Abia guber: Retain Orji’s candidates, lose elections –Ochuba, COPAN boss

The Chairman of Committee for People’s Awareness (COPAN), a supportive group to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Abia State, Mr. Patrick Ochuba, has raised the alarm over the imposi­tion of candidates for next year’s general elections by Governor Theodore Orji and his son. He said unless the National Working Committee (NWC) intervenes, the party may lose elections. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:

Why did your group reject the list of candidates?
There were no primaries in Abia State. Rather, Governor Orji hand-picked can­didates for all the positions. Therefore, COPAN will storm the PDP’s national secretariat in Abuja to register our dis­pleasure over the undemocratic way Orji is running the party. If nothing is done to reverse the injustice done to members of the party in Abia, we will ensure PDP loses the governorship. Orji’s choice of candidates especially, the governorship, would cost the party electoral fortune in 2015.

Why didn’t COPAN protest ear­lier but now that the primaries are over?
As a supportive group of the ruling party, COPAN is voice for the voiceless people of Abia. Therefore, we took time to monitor PDP congress and primaries in the state and we discovered that the governor and his son single-handedly chose all the candidates. Governor Orji has turned the state into his private estate and COPAN will mobilize the people to resist privatization of PDP by the gov­ernor. The state is fast becoming a one party state where opposition does not exist. We believe that strong opposition would force the ruling party in Abia to perform. Because Orji has chased away everyone who tries to call him to order, that is why he has turned into “garrison commander” in Abia. It is unfortunate that we now live in fear in the once peaceful state. So, we took time to assess the activities of Governor Orji. We wrote to alert him of his undemocratic conduct, but he never cared nor changed.

But President Goodluck Jona­than advised those who lost in the primaries not to leave PDP, don’t you think a protest may not change anything?
Mr. President was making passionate appeal but that is not enough to make those who were shortchanged during the process not to seek redress. COPAN wants to use the protest as a warning to PDP that it may lose more states especially, Abia, if those Governor Orji selected are allowed to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming general elections. Whether the NWC takes us and our observation seriously, time will tell.

What if the party allows the can­didates you alleged were selected by Orji to run, what would be your next line of action?
There are no two ways about that, PDP will lose Abia State and seats in both National and Abia State Assemblies. However, this can be avoided because there is still time to correct this costly mistake the party is about to make.