INTERVIEW GRANTED BY CHIEF BARR. CHARLES EZEKWEM THE CHAIRMAN PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY, IMO STATE, ON THE 16TH OF AUGUST, 2017.

1. Good day Sir, may we meet you officially.

My name is Chief Barr. Charles Ezekwem (Ikemba Okigwe). By the grace of God and the wishes of our people, the State Chairman of the PDP in Imo State. I’m from Okigwe LGA in Imo State.

2. What has been your experience as as the Imo state PDP Chairman so far?

Well, every leadership position calls for great responsibility. It hasn’t been easy but in all I give thanks to God. When you are leading people across the 27 LGA’s and even beyond, you can imagine how hectic it could be. But in all, it’s a nice experience because once you are determined and focused, you may not feel the difficult sides a lot. I and my team have remained committed because it’s a team work. I’m optimistic we shall lead the party to glory in 2019.

3. May we know how your party is coping from the supposed intimidation and other forms of oppression from the APC led administration in Imo State?

Well, we pay less attention to those things called intimidation because we as an opposition party can not be intimidated. Our main focus is galvanizing the support of the masses who are actually the real owners of our democracy. The APC led administration should know that their days are numbered here in Imo State. There is nothing they can do about it and that is why we pay less attention to them and pay more attention on the masses who at the appropriate time shall decide who leads them.

4. As PDP Chairman in Imo State, how do you plan to redeem the image of your party in Imo State and Nigeria as a whole?

We are here to ensure that the party is for all members and that internal democracy is institutionalised. The PDP of today is a PDP that offers equal opportunity to all. We want to create a party where those who emerged through popular votes are the only people that will be recognised as party candidates. A party that has discipline and total loyalty to its constitution is the mission of I and my team. We want a branch of the PDP will certainly lead the way for other States to follow. All these we shall achieve and to the Glory of God take over power in 2019.

5. Since PDP lost power to the present administration of APC, is your party making any preparation towards regaining power come 2019?

In the past few months, you all have seen and heard all we have passed through and the struggle, strength we have put in to ensure that the party returns to the rightful owners, the masses. We have ensured that the party is well sanitised ahead of the battle. We have ensured that there is internal democracy in the party. Just look at recently we had our National delegate election, you did not hear of any disagreement from any angle. The electoral materials were distributed to the party chairmen and they went back to their various wards and LGA’s and allowed the people to decide. These things doesn’t happen before now. We have eradicated the issue of allowing few persons decide who becomes what in the party. How, if you think you want to lead the party at any level, you must test your popularity and allow the people to decide. That the internal democracy we are talking about. We are practicing it now and that gives the people confidence that this party is for them. There are also a lot of things we are doing which are not really for public consumption at the moment but I can assure you that we are not leaving any stone unturned ahead of 2019. We are getting prepared and we shall continue to work hard to ensure that we take over power.

6. Can you elaborate on the cause of the crises in Anambra State PDP secretariat?

Well, I’m the chairman of Imo PDP and not Anambra, however as a leader and a member of the Association of PDP chairmen in the South East, all I can say is that the matter has been handled by the National Caretaker Committee. I urge all our members in Anambra to unite and get ready for victory in the November guber election. Only a United house can take over the state.

7. What shall be your mission and vision assuming PDP returns to power come 2019 in the state?

The best word to use is “when” PDP takes over power and not “assuming”. We have assumed enough and now we are very optimistic and battle ready to take over power. It’s not going to be easy but it’s something that shall be done for the benefit of Ndi Imo and Nigerians at large. On your question, my mission remains the same. To lead a United and more organised PDP built on party discipline, internal democracy, truth, fairness and rule of law. A party that will offer equal opportunities to its members no matter who is involved. A party that will give opportunities to the youths, women, physically challenged and all our members across the state. That has remained my mission and will continue to be even when we take over Douglas house come 2019. We shall also be magnanimous in victory and open our arms to everybody not minding whether you supported us before and even during the elections or not. A party in power should be a party for everybody and not for few individuals.

8. There is a notion that there is free education in Imo State. How true is it?

I thank God we all have our family members, friends and relatives in some of the Universities in Imo State. This question is for all of us to answer and not just me. I will align myself with reduced tuition fee and not free education unless there is another definition to the word free. During the PDP administration of Chief Achike Udenwa, Imo State University students were paying 12 thousand as school fees, acceptance fee was 6 thousand and later 9 thousand. At that time, it wasn’t tagged free education. It gives me worry that at a time when students are paying more than that in both school fees and acceptance, it is tagged free education. Very laughable indeed. Taking it from another angle, hope you have visited Imo State University recently? Students learn under the tree. No classroom blocks, the libraries in the school are painted tombs. Roofs are licking and the whole environment is in a total mess. Thanks to the PDP administration of President GoodLuck Jonathan who intervened through TET Fund, ETF and other agencies to ensure that they get some new blocks. If not, I wonder if that place would have been upto e secondary school standard. What of accreditation? Most of the courses are either on temporary accreditation or have lost. I feel that we should set our priorities right by demanding for qualitative education and not the jamboree called free education.

9. It is in the media that your party is trying to woo the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar back to the party. How reliable is that?

Thank God you noted that it’s in the media. The organs of our party are yet to make any comment on that and I can not do so as well. However, the party is a large political platform that is open to every well meaning Nigeria. As a formidable platform also, many Nigerians who left due to one issue or the other are very willing to return and make the Party stronger. That’s the beauty of democracy.

10. Sir, on 3rd July, the governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha claimed that one million march was been organised against his administration because it does “not share money”. How true is this allegation?

I’m not sure that was directed to us. I can not give credence to such an empty statement by responding to it. However, the good thing is that Imo people are tired of this His administration. Ordinarily Imo people are revolting everyday. Go to the markets, inside restaurants, keke, taxi and all the public places, Imo people are revolting on daily bases. The governor should not panic yet because the real revolution is on the way. It’s too early for him to start panicking. That’s all I can say.

By: Chioma F. Osuji & Chioma P. Osuji for Evergreen online.

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