ormer Secretary of All Progressives Congress in Delta State, Chief Nick Ovuakporie, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, tells DELE OGUNYEMI the reason for his action
What exactly motivated your defection to the Peoples Democratic Party?
My defection to the PDP was on principle. It was for patriotic reasons, not for pecuniary interests. And if you have a copy of my letter of resignation, you will vividly see some of the reasons I gave for throwing in the towel. You will recall that there was a presidential primary in the the APC. And I have always made good governance my first priority in politics; I am not here for the mere sake of politicking. I have always taken Nigeria first before pecuniary interests. That has been my guiding principles in taking decisions. And that was why with my then party, the APC, my choice of presidential candidate was Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And why did I choose him? I saw in him a man with capacity, with the needed potential to govern Nigeria. Now, that was at the level of intra-party politics.
Having gone through that stage, I saw compelling reasons why I should continue to put Nigeria first before any other interests and I saw that if we must redefine the Nigeria of our dream, the combination of His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and the Turakin Adamawa, His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is the next greater thing that would allow that vision of a greater Nigeria, which, was the same thing that propelled me to support Prof. Yemi Osinbajo before be lost the APC primary.
As Secretary of the APC in Delta State you severally criticised and accused Governor Okowa of profligacy and plunging the state into debt but today you said you’re supporting him to be Nigeria’s Vice President. What has changed?
For me, as a former state secretary, while I was in the APC, I did not join in the bandwagon of unwarranted attacks on the person of His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State and by the grace of God, the next Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because I found nothing wrong in the policies of his government. So, I never joined the bandwagon and I will never join the bandwagon. I know the difficulties of governance. Governance is not easy. So, we cannot be playing opposition game by throwing tantrums at the man in the saddle of leadership just because you want to take over governance. I don’t play such politics because such is politics of bitterness. And that is not how I was wired. Mind you, some of the issues you alluded to were also mainly propaganda based. That is the word, I think, best describes the tantrums thrown by my ex-party, APC, against the ruling PDP in Delta State. And I urge Deltans not to fall for their game, which is simply propaganda.
Haven’t you lost some of your followers for dumping the APC for the PDP?
My decision to join the PDP was based on patriotism, not pecuniary reasons. It is mainly because of entrenched marginalisation. Let me use this opportunity to quote partly from my resignation letter. I said in the letter that, “as state secretary, it behoves me to represent and protect the political and class economic interests of the Isoko people, the Itsekiri and the Ijaw of Delta South Senatorial District, whose interests I swore to protect at all times, before performing my enshrined duties in the APC constitution.”
The other reasons informing my resignation include the deliberate denial of appointments to deserving Isoko sons and daughters in the APC-led administration; zero impact of the APC administration in the infrastructural development projects in the Delta South Senatorial District, particularly in Isoko nation; the deliberate hijack of Isoko slots by foreign invaders in the recently awarded NNPC pipeline surveillance contract, thereby portraying the Isoko people as a weak and conquered ethnic nationality, with no qualified or competent man or woman to handle such surveillance contract.
The main reason I left the APC was not for pecuniary reason. It was a decision based on patriotism for the Isoko nation. And I have the support of my people.
How would you assess the chances of the PDP in Delta in the forthcoming general elections?
Very bright because the PDP has actually done very well, particularly this governor. In fact, one of the things that attracted me to the PDP, in addition to the patriotic reasons I have earlier mentioned, is the blueprint of legacy projects of His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Indeed, the man is a development Czar. There is hardly any road in the state capital today that is not tarred. There are legacy projects across the state today. No wonder, the Vice President to be and the incoming President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have been going round the state capital inaugurating landmark projects.
Sincerely speaking, the finesse of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in executing developmental projects has always made me to admire him, even while I was in the APC.
Do you honestly believe that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, can defeat the APC, which has the power of incumbency?
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Turakin Adamawa and former Vice President of this country, is the type of President Nigeria needs at this time. He has what it takes to salvage the country from its current challenges. He is the man with the requisite knowledge to fix the economy, having served as the head of the Economic Council while he was the Vice President of Nigeria. He knows what to do. He is not someone who is coming in to learn on the job. He is already well-equipped and his chances of winning are very bright. All parts of the country currently are clamouring for a complete and holistic transformation of the Nigerian state. And the man to beat is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
There is the question of equity, with many saying another northern Fulani should not succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who is a northern Fulani. Don’t you think that this will count for something and shape the outcome of the election?
That does not bother me because what matters most is good governance and the issue of competence. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian. The Nigerian constitution does not create room for stereotype personality for Presidency and there is nothing like Fulani man, Isoko man, Calabar man. A Nigerian is a Nigerian. With what the constitution provides for regarding who can run as President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has got the prerequisite qualifications to become the President of the country. The issue of sentiment or propaganda from the opposition should be jettisoned. Nigeria should not be bogged down by these unnecessary sentiments and propaganda. They are mere distractions. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is eminently qualified to reshape this country and rescue it from its current comatose state.
If Nigerians are tired of suffering; if Nigerians are tired of buying fuel for N400/N500 per litre, they should vote for the PDP because the PDP is the only option to rescue Nigeria from the present bad shape it is in. My message for Nigerians is to vote in His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for President and His Excellency, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as the Vice President, come February 25, 2023. Nigerians should, in addition, rise up gallantly and protect their votes.