those numbers came about.
Interviewer: You know how those numbers came about?
Megwara: Well some of us know how this numbers came about.
Interviewer: Can you tell our audience how they came about.
Megwara: I will when i turn 80. When I’m 80 years old I’d tell you that. We may not be able to get another 82,000 votes from Obingwa, we may not be able to 22,000 thousand votes from Ugwunagbo and i can go on and on and on. If there’s any sense of sanity in the process, the numbers will now shrink and anybody that wins governorship was the one that won governorship.
Interviewer: But do you see any chance of opposition picking Abia State?
Megwara: We are vulnerable. PDP is vulnerable in Abia State. Anybody can believe it or not. We are vulnerable to APGA and I have told you that if they come down with Dr Gregory Ibe, it’s quality and by the way people keep writing Alex Otti off. Alex Otti is quality whether you like to believe me or you don’t want to believe me. So we have other guber candidates from other parties that are quality. Men who are visionaries and I am not writing Professor Ikonne off. Going into the election already he has twenty five thirty percent in the bank because we have been in this party forever and those establishments are still there. Yes we have a lot of our member who are angry now but I think Professor Ikonne will begin to do a door to door, house to house movement saying guys let’s clean up the mess , I am the agent now regardless of how i came about, I am my own man. It’s time for Professor Ikonne to stand up and say, “I am my own Man” eh that’s what Abians want to know.
Interviewer: What do you think anybody that emerges governor of Abia State should be focused on come 2023?
Megwara: Well, first of all we are the bottom of the ladder infrastructurally in the state. If you move from here and go to Ebonyi or go to any other state you would know that we are really really very backward here. I will say that the health care system in Abia State is not at par at all. We don’t have one credible facility in this state .
Interviewer: But we have FMC.
Megwara: That’s a Federal Institution. I’m saying this state doesn’t have one that meets any standard and i want to see that happen. And i have also told you that we needed to take care of our people. There is no reason why anybody should be working and not getting their pay. Let’s get it right. One of the things that gives us money in this state is from Federal Government. The price of oil today has quadrupled from what it used to be. Money is being pumped into this State we are just not using it very judiciously. The next governor has to be prudent, you have to also have the right people around you. The days when boys advice the governor should be offer. Men should be advising. I just want somebody to come on board and get it right, be it Professor Ikonne, be it Gregory Ibe, be it Dr. Alex Otti, what we want in this state now is somebody to come in and clean the mess so that everyone can be happy.
The infrastructural decay of this state is terrible. Roads are in deplorable conditions and we are not taking care of our elderly people here. Please I will impress upon the next governor to make sure that those ambulance services that are stay stationed on the road. Those are very healthy, and every day now you go around and you see very mad people all over the place, we need to begin to have the human part to us. I have always told my friend and he say ‘Megwara you want to be commissioner’, commissioner for what? The thing that impress me is making sure that when there are accidents on the road, people are being rushed to the hospital. The thing that would impress me or I would like to see is that we are cleaning up our cities and making this place a little more clean. If You know the amount of communicable diseases that are arising as a result of the filth that are filling Club Road, School Road, Finbarrs and all those places. Those are the ways that these diseases are amplified. We need to clean up this town, very very important. We need to go back to helping our people, we’ve not done so.
Interviewer: So you think that any new government coming in should look at social welfare?
Megwara: Very very important. You go out there in the street, you’d see crazy people all around why can’t we convert one old primary school that nobody is using and assemble all of this people and clean them. Most of them can be rehabilitated. We can do all of that. There has to be a human face. To leave it for the office of the wife of the governor is not enough. so social services in this State is zero take it from me and we need to go back to doing those things and I’ve talked about how our infrastructure is in terrible condition. If anyone slumps down now the only thing we have is FMC. Why can’t this state have a trauma centre run by the state government. FMC is a federal institution. We don’t have one quality hospital in Abia State, quote me.