Why accusation of anti-party against me won’t stand – Niger Delta minister

| April 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

Pastor Usani Uguru Usani is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Until his appointment, he was the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross Rivers state. In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, he speaks on his suspension by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), anti-party allegation and how he delivered the party during the presidential election in Cross Rivers.

Minister sir, what would be your take on the allegation of
anti-party against you from your party.

These allegations are not strange to me. You can cross check
everything I am going to say because they are verifiable. From 1999 to 2015, I
have had  reason to dine with the PDP. It
was a political fallow season. You will probably be surprised to hear that when
I contested for governorship in the opposition in 2003, there was an attempt in
broad day light to assassinate me and I ran out of the country to return after
two years. At that time when I was to contest, I was offered to contest for the
senate and I declined. In 2012, when I contested against PDP candidate, offers
were made to me and I declined. If you talk to Cross Riverians, they know us by
character. So, when I had a political fallow season, if I did not accept
overture from them, what will attract me now as Minister. If for 16 years, I
declined everything that tended to be offers to me, now that I am minister,
what do I intend to gain. Is it that if I support them, I will become
President? This is crafted blackmail intended to decimate my reputation. Thank
God as journalists, you have the capacity to verify what you get or the
information you receive. When the people coming together to fabricate these
things are said to have the capacity to win election came in, the first person
to send a message that if the APC is to win election, Usani Usani has to
contest is Senator John Owan Enoh. The person he sent did not tell me the
message until we were together with him and 
he said, Senator, I want to deliver that message you gave me before.
That person is Godwin Asam Efa who was Vice Chairman of Ikom local government
council. Please, you can verify these details I am giving you. But something
happened. When the former governor of Cross River state felt that it was too
risky for them to allow Usani come in, he told him to go and fight for it so
that whether it goes the way of PDP or APC, he will be in charge. Meanwhile,
that former governor was zonal coordinator for PDP presidential campaign.
Suddenly, he started recruiting different interests. When the National Chairman
came into office, they caused him to believe that I was supporting the former
Chairman, Oyegun and I wonder what type of sense that made because Oyegun did
not contest any election. So, even if somebody was supporting him, of what
value would that support be?

Secondly, the National Vice Chairman, South South who is
spreading these falsehood who did the same thing against me during Oyegun
Chairmanship and I wrote many letters to Oyegun telling them about his
character and Oyegun decided to believe them. For over two years, he peddled
these falsehood and they realised too late that these fellows were not the
character they think they are. That was when Oyegun was already going and that
is the same thing he started with Oshiomhole. My silence for a while is because
somebody worth occupying a public office should be able to recognise where rule
and order should prevail. I have always been quite and not talking on this
issue because the constitution says we should not go to the press. But when the
managers of a system violate their own rules, then it means that the anarchy
does not allow the institution to run. Then, you can see what the APC is today.
The President’s image is what keeps APC standing as if there is a party.
Otherwise, by conduct, we have lost every value for the fabrication of the
initial concept that brought honour to our party. Now, I have decided to speak
out because further silence in the face of the falsehood in the market will
suggest that I am guilty.

To suggest that I worked for the PDP can only be
authenticated by the indices we lay across. Find out if in the course of the
recently concluded elections, if they did not say, vote for the Presidential
candidate and for the rest, vote for us. Go to Calabar and verify. Find out if
the National Vice Chairman South south won one polling unit in his own ward for
the President. There are two wards in my community and the PDP did not win any
unit. I accumulated over 4000 votes while the PDP got about 1000. Assuming I
was working for the PDP and I produced results against them, which one is more
viable to believe. They have held several meeting and I will tell you that they
are trying to do everything to make me politically irrelevant. They know that
my continuous prevalence in the system will expose them. These are people who
mismanaged public funds and they have been scared ab initio that if the
President comes back for a second term and the anti corruption struggle goes
on, they will be in the web. For them, instead of allowing sleeping dogs lie,
they want to shake the hornet’s nest. I can tell contracts in my state they
have received and failed to accomplish. I can tell you company names they have
forwarded even at the beehive of the dissolution of the NDDC board which they
are still forwarding for payment. For them, the dissolution of the NDDC board
is the foundation of their revengeful attitude towards me. You know how the
place functioned for a while which is in public domain.

What do you say about the factional leadership of APC in
Cross River state?

