Mr. Samuel Effanga, Commissioner for Science and Technology in the administration of Godswill Akpabio, can talk authoritatively about the two major parties in Nigeria PDP and APC, after returning recently to the PDP, a party he left in 2015. Effanga told PATRICK ODEY of The Next Edition in an interview: “There is no better place.”
TNE: What prompted your return to PDP after defecting to the APC?
EI can tell you that i am very happy because I’ve acted according to my conscience. The decision we took was the consensus of our people, our teaming supporters across the state. And we took a stand and decided to return to support Governor Udom Emmanuel. The implication of that support is that we returned to support the PDP, the party which Udom Emmanuel is a governor. Why it was a well thought-out decision is because of the maturity, the stability of the party, the co-ordination of the party. We also looked at the policies, the programmes and character of the administration of Governor Emmanuel, and we saw his deliberate attempt, efforts to cultivate peace in Akwa Ibom State, that is why his administration has enjoyed a peaceful atmosphere that was not witnessed in the state in the past few years. Situations have changed, but as patriotic sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State, this is an administration that we should support, which will continue to sustain the atmosphere of peace which is what the state is famous for. That is why we took the decision to return to PDP, not just return, also we brought in other people who, for many years, have played opposition politics.
We decided to leave opposition. As I mentioned, there are people, like my friend here, Evangelist Eyo Ubit, who has been an opposition politician for the past 18 years; but because of the performance of the Governor, he said he will no longer remain in opposition, he decided to join the government, he has joined the PDP.
For us in Uyo, we also felt and weighed the two options, the two political parties, what they offered to our people. And we concluded that our people have not benefited from APC, as a party over the years, despite being the largest support base in both political parties. We have people from Uyo Local Government that have supported both parties, especially APC, yet, Uyo people cannot point to anything. Even in the present circumstance, where APC took over government at the centre, there is no one position that has been given to Uyo. The only appointment that has been given, the highest position given to any Uyo man, is Assistant Organizing Secretary, in a party in which Uyo contributes principally.
And some of the things that happened in the party convinced us that alleged impunity in PDP was a child’s play, compared to what happens in APC. For example, the ward and chapter congresses in APC in Akwa Ibom State were riddled with fraud because one faction just hijacked the process and today, people are still fighting.
TNE: There are conflicting reports about the number of people that defected with you to PDP. Just how many people defected from the APC?
I was disappointed because the figure was under-reported. The number that came was more than 1,000, representing only a few wards, not the totality of Uyo Local Government. Over 1,000 people defected to PDP. The 200 that was reported is gross under-statement. The ingredient of that defection is the fact that officers of the party in various wards and chapters were among. The Chairman of APC Secretaries’ Forum defected, alongside over 20 secretaries across the state.
TNE: Are you referring to the Ward Secretaries Forum of APC?
Yes, ward secretaries forum, Evangelist Eyo Ubit led other secretaries to decamp but across the state, about 20 secretaries were ready, but there was no time. And there were other party leaders, women leaders, youth leaders, elders and stalwarts of the party. The ingredient of the defection was that they comprise of prominent officers of the party. In my Ward 6, it was only the ward Chairman that did not come with us. The understanding is that he is already working with PDP; has a special arrangement.
TNE: Sir, how do you react to the allegation that your defection to PDP is inconsequential because the last time you contested for the House of Representatives under the Accord Party, you recorded a paltry number of votes in four local governments?
That is not even an issue. If my presence was inconsequential, why are they crying? They are lamenting to emphasize the devastating impact of the massive defection; they are crying because if the allegation was correct, there would have been no need to complain. Abraham Lincoln contested election many times before he won as President of America. There is no guarantee that when you contest election once you will win. How many times did Gen. Buhari contest elections before he became President? When did President Buhari suddenly acquire electoral value?
This is coming from the angle of those who are desperate to diminish the impact of what has happened. But those who are realistic will not say so and if you read the comments of other respected members like Edwin Joseph, former House of Assembly Member, you will agree that the defection has devastated the party. Imagine that great number of people to move out of a party.
TNE: Was the hope of appointment or empowerment of any sort a factor in your decision to influence the mass defection to the PDP?
