Senator Nkechi Justina Nwaogu, the immediate past senator that represented Abia Central District in this interview, speaks on the issues and contentions within the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Senator Nwaogu’s political trajectory has been phenomenal. She started off from the All Peoples Party, APP where she served as national treasurer and subsequently won election on the platform of the party to the House of Representatives in 2003. She moved from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP while still a member of the House and used the PDP platform to overwhelm two senators in the 2007 election, Senators Chris Adighije and Bob Nwanunu.
Senator Nwaogu won re-election to the Senate in 2011 and made an unsuccessful bid for the governorship ticket of the PDP in 2015. Following her loss, she recently defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. She spoke on her political journey in an interview. Excerpts:
By Ugochukwu Alaribe
Why did you dump the PDP for the APC when the former retained power in your state, Abia?
I left the PDP because, as a political party, it was supposed to act like one, not a dictatorial party. PDP was supposed to act in the best interest of every member. It is no longer news that my former party lost focus and up to the time I left, they have failed to realize that they lost focus.
There was too much impunity. PDP lost the election because of impunity arising from the imposition of candidates. I felt that my association with PDP was no longer necessary because the party could no longer fulfil my political aspiration. My political aspiration is to add value to my constituency, improving the lives of our people. PDP lost the ideology for which I joined them. This is why I had to leave because they lost all these virtue for which I was happy to join them.
Your supporters had expected this decision in view of what happened to your governorship ambition in the PDP, why did it take this long?
I thought my former party would have realized the mistakes they made. A lot of Nigerians reposed their political and economic well being on my former party and when they made these grave mistakes, I expected them to realize and accept their mistakes and through public announcement and ask for forgiveness as well as find ways to rebuild and reorganize the party and the ideals it was known for. But rather than retrace their steps, they believed that they will always have their way. Yes, my supporters had expected me to abandon the party, but it is not just the moment that something happens that you react to it. I waited this long to give them time to retrace their ugly footsteps which brought such humiliation on the party during the polls, but I saw no remorse and rethinking.
I saw nothing in the future towards reorganizing themselves and expunging these bad things and people within the party that caused their political downfall. These are the reasons why I left at this time because when salt fails to test like salt; then it will no longer be called salt.
But some Nigerians believe there is no much difference between the PDP and the APC?
I don’t believe this; it is untrue. A typical example is when I attended President Buhari’s inauguration; there was no fanfare and the usual display of uniforms by party members. If it were my former party, it would have been a funfair of financial wastages by making uniforms where its cost will be quadrupled by party leaders at the expense of the nation.
I saw nothing like such waste during Buhari’s inauguration. There were prudent celebrations. As someone who has a financial background, I said to myself that the APC is really conscious of the financial leakages in the nation’s purse, and this is why it handled the ceremony in such a prudent manner.
Don’t you think that it would have been better if you left the PDP earlier?
No, I don’t have any regret not joining the APC earlier. I believe that everything that happens in one’s life is for a purpose. For those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, I believe it was the way it was destined for me.
This is a period of reflection over what has happened, if I had jumped into another party, I know I would have beaten the former governor in the senatorial election. If somebody who didn’t do much could beat him at his polling unit and ward in the election, then; there is no doubt that I would have won by a landslide and returned to the Senate.
What will the people expect from you since that you have become a member of the APC which is now the ruling party at the centre?
I’m in APC to assist the party bring change to Nigeria; a change in attitude and change in the way we do things. Change has already started from my political ward; you saw what happened in my political ward and local government; the level of reception by the people on the day I formally declared for the party. We will be change agents for party, Abia State and Nigeria. I am happy to be a participant in the change process. I’m going to be a fisher of men, women and resources into the APC.
You appear to have much confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari, how confident are you that he won’t fail Nigerians?
My confidence is that he’s been somebody who has been tried and tested at some point and found diligent and also found acceptable. We believe that he is the same person that has come here. Since after he left the military, look at his lifestyle, he is very close to not having a blemish.
If you look at his lifestyle, you will see that he is a person who is very progressive in nature who would want to give even his life for the country because for him to have tried to be the President for four times shows he had been lamenting in his heart about the state of affairs in this country.
He has been crying being aware that as a person, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), he could not affect lives as much as he can now that he is at the head of that change Nigerians desire. So I have confidence that he is not going to derail despite the fact that this is a democratic set up where people of different backgrounds, different interests are coming together all in the name of politics. I’m sure that Nigerians are praying for him to be focused and to put at the back of his mind those things he has promised Nigerians that he will do, and that is living an open life, running an open administration, doing something that will be for the benefit of the people.
If he is able to use good advice to plug a lot of wastages in the system, I can assure you there will be enough money to go around, to touch lives. There will be a revival in the private sector which is a great engine of economic development of any nation.