When they say crisis in APC, we don’t have factional
leadership in APC. Before the current chairman came, congresses had been
concluded. He decided that they will dissolve the state executive whereas as
soon as that was concluded, we were given certified true copies of the results
of the congresses supervised by INEC as prescribed by law. One day, they just
came and said, “we dissolved it.” We sought redress in court and up til now,
the subsisting judgement  in that regard
showed that Hon. Godwin Etim John is the chairman of the party. So, impostors
are just buying their ways as a result 
of favours that does not accrue from any due process. So, there are no
factions in the party. Every action being taken in response to this situation by
them is contemptuous. They have also gone ahead to write a petition to he
President alleging these same things. Incidentally, I have given a response to
that petition. These people have no interest in this party. They came to
destroy the party and run back to PDP. Between a man who has stayed for 16
years without changing focus and those who today belong to one pace and
tomorrow, they are somewhere else, who is more likely to prevaricate in
circumstances of pecuniary inducement? For the south south zonal chairman, he
was the national coordinator for the current PDP presidential candidate during
the APC national convention in Lagos to choose our presidential candidate. In
spite of all the hard currency given to him to win votes for the man then, he
failed woefully and took those who were not delegates to Lagos to collect the
money and when the man discovered, they fell out and he felt that I was
probably responsible for that and so, his antagonism started. I put it on
record that in 2012, I sponsored him to be ACN chairman in the state. In 2014
when we were discussing  the zoning of
positions in the south South, I proposed his name against the wishes of Cross
River indigenes and they told me he will disappoint us, but I stood by him. I
honour principles and preserve accords and so, I put his name. For some people
who do not have secondary vocations, if politics falls out of place, they will
be stranded. So, they pursue political ambitions with absolute temerity of
desperation and so, we will not be surprised because we know them. But for me,
if anybody says I worked for PDP, go and tell Cross Riverians and see if they
will believe you. When nobody could stand up to challenge PDP, I was the sole
figure challenging them. So, I can assure you that those fabrications wont
amount to anything. Whatever their anger is, I have given every room for us to
sit and discuss, but you will understand that when a society is growing, those
who stand as victims are those who have honour and that is our situation. Go
and ask Lyel Imoke those he was paying in the opposition when he was governor.
Go and ask Donald Duke those who go behind to collect money. Go and ask Ben
Ayade  those he gives money in the secret
rooms. If you were from Cross River, you will know exactly how we stand. For
some of us, hunger and abundance makes little difference but honour is greater
than every consideration. Even as they did not like me, I still voted for the
positions they are contesting and l delivered. 
I don’t know if you are aware that in the last week of campaign, they
sent thugs to disrupt the rallies I was holding for Mr. President and one of
them was caught with arms and handed over to the police. Then they claimed in
their petition that I was arresting APC supporters. These people have been moving
from one party to the other. They are green pasture politicians and I am not. I
stand on the conscience of honesty. If they tell you Usani is this or that, let
us put forward our political credentials and let us know where we stand in
terms of tenacity to character and conscience. I like to treat them with a form
of palliative mercy because they are my brothers. My Bible tells me that anger
belongs to the devil and at all time, I try not to degenerate to a point of
anger beyond measure.

Your suspension by the APC national leadership?

I started administration at a high level in 1992 and I know
what administration entails. I know that administration is not done in the open
market or village square especially when you have rules guiding a particular system.
If, for any reason, I am accused of committing an offence, the constitution
provides how the procedure should be. I did not receive any invitation to
answer to any query, neither did I receive ay correspondence suggesting that I
am under punitive measure. So, I just presume that it is one of those media
rumour and so, didn’t need to apply myself to it. I saw a letter from my ward
chairman saying I remain a bonafide member of the APC in the ward he controls
and that I have not committed any offence to warrant a disciplinary measure.
So, I remain a member in my ward and that is where I stand. The question is,
why would anybody want to suspend me? All methods, legitimate and legal has
failed them in a bid to stop me from my governorship ambition and so, adopted a
cowboy method thinking that pronouncing suspension on air will make meaning. It
does not make any meaning. I was the first party chairman in the state, not
because l vied for it but because they said that they needed a character that
will not sell the party. So, when they say I have been suspended, I have not
receive any correspondence to that effect and I don’t know what offence I have
committed. Suspending me is very dangerous because we are very few in Cross
River that can hold the party. Let them show their results in the just
concluded elections. It is not about noise, but unfortunately, in Nigeria,
noise means strength. But for me success means strategy. I don’t need to talk,
but to prove and I have proven.

What faith or future for APC after Buhari?

Like in every vocation or activity in life, even the
environment that is natural is dynamic. Therefore, the future of the party will
not be determined by the projections of today because tomorrow may turn a new
live. The determination of the strength of a party does not also lies in the
internal melee, but the actions and reaction of contending forces. That can
always change the fortunes of the party. At the end of the President’s second
term, if Christ tallies, God will give us what befits us because my Bible tells
me that a leader emerges from the system and the nature of the people. So,
whatever happens, it may be a stronger or weaker party, but there will still be
a party.

But I note again that Abuja residents who have the privilege
of entering offices are not the owners of the party. The custodians of the
party strength are resident in the states. So, it is not for us to gather
ourselves, come to Abuja and claim to be key stakeholders. Those who hold the
ground for us to rest on are right there.

