By Cynthia Orji
Chief Joe Martin Uzodike was the Director General, DG of Gov. Willie Obiano’s campaign organization in 2013. He is also the DG of the Obaze Campaign Organisation of Mr Oseloka, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the Anambra State governorship election. In this interview, he speaks on Anambra politics.
Anambra will soon go into elections, how would you describe the political atmosphere?
I think what we are experiencing is the atmosphere of an election and nothing more.
As a seasoned politician, can you imagine how the election will go?
I believe the election will go very well. Every day, Anambra people are becoming increasingly politically aware. Whether we like it or not, the awareness started at the time of Dr. Chris Ngige, culminated during the time of Mr. Peter Obi. Both of them have set a standard for the performance of political office holders in Anambra State, alas, regrettably, we appear to be dwindling…
Dwindling! What do you really mean Sir?
Things are no longer going on very well in Anambra State. We now have a governor, a man who is totally bereft of ideas of what governance is. Chief Willie Obiano came to power on a platter of diamond, but he did not quite understand what governance is all about. As I speak, four years is about to go and he is still celebrating his emergence rather than sit down to work. So many wasteful ventures, making undue noise all over the place while the solid foundation he inherited is caving in on daily basis.
His people say that many actions of his predecessor encumbered him, how true is this?
They said Obi awarded a lot of unexecuted contracts, how true could this be?
Is that supposed to be a reason for failure? Most of the things they do point to the highest exemplification of ingratitude. I saw them publishing some contracts Obi awarded before leaving office. I mean this is wickedness. Obi had the money to have completed all these roads but he never wanted to take all the glory. He decided to lay a CONTINUITY foundation by flagging off these projects at the tail end – basically for campaign purposes.
He actually sat down with the candidate then, who is now the current governor, and some critical people to carefully choose and design roads to be awarded to help win the election. These roads and other projects like the shopping malls were equitably distributed across the whole state. Of course, Obi as governor never failed on his promises to ndi Anambra. They believed the projects would be completed by his predecessor within the first year in office as promised. Obi went on and mobilized 25% for most of the roads. I think it was a total of 33 roads. It was in my presence that he explained to the current Governor what he did with contracts to make him succeed. Once allocation came, Obi paid about 1.5 Billion Niara to contractors on monthly, constant basis. This kept them at work all year round under Obi. He explained all this to the man who was to take over from him. But rather than take to the advice of the man who had eight years’ experience he went on a flashy jamboree and is still busy celebrating a victory won in 2013. Rather than continue with the structured payment, he started taking about same sum as Security Votes.
It is on record that as at the time Obi left, he did not owe any contactor. Obi inherited a total of 13 on-going roads from Ngige and completed them in his first tenure. Obiano inherited more, but has completed only three, meanwhile he has done roads in his home town.
He committed little money to projects and concentrated them in his home town, I mean, where is his sense of justice? Where is his sense of equity? Other governors remembered their people because charity begins at home, but what Ngige and Obi combined to do in their towns are not up to 30% of what Obiano has already done in his own town and is poised to do even more.
Let him use the remaining six months in his tenure to see what he can remedy, rather than giving lame excuses. Ok, Obi awarded 33 roads, yet in his first year of office, he awarded almost the same number of roads. What are his people saying?
Obi left Anambra in the best condition, with over 100 Billion left in the coffers. He should be celebrated.
Who is your candidate in the coming election?
My candidate is Mr. Oseloka Obaze.
Why are you supporting Him?
I am supporting him for the same reason I believe others are supporting him. Form his past, you do not need a prophet to tell you that he is the right man for the seat now. He is coming from a rich experience as an international diplomat. He was the SSG in the State, and those that worked with him can attest to his character, principles and deep understanding of the dynamics of governance. He is fair minded and will be trusted to expand development to all the parts of the State rather than concentrate it at Aguleri as we’re presently witnessing. It is even shocking that while Aguleri has many roads, neighbouring towns do not have one, An example is Umueri. While Aguleri has over 500 appointed officials and are controlling every aspect of the State’s economic life, other communities are being treated as if they are not part of the State.
