“Imo people will remain grateful to Adams Oshiomhole as God-sent for helping them to end Okorocha’s third term bid.”
Imo North senatorial candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in next year’s election and incumbent Senator representing the district, Benjamin Uwajimogu has described the National Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole as God-sent to the people of Imo State for ending Governor Rochas Okorocha’s third term agenda.
How were you able to defeat Governor Rochas Okorocha’s candidate at the primary?
I give God the glory. Also, I dedicate the victory to my constituents who stood by me throughout my travails in the hand of Governor Okorocha who was bent at ensuring I didn’t return to the National Assembly in 2019. Like you rightly observe, the governor had a candidate in the person of Prof. Nnamdi Obiaraeri his former commissioner for Information. Obiaraeri who was running as a proxy of Okorocha went round Okigwe zone claiming to be the next Senator that will represent them in the 9th Senate. The governor failed to realise that in democracy he doesn’t have the capacity to determine who will represent Imo North in the National Assembly in 2019. The power resides with the people of Okigwe to decide who will represent them and they have chosen me at the party level and by the grace of God they will return me to the National Assembly next year. Imo people will remain grateful to Adams Oshiomhole as God-sent for helping them to end Okorocha’s third term bid.
But the governor’s son in-law is now the candidate of AA; don’t you think he may win the race?
I’m happy that the burden called Uche Nwosu is removed from Imo APC’s neck. Okorocha has boasted that he will work to actualise his third term bid in AA, but that is the words of a drowning man. Okorocha and his cohorts are leaving in fool’s paradise to believe that he can realise his ambition through another platform. I think the best he should do is to leave APC completely and join his son in-law in AA to test their popularity instead of dwelling on false hope. The game is over for him and his co-travelers who think that the state was in their pockets.
But what Okorocha planned to do is the norm among the governors, to choose who succeeds them, why is Okorocha’s case different?
Nobody stopped him from presenting a preferred candidate to succeed him; rather the people are against imposition of candidate. Not only did he impose his son in-law on the people, he was going about it arrogantly as if he had conquered the people of Imo. If he had presented a candidate and APC stakeholders and the delegates found out that the candidate could win election for the party, so be it. But what stakeholders were saying was that it is immoral for the governor to present his so in-law who is from the same political zone, Orlu, to succeed him. I have always said that the young man in question needs more experience in other areas of life to be able to govern a state like Imo. Yes, a 42 year old man can be governor especially now that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the not too-young-to-run bill into law. Also, there is clamour for young people to take over leadership of the country, but I don’t think Uche Nwosu has the experience to run Imo State. If Oshiomhole had not done the needful by listening to Imo people and followed the path of popular wish, APC would have lost Imo if Okorocha was allowed to field his in-law as candidate of the party in the governorship race in 2019.
You seems to be contradicting yourself, is Senator Hope Uzodinma, APC’s candidate not from Orlu?
You will agree with me that power is not given, but taken. You saw how fierce the battle to tame Okorocha was. And Senator Hope Uzodinma played a vital role to ensure the wish of one man did not stand against that of majority of the people of Imo. So, Uzodnima has capacity to govern Imo State. At least you need a superman to dethrone a powerful man and that is why the people prefer Senator Hope Uzodinma. I want to assure you that with Uzodinma, APC will win landslide in the next governorship election in the state. He is popular and loved by the people.
What do you think made Okorocha insisted that it is either his son in-law or nobody as his successor?
I think it is his desire for third term and quest to continue to manipulate the state. Also, his desire for protection from those who may have issues with him when he leaves office must have informed his decision
President Buhari has reel out plans for the next four years tagged ‘next level’ do you the Buhari candidacy flying?
