Q: CONGRATULATIONS TO YOUR EXCELLENCY BECAUSE ONE YEAR AGO, YOU WERE
APPOINTED CHAIRMAN, PDP GOVERNORS’ FORUM. WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS HAVE YOU
RECORDED DURING THIS PERIOD?
A: Thank you for reminding me that I was selected by my colleagues in the
presence of Mr. President, the National leadership of our great party,
members of the Board of Trustees, members of the National Working
Committee, and all the Governors as the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum.
You just reminded me that it happened on the 24th of February, 2013 and
the forum is one-year old. I am the pioneer Chairman of that forum.
You cannot talk about achievements as such because the Forum has no budget
and therefore cannot embark on capital projects. But the intention of the
forum was to reposition our party, to ensure peer review mechanism so that
the PDP governors can learn from one another, compare notes and ensure
full implementation of manifesto of the PDP. Of course, we should
guarantee food on the tables of Nigerians, dividends of democracy,
infrastructure to all and sundry, give better education, better
health-care and general enhancement of the lives of Nigerians.
I want to say that one year after, the forum has lived to it
responsibilities allotted to the forum. We have been able to create a
synergy between the members of our great party and national Assembly and
then the Governors of the PDP. We have been able to get a better
understanding, a working relationship with Mr. President who is the leader
of the PDP. We have managed to work and understand each other now better.
We held meeting with National Assembly- something that has never happened
before- the Working Committee, the PDP Governors, leadership of the
National Assembly as well as members of the PDP in the National Assembly.
You have seen that we have worked together to ensure a mini convention
that repositions our party and brought in new hands to ensure the vibrancy
of the PDP and reposition the party to win in 2015 general elections.
Despite the crack in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the PDP Governors’
Forum has remained steadfast, together and stable and is a major
stabilizing factor even for Nigerian Governors in general. We are very
happy that that Forum has come to be. I have enjoyed robust cooperation
from my colleagues, the Governors of the PDP and I thank them so much for
reposing confidence in me and for always standing by me. A leader without
followership cannot claim to be a leader. I am so happy that my colleagues
are supporting me. Mr. President has stood behind me and the Working
Committee of our party has been wonderful.
How are we going to perform in 2015? So far we have sent jitters and
shivers to even the opposition party. They try to change names but that
couldn’t work. The next thing they could do was to attempt a merger to see
if they can rival the PDP. It is not in the change of name, it is in the
content. PDP is the only national party in Nigeria. It does not belong to
anybody; it belongs to all Nigerians. Nobody can lay claims to PDP. We are
very happy with the party and all Nigerians because this is the only party
that has confidence in giving all Nigerians a sense of belonging. That is
why they could come to the South-South of Nigeria, a minority part to pick
a President in the person of President Goodluck Jonathan. This shows that
Nigerians are detribalised in nature. The idea of division only comes from
political leaders, who want to corner the wealth of the country.
There is no division in the minds of Nigerians. Every Nigerian craves for
infrastructure and good governance and the PDP is providing that. The
humane nature of Mr. President gives attention to education. He grew up as
an ordinary Nigerian; he understands the educational system and he
understands the feelings of Nigerians that is why all of us are supporting
him. In spite of the challenges, you can see that he is still focused on
ensuring that the power sector works. Now we are seeing the privatization
of the power sector, we have seen a revolution in the agricultural sector,
a lot of roads have been constructed and the railways have been
revitalized. The President understands what is going on and that is why
Nigerians are behind him and the PDP Governors are winning awards on a
daily basis; man of the year, best Governor of the year, PDP Governor and
We need to support the President; we need to focus on transforming this
country, not on ethnic and divisive things that the opposition is
dwelling. Propaganda can only sustain the opposition for a few months.
When the nitty gritty of the nation comes, you will know that PDP
Governors are behind their President and PDP will deliver in all elections
Q: IN ONE YEAR AS CHAIRMAN, PDP GOVERNORS’ FORUM, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR
GREATEST CHALLENGE AND PERHAPS REGRET?
A: I don’t have regret. You can talk about challenges. The challenge is
the idea of people thinking that the only way they can aspire is through
the opposition. The loss of some of my colleagues who decided to defect to
opposition could be something that posed a lot of challenge because no
party would like to lose a state Governor. But then what has happened is
democracy in action.