Those close to me know that I don’t play that kind of politics. I didn’t give anybody any condition before I defected. I read very insulting comments in the social media, credited to one of my brothers that I collected money from Nsima Ekere. Of course, I asked him: Are you speaking for Nsima Ekere? I don’t play politics like that, I have gone out for election, I have scarified for politics, I have invested my time, my resources in the game, I have benefited and also have been a victim. Every time, I have acted according to my conscience, so the decision was not based on any offer or inducement of any kind. And as a matter of fact, I left APC at a time that contract papers were flying indiscriminately. It was the right time for me to leave. And doing so when there were desperate attempts to entice me but unfortunately, I don’t play that kind of politics. Till tomorrow, I am a very contented person. All my activities in APC were self-sponsored, we created a group, “One for Change” which we used to also coordinate support for the interest of the party and nobody can say he founded that organization.
I challenge anybody to lay any kind of claim on the sponsorship of the group. That shows you that people that are supporting us are not supporting because we have money, but because of the relationship that we built over time.
No one among us collected any kind of inducement. I have not collected, my success in life is not because of all those things. I believe, as we are going, we will be part of what happens in the administration. Government can be likened to what the Bible says: “In my father’s house there are many mansions”. We can always work hard, and take advantage of what happens in government and we have other businesses to sustain our service. I am fulfilled that through this defection, my conscience is satisfied, I can work free anywhere.
TNE: Is the allegation true that you defected because Gov. Emmanuel promised you a ticket to the House of Representatives in 2019, in addition to a fat sum of money?
The story is not true! They even mentioned N5m which is insulting to me. Nobody can buy me with N5m. My defection was voluntary, there was no offer. In fact, I only just met Governor Emmanuel since he became governor. The governor knows that what I’m saying is true; that what we did was not as a result of any kind of inducement by anybody, I can say that again, the decision we have made is out of careful analysis of the situation and we believe our conscience is satisfied.
TNE: What should your new party expect from you?
I am a practicing politician, I am going to look at how I’m going to be part of the progress of the party and the administration; to support the developmental programmes of this administration, forget about the politics all these party things, party comes and goes but the people remain.
When I started politics, there was a man in my village who talked about NCNC, because he wanted to show how long he had been in politics. He would say, when Awolowo came in 1956, he changed the red flag. To me then, I thought I was not born, so the man used that intimidation to show me how long he had been in the game. He had nothing else to show others than to tell them about life in NCNC. I was very young during the second republic. I was politically-exposed during the aborted third republic. I was aware of names like the SDP and NCP, and the rest. But the APC, PDP and others are what we have now as political parties. What is important is that in all these ages, service to the people is what matters, even more than politics itself. As a politician, always consider the development of the people and the state, that is what is paramount.
We will continue to support parties because of the Constitutional provisions that say for you to aspire for position of leadership, you must pass through a party platform. Until the recommendation of independent candidature becomes operational, the Constitution of Nigeria remains. That is why we don’t place much emphasis on the extent of what we have seen, Your brother being in another political party should not make him your enemy. It should not be so, because membership of different political parties emphasizes the constitutional provision of differences in opinions, I have different opinion of the way things should be conducted and if your opinion is different from mine, it doesn’t make you my enemy, that is my principle.
TNE: With you now in the party that controls power in the state, will you still say Uyo is marginalised?
I will continue to talk about it; I will continue to call on government to look into how to compensate our indigenes who have been displaced because of development in the state. We have sacrificed our heritances, because we embraced development, we are happy that Uyo houses the government house and the infrastructures of the capital city, and all the developments. We appreciate, but at the same time, it is also good to know that this has created direct and adverse effects on the people. Some form of compensation will help the people of Uyo. I will continue to demand that adequate compensation should be given to some of the indigenes of Uyo who have been displaced as a result of development. This is not a difficult thing for government to handle.
TNE: Should anything happen in PDP that you are not comfortable with, will you be tempted to defect again?
I have had my experience, if you were there during my declaration back to PDP, I stated clearly that there was no place that was better, having gathered those experiences, because we thought that some other places were better, it is for me to help in the development of PDP, my party. I was there from the beginning before i left and came back. In the< period of two years, that’s what I said ‘there is no place that is better than home.’