I believe in President Muhammadu Buhari because he has shown capacity and he is strong enough to continue in office beyond 2019. He has achieved so much and that is the reasons Nigerians have confidence in him. These achievements are contained in the blueprint. It will be unfair not to support Buhari’s continuity especially in the South-East. Igbo now have broader picture of what Buhari re-election will yield to the zone. To end the cry of marginalisation, Ndigbo must key into the Buhari’s second term project as that is the only way people from the region can get juicy appointments and attract infrastructure development to the area. Buhari has delivered on his campaign promises to Nigerians as well as in the South-East. On security, government has defeated Boko Haram even though there are pockets of terrorist activities in some places in the North-East. Today, it is no longer possible for people in government to steal the kind money they were stealing and creating all sorts of distortion in market place. We must make sacrifice to build this nation. So, that is why I’m supporting Buhari to stay beyond 2019.
Are you saying Ndigbo will vote for Buhari in 2019 even when former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has been nominated by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as running mate?
Igbo have learnt lesson from 2015 election as we now tend to look at the broader picture of what Buhari presidency beyond 2019 will attract to the zone. We won’t allow Atiku to deceive us just as former president; Goodluck Jonathan fooled Igbo into believing he is an Igbo man in 2015. All I know is that Atiku/Obi ticket won’t fly. Yes, South East will be better placed to clinch the presidency in 2023 than to wait for another eight years under Atiku.
But people can’t feel the positive impact of this administration, yet, you are praising Buhari. How do you convince Nigerians to vote for him again?
Change does not mean that the economic problem of Nigeria will be overcome within a short time. The truth is that we inherited damaged economy because the previous administration destroyed the economy before leaving office. We all know that before the mantle of leadership was handed over to us, the Federal Government was borrowing money to pay salaries and there was crisis in the Niger Delta, insurgency in the North-East and agitation for secession in the South-East. Our foreign reserve was N55 billion when Jonathan assumed office but was whittled down to N2 billion by the last administration. The economy was in a sharp decline and there were so many challenges this government had to grapple with and this government has done well to get us out of recession. So, the economic team should be commended. This administration has continued to do the needful. So, you can see that the government has so much to grapple with. There is no way you can make a nest without breaking eggs as the government have to take very strong decisions to ensure that the economy is better.
I’m not disturbed by negative reactions of few individuals who have no electoral value but are scared of President Buhari’s popularity. However, for the president to have declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019, Nigerians will vote him and I assure you that majority of my colleagues in the National Assembly especially APC lawmakers have backed Buhari’s second-term bid. Forget the negative comments by few individuals. President Muhammadu Buhari has done what any leader in his position will do by declaring his intention to re-contest. Even those who asked him not to run for second-term sought for a third-term. One of them was a former military leader who attempted to transit from military to civilian President but failed. Those who are against President Buhari’ second-term bid have turned blind eyes to Buhari’s score card which is there for all to see.
Whichever way you look at it, many Nigerians see this era as one of suffering. What do you say to that?
When you say an era of suffering, I don’t agree with you. Yes, things are difficult, but let us recognise the fact that there are reasons why there is suffering in the land. It is not that Buhari intentionally want to suffer the people or expending the money on himself, the truth is that from 2014-2015, the previous administration was borrowing money to pay salaries because of decrease in revenue. PDP failed to tell Nigerians that they were borrowing to sustain ourselves. The question is, how long can we continue to live on borrowing? For instance, if you were earning N70 and suddenly you started earning N30, definitely your family will feel the impact. What Buhari has done is to restrict foreign exchange to importation of items that cannot be produce in the country and that is why it appears as if things are hard. Before now we were not creating jobs here, instead we were creating jobs for people in other countries through importation of finished products. Today, productivity has gone up and that is why we are importing less of items such as rice. As I speak with you, this government has realised over $50 billion in foreign reserve. This administration no doubt has done well and all we need to do is to continue, that is why we must re-elect President Buhari. However, whether we like it or not, it will require exactly what Buhari is doing to fix the economy and make Nigeria self-reliant.
Will you leave APC if your name is replaced?
I have no intention to leave APC for whatever reason and nobody would have made me dump APC not even Okorocha could have forced me out because as a party man I will continue to be loyal to the leader of our great party, President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.