Author Topic: Nigerians Will Never Accept Apc – Ibeneme  (Read 366 times)

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Nigerians Will Never Accept Apc – Ibeneme
« on: August 20, 2013, 10:34:46 AM »
Chief Chika Ibeneme is former Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport 23 years ago, in Anambra State. With a political career spanning over 33 years, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain was in the race for the governorship position of Anambra State. In this interview with NNAH DOUGLAS and PASCHAL NJOKU, Ibeneme discloses the purpose of her seeking to become the National Women Leader of the PDP in the forthcoming special convention of the party and bares her mind on the newly registered All Progressives Congress (APC).

Way we formally meet you?

I am Chief Hephzibah Chika Ibeneme (Mrs.) I am a native of Agulu- Uzigbo, Aniocha Local Government Area Anambra State. I am from Agulu-Uzigbo by marriage and Onitsha by birth.  I am contesting for the position of the National Woman Leader of the PDP. I am a former Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport, 23 years ago in Anambra State, and at that point in time I was in charge of all ecological problems in the state. I was equally in charge of environment and all unilateral and bilateral interests in the state then as well as the Chairman of all Works’ Commissioners in Nigeria; that was during Babangida’s regime and my governor then was Dr. C. P. Ezeukwu (Okwadike.)

Could you share with us the genesis of your political journey?

Yes of course, but before I say anything further, I would want us to maintain a minute silence for the demise of the mother of our First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan; May her soul and the souls of the faithful, who departed this sinful world rest in the bosom of the Lord; may their souls rest in peace (Amen). Now back to your question; Yes! I joined politics some 33 years ago; yes! 33 years ago; I wonder where most of these women that are hovering around were then. I served Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe creditably and I was very young then but it was an act of God that I was opportuned to be there. I took after my mother, Lady Maria Nando, who was a Woman Leader per excellence at that time.

She used to take care of newly-married brides before going to their husband’s family and not to their husbands directly. After the wedding, she will check roll them to their husbands, tutors them on how to behave as housewives, how to take care of their family, take care of the children as well as the man who is the leader of the family. That was the environment in which I grew up; so that footstep saw all of us being directed to politics.

Some 33 years ago like I said, I joined the political bandwagon where I served very many Nigerians creditably without any problem at all. They never even for one day had any fault about me and it was a direct ministry using every intellect God gave me to work for the success of this country. That was how I grew politically and would want to remember in loving memory, some people like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi etc.

These days we do not see politicians that are exuberant and vibrant like those good old politicians. Today, I do not know the type of politicians we have in this country but those days, we saw politicians that were selfless; politicians that did not think of corruption; politicians that were patriotic and who wanted to see what they could do for their environment and not what they could reap from the masses. That was the type of political environment I grew out of; so, I grew up in politics from NPP to SDP down to UNCP and now to the PDP. So far, this is my journey in politics.

Of all the political parties in the country, why did you decide to pitch tent with the Peoples Democratic Party?

Those days, the major political parties used to be APP, PDP, etc; and remember we just came out from the fight between democracy and the military in governance. We were the architect of democracy in this country; it was a big battle and I was deeply involved in the battle to install democracy in Nigeria. We grew out from APP because we did not want to be contaminated or dabble into politics with people that supported the military.

So, on a second thought, my husband who is a good politician, who also helped in moulding me politically, felt we should look for a real political party. As I was growing up, he introduced me to his friends, some of them of best memory, very strong politicians and said he wanted them to groom me politically. He was always there with me, accompanied me to meetings, doing my political thinking. But mainly, he was the architect because he supported me with finances, with his intellect, with strategies; he is a marketer and a political thinker and God blessed him so well that he groomed me in politics.

So, while the APP and PDP were doing their things after the military had left the political scene, my husband said he perceived that APP as true democrats were too restricted, so, he suggested that we have to join a party that is broad-based and that is why we joined the PDP. At inception in 1998, we were there and I contested for the Assistant Secretary that was zoned to the South East then under the PDP fold in 1999. We went to Chief Alex Ekwueme, myself, my husband and about fourteen others including Dr Areh, the Ede Bubu Gaga of Onitsha around late 1998. We pledged our loyalty and he gave us his blessing and told us that there was a big meeting coming up; that was how we joined the PDP.