Would you have made any impact in the election if you were
given the ticket

I want to tell you that it is true that the PDP rigged
elections and it is not in any way a hidden secret that they rigged election in
Cross River. The truth is that the University of Calabar where the returning
officers were drawn from is managed by the Vice Chancellor who is from the
local government of the governor and majority of the returning officers were
drawn from that local government. There were instances where people who retired
from the military became returning officers. In my ward, the presiding officers
were speaking my language and no youth corper serves in his local government.
These are proof that PDP rigged the election. Assuming I was a candidate, I
wont assume I will be declared because the reasons for declarations are beyond
the ordinary. Legitimate and legal processes shows that we are the real
candidates of the party. You can verify that and will find out that the only
record in INEC suggestive of a congress or primary puts me as candidate of the
party. So, whatever makes INEC to keep publishing what we don’t understand is
what we cannot unravel. As at today, even though there are cases at the Appeal
level, the subsisting judgement remain valid until an appellate decision is
taken. The only valid judgement so far is in our favour. As somebody who is
honourable and believe in the rule of law, my approach will not be the brigand
method. INEC has given us certified true copy of the fact that they supervised
our primaries. Evidence available suggest that these people are playing a game
midwifed by the former PDP governor of the state. If you find anything
otherwise in documents that we are not the candidate, prove it.

Do you think all these are plots to stop you from returning
as minister and would you want sacrifice your ambition and dialogue?

In the first instance, they felt too arrogant to sit in a
discussion. For me, what matters in life is not money or position. When the
Bible said Herold exhorted himself above the knowledge of God, it is this type
of attitude. Who is who to determine the fate of another man? So, when they
behave like that, I don’t care. God gives positions and l don’t need to depend
on anybody to get positions. I got this one without lobby. God must have used
people to promote me to this point. Go and find out when I served military
administrators as commissioner. There were times when I said instead of this, I
will resign. You heard what I said on the floor of the senate during my
screening when it was insinuated that I had a parley with the PDP. If you
cannot serve the devil, don’t eat his food. That is my philosophy. I wont put
my hand behind and collect and then pretend. They were too arrogant to sit in
discussion even though I know that I have greater political fortunes in the
state than they have put together. My fortunes in politics is from the life I
have lived with my people and they know me. It is not a matter of being
ambitious, but recognising that we all can form a whole. Whenever they want to
call a meeting of what they called stakeholders, they will call 13 people who
are against Usani and then call Usani alone without telling him who the other
stakeholders are. Abuja noise is not ground movement. In the last elections,
find out if anybody gave me money. But they were given hundreds of millions,
but what s the outcome? I stand on what I believe in inspite of the pain and
halt because I want to be predictable.

Intervention from national leadership and believe in
Oshiomhole resolving the Cross River crisis?

Every leader has what it takes to resolve crisis in his
domain. So, I have no doubt that his leadership can resolve the crisis. To ask
whether I believe, will my singular opinion over ride  the general convention decision to have him
as our national chairman. As the national chairman, he should be able to
resolve. Whether he can do it or not, I don’t know. But for me I exercise the
right and privileged of my membership within the limits of the provisions of
the rules of the party. As a member of the cabinet of the President, you don’t
expect me to be a dissident and if anybody does not regard his position as a
pedestal of honor, you don’t expect me to follow him. I know myself. The Bible
says, man know yourself, l know myself.

Don’t you think with your suspension, the chairman tried to
make a statement?

I tell you something. When Socrates was already 70 years
old, he found a man whose worker was stealing his proceeds and the man killed
that worker and the son of this man came to him and said daddy, you said this
man committed evil and you killed him. Are you not committing the same evil
like the man? Because the Arthenian philosopers were afraid that at every time,
Socrates will prove them wrong, they decided to imprison him. He told them I am
already 70 and will soon die. If you kill me, the uprising will be faster, so
allow me to die naturally. They refused and killed him and the uprising came
earlier than anticipated. If you think suspending me is managing the crisis,
let me say it is provoking the crisis because he will lose a lot. I know that I
am not serving any suspension. Did I register in Abuja? Did anybody tell you l
have membership of APC in Abuja. We are all members of our wards. When election
came did you see us in Abuja. I have mentioned here that in all attempt to stop
me legally and procedurally, having failed they adopted a Cowboy method but
that is not the way to stop me

Rating the party in the last elections?

At this moment bearing the pending cases of suspended or
supplementary elections, if you want to rate the party in the face of what you
have seen as journalists, the rating should be based on the judgment you have.
I don’t have the general overview which you have daily. So, the rating of the
party should rather be my question to you. You are the assessors of the umpire
and the general performance. In my view it would differ from index to index,
from area to area and to rate my party without implicating some institutions
would be very difficult yet l can’t afford to take that risk. So, we are doing

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