Obi’s Massive Support In Abia And Nigeria, Based On His Pedigree, Track Record – Umeh Kalu

Obi’s Massive Support In Abia And Nigeria, Based On His Pedigree, Track Record – Umeh Kalu

Chief Umeh Kalu SAN, is the Coordinator of Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign in Abia State. In this interview with Editor, Samuel Egburonu, he opens up on why the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, and his party, the Labour Party, are enjoying massive support in Abia State ahead of 2023 Elections.

Besides giving insight into Labour Party’s campaign strategy in Abia State and in other parts of Nigeria, Chief Umeh, who served two Abia State governors as the state Attorney General and Commissioner For Justice, explains how and why Labour Party would defeat both the ruling party and the other opposition parties in 2023 Elections. Excerpts

 2023 Presidential Election is just weeks away. As the State Coordinator of Labour Party’s Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, will you say your new party is ready enough to win your former party, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the other opposition parties in the 2023 Elections?

The issue I dare say is not whether the Labour Party is ready enough to win this election, but rather the issue is whether Nigerians want to remain where they are and do not find the need for a change. These, in my view, are the issues at play. Labour Party as a registered political party in Nigeria, has presented its manifesto to the Nigerian populace. In addition to Labour Party presenting its manifesto, it has equally assembled candidates for the forthcoming election from the various State Houses of Assembly to the National Assembly, the gubernatorial elections for various States and finally the presidential elections. Of note in its assemblage of candidates is Mr. Peter Obi, who has added so much lifeline and goodwill to the Labour Party. The pair of Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed for the Presidential election stand out from the others and have no comparison.

The pair of Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed represents competence, integrity, youthfulness, soundness of mind, sound pedigree, excellent and verifiable track record, clarity of vision e.t.c. These attributes as mentioned, you will agree with me are in short supply in our polity, especially as being presently presented to the Nigeria polity by the other competing political parties. I see the duo of Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed as God’s answered prayer to the supplication to God by Nigerians of all religious divides for a change in the dwindling fortunes of our country. Labour Party and Peter Obi represents that change that Nigerians across all walks of life and divides have been yearning for. PDP is not the ruling Party in the country and equally belongs to the opposition just like the Labour Party and to that extent, we cannot be talking of unsettling them. In any event, I do not see much difference between the PDP and the ruling APC, as they have virtually the same characteristics in character and content.

 Taking cognizance of the fact that the ruling party in the state has almost consistently governed the Southeast State, what gave you the confidence that a party like Labour Party will just emerge and win in Abia, both in the Presidential Election and in the Governorship Election?

Yes, I will agree with you that the PDP has consistently been occupying the seat pf government in Abia State since 1999. But the question remains, of what purpose has these numerous years of PDP’s consistent governance in Abia been to the citizens of the State? There is absolutely not much to be reckoned with for these numerous years of PDP governance despite the trillions of Naira that have inured to the State by way of federal allocations, IGR, funds from donor agencies, Excess Crude Account allocations, Federal Government Interventions, local and international loans e.t.c. In a nutshell, these several years of PDP governance with little or nothing to show for it, is the most potent confidence that the Labour Party has for this forthcoming general elections, as the winner in Abia.

The Labour Party gubernatorial candidate equally stands out amongst the array of persons who have thrown their hat into the ring for the gubernatorial race. Dr. Alex Otti who is the gubernatorial candidate, like our presidential candidate has a track record of excellent service in the private sector where h has been all through his adult life. He is well educated both in character and learning and an economist who is grounded in the management of men and resources. He has a wide network within the national economic sphere and is equally known internationally. He will definitely bring his wide experience to bear on the discharge of his duties as governor, if elected. A whole lot of us who are progressively minded and desire to get out our State from the quagmire in which we have found ourselves have resolved to pitch our tents with him. We are hopeful that Abians who have suffered double jeopardy as a result of several years of misgovernance both at the Federal and State level by both the APC and PDP will jettison both Parties and embrace the Labour Party candidates in these forthcoming elections in February and March. The message of change which the Labour Party is propagating has been resonating amongst our young persons, the women and other groups within the electorate that earnestly yearn for a change in the management of our national affairs.

Your candidate for the presidential seat, Mr. Peter Obi, will be contending with highly experienced rivals. What campaign message and strategy do you and your colleagues intend to use in marketing Obi to sweep the votes in Abia State, the surrounding Southeast and South-South states and beyond?

Our campaign in Abia will not be different from the campaign in other States. We have a uniform message for Nigerians, as we find uniformity in the myriad of problems confronting Nigerians. There is no part of Nigeria today that one could say is safe. What could be different is the form or nature of the insecurity. Unemployment is nationwide. The high cost of food items is nationwide. The devaluation of our national currency – the Naira – affects all Nigerians.

The effect of corruption affects all Nigerians and deprives the citizenry the necessary funds that are needed for the development of the country. Nigerians alike suffer deficit in infrastructure, which deficit can be seen in our education sector and even in the health sector. So, our strategy remains that of bringing to the fore all the deficits that are eminent in our polity and presenting our candidates as the rightful and qualified persons with the right solution to the myriads of our problems as a nation.

Obi-Datti opponents agree the Labour Party candidate is currently enjoying high popularity ratings but they allege the popularity is just social media based because, according to them, Labour Party has no structure yet to win 2023 Presidential Elections? Are you bothered by these comments and in Abia State, where you currently coordinate Obi-Datti Presidential Campaigns, will you honestly say you have built a solid structure that can upstage PDP, APGA, APC and the others in 2023 Elections?

