Okey Sampson, Aba
Chief Mascot Uzor kalu was the Chief of Staff to a former governor of Abia State. Presently, he is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. But he wants to represent Aba North/Aba
South in the House of Representatives in 2019.
You are angling to go to House of Representatives in 2019, you tried it in 2015 it did work out. How optimistic are you that it will be possible this time around?
In 2015, we had our errors, we did our best. As you know, I did not go to court not because I felt the election was free and fair but because we fought on the stance of change and the man who was declared winner was actually representing change. So, the election had its own irregularities which was not acceptable by me but on the level that we were angling for change, for different person to occupy the seat, I decided not to go to court. I decided that Aba can get a better representation than what it has now and I believe I can give Aba much better representation than what it has gotten in the past.
If you are elected, what are the core things you will pursue as a legislator?
As a legislator, you are there when budgets are being made and it is also your priorities to make sure that projects that are dear to your constituency and primarily also to your state is not only put in the budget but ensure you follow them up to be done. Your job does not only end in enacting laws because laws are not enacted on daily basis, bills are not brought up on daily basis. There are oversight functions which you also have to do but unfortunately, most of them have used the oversight function as the function of just investigating parastatals and ministries and they have forgotten that sometimes oversight function include you going to work for your constituency. There are a lot of abandoned projects in this constituency that I will mention, that I will bring up. For example, look at the Aba regional water scheme. It has been abandoned since 2006/2007, it’s uncompleted. The people that are there don’t even bring this thing up and some other things that we will talk about.
Rather than spending money grading roads, why don’t we include rehabilitation of roads for our constituency? Rather than our legislators putting caterpillars on our roads, deceiving the people when they know they can go to different parastatals and get 5 kilometres, 10 kilometre road projects that can do a lot of the roads within our constituency. Some of them sometimes receive these roads as well; they do games with it collect the money, and don’t do it, and come to grade the roads to deceive the people. So, that’s why I said we can get better representation for Aba.
You were born and brought up in Aba, what are its major problems you may wish to tackle if you are elected?
Aba needs roads, it needs good sanitation system. We’ve lost our ability to co-exist in Aba; there was a belief and a spirit we used to once share and once have. That has been lost and it’s been lost because of politics, it’s been destroyed because of political differences. That’s one of the things we need to actually restore whether you belong to APGA or you don’t belong to any political party. Presently, if you are not a member of PDP, you cannot go to Ariaria Market for instance and talk to the people freely; you cannot go there for campaigns freely, if you go there, the place is locked up on you. You want to use school field owed by the state, you cannot do that because you are a member of a political party different from the one in power in the state. They have become so cheap that even the normal weekend football people play, if you are a prominent member of a different political party and you identify with a particular group, that group will be asked to leave that pitch. That’s how bad it has become in Aba and that’s one major thing I hopefully in 2019 will start to correct because those kind of things cannot exist, people should belong to different political parties, be allowed to do their things.
Apart from that I told you Aba infrastructural system is in complete collapse. As a matter of fact, Aba should be declared a zone of emergency and a disaster area so that they can bring proper federal funding to repair the place. The state seem not to be able to do it or they don’t have the magic to do it, so, let’s bring in federal assistance to get the things done.
Some people here believe APC is a Hausa party, what is your take?
No, it’s not true. There is no major political party in Nigeria today that does not have the northern presence. APC is made up of different political parties which came together to form it. That the president who is a Northerner won the election does not automatically make APC a northern party. Now, we’ve always played politics in different political parties, President Olusegun Obasanjo ruled in PDP, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came and then Goodluck Jonathan and nobody mentioned PDP to be party of the west or party of the north or South South. Buhari has come; his time limit is four years each, which is eight years. He will rule and go and hopefully a man from a different zone which I believe will be an Igbo man will come and also rule and they may at that point also tell you APC is an Igbo party. Today, APC is a national party with presence all over the country, so, anybody calling it a northern party is a joke because it did not only present northern governors, it has governors from other areas, governor of Imo State is from the South -east so do we have from South -South and south -west. It is true we don’t have much representation from the South -east and that’s what we are hoping to change in the zone and because PDP fear that APC will take over this zone, that’s why they label it Hausa party; that’s a PDP agenda I must tell you.
What do you make of the recent clamour for the recall of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe from the senate by some people from Abia South?
For me, I call it low life politics. First of all he has barely about a year, recall is a process that takes a long time and we are at the point of electioneering. If you didn’t recall him two or three years ago, why do you contemplate recalling him now? I call it low life politics because what Abaribe said about the president is his personal opinion and as a member of the national Assembly, he is entitled to his own personal opinion whether he is right or wrong, so, it’s playing dirty politics. If there was such instruction to recall Abaribe, people like us will know, that’s if it’s the instruction of APC government. We know there are people who claim to be APC who are actually full-fledged members of PDP, just APC by clothe and you will see them by their behaviour. You will not see any concrete APC member being part of that because for me, it’s a waste of time, the man has less than or about one year to go. As a matter of fact, by December everything about legislators and all those will be gone and everybody will be talking about re-election, so, the time is close. For you to collect the number of signatures required, it will take you weeks if not months, so, what are we talking about?
It’s unfortunate that some people who say they are in APC will be used for such dirty game; but it is the person’s personal decision, I don’t play such politics. I believe if you want to remove senator Abaribe, let’s remove him at the polls, and if you disagree with it, those who want to go court should go to court and remove him through the court process. By this move now, you are even trying to make the man more popular because he will say it was because of what he said about the president that made APC members to want to recall him. But let me put it on note that APC people are not interested in his recall, let him serve his term, in 2019, we will remove him at the polls.
What do you have to say about the allegation by opposition elements in the state of oath taking when your elder brother, OUK was governor?
Thank you for that question, has there been anybody who said he went to Okija shrine and was sent by OUK? Nobody has ever come out to say such things. The former governor, Chief T.A Orji was accused of the same thing and he came out openly and said he never went to Okija that nobody sent him to Okija shrine. In fact that was one of the major planks Chief Onyema Ugochukwu took him to the Tribunal and the Judges saw the allegation as baseless. If a governor who was the highest office holder could not be made to take an oath, who else? So, these things they talk about are all political gimmicks.
Let me say something, Kalu has left government for about 12 years now, if governments after his have been doing well, Kalu’s name should have been erased in the history of Abia politics. When you go to Lagos State, people hardly remember senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu was a governor. What they see him as is a political icon, not as a former governor of the state, people don’t remember it because others have come and have done well. All these things are coming up in Abia because the governors that have been there are not doing well. So, in excuse of lack of performance, Kalu’s name is being mentioned.
Okay, let’s take it on their face value, Kalu was a bad governor, Kalu sent them to Okija, why have you not corrected all of his failures after 12 years? The reasons they keep bringing this up is because they believe it is the only political story that makes news. If you talk about the governor, it does not make any news, but talk about Kalu today, everybody want to read about him, it is their punching bag to make political news.
OUK is planning to contest the Abia North senatorial seat in 2019, what do you think are his chances this time around?
His chances are good, he has always won but the main thing that needs to be done is how to protect the votes; he won the last two times he contested, but we knew what happened. He remains very popular in the zone; he remains very popular in the state. He is still the only political icon in this state that when he enters into any section of Aba, Umuahia or Ohafia, the place is shut down. So, the election is not a fight that he cannot win but it’s a fight to stop him because they know what he can do with just being a senator. But let’s watch and see what happens this time around.