WHAT do you intend to do differently if elected governor of Imo state?
Look at the issue of road infrastructure. Just take that alone. There are other aspects of infrastructure that we don’t think about. We will look at that. You cannot drive a kilometre in Imo without encountering rough road, even in Owerri. And that was what informed the governor saying that the rains in Owerri are acidic. I don’t know whether God chooses the kind of rain and water that drops in Owerri as against the ones in Lagos. Go to Imo today, you can’t find one notable contractor like Julius Berger, RCC, Hitech or Setraco. You can’t find any such construction companies in Owerri. Imo soil is not as bad as the soil of Lagos state. No design of any of the roads being constructed in Imo and I challenge you, you can’t drive one kilometre without undulation in Imo state. In 21st century, people are still using head pan and shovel. Look at the challenge of education; look at the ease of doing businesses. From the report of the Federal Bureau of Statistics, Imo is number 34 out of 36 states. It shouldn’t be. The other one is the issue of zoning. We succeeded in getting it right. In Imo state, people are still a little bit confused. But one thing that is certain, any person that thinks well in Imo will not look at the direction of Orlu because, since the inception of this phase of democracy, Achike Udenwa, who ruled from 1999 to 2007, comes from there. Rochas Okorocha, the incumbent governor also comes from there. By May 29, 2019, he would have spent eight years as governor of Imo state. That would have been 16 years out of the 20 years of our current democratic dispensation. It is unfair, no matter how somebody looked at it. But even if you take that out, let’s look at the individuals and forget the political parties. Post- Rochas’ Imo, I think that people should look at the person that aspires to be the governor because it’s not going to be like government after Achike Udenwa. We had four years of Governor Ikedi Ohakim in Imo, which was not a very pleasant experience no matter the index or indices that you used. Now, put that together and it would have been 12 years that the state has gone through trauma. Therefore, to be governor, it’s not going to be a pleasant experience but we just have to begin somewhere to start fixing it. That is the way I look at it.
In the case of the three of us, Uche Nwosu coming from APC, Hope Uzodinma coming from APC and the case of myself who is now in APGA also coming from APC, you can as well say they also came from PDP. You can even take it a little backwards to say because at a point, Rochas himself and his son-in-law, they were all PDP. Hope Uzodinma also just came into APC not too long ago, not even up to three months. I left APC and joined APGA. In this country, and I can challenge anybody on this, in all of these parties, it doesn’t matter the region whether it is the South- West, South- East or any of the geo-political zones, there are really no clear-cut differences between these parties in terms of their ideologies. If there are no ideological differences, what will now inform your movement will be the treatment you get from the parties.
There are no clear-cut ideological differences whether it is APC or PDP. That again depends on how these parties are registered. People take the constitution or manifesto of one party, they copy the contents and send to INEC for registration. So, there are no clear-cut differences. I can give you the three manifestoes of all the parties. There are no differences. Therefore, what will inform people’s movement is the treatment they receive from these parties because it is the same ideology everywhere you go. But if you find that where you are, you are meeting strange people with strange views and very abnormal behaviour, then, of course, you leave, particularly when somebody who will decide your fate in a political party did it in a manner that cannot guarantee fairness, you have to leave.
Will you still remain in APGA even if you don’t win?
Coming to the question you asked about whether I will remain in APGA or not, you see this is the last of it. I am not going to contest governorship election again. Never! The only way I will contest governorship election again is when we win and then I am seeking for re-election. After this, to say I want to start afresh to do governorship, it is impossible. That is why, by the grace of God, we are doing everything we can to get it right now. I can’t leave APGA for some obvious reasons. I don’t see any special advantage in being in the party at the centre. The president worked very well with the Anambra state governor now, more than any other governor in the South East because he feels that the programmes of Anambra state governor, who is a member of APGA, fits into what he thinks of this country. Therefore, the man that does it is his friend. Rochas is APC governor but he does not look at the manifesto of the party, while you have somebody in Ebonyi who runs the programmes that the president is happy about in terms of agriculture, road and infrastructure. Therefore, he becomes his friend. So, there is nothing special that says because you belong to this government at the centre , it gives you special privileges. There is no such thing. Rather, what will inform your relationship on how it is at the centre is based on your performance. If that is the case, then the party you belong, doesn’t really matter. What I think we should do is to build a very strong APGA in the South East to ensure that by 2023, all the states of the South East will be controlled by APGA. Then we will now discuss and negotiate.
There is this insinuation that you are a violent man, is that true?
That question shouldn’t even arise at all. I came from a family of three. I have two sisters and I am the only son of my parents. As a Catholic and as a Christian, my father did not have any extra wife or concubine. If you come from a family of three like mine; my elder sister and younger sister, who is in the UK with her family; we have women and women are not violent people. If you are in-between them, it is natural that sometimes, you behave like a woman because you have a woman that is naturally not violent. It’s just like when you have a girl among boys, as they jump, she will jump as a child. But you see, so many things happen that people will say once you venture into politics; you better ask your mother whether your father is your real biological father, because some of those questions will come up. Like the case of Barrack Obama, when Donald Trump said he was born in Kenya even though he knew and still knows that Obama was born in America. So, I have never been a violent person and I have no reason to be violent.
What are you doing about reconciliation of aggrieved aspirants?
On the issue of reconciliation and the processes of the primary, every primary has its own challenges. When I joined APGA, we had 23 aspirants who had appeared before me. It was natural that every one of them will be thinking they will win. APGA delayed their primaries till the last day of submission. I came into APGA, I have the best structure in Imo state, well-funded. Even if it is a political party structure, those people that were established as state chairmen of APP, some of them are now in APGA. Therefore, you can’t compare them with someone who has just left the bank and has no knowledge of politics.
You can’t compare me with somebody who has no knowledge of what primaries is all about. Of course, these people who had voted for me, they know that if you have been in government before, you will understand their problems better than somebody who had no idea of politics. So, these were the things that informed their voting for me. As they voted for me, it is natural for some people to react but the good thing is that we have been able to reconcile more than 80 percent of them. The other 20 percent, it is either they have left like Ikedi Ohakim has left for another party, all these ones, there is nothing you can do about it because they have left. But for those who are in APGA now, we have totally reconciled and everybody is working as one family to deliver Imo state.
What informed the choice of your running mate?
My running mate, Barrister Steve Ibe Nwoga from Mbaise used to be an aspirant. It’s quite unusual and I don’t think it has happened anywhere in Nigeria where a candidate picks an aspirant who competed against him as his running mate but I did it because in spite of the fact that he is a nice fellow with a very good background, he will be the link between the old and the new. But again, we are the same one indivisible family called APGA
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