…says blown out of proportion
By Saby Elemba, Owerri
Former governor of Imo State, Rt. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha (CON) has tendered an apology to his supporters, lovers, fans and well-wishers who might have been offended over the use of the word ‘saboteur’ while addressing a gathering of his kinsmen, who are predominantly his party faithful in Accra, Ghana recently.
Ihedioha said it is not in his character to be rude, even as he reiterated his respect for people’s choices and opinions, saying that his well-intentioned address was misconstrued and blown out of proportion.
He was speaking in reaction to a viral video message which alleged that he had described the supporters of His Excellency, Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party(LP) and the Igbos of the Southeast as saboteurs.
Clarifying his choice of word, His Excellency maintained that the word “saboteur” he used during his speech was not referring to the supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party or the Igbos but to his own kinsmen who are predominantly members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) , while harping on the need for the party to reclaim power in the coming elections
Ihedioha says, “I went to Ghana on the invitation of my kinsmen. I am an Mbaise man and we celebrate the “Iri Ji” (New Yam Festival) and for quite some time, they have requested me to come, join them and, I felt it was important to do that at this time. I was speaking to my kinsmen, predominantly members of my party, the PDP.
“And so, knowing where we are coming from as a people, understanding our circumstances and where the PDP administration left Nigeria and that we are the PDP in Nigeria and the promises that were made to Nigerians by the All Progressives Congress (APC), who were surging to take over power. Promises of constant light, free education, free housing, prosperity and stabilisation were all mirage, deceitful and fraudulent.
“Those promises have never come to pass and so when you talk about the future of our country, you get worried as people who may for one reason or the other be deceived into believing that you wish it happens. And so, the desire for me, for a PDP administration that has an internal mechanism of good governance cannot be over emphasized. And so I spoke to our people within the PDP consciously, to express the need for them, not to sabotage our efforts in reclaiming power in 2023, so that Nigerians can see good governance.”
Speaking on the reaction that greeted the viral video, he said, “the huge expectation is borne out of abundant love and expectations. That I said any South-Easterner (Igbo man at that or indeed Nigeria) who does not vote for my party is a saboteur? That cannot be. That is far from the truth. It is obvious that is not me. It is not in my character. I believe in decency. So that cannot be.
“My position was very simple, I was speaking to our people, I am an Mbaise man. PDP has been faithful to us, they have given us the opportunity to produce a governor and I said to them, we have an opportunity and I said to them, don’t sabotage our efforts to reclaim power and that was it. That was the context and if you read or listen through, persons who have made calls to my family members, friends and associates have not had the opportunity to watch the clip. If you do watch it, you will find out that the context is being blown out of proportion.”
Mindful of the feelings and emotions of his numerous supporters, followers and fans, he said, “however, I am responsible to people. When people show you love, confidence and indeed believe in you, you need to respect their feelings. So to the millions of Nigerians, particularly the Southeast extraction who feel hurt by my use of language, I am deeply sorry. I do not mean to hurt anybody. You all have the right to express your political opinion in any way.”
While speaking on the Obedient Movement, especially in the Southeast and its impact on the PDP ahead of the election, His Excellency, said, “Mr. Peter Obi is a politician that has earned his place. He is a man I respect and have a good relationship with. I know he has a growing support base. But we are going to a general election that is scheduled for February 2023 and you need a lot of time to penetrate.
“Now for us in the PDP, when you look at the leadership of our party in the Southeast, we were with Mr. Peter Obi before he left. You will notice that our numbers have not reduced by any means and we are going to approach the campaigns and elections. All I urge everyone is, let us be very cautious, the real danger is any opportunity to the APC. And so we should not inflict damage on ourselves while we put our eyes on the ball,” he stated.
Speaking on the chances of the PDP in the 2023 general elections, Ihedioha said, “give it to PDP, the thing about PDP is that yes, there are issues as expected in any human conglomerate but we have ways of dealing with them. We disagree within ourselves and we deal with them.”
He expressed confidence at the capacity of the leadership of the party and its presidential candidate, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar GCON, to resolve whatever is the disagreement before the general elections.
Speaking further on the chances of the PDP in Imo State, Ihedioha recalled the seven months of his “Rebuild Imo” administration and described it as satisfactory.
“Within the seven months of our administration, we showed a redirect. We brought about confidence in governance and in the people. We restored economic prosperity, autonomy to the local government system and people could see that life was possible and that governance was possible at the local government level. Within that period, we revived every facet of our economy – be it cultural, rule of law, and we gave the people of Imo State a new lease of life. The civil service which was moribund before we came, boomed.
“Prior to our administration, pensioners were owed about 64 months’ arrears and only 70% of salaries were paid to workers but we changed the narrative and paid pensions consistently and restored salaries to 100% and paid consistently. There is confidence in the PDP and obviously PDP is going to win the next election,” he stated.