As groups and stakeholders in Okigwe zone are aligning and realigning with aspirants jostling to succeed late Sen. Benjamin Uwajumogu in the Senate, Nze Godwin Okafor, National President, Okigwe Professionals Vanguard (OPV) and Chairman/CEO, Igor Maritime Services Ltd has thrown his weight behind the former Secretary to Imo State Government, Mark Uchendu for Imo North Senatorial rerun election.
In this interview, he expressed regret over the death of Uwajumogu whom he supported throughout the late Senator’s political exploits, saying the reason his group decided to give the same support to Uchendu is because both have the interest of the people at heart and also hails from Ihitte Uboma LGA.
He speaks on other issues.
Your group in a recent colourful ceremony in Lagos threw its weight behind one of the aspirants for Imo North Senatorial seat and former Secretary to Imo State Government, Mark Uchendu; what informed your decision?
The decision of members of Okigwe Professionals Vanguard (OPV) to support Mark Uchendu against other aspirants for the forthcoming Imo North rerun election to succeed my good friend and brother, late Sen. Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu is because a goldfish has no hiding place. Uchendu like Uwaujumogu is a goldfish, hence the reason we resolved to support him. Also, both have similar attributes. They love our people as they had both achieved much for Imo North Senatorial district. My regret is that few months after Uwajumogu was issued with the Certificate of Return, he died at a time when he wanted to settle down and continue the good work he was doing for our people. Again, Our decision to support Uchendu after considering his efforts in improving the living standard of Okigwe people within the period, he served in various capacities both as member of the state House of Assembly, council chairman, Commissioner for Public Utility and Secretary to State Government during which he attracted projects in the zone. He ensured that virtually every community in Okigwe zone got at least one transformer. So, for the fact that he impacted the lives of our people positively, that is why OPV is giving him our unflinching support.
If truly you love Uwajumogu going by your statement, many would have expected you to support his sister, Chidinma who is also aspiring to replace her brother in the Senate?
Thank you for asking this important question, many people have asked me similar question, but my answer is simple. Yes, Chidinma is courageous, well connected to high and mighty, resilient and focused, kind and qualified to succeed her brother in the 9th Senate, but in politics, all these attributes most times do not add up to making one the best candidate. Moreover, in this part of the country unlike other places, my people are strongly opposed to power passing from one member of family to another. Don’t forget that it was the sin of Sen. Rochas Okorocha when he tried to hand over power to his son in-law, Uche Nwosu as governor of Imo State. Even the late Senator and Chidinma were against Okorocha’s plan to hand over power to his in-law. Yes, I agree that Ihitte Uboma should be compensated for the sake of equity and fairness, let Ihitte Uboma produce Uwajumogu’s Successor hence, the major reason why we throw our weight behind Uchendu who hails from Ihitte Uboma. To achieve this feat, OPV has started mobilising our people to support Uchendu’s candidacy. Remember, we mobilised our members to carry out a mass protest at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when the commission failed within one week to issue Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu with Certificate of Return after he was declared winner by the Court of Appeal. So, I also agree with you that for the spirit of the Senator who was loved by the entire people of Imo North to rest in peace and for the APC to appease the people of Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area (LGA) for the death of our illustrious son, someone from the area should replace Uwajumogu. Meanwhile, I urged Chidinma to give the same amount of support she gave to her brother to Uchendu who is also her brother. It will be disastrous for two people from Ihitte Uboma to contest the same position because they will divide their votes and someone who have bloc vote will win. That is the way it works in politics. These are some of the factors POV considered before we decided to back Uchendu. However, it is on record that several times Uchendu wanted to contest the same position with the late Senator, he was prevailed on to step down for Uwajumogu and that was the reason they never clashed politically except in 2019 because of Uche Nwosu’s governorship ambition which the late Senator opposed.
You did not mention Governor Hope Uzodinma because in such contest, the governor as the leader of the APC in the state in most cases has the final say on who should fly the party’s flag in crucial elections; do you think the governor is in support of Uchendu being Okorocha’s loyalist?
Governor Hope Uzodinma has forgiven everybody who worked against his ambition. I don’t think Okorocha and Uzodinma are political enemies as members of the same party. Moreover, Uzodinma that I know only believes in anybody who is popular when it comes to election. The governor believes strongly in the doctrine of no permanent enemy or friend in politics, but permanent interest. What is paramount to Uzodinma at this time is to consolidate his recent victory by ensuring that APC retains Imo North Senatorial seat and this can only happen if the party fields a popular candidate such as Uchendu. If he goes ahead to support any member of Uwajumogu’s family, he will be making the same mistake Okorocha made in 2019 because such arrangement cannot fly in Okigwe even if it has succeeded in other places. So, I know Onwa Imo cannot make such huge mistake. If not because of the person of late Sen. Uwajumogu, Okigwe people wouldn’t have agreed that Ihitte Uboma should produce the late Senator’s successor. As I speak with you, Governor Uzodinma is on the same page with OPV.
Recently, traditional rulers from the six LGAs of Imo North endorsed Chidinma, won’t this move affect the chances of Uchendu?
Like I said earlier, Chidinma is a strong force to reckon with when it comes to Imo politics. In fact, she was the pillar and backbone of her brother in politics. I will say she was behind all her brother’s electoral victories. So, she is not a push over. Yes, the traditional rulers are playing their fatherly role of issuing royal blessings to notable aspirants and that does not amount to endorsement. Are you telling me that if Sen. Ararume goes to them, they won’t as well endorse him or if Uchendu visits them, they won’t also endorse him? They are playing their fatherly role, hence it will be wrong for anyone to consider royal blessings as an endorsement of a particular candidate or aspirant. All I’m saying is, Chidinma and Uchendu should reach a compromise in order not to divide their votes, thereby creating an opportunity for someone else to win. If someone outside Ihitte Uboma wins, it means all the efforts of late Sen. Uwajumogu in the last election will be in vain. If you recall, the victory of Governor Uzodinma is the effort of Okorocha, Uche Nwosu and the entire Orlu zone against Owerri zone. So, Chidinma should learn from that.