Olorugun (Dr.) Ovie Ughwanogho is the leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Delta State. Recently, he spoke to journalists in his Eku residence in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, responding to questions bordering on the just concluded council polls in the state, the fate of the party in Delta State and other related issues.
Will INEC’s handling of council elections stop the widespread electoral fraud reported during such exercises in different States?
INEC, DSIEC and other electoral commissions in several states are different sides of the same coin. INEC has her own way of rigging elections also. The entire process is a fraud. The Nigerian federation is a fraud. If INEC has interest in an election, she will still find her way to manipulate the election. INEC might also have interests in either a party or a candidate. Then where does that lead us to? It is the people that that can defend the votes, just like we humiliated DSIEC in Ethiope East during the council polls on the 6th of January, 2018. There is a new law for INEC to conduct state elections. But, if you ask me, I will tell you that I don’t have confidence in INEC. INEC taking over such elections will not make any difference. I have been in opposition politics since 2003 and I know what INEC has done in this state. So, anyone placing their hope in INEC is a misplaced hope. I do not trust INEC, neither DSIEC, but the people. Let the people always come out en masse to monitor the process and ensure that everyone plays by the rules. Right now, people are becoming aware of their rights and responsibilities. With your rights as a citizen comes responsibility. So, when the people you voted into power are failing, it is your duty to stand up and oppose them, rather than clapping for them. The people must know that ultimate power belongs to them. That is why politicians always try to stage-manage the process of voting, knowing that if this does not happen, the people will revolt. Whatsoever these politicians are doing, they are gauging the mood of the people. If the people stand firm and say no way, those in Asaba and Abuja have no option but to fall in line.
APGA put forth a good showing during the campaigns in Ethiope East Local Government Area. Does APGA stand a chance of significance in Delta State politics?
APGA is on the move and regarded to be the fastest growing political party in Delta State and Nigeria. A year ago, we had only one office in Delta State, precisely Asaba. But today, we have over 22 offices spread across the state. APGA is the third force in Delta politics and we were hoping to use this local government election to tell the people that we have come to stay. But sadly, the elections were rigged. No one can kill APGA. APGA is a movement and it is the only party with an ideology and a people-oriented manifesto. APGA stands for good governance, citizenship rights, resource control and true federalism. There is no political party bold enough to make those statements. Those people vandalizing pipelines, why are they not in APGA fighting their battles through peaceful and constitutional means? Those misguided elements fighting for Biafra, why are they not in APGA? The group in the west, NADECO, that want true federalism and resource control, why are they not in APGA? Have they gone through our manifesto and seen that it suits their objective? I went through all the manifestoes of all the parties and saw that my objective can be pursued through the platform of APGA. Ask those Governors that say they are resource control governors why they are not in APGA. Our political leadership is filled up with people that are interested in political business, and not there to serve. They are pursuing contracts and protecting themselves from prosecution. You see them moving from party to party, depending on who is at the center. They have no ideology or objective. But in APGA, you have politicians who stand for the good of all. The only state we control is a testament to what APGA can do. Go to Anambra State and see. Even those who are not good that used APGA platform to go into government still do well. Look at Peter Obi in PDP today; he has become a barrier. But, when he was in APGA, the party structure and the checks and balances put pressure on him to perform. I have been in opposition politics since 2003 and APGA is the best political party in Nigeria.
Anambra is part of the Southern States. The governorship election in the state was peaceful, free and fair. Elections in Rivers State are marred by violence. The same fate befell the council elections in Delta State. Why is it so?
When those in government fail to perform, coming back to face the electorates becomes a problem because they know that they will be rejected. So what they are doing is self-preservation and structure-preservation. There is an evil structure in Delta State. They can fight themselves; but the structure will never be dissolved. So, why there are no peaceful elections is because they have failed to perform. If you did well as somebody who is entrusted with public office, you will be happy to come back and face the people again and seek their endorsement. But, if you did not do well, and you are an evil person, you would like to truncate the system. So, what we are seeing now is a truncation of the system. I saw it firsthand in this local government where people elected into offices were beating ordinary Nigerians that were trying to protect the democratic process. People in elected offices were fighting like thugs. Why were they fighting? Because they know that if the materials peacefully go to all those polling units, their party would be rejected.
You have been in opposition politics since 2003. Any regrets?
No regrets. Elections are not a do or die thing. It is not a matter of I must win. When you run a good campaign, you have won irrespective of the election results. When you run a good campaign, you educate the people and make them get a standard to measure whoever wins. If you win, fine, but if you don’t win, you did not lose. It is always a win-win for a people’s politician, but a loss for political businessmen.
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