The reality is that most of them, their deputies did not go with them and
over 90 per cent of their supporters say ‘no we are not going there’. Look
at the rally the party is doing everywhere – supporters have come out in
large number to say we are not going anywhere because this is the only
national political party. Every person in this country craves for a sense
of belonging and it is only PDP that can give Nigerians that sense of
So, the joy of it is yes the followers are still intact. The main
challenge the Forum has been the issue of defection of those few
Governors. You know doors are still open, we are hoping in the next few
months some of them will see the need to come back and join their kids and
kins because it is not easy to go and line up in another political party
when you had attained the level of a Governor.
Somebody once wrote on newspaper that Godswill Akpabio is boasting that
PDP would win. Yes! PDP is not winning because we have magic wand; PDP is
winning because of programmes. If you come to my State, you will see what
PDP administration in Akwa Ibom State has done and I have seen it in many
other states of the Federation not just in Akwa Ibom. Compare what the PDP
governors are doing in their various states with what the opposition
Governors are doing and you will be amazed that PDP will win landslide in
2015. Look at also what the President is doing, forget the security
challenges but in spite of that he remains focused. Transformation is
happening everywhere. Look at the power sector, look at the airport, the
railways are working again and the agriculture and these things were not
there before. Over 300 Almajiri schools have been built in the North to
take the children out of the street because the greatest asset you can
give to your children is education.
As a Forum, the PDP Governors’ Forum is rotating its meeting. The last
time we were at Katsina and next month we should be going to Niger State
and after Niger State, we go to another PDP State. We want to go round so
that we compare notes and look at what the PDP Governors are doing, look
at areas of improvement and show that we have not only arrived but we have
bonded the PDP together – from the working committee to the President,
National Assembly and to the Governors. I can tell you that together we
Q: IT IS SAID THAT AKWA IBOM PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN 1914 AMALGAMATION OF
NIGERIA, YET THE STATE IS EXCLUDED FROM THE CENTENARY CELEBRATION LIST.
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THIS?
A: I have seen that we have Amalgamation House, which was built by Lord
Lugard. And I understand he was living there. It is clearly written there-
the Amalgamation House built in 1914. Well, I wasn’t there in 1914 so I
wouldn’t know if Amalgamation agreement was actually signed there. I think
historians have to do a lot of work. I don’t know whether it was signed in
Lokoja or whether it was signed in Ikot Abasi. At least, we have the
Amalgamation House, it is evident that that was where Lord Lugard decided
to build his Amalgamation House. I will invite the Office of the Secretary
to Government of the Federation to visit the Amalgamation House and try to
include it so that we can have a complete history.
We should celebrate Nigeria for being together for 100 years and not
necessary where the structures of amalgamation are located. I don’t want
us to reduce the issue to where it was signed. If you look at it very
well, there are people who even argued that Lord Lugard made a mistake by
calling us Nigeria. People also insist that why must he bring us together,
why didn’t he allow us to be two countries. The important thing is that we
should celebrate the fact that 100 years after we are still together.
Q: HUNDRED YEARS AFTER AS A COUNTRY, HOW WILL YOU ASSESS OUR JOURNEY SO FAR?
A: A chequered history. We should learn from Egypt and the Nile River.
People from all over the world came together and lived there because the
land was fertile and the first civilization in the world was born from
there. So, Nigeria in spite of our large size and differences (since we
are together), we have come together, we can make it work. My impression
of Nigeria is chequered history in the sense that if we had democracy all
along without military intervention the country, we would have been
We have achieved a lot in the last 14 years than we did in 35 years of
military rule. That is my opinion and now we have opportunity to build. We
should look forward to the next 50 to 100 years- what would happen to
Nigeria, we should start today. If we look backward, we will have regrets.
We must go back to the basis; we must love one another, and every Nigerian
must feel free in any part of this nation. We must de-emphasise tribe and
religion, emphasise our ‘Nigerianness’ and give everybody equal
opportunity. We should promote our ‘Nigerianess’ and give everybody equal
opportunity from 2014.
Q: A LONDON-BASED NEWSAFRICA MAGAZINE HAS VOTED YOU AS MAN OF THE YEAR
2014. WHAT DOES THE AWARD PORTEND TO AKWA IBOM PEOPLE?
A: I congratulate Akwa Ibom people for that and dedicate the award to
them, particularly the children who never had hope but who today are in
schools especially those at the Divine Children Home, Uyo. I dedicate the
honour to them because with free education policy and the policies of
government today, tomorrow they have hope and can reach anywhere and
achieve anything in life in spite of the circumstances of their birth.