So, what benefit have you derived since joining the PDP?

Well, I am still alive and I thank God almighty for keeping me. The benefit I derive from PDP is that I have come to know too many people from the North, East, West, and South. I have friends across the geopolitical regions of this country.

You tried to draw a comparison between old and present day politicians; from your experience with political actors in the past, how would you rate the present day politicians?

The distinction I want to draw is in the area of patriotism, selfless service to humanity, being your brothers’ keeper, and leaving a lasting legacy to your children and also believing that when you eventually exit from this planet, your children will pick the baton from where you stopped and continue. Though we are now in the “computer age” then, there was no computer or handset, but this present political landscape had seen us degenerate into something else because of technology; where I also think that what was revealed in the book of Revelation has come to pass.

The present day politicians are reaping on the insistence of not doing the right thing, where one man will embezzle trillions of naira and stash the money underground or in a tank or even in foreign banks; when his next door neighbour is dying of hunger. What we have now is a situation where one man will have fleets of cars to himself and his brother down there in the village has no motorcycle to use; and the same person prides himself and goes around town in convoy, with siren blistering. We had patriotism in the past but that is missing now.

What do you think could be responsible for the lackadaisical attitude of the present day politicians in this country?

I believe that extreme exposure to materialism may be responsible for their attitudinal change. They have been carried away by affluence and nobody cares about the masses any longer.

Now as a woman politician, how has Nigerian women contributed their quota towards socio-economic and political advancement of the country?

Women are the bedrock of development in any country, we work ourselves to pulp but at the end, those who did nothing eventually eat the fruits of our labour. Women are responsible for building Nigeria to this level. We raised this country with our bare hands; at any point in time, particularly during election period, you will see the women trooping out to en masse to vote leaders who will not remember them when they get up there.

A mild drama recently reeled out in the senate where many northern senators endorsed teenage marriage for the girl-child; what does this portend?

No sane minded person will pass such law in any country; the same senators who agreed with child marriage have children also, but the poser on the lips of many concerned parents is; at thirteen years, would any of the senators who supported early married allow one old man to come and marry his daughter? As a senator, will you allow that? Certainly, none will not allow that, forgetting that what is “sauce for the geese is equally good for the gander.”

We are not promulgating any law or even giving any judgment as to what will suit oneself because one is in authority and will not suit the man who is out there, who also has nobody to talk for him. If the children of the less privileged can be supported by law to marry at 13 and the rich man, who is guilty of the same offence, will not allow any man to come near his own daughter who is even 17, then it amounts to injustice of the highest order. Will you as a journalist, as exposed as you are, allow your daughter of 17 years to be married? I do not think any senator with his thinking cap will do that.

It was also reported that a senator from one of the southwest states apologised to women in his senatorial zone for supporting the cause, attributing it to mistake; what is your reaction to that?

So, will all of them who endorsed that move apologise to their constituents? It is a devilish thing to think of and madness as it were to support that kind of thing. I believe the senators that voted in support of teenage marriage know what we call VVF. For you as a father to allow your daughter of 13 years to get married and during childbirth she cannot give birth to a baby because the womb is not yet ready as well as all her physical features amounts to exposing the girl to danger. We must resist any attempt to subject our female kids to serious injuries before they become somebody; that senate position on teenage marriage is unacceptable; any person supporting such should come from the outer space.

Away from that, what motivated your desire to contest the position of the National Woman Leader of the ruling PDP?

I am a mother, I am a leader, I know what it means to lead women, I know what it means to be a mother, I have 14 grand children and many more are coming with God’s mercy, I am blessed beyond measures. I got married 42 years ago, my husband is ageing gracefully and he will eat the fruits of his labour. So, as a woman, my family is coordinated; I want to help Nigerian women like my mother did. I am geared towards rediscovering the Nigerian woman.

