Former governor of Imo State Chief Achike Udenwa has said that Governor Rochas Okorocha’s son in-law, Uche Nwosu will be rejected by the people in the 2019 governorship elections.
In this interview with WILLY EYA, he also gave reasons why Ndigbo should support the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar in the presidential election.
READ ALSO: Ndigbo and 2019 election
With the primaries of the various political parties over and the candidates known, what are your thoughts ahead of the 2019 general elections?
In my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you could see that our presidential primary election was flawless. It went so well and that is why reconciliation has been very easy and all the aspirants that have lost have agreed to cooperate with the candidates. That shows that they were all satisfied that the exercise was a credible one and once you have a credible process, it leads to everybody in the party cooperating because once it is clear to you that whoever won, won clearly, you would not have any reasons to protest. What happened in the PDP is unlike the primaries in the ruling party, the APC and other parties. Even the PDP primaries in my state Imo, was fine and almost all the state primaries of the PDP went very well. So, I am very impressed and satisfied that we have showed signs of true democracy.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged as the candidate of your party, how did his emergence come to you?
I see the emergence of Atiku as a blessing to the party because he is very acceptable all over the country. Another is that he has a very nice programme especially restructuring which he has been very emphatic about. He is also very much concerned about the security situation of the country. Atiku also understands the economy and how it works and what he should do to bring back our economy to the path of growth again. One of the greatest undoing of the economy under the present administration is massive unemployment. I am so happy that Atiku emerged and that means that we would be able to sell his programmes to the generality of Nigerians. The people are obviously fed up with what is happening now and Atiku is an alternative as he is somebody who understands them and feels their pains. He is unlike the present government which does not feel the pains of the people. They are doing things as if everything is normal but the people want real change that would revive the economy and ensure the security of lives and property. The people want the form of government to be changed in such a way that everybody has a sense of belonging.
As one of the leaders in the South East, how did you feel when the governors and some stakeholders of your party kicked against the appointment of former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi as Atiku’s running mate?
The issue of running mate is the prerogative of the candidate. I am sure that the presidential candidate has looked around the South East and he feels that Peter Obi is the best material he can work with. I have nothing against his choice. Atiku knows what he wants and has chosen Obi. I do not see anything wrong with his decision because he knows the kind of character he wants to work with. We cannot dictate for the candidate but the highest he can do as a matter of courtesy is to tell us whom he has chosen. But nobody can impose a running mate on him. He knows the role he wants the running mate to perform in his government. I think the protest against Obi was uncalled for irrespective of whatever it was meant to achieve.
Objectively, placing Atiku side by side with President Muhammadu Buhari, what do you think are the chances of his(Atiku) chances in the 2019 poll?
In the coming election, Atiku has a lot of advantages over President Buhari. The PDP candidate is one man who is at home in every part of the country. He is not interested in marginalising any section of the country. Atiku understands how the government functions. He was the vice president of this country for eight years. He understood what the problems of the country were then and he knows what they are now. Atiku knows what to do to bring back the situation to normal. So, he has a lot of advantages. He is not an extremist in terms of religion, tribe and so on. The country needs somebody who would mould and bring the country together and somebody who can inspire confidence in every part of the country. Then on the issue of restructuring, it is very paramount. It is one thing we must do as a nation or we perish. Atiku understands it that the issue of restructuring is not meant to punish anybody or favour any section to the detriment of others. It is a win-win situation where every part of this country would be carried along; it is a system where everybody can fend for himself and not just waiting to get the free oil money. If we restructure, the states would be in a position to harness their resources very well. It will ensure better economy, higher employment because the private sector would be involved. So, restructuring is neither to punish anybody nor to specifically favour any particular section. It is good for everybody and Atiku is bringing all these on board.
Chief Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law of your governor, Rochas Okorocha has picked the ticket of the APC in Imo even though it is still a subject of litigation; you have been vocal against the governor imposing him on Imo people, are you still optimistic that he will be stopped from succeeding Okorocha?
I do not know whether he has clearly emerged and I do not belong to the APC but even if he emerges, we will crush him. He cannot make it. Okorocha feels that he has all the money to push it through but it is not a question of money. The people are looking at him. If he has ruled well and he is saying my son in-law will do well and continue from where I stopped, the people can give it a consideration but in this case what can he tell the people. And unfortunately, that boy has not worked anywhere in the world before his appointment into Okorocha’s cabinet. So, what is he bringing on board? What experience is he bringing. What has Okorocha done in the past seven years plus. Go to Imo and sound the opinion of ordinary people. Is it the welfare of the people, infrastructure or what has he put down that can encourage the people to vote for his son in-law who has worked with him. In fact, it is a non-issue. So, even if he gets the ticket of the APC, that ticket cannot fly in Imo.
But with the political scenario now in Imo which revolves around the APC, PDP, and APGA candidates, where do you think the votes of the majority of Imo people would go to?
In all honesty, I think the PDP candidate, Chief Emeka Ihedioha has the advantage. He has the experience and secondly, he comes from Owerri which is our favoured Senatorial district for the governorship seat. This is because people feel that Owerri should be given a chance. The last time Owerri was in power was during Evans Enwerem’s time and he ruled for only about 20 months. People have been saying that Owerri should be given a chance since 2011. The emergence of Okorocha was an aberration and even his re-election was something he did not expect. It was based on his purported popularity which people have seen as a scam. Now it cannot work because what can he offer. He was talking about free classroom blocks. Is it empty classroom blocks with no teachers, laboratories and so on? A lot of us spoke out at the time but it is good we have learnt our lessons and I thank God that we gave him a second chance to show us his true colour. So, I think that Ihedioha of the PDP has a great chance.
What should be the reasons that should guide the South East people in the 2019 poll?
The South East should as of right vote for the PDP. The reason is that if any zone has suffered the greatest marginalisation under this government, it is the South East. President Buhari made it clear from Day one that he would not begin to care for people who gave him five per cent votes as against those who gave him 95 per cent. It has been from one punishment to the other since President Buhari came on board. So, the people of the South East have no option than to vote for Atiku as he has a very good relationship with the South East. Secondly, Atiku has now given us the vice presidency. So, people have been clamouring for Igbo presidency and this is the right direction. We have no reason to vote for any other person except Atiku. Are you going to vote for unemployment, insecurity, religious intolerance and so on. If you are not voting for all those, then you vote for Atiku.
There seems to be a resurgence of the activities of IPOB with all kinds of conspiracy theories in the public domain since the group’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu was sighted in a video recording in Jerusalem.
My advice to IPOB members is for them to calm down and let us run this election and let us change this government to be able to develop a workable framework that can enable everybody survive within this federation. Let the IPOB not do anything that will in any way disrupt the election particularly in the South East. I do not however think that IPOB would do that. We must be part of this election to change this government that has so much marginalised the Igbo. We want a new Nigeria.
What are your fears for the 2019 general elections?
We have watched some isolated elections in the country for some time now including Edo, Ekiti and Osun states and some of them are still before the courts. I want to tell you that we have not been satisfied with the conduct of the security agencies. It was alleged in Osun that a lot of voters in the runoff election were prevented from voting in the exercise. We believe and ask that such a thing should never happen in a democracy and in 2019 poll. Let the election be free, fair and transparent.