Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has stated that the Igbo have a just cause to have the Presidency zoned to the South East in 2023. In this interview, he said that the principle of “equity” was a major reason to support the South East but urged the Igbo to form alliances with other geopolitical zones.
Among others, he also spoke on the chances of APC’s candidate in Edo State, and governance in Imo State.
As chairman of the APC primary in Edo State, what’s your take on the ratification of the exercise conducted by your committee by the party’s National Executive Committee(NEC)?
Edo APC primary was conducted according to the guidelines given to us and the committee took time to comply with the guidelines observing the protocol of COVID-19 and even the local legislation of Edo State Government. We did a very transparent exercise and we introduced option A4 and people who voted were counted. That is why in all the 192 wards and 17 local governments, we had no incidence of violence and there was no protest. Everything went according to the guidelines and both the losers and the winners were satisfied with the results announced. Accordingly, the wisdom of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party ratified the outcome of that exercise. It’s once more a clear demonstration of the integrity and confidence of the work of the committee . I think it is commendable and we want to thank the leadership of your party and indeed the NEC for the wisdom in approving our report and ratifying the results as produced by our committee.
There are reports of fears that the APC will use its federal might to enforce their candidate during the election. Is it true?
The election will be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) where people will come out and vote. I don’t see that happening given by what I saw during the primaries and judging by the number of people that trooped out. People came out in their numbers to vote and the three aspirants that were contesting were voted for and a candidate emerged; if you look at the figures and the returns from the 192 electoral wards, that number is enough to win the general elections. So, there is nothing like enforcement of a candidate; why will federal might come during the general election when it didn’t come during the primaries, what is the meaning of “federal might”? Federal might is used to protect the interest and security of the citizenry, irrespective of their political party and we in APC are democrats and progressives and we want to encourage and grow democracy in Nigeria, so forget about speculations and what people are talking about. I am interested on the realities that are on ground.
Despite the recent reconciliation and action of the NEC, it seems that there will be a disintegration of the party. What is the future of the APC?
There won’t be any disintegration, the APC is a very large party and because of its size, it is possible that people of different ideologies who recently joined the party are yet to come to terms with the ideology of the political party, because of the number of people and the size of membership; of course, it is given that people will always disagree but what is important is that the party is also prepared and the constitution of the party also provides for internal mechanism for resolution of grievances and disputes; so at the end of the day, we shall come out stronger as a party and I can assure you that contrary to those ugly expectations, let it be known that APC will come out united, stronger and we shall go into any election and win those elections based on acceptance and popularity by our people.
You are the only APC governor in the South East and looking at 2023, different zones and regions have been clamouring for the presidency and even the people are also talking about Igbo presidency in 2023? What have you got to say about this do; do the Igbo have a chance to the ticket?
When I contested election as a governor, some people came out and said it was not the turn of my zone; in democracy, it’s not about turn, it’s all about numbers.
Are you saying it’s not the turn of the Igbo?
I am not saying turn and I don’t want to discuss about turn; all I know is that the Igbo are eligible to have the President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction but no group can singlehandedly produce a president without the other. So, we must work as a united party to produce a president. The zoning principle is an internal form of political party, the same thing with other political parties. So, it’s not about turn but “equity”. We can say because the constitution of APC allows for equitable distribution of positions, that given that other geopolitical zones have one time or the other produced presidents, that the Igbo have a very strong case this time but we cannot sit, fold our arms and wait to produce a president because it is our turn. That is why I am calling on my brothers and sisters from the South East to come out and create alliances, build bridges of friendship so that working in alliance with geopolitical zones, they may consider our case but we cannot sit in Imo State and say this time it is the turn of Igbo and therefore the President must come from Imo State, without going to register our people to be voters. We must register or align with a party that is popular and understand the happiness at the federal level. I am confident that it’s possible to have a President of Nigeria from Igbo land but we must work for it, we cannot do it alone, we must also allow the people from other geopolitical zones to believe and understand that a president from Igbo extraction will be a president of the “Nigerian Nation”. What we are looking for is a person that will be a President of “Nigeria”.
The issue is not about turn; Igbo producing a Nigerian President is possible and it’s a case that is very logical; it is a case that I know every Nigerian wants The Igbo have a just case in 2023 but then, we must work for it. Sometimes, we become insensitive and destroy our case, what we should be doing now is to sensitize our neighbours to build confidence to show that the character of an average Igbo man or woman is that of a Pan Nigerian; when we bring out the Pan Nigerian in us before this time, our people have been blackmailed and the debacles of the civil war has not helped. So, I think that the publicity we shall do now is not that of “it’s my birth right” or “it’s my turn”. Democracy is achieved by ideology, we must show that to Nigerians although we may not have the numbers as a zone to out-vote other zones but constructive partnership demands equitable distribution of opportunities in which case that given that we now have six geopolitical zones that we are the only region that has not been given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of the country. That if we are supported, we shall not disappoint your reasonable expectations; these are the kind of things we should be talking about, not saying it is the turn of the Igbo.
You know Ojo Maduekwe was dragged by you politicians unto saying out of anger and intellectual urge to say that it was idiotic and it was difficult to forgive the man.
The media also has a huge role to play in projecting the case of the Igbo producing a president in 2023, don’t create disaffection among other people who are supposed to be our partners. Don’t make them have fear or distrust with your write ups and publications.
What has been your greatest challenge handling the affairs of Imo State as governor??
You know leadership is not easy, whether in Imo or anywhere in the world and not just Imo State. As a leader, you have to commit a lot of creative thinking and innovative strength to be a good leader. What I met on ground was not anything to write home about. But I have refused to be deterred or to allow the situation become a distraction for me. I came in with a road map and I came with a vision and I am driving my vision.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters and the global economy has dwindled and has trickled down to all the nooks and crannies of the world, so funding and revenue generation have become a major challenge for any meaningful governance to come into place.
However, leaders all over the world have decided to wear their thinking cap to seek improvised means to ensure that the welfare of the citizens is not in jeopardy. So, we have a broken down infrastructure in Imo State; we have an almost rotten civil service system, we have an almost non-existent moral order, insecurity but at the end of the day following our roadmap and vision of the government; we are coming up gradually.
However, nobody expected that this pandemic would come into place, it has affected every facet of the economy. The economy is near strangulation, the politics is almost not in existence. The infrastructure and money to really forge ahead to make governance worthwhile is going down day by day.
I think that before I came, previous leaders would sit down and allocation will come from Abuja but as it stands, allocation is reducing and it keeps reducing. We have come at a time as against what is used to be where leaders will first make the money before they spend it. Before money was available for leaders to spend but now, internally generated revenue is the “in thing” . A leader is now known for how much revenue you are able to plan and generate. This is the major issue and by the grace of God, I will not lament or complain, I just want to continue to show capacity.