In this interview with SIMON UTEBOR, the Interim Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Bayelsa State chapter, Chief Richard Kpodo, says APC is the party to beat in President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state.
Is it true that the APC now has a presence in Bayelsa State?
Yes, the eagle has just landed in Bayelsa State. APC has landed and it is the eagle in Bayelsa State. We have opened our office. I donated my office in Tombia, a very strategic location in the state. There you can have access to Amassoma, Otuoke, Ogbia and Yenagoa. If the national body comes in now, the next thing they will do is to mobilize and put the state in motion.
What can you say are the chances of the party; considering the intimidating presence of the PDP?
Democracy is a game of numbers. No amount of intimidation can give you the right candidate. They have been intimidating us from the days of the New PDP. We know how they used the police to chase us out of Bayelsa State; we know how the government put on us on a watch list. I know I am one of the people they want to kill because the day we declared for the New PDP, the state government put me on the watch list. The next thing, the police declared me wanted. I just believe that the police are the militant wing of the PDP. So, we believe that intimidation is there. But can we run away because of this intimidation? Can we avoid to say the truth? Can we because of intimidation, fail to vote for the person we know can deliver? No, we will continue to forge on.
Have you received any defector from the PDP so far?
When you talk of defectors, we are defectors to start with. We defected from the PDP to the New PDP. So, there are defectors already. In government today, we still have defectors that are coming. The defectors will come in good time. But first of all, we have paved the way for them. They are there. We know they are there. We have discussed and we are still discussing; we are having good rapport. We believe that when the time comes, when they (PDP) look back, they will not find anybody following them.
How do you intend to manage the ambition of your supporters from the three legacy parties – ACN, ANPP and the CPC?
The truth is that when a new baby is born like a political party such as the APC, there is bound to be misunderstanding. But at the end of the day, if you have the mind to unite and develop, definitely, we will disagree to agree. But for now, when I came in as the interim chairman from the New PDP to APC, we found out that there is nothing happening, no office, nothing. We now decided to get an office – a place we can sit down and discuss. As I speak to you, members of the (defunct) ACN are holding their meeting now. Next time, those of the ANPP will hold their meeting there. I am a grassroots politician and they know it. The only problem is this man they call Miriki. Miriki is the one causing confusion, trying to tell people that the national headquarters has not yet inaugurated the state chapter of the APC. We cannot wait for national body to put our house in order.
There appears to be confusion in APC in Bayelsa… (cuts in)
That is why we say Miriki is causing problems. This man as of today is the SSA on Inter-Party Relations to the PDP government in Bayelsa State. He is receiving salaries; how do you think he can go against that government that is paying him? If he is coming to the APC to do anything, let him first of all resign his appointment and come in for us to know he is a member of the APC. This is what they did with the ACN. I was in the PDP; they were given money, they were being paid, that was why the ACN could not win a single councillorship seat in Bayelsa. This is because they sold out. Today, we are from the PDP, we know the system – we know how they manipulate things. So, when we are fighting and somebody like Miriki is talking, it irritates us.
All we are saying is that the time has come for a change. Anybody we are putting in a position of authority must be people who are credible. If we want to register, we will register from the grassroots. We will get our genuine members. It is not just by documentation. That is what we have started doing. We have got our secretariat members in every ward. As we opened the office, many people have been trooping in to register as members. In Bayelsa State, the PDP is already panicking seriously.
But an official of the PDP said those of you who defected are inconsequential members?
All I can say is that the PDP is drowning. The PDP in the state said APC does not exist in Bayelsa. But today, we have an office. The pictures are there for people to see. Who is fooling who? If the APC is not there, why do we have this befitting office? We will know who is telling lies because activities have started. The APC parades people one can call men of “timber and caliber.”
Don’t you think power sharing among these political heavyweights, will tear the party apart?
Let me tell you, the motto of the APC is unity and progress. We will unite and we will progress. As I always say, tongues and teeth quarrel, still, they live together. Those that are coming into the APC and the old people will sure disagree to agree. By so doing, things will fall in place accordingly. It won’t be that if you are not President or governor today, that will affect the party.
We will agree on a consensus. APC has come to stay, we will only disagree to agree and we will surely triumph at the end.
Why did you leave the PDP?
Some people in the PDP believe they had acquired so much power and money that they cannot listen to other people. They simply became power drunk. They started behaving like people in an animal kingdom. The development gave rise to arrogance and culture of impunity.
As a result of that development, there was an emergence of the New PDP. When that happened, instead of the leadership of the PDP to sit down and harmonise the whole thing, nothing was done because of impunity and arrogance.
Who are those arrogant people you are talking about?
Everybody knows them.
Can you name them?
I insist everybody knows them. That is why you can see that people are asking Bamanga Tukur, the national chairman of the PDP to go. Today, even among them, the governors said Tukur should go. Why are they emphasising on Tukur? They said the man is doing things with impunity. Some of them said they brought him. A lot of things happened. What we are saying is that, we are no more in the PDP. We want to be discussing the APC – how we can take over governance and let Nigerians breathe and live well as a civilised people.
We do not want to occupy our minds with just the PDP issues because, as far as I’m concerned, PDP is a dead party. We do not discuss dead things. Let the dead bury the dead.
What is President Goodluck Jonathan not doing that your party appears desperate to replace him?
Well, for me, I believe that the needed development we expect from him is not there. Like in Bayelsa, can you tell me where one Federal Government presence is? In the Niger Delta, where is the federal presence? Why are we bothering ourselves for God’s sake? It does not matter whether the man is from the Niger Delta or not. What we are saying is that every individual has the right to associate with any group, persons or associations. So, we have our freedom to association.
Do you think Governor Seriake Dickson is working?
Dickson is not performing. He is a man who feels he has got to power through the back door; a man who feels he has the President by his side and that nobody can challenge him. Look at Bayelsa where he superintends today, what do you see? Let me tell you, since 1999, over N2tn accrued to the state. I can provide the evidence. There is nothing to justify that huge amount. As I speak to you today, Bayelsa State is still a slum – no water, no electricity, no road and the people are hungry. There is nothing different from slavery.