Comrade Ben Obega, a staunch Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporter before the All Progressives Congress came to power, is an aspirant for 2019 Oju/Obi federal constituency election, but seems likely to change party. In this yet another breathtaking interview with JAMES IBECHI, just before he unveils the political party platform on which he wants to contest, speaks on some issues in the build up to the poll.
Please recall a previous interview with jamesibechi.com in which you said you were in the race for Oju-Obi Federal Constituency seat. After that, it is being bandied around that you are simply Rt. Hon. Samson Okwu’s stooge, for use to achieve his third term ambition. What is your reaction?
I am not Samson Okwu’s stooge and I can never be. The information is false. I believe it is framed by some aspirants in the race, who feel that I am most qualified and acceptable by the masses. The purveyors of this falsehood are just trying to discredit my sincere passion and willingness to serve my people. By the way, is there a special relationship between Hon. Samson Okwu and I? Please, try to find out.
The people would rather you explained to them if there is a special bond between you two, besides the fact that you are both members of the opposition PDP.
No. Whoever thinks so is absolutely wrong. My support for PDP was purely on the ground that it was the ruling party then. My loyalty was for the party, not for an individual member. I did that to precipitate dividends of democracy to my clan, a neglected community in Igede land since 1976, when Benue State was created. Am still surprised at the saying that Rt. Hon. Okwu is using me to to subvert the decision of Igede people come 2019. I told some newsmen some time ago that Rt. Hon. Okwu was the first person to whom I told my 2019 interest. He wasn’t comfortable with it, yet I emphasized it that it was a divine call.
What is the decision of Igede people regarding the 2019 House of Reps seat that you say you cannot subvert?
The decision is crystal clear. The spirit of zoning as a political vehicle that balances democratic structure is upheld by Igede people. That is to say that Igede had decided to shift the House of Reps seat to Igede Central come to 2019.This unbiased decision is not limited to any political party or individuals. This goes to imply that the decision is binding to all irrespective of position, feelings or political parties of allegiance.
If you are in the race on the plank of the zoning that favours your ambition besides considering yourself as possessing some leadership qualities as well as exercising your franchise, where is your zone in Igede that will be considered?
Yes, aside the potential leadership qualities average Igede people believe I have to represent them at the lower chamber of Nigerian National Assembly, Oye Igede, my community, is one the clans in Adinu area that form Zone ‘A’ within Igede central. As I earlier said, Oye of course, a singular clan among 14 clans of Igede has never tasted any meaningful elective or appointive political position – be it traditional or political. If equity, fairness and justice are anything to be reckoned with, then, my candidacy will be a solution to Igede’s endless search for credible leadership come 2019.
One of the 2019 aspirants was quoted to have boasted that he was earmarking N1billon with which to prosecute the 2019 Oju-Obi House of Reps election. Do you have up to that too or what is your financial strength to combat him?
Well, I heard that as a rumour. I hardly believed it because politics of the black race is more of intimidation than the reality of its game. However, if it is confirmed that Rt. Hon. Okwu had actually set aside such amount for the election, it calls for question on his leadership integrity. Ibechi, that should not be the moral concern of the aspirants alone. What is the feeling of the society whose mandate had been given to Hon. Okwu for two terms with a reserved sovereignty to determine his faith in 2019 political bid? What are the media lords like you doing? Do you bother to sensitize the helpless community whose allocation of value had been toyed with? Regardless of such news, going back to memory lane of igede politics, the choice of where Igede picks her leader usually, triumphs over the role of money. What played out in 2011 and 2015 is characterised by different political scenario that made the actors to enthrone the value of money. I opine that instead of such money to be used against the will of the masses, Rt. Hon. Okwu would be recognized using it to reduce the suffering of Igede people that graciously gave him the mandate. Having said that, whatever fund is genuinely needed to run this election by me is not a problem.
Rt. Hon. Okwu’s aide, Mr Joe Ikpenyi had just published PDP office that Okwu is building at Obarike Ito, if you win the 2019 poll, are you going to build a similar office in Oju?
My brother, history, they say, is the product of the past action(s). Everybody has a way of writing his or her own. Building of party secretariat edifice in Obarike Ito, to me, is an apparent mis- placement of priority. What significant values has such a wild project in a face of hunger, insecurity, and lack of basic amenities in the land that resulted from unemployment of our youths, lack of business empowerment and no single input on agriculture as our primary source of living in igede land? By the way, who builds such an office? Is it party authority or the people’s representative whose constituency allowances is to better the life of the people. If Hon. Okwu’s media aide proudly advertised such project as an articles of constituency briefing on social media, then it gives the entire Igede community an avenue to have a re-think on who represents them, how to represent them and what should be the interface between the leaders and the followership for the development of Igede land.
What is your relationship with other political leaders in Igede, PDP and APC?
As a public servant, you know, I only support political activities as to enable my community reap the dividends of democracy through such contributions most especially to the party in power. I have a good relationship with over 80 percent of Igede politicians. Such cordial relationship is enhanced by the nature of my job, my social services rendered to humanity as a renowned union leader based in Abuja.
Many have argued that 2019 will be Oju’s turn even as pundits say not many aspirants have shown seriousness that they are in the race. Do you think you are doing what should promote your interest?
Politics is logical and therefore, is a game of moral calculation. Speed, they say, kills. I do not know the kind of seriousness they mean. Election is in 2019 with primaries holding next year, 2018. I wonder why people appear desperate to the extent that mostly, those with people’s mandate, have abandoned their campaign promises on and are heating up the politics. For me, once you indicate your interest to run, consultation is the major thing which I am doing like any other aspirant from Oju. When the time is ripe, open campaign in line with electoral rules will take place. Let electorate begin to study the attributes of the aspirants for effective selection.
Yes, I appreciate the unalloyed support of Igede people most especially, from Obi Local Government Area who build their trust on my capacity to effectively represent Igede Nation at the lower chamber of National Assembly. I appeal to the consciences of electorates never to judge me by the content of my place of origin, status or the seize of my pocket, but on the generally acceptable leadership parameters. Finally, If the good people of Igede Nation has resolved to shun occultism, political thuggery, immorality and all forms of social vices, mediocrity and of course, betrayal of Igede cultural heritage within the local and international communities, then I consider myself a better candidate to be sent as an errand boy come 2019. Thank you. Igede must be great!