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Splendour Eze, the Chairman and gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State, in this interview with EDWARD NNACHI, claims there was a plot to deny him the governorship ticket, discloses his party’s plans to capture the state, and the performance of the administration of Governor David Umahi, among sundry issues
Your party lost to the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015, whose governorship candidate then was David Umahi. In 2019, it (the LP) allegedly didn’t make a serious impact in the state. Why is LP still fielding candidates for the 2023 general elections in the state?
Unfortunately, the Labour Party fielded Edward Nkwegu as her candidate in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State, and lost to the PDP candidate, Engr. David Umahi.
In 2019, the Labour Party didn’t make a serious impact because Nkwegu abandoned the party and joined the All Progressives Congress and all the stakeholders of the party left with him. Naturally, the party died in Ebonyi State then.
On May 25, 2022, I was appointed the state chairman of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State and was charged with the responsibility of mobilising members, renting an office, and most importantly, conducting primary elections in the state by the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Barrister Julius Abure. I moved into action by constituting both the state and the local government executive members. Later, I constituted the ward executive members.
After several meetings in hotels, I saw it was a waste of scarce resources. I immediately rented a very good secretariat opposite Grand Arena Mile 50, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State for the Labour Party at the cost of N1.6 million. I provided the party secretariat with supplies and flagged it off.
On June 9, 2022, I conducted the most peaceful primary elections in the state for the party, which was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies.
People say your party never made any serious political inroads in the past until the advent of Peter Obi as its presidential candidate. What’s your take on that?
The Labour Party was not as popular as it is now before Peter Obi, entered the party. In fact, Peter Obi is a godsend who came and popularised our dear party. This is why people like me are working around the clock to ensure that he becomes President in 2023.
As party chairman with little popularity in the state, isn’t your party worried about contesting against the APC, the PDP, and others?
To put the record straight, courtesy of me, the Labour Party is now very popular and powerful in Ebonyi State. The Labour Party is not worried about contesting elections with the PDP, APC, and others in Ebonyi State. This is because APC and PDP have disappointed our people.
In 2023, Ebonyians want to vote for the Labour Party. A party that has humans as its logo means well for the people, and that’s why we will win.
There is the claim that the Labour Party in the state lacks cohesion and coordination amongst its ranks and files, including its candidates for various positions for the 2023 elections. With this, how does your party intend to win elections?
It’s not true that the Labour Party lacks cohesion and coordination. We have competent and credible candidates that will win elections in Ebonyi State come 2023. We are not in disarrays like the PDP and the APC. We are together.
People also alleged that your party does not have an office in Ebonyi State and that you lead the party from an unknown cubicle. Is this true?
The allegation that the Labour Party does not have an office in Ebonyi State is a lie from the pit of hell. The Labour Party Secretariat is situated at No. 108, Old Enugu Road, Mile 50, opposite Grand Arena, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. As a matter of fact, the primary election of the party, which was conducted on June 9, 2022, was done in our secretariat.
You are also the governorship candidate of the party. If elected, what would you do differently?
If I’m elected the governor of Ebonyi State in 2023, my first point of duty will be to industrialise the state so that my fellow unemployed youths will get jobs. I will make sure that water is reticulated in Ebonyi State by bringing back the foreign company that built the Oferekpe Water Project. That project, under my administration, must be completed and commissioned because water is life. Every dry season in Abakaliki, I and other residents cry due to a lack of water.
During this period, a bag of sachet water goes for N250 and above. This is sad and must stop.
As governor, I will invest more in education and healthcare. Our educational system is nothing to write home about.
In fact, I will reintroduce free education in Ebonyi State. Our people must go to school.
As governor, I will also invest in housing. This will afford our civil servants the opportunity to become landlords and will also bring down the high cost of house rents in Ebonyi State.
As governor, I will make sure that prepaid metres are distributed by EEDC in the state. Estimated billing will stop during my administration.
As governor, I will urbanise our rural areas. This will drastically reduce rural-urban migration by rural dwellers. I will invest more in skill acquisition programmes for our people.
Finally, I must make sure that our communities live in peace. There won’t be as many communal clashes as we currently witness in the state.
How you became the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State surprised a lot of people. Can you tell us how it happened?
During the primary elections of the Labour Party in Ebonyi State, my people insisted that I must contest for the governorship position because they love my leadership style. I eventually ran for the job and was returned unopposed. I owe my people a lot. The mandate was given to me by party faithful and stakeholders.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki recently ruled you were the authentic governorship candidate of the party. Were you expecting such judgment?
The Federal High Court Abakaliki judgment in my favour did not come as a surprise to me because the new Electoral Act made it clear that a validly nominated candidate must personally withdraw and personally submit the same withdrawal letter to the national leadership of the party. In my own case, it is different because I did not withdraw.
The National Chairman, the Secretary, the Organising Secretary, and the Legal Adviser forged my signature and wrote a withdrawal letter on my behalf without my consent. Edward Nkwegu was still in the APC when I conducted the primaries in Ebonyi State.
As a matter of fact, he (Edward Nkwegu) contested primary elections in the APC and got eight votes. He failed woefully.
What is your party’s plan towards capturing Ebonyi State in 2023?
My plan towards capturing the state in the forthcoming general elections is to keep on sensitising our youths to come out and vote for me come 2023. We all know that youths constitute over 70 per cent of the electorate in Ebonyi State. I have equally mobilised all the support groups to go to the hinterlands and preach the gospel, which is “Vote for the Party with Papa, Mama, and Pikin,” as a logo.
Ebonyi State is allegedly beset with all manner of challenges under the current administration. Simply tell us one thing you detest about this government.
One thing I hate about this present administration is the way and manner in which our youths are being treated; no good jobs; no good education; no good healthcare system for the residents. The only job reserved for us (the youths) is Ebubeagu, which is a rebranded version of the state’s previous Neighbourhood Watch Security, among others.