The mother of the nation, Dame Patience through Mr President gave us 35% women affirmative right in Nigeria and she has been working assiduously to make sure that women gain their rightful pedestal in the society. I will compliment her effort, because if we are in positions of trust, we will utilise the positions to effect the changes we need. Presently, our representation is too minimal for anybody to discover. The past women leaders tried their best, and I will compliment their effort. As a mother, I would want my Nigerian children to grow up like my own biological children.

They are self made and work so hard, they wake up 4:30am each morning to pray and before beginning their day. A family that prays together is a blessed family. You will never see any hole in a family that prays together, because before you envisage any loophole, God would have sealed it with prayer.

As a veteran politician and member of the PDP, how would you situate the internal crisis rocking the party?

I do not see what is happening now in the PDP as crisis. In a strong family where everybody is active, we are bound to disagree in order to agree. If I disagree with you today, you will see my own point of disagreement and tomorrow, you will behave the way I want you to behave and vice versa; where at the end, we will work together as one.

What the PDP is faced with is internal affairs, which is normal but I tell you that PDP will surprise Nigerians. If everyone agrees with everybody then someone is deceiving someone. In a family, husband and wife are bound to have skirmishes but eventually settle and begin to live in peace again. If you doubt it, go and touch one of those you think they are quarrelling, you will see two of them joining hands against you. Go to a large family and observe what transpires there.

If there are no crises, we would not come out stronger. PDP has come to stay in Nigeria and anybody who thinks that the crisis will engulf it is making a big mistake.

In view of the fact that you are aspiring for a very sensitive position, what are your chances?

I believe in God, and whoever God gives leadership, no man can take it away from him. If God says I am the National Woman Leader of my great party, the PDP, nobody will take it away from me, bearing in mind that it is God that makes leaders. The hands and minds of kings and princes are in God’s hand. He directs therefore, I have bright chances because I know the God I serve.

If elected and going by your antecedents in politics, what reforms will you bring about as the National Woman Leader of PDP?

I have three-point agenda; the ordinary women down there are my targets, I am targeting those women at the grass root, and they include widows, orphans, and vulnerable people. My office, when elected, will teach them how to fish than to give them fish. There are mighty rivers with abundant fishes; all that the women would need is the right net to fish. I will also focus on education because when you educate a woman, you have educated a nation but when you restrict a woman, you have equally closed the chapter.

I am an educationist, so, I will ensure that other women who were not opportune to be educated will benefit from my office. I will assist government to ensure that the rural women gets basic quality education, particularly as it affects the girl-child because they are our future.  Like I said earlier, give me a child of ten years and in 5 years, which culminates into 15 years, I will give you a self made girl that would turn to a woman and would lead her environment. When I was in Women Training

College (WTC), Enugu, many years back, I was their senior student. While there, all the female students had a common understanding and good records because we rub minds together. When we look at ourselves, we tell ourselves the truth; if you make a mess, try to clear the mess and don’t wait for another person to come clear the mess for you. Make sure the environment is clean because a clean environment breeds discipline, virtue and ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.’

Secondly, we will work towards empowering widows, vulnerable and indigent as well as orphaned girls. God gave me God’s Own ministry as a call, a registered NGO; it is a charity organisation; we solicit for relief materials and not money. When you bring money, instead, use the money to we tell you to use it and buy the needed relief items and send it to us while we evenly distribute to affected people. When I was a member of the board of Ministry of Education at Federal University of

Technology Yola, I went down to the Almajiris to organise them through the help of one of our senior elder statesmen who is still alive today. But sometimes, it does not work out the way you think, you may have an idea and you sell same idea to someone who you think will implement it and the person will eventually do it the way he wants; while some will do it haphazardly, some will do it well, while others will not do it at all.

Also, we will fight poverty, as an Ibo woman that I am, I will help to encourage small scale trade for these women, when you educate them, you open a window of trade for them to better their lives, and before you know it, you have trained serious entrepreneurs, this will also be complimented with low interest loans which they will utilise for the benefit of the people.

Of course, women’s right will be promoted and they will know that to marry at the age of 13 will not fetch them any good because at 13, the girl-child is not developed, she thinks and act like a baby, some at that age just started their menstruation and cannot even control themselves, talk more of taking care of a man. At that age in marriage, she stands the risk of being infected with disease, a girl in that age category ought to be thought the basic things of life and not hurriedly given away in marriage.