I have heard severally about the Labour Party not having the relevant structures to win the 2023 presidential elections. This postulation was louder at the emergence of Obi – Datti candidacy few months ago. For me, I think it is a good omen for your opponents to underrate you in situations like this. The worst mistake any combatant can make is to underrate his/her opponent. Talking about structures, I want to believe that structures are made up of human beings and what will determine the winner of the next election is number.

What the social media does is to disseminate information to the public. If the opponents of the Labour Party have come to the conclusion that the Labour Party has taken over the social media space, it then means that the Labour party is doing well. These social media adherents or patrons are the structure of the Labour Party and I am sure that this support base will equally trickle down to the other segments of the society. This possibly can explain the result of all the opinion polls that have been conducted so far, showing Labour Party as the leader in all these polls. The support base of the Labour Party in the country, including Abia, remains the down trodden Nigerians who earnestly yearn for a change in the situation of the country. Labour Party represents that change that we all desire and I have no doubt that the Labour Party will excel in this coming election.

The Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, is from the neighbouring Anambra State. Is he actually popular and acceptable in Abia State and if so, is his popularity in Abia State simply because of his origin as an Igbo man? If it is not, can you tell us why you think Abia people will change their traditional voting pattern and vote Labour Party’s Obi-Datti for presidential election and Labour Party Governorship candidate, Dr Alex Otti, for the governorship seat?

The popularity and acceptance of Peter Obi cuts across ethnic and, or religious divides. Peter Obi himself has been consistent in telling the Nigerian voters not to vote for him because of his ethnic extraction or religious leaning. The Obi – Datti ticket is predicated on competence, integrity and capacity to deliver on all the promises they have made to the Nigerian people. Those who support Peter Obi in Abia State, including myself, are doing so on account of his pedigree and track record.

We were all witnesses to his monumental achievement as Governor of Anabmra State within the 8 years that he presided over the affairs of that State. Peter Obi has consistently made reference to those laudable and lofty achievements and has promised to replicate those achievements if elected as president. Many Nigerians, including myself, believe him. Apart from his excellent track record in governance, he has equally distinguished himself in the area of business and prudent management of funds. As governor of Anabmra State, he stood out as the only governor in the history of this country who invested the funds of his State and saved billions in foreign and local currency which he handed over to his successor. While other governors were leaving monumental debts for their successors, including several years of unpaid pensions, gratuities and salaries of public servants, Peter Obi never left any debt on leaving government. His actions have been speaking for him and despite attempts by few detractors to fabricate lies in their bid to smear him; they have been unable to achieve that. No living Nigerian politician in recent history has enjoyed the public acclaim that Peter Obi has enjoined in the few months of his traversing this country in search of the necessary votes to change our narrative.

Soon after the official flag off of the 2023 presidential elections campaigns, some reports said Labour Party was the first to embark on house-to-house campaigns in the northern parts of the country. Are you also adopting this strategy in Abia State? May you explain what this strategy involves but if you are not adopting it in Abia State, may you please explain to us the strategy you have adopted so as to win Abia for Labour Party?

Door-to-Door campaign, as we have been doing in Abia State, entails letting the populace know the logo of the Labour Party. We will not pretend that most of the Nigerian populace are only conversant with the parties that have dominated our political space for a long while i.e. APC and PDP. Our party, the Labour Party, is the game changer and the darling of the people, but that does not discard the fact that most Nigerians may not be conversant with the Labour Party logo. We are aware that several candidates of other political parties deceitfully place their pictures side by side with Peter Obi in their bid to tap the goodwill of Peter Obi and in the process confuse the voting public. Though Peter Obi’s name is a household word in every nook and cranny of this country at the moment, and, his picture is everywhere, we are not unaware that on the Election Day, his picture will not be on the ballot. What will be on the ballot on Election Day will be the Labour Party logo that constitutes of a man, his wife and their child. To that extent, our door to door campaigns will, among others, show the voters, especially the illiterate and aged ones, how to place their thump print between the margin where you have the Labour Party symbol of Papa, Mama and Pikin.

PDP critics in Abia State said peoples’ votes never counted over the years, a development they allege, that has retained PDP in Umuahia Government House. Do you think the votes will count in Abia State this time around? What informed your opinion? Also, If it does, how or why would it favour Labour Party in the 2023 Elections?

It will only take a prophet to know the rigging pattern that may be deployed, if any, in the 2023 elections. As a patriot and an optimist, I am hopeful that the votes of the citizens will count in these forthcoming elections. This hope is hinged on the fact that as a Christian, I have an assurance from God that Nigeria cannot be perpetually where it is. I am further encouraged by the recent amendment to the Electoral Act that has introduced the BVAS machine and electronic transfer of votes from the polling units to the national collation center.

As a senior lawyer and one who is versed in Election Petitions, I am aware that about 90 percent of manipulations of election results take place at the designated collation centers. The introduction of electronic transfer of votes will, to a great extent, do away with the collation centers, thereby depriving election manipulators the advantage which those collation centers provide for them. The Electoral Act has equally given prominence to the use of electronic methods in the computation of results and related matters to the extent that where there is a conflict between the electronic and physical collation, the electronic collation will take precedence. I encourage adherents of the Labour Party and supporters of Peter Obi to go out and vote and to remain vigilant at the polling units in order to protect their votes and to ensure that there is no manipulation. Once this is done, their votes will count and Labour Party will emerge victorious.