To illustrate to you what I am saying, do you know that rather than seek alternative solution to power in Aguleri, the governor evacuated over 50% of the light meant for Awka straight to Aguleri? Are you aware that he moved the on-going stadium project in Awka to Aguleri? Are you aware that Mr. Peter Obi conceived a bridge to the Oil field through the shortest distance ftom Umueje-, but once he became governor, he abandoned it and started constructing two bridges from Aguleri.
Is this equity? Is this justice? He promised to make Awka wear the looks of a modern capital but what we see is his concerted efforts to make Aguleri an urban community. If we leave him further, if he comes back for a second tenure, he will most likely shift the capital of the State to Aguleri! We all owe to ourselves and to our children to stop what can be best described as a disaster. I know Oseloka Obaze very well. I have served with him and I can repeat that he is fair-minded in all the spheres of the word.
Why are you so sure about him
I am speaking from experience. One man once came to my office and swore that he would never serve in any Committee Oseloka would head. I laughed over it and asked him why. The man went on and told me how he wanted everybody to account for the last kobo, how he would keep saying that the money released for the committee work must be accounted for. He asked me if he does not know that in matters of money, we sometimes look the other side. Well, this shows you how meticulous the man is. All in all, I think he is an adequate vessel housing the spirit needed to restore the glory of Anambra State now.
You are so vehement in your assessment of the incumbent, are there more reasons for that?
The reasons are legion. The only thing he has done well is propaganda. He has been busy claiming everything. While those on ground are not deceived, he has ended up deceiving other Nigerians. He talked about 5 million dollars Ugu export, when Ugu plantations have remained as it used to be. Where on earth could one plant such value of the vegetables in the state? He talked about export of 10 Million tubers of yam when Anambra brings in 80% of the yam they eat from Benue and Taraba States. He talked about over 200 metric tonnes of rice, which is completely fabricated.
He talks about attracting 7.5 billion dollars to Anambra, almost 80% of total FDI inflow into Nigeria within the same period. Somebody brought advanced flying camera to him, he tested it at the lodge and proclaimed to the entire world that Anambra was using drones to catch criminals. He inherited over N100 billion and baptized it “near cash”. As we speak, it is suspected that he has disposed off all the dollars he inherited.
He abandoned critical projects that would have changed the face of commerce and hospitality in Nigeria: Agulu Lake hotel, Awka and Nnewi Shopping Malls as well as Onitsha Hotel. He is busy doing external things that will attract praises to him from people like street lights; the irony of it is that he is even mounting it on uncompleted roads.. Is this how to develop a state? We have a disaster on our hands which we must do away with.
But contrary to what you are saying, stakeholders in the state seem to be in his support?
That is exactly what we are saying. Government is about developing states and not seeking individual endorsements to the detriment of the State. He gives goodies in abundance to them, he builds for them. The money given to schools and hospitals are now used for private patronage. Why would they not support him?
What agenda would you set for Obaze?
He knows, as well as we do, that things are no longer going on well in the State. He knows that projects are abandoned. He knows that propaganda has taken the life of the State. He knows that since Obi left, we no longer save. He knows that we have moved from a debt-free to a debtor State. He knows that erosion is threatening many communities. He knows that appointment is now based on nepotism.
He knows that all the celebrated attraction of FDIs are in worthless papers as MOUs. He knows he should bring back the 17 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs as the fulcrum of modern development. He knows almost everything about present governance in the state needs complete restructuring.
He has the duty to bring the State back on track. The most important factor is that he has the capacity and the will power to do so.
Any comment onthe 8 billion Naira demand?
Rather than Obiano tell ndi Anambra what he has done, he is looking for people to blackmail. It will not work for him.