Some people opine that the newly-registered All Progressives Congress (APC) will dislodge the PDP in the 2015 general election. Ma, what is your reaction to this assertion?

Look, when I was growing up, I used to hear my parents talk about APC, they told me when I asked them the meaning of APC that it means, an analgesic. APC as far as I am concerned means ‘Aspirin, Paracetamol and Codeine’ put together. If you take these three tablets and put in your mouth, the end result is suicidal. Nigeria will never accept APC.

The merger of Aspirin, Paracetamol and Codeine for Nigeria will drag the country. Codeine I learnt is outdated and I heard that paracetamol is under threat as well as panadol; aspirin has been suspected to be capable to cause cancer and nobody would want to take a combination of those killer drugs. The opposition merged because they want their pockets to be filled up.

Look at what is already happening to them, where only one man is sitting on 12 billion naira every month, how many Nigerians earn that? Bringing APC to Nigeria is a threat to our common wealth, we at the PDP don’t fear the party and it is a party purely built on ethno-religious sentiments.

Why do you exude confidence that APC cannot wrest power from the ruling party?

Yes! whenever I talk to Nigerian women, they listen to me, I am an opinion moulder, I was born in politics 33 years on and I was Commissioner for  Works, Housing and Transport as well as  Ecological matter in my state. Go to Anambra State and see my footprint. The last Military Administrator in the state asked me when he invited me why nobody could fit into my shoes since I left office many years ago and I replied, “It’s the Lord’s doing, which is marvellous to me.” The authority I speak is the same authority God has spoken, that PDP will win in 2015.

No doubt, women occupying different leadership positions have contributed a lot to the development of Nigeria like their male counterparts; but they hardly get to the pinnacle of their desired political career as they find it difficult to be President, Governors etc unlike what is obtainable in few countries of the world. Comment on this ma.

We should not be in a haste, I contested for the governorship of Anambra State, I also contested for Anambra Chairman of the PDP and the National Woman leader of my party, and more, there is no barrier, the only hindrance is the cultural aspect where a man sees it as a slap to solicit for favour or permission from the feminine gender. He feels the end of the world is there but it’s being gradually washed away. Dame Virginia Etiaba was the first woman Governor in Anambra State and Nigeria in general.

She broke the jinx, she was there for only three months and while in office she left a good legacy for the people of the state. Go to Anambra State now you will see the people clamouring for a woman governor because Dame Virgy Etiaba showed that a woman is capable of handling a state administratively than a man.

With her style of governance, everybody in the state was indeed satisfied; so, women should aspire for higher position and turn around the fortunes of the country. As a matter of fact, I am not a feminist but I believe in equality and the works of my hand, and I know what I can do for my people, I don’t believe in staying in one place as a woman.

In conclusion, what message do you have for Nigerian women?

Well, the simple advice I have for the women folk out there is for them to be Godly because the book of Ecclesiastes told us above all that you can gain the whole world but if you are not Godly, you are nothing. Solomon in the Bible married too many wives, he tasted the best things of live but at the end he (Solomon) said “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” I will tell our women to be Godly because if you are Godly, the spirit of God will inject sanity into your head and discipline you.

A woman should not say because the times are hard and decide to inflict injuries on herself; because there are so many people that can lure you into so many things that are negative and when you subscribe to it, the end result will not benefit you. So, I urge Nigerian women to imbibe the fear of God in their heart.

Any word for the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan?

I sincerely sympathise with her, I encourage her to take heart because God is there. She is a mother, she is our eye. I would also appreciate her effort, while also encouraging her to remain steadfast in the fear of the Lord.

Lastly, any message for the newly-registered opposition party, APC?

The opposition or APC should work harder and make sure they dilute aspirin, paracetamol and codeine so that the combination will not even kill them let alone killing my dear beloved Nigerians.

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Nigerians Will Never Accept Apc – Ibeneme
« on: August 20, 2013, 10:34:46 AM »

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