Obinna Ogba is the Senator representing Ebonyi Central in the National Assembly. In this interview with Damilola Zebulun Adeniran, he bares his mind on the state of affairs in the Senate and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Furthermore, Ogba shares his thoughts on the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in recent bye-elections held in Bauchi and Katsina, both won by the All Progressives Congress (APC). Excerpts:
There is so much uncertainty over when the National Assembly will reconvene especially in view of the yet to be passed INEC budget for the 2019 general elections. Can you give an indication of when lawmakers will resume?
There is no directive for us to resume by the leadership. I don’t know when we will resume, if they feel there is need for us to reconvene, they will tell us.
There have several utterances by the APC hierarchy, within and outside the Senate hinting that once the Senate reconvenes, there will be moves to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki who recently defected to the PDP. What is your take on this?
There is no law that says that the Senate President must belong to a majority party. Moreover, there is no law that says the Senate President must come from APC or PDP; the law says one of us should be elected to preside over the Senate. We should not allow selfish individuals truncate our hard earned democracy. We should outgrow the time of impunity, we are no longer in the time of military regime where you impose what you want on others. We should allow the constitution to be our guide; anything that does not conform to the constitution should be disregarded.
Let us talk about your Party, the PDP. There have been defections of heavyweights into the party in recent times. How do you think this will shape out with regards to the primaries? Some observers are predicting that the party will implode after the primaries…
Those heavyweights that are coming back to the PDP, they have been part of the PDP before and we have been managing ourselves from that time. Now that they are back, we will still manage ourselves. Let it not give headache to anyone, how we are going to manage ourselves.
What is your reaction to the defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio to the APC and what impact would it have on the PDP especially in the South-South?
As far as I am concerned, Akpabio has not defected, he is still a member of the PDP. As a Senator, you do not defect inside a stadium. When we resume, if he will decamp to the APC, we will know. There is a procedure for defection; he has to write a letter to the Senate President, and the Senate President will read the letter. The Senate President is the only person who can allocate a seat to him in the chamber. Otherwise, where he sat (before the recess) is where he will be seating (among PDP Senators) when the Senate resumes. People outside do not understand how these things work, it is only the Senate President that can allocate seat.
Talking about seats, do you support the suggestion in some quarters that Akpabio seat should be declared vacant even if he confirms his defection on the floor as you explained, since there is presumably no division within the PDP necessitating his defection in the first place?
The Senate President has the right to declare the seat vacant because there is no division in PDP and those of them who defected from PDP to APC when we had the issue of Makarfi and Sheriff, they had the right to do that, nobody will touch their seats. However, as at now, anyone who leaves the party is on his own. For instance, APC has division, they have reformed APC led by Buba Galadima, and they also have another APC led by Adams Oshiomhole. So, those in APC have the right to decamp to another Party but the moment they resolve their problems and become one, anyone who defects does that at his own risk.
Looking at the recent Senatorial bye-elections in Bauchi and Katsina, it appears the APC still has a strong followership considering the margin of its victory in those states…
(Interjects) No, no, no. They do not have any majority followership, forget about those results. You know that for now when individual election is being conducted like this, you take INEC as working for the APC. If you listen to people from these areas, they will tell you how the election was conducted and how the results were announced and I am sure our party will challenge all the results in the court. At the end of it all, we will know the proper winner.
Finally, there have been allegations by your Party; the PDP that the APC led administration is using agencies of state such as the EFCC to “witch-hunt’ PDP Senators into supporting an alleged APC agenda in the Senate, what is the true situation?
You just want me to say it. Don’t you know that they have been using EFCC to harass people who are in opposition? Why do you think people like Akpabio are joining APC? It is just to see whether they can hide there. The other day Oshiomhole praised the Governor of Benue that he is doing very well. The moment the man defected to PDP, he became a bad person. EFCC went and froze the state government account which runs contrary to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.