Governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in Imo State has said that the people of the state, especially the youths want a young and experienced person as governor.
How are you preparing for the election, considering the huge opposition against your candidature?
I am fully ready to defeat major opponents in the forthcoming governorship election in spite the campaign of calumny against me by few persons who are opposed to my governorship ambition. They are against the leadership style of Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha because it is no longer business as usual. I’m well prepared for the job having worked with Okorocha for close to seven years as Commissioner for Lands and as Chief of Staff. One of things going for me is the spirit of team work which has continued to attract people to me including youths in the state. So, Uche Nwosu is not walking alone, but with the support of the people.
You just dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for Action Alliance (AA) few months to the general election, won’t the move affect your chances?
Not at all, the voting populace in state moved with me to AA. They are fully aware that I have joined AA. In fact, they encouraged me to switch over to the party immediately I was denied APC ticket. So, as I speak with you, Imo voters are well informed that Uche Nwosu is the governorship candidate of AA and they are ready to cast their vote for me and President Muhammadu Buhari. Don’t forget that it is human beings that make up political parties. We are all aware of the charade called primaries conducted by agents of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, which was aimed at stopping me from flying the party’s flag. Don’t forget also that we brought and nurture APC in Imo State when most people were against the party in the state. These persons including the APC governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodima distanced themselves from the party. They tagged APC ‘Hausa party’ which they claimed was formed to Islamise the country. They called Governor Okorocha all sorts of names for embracing APC such as ‘Okoro Hausa’ and today the same people are trying to hijack the party in the state with the support of Oshiomhole.
We nurtured the party to the point of acceptance in the entire South-East and somebody who referred to Okorocha as ‘Okoro Hausa’ in order to dethrone the party in the zone is now the governorship standard bearer of the same party he condemned through fraudulent means. This is not acceptable to us and that is why I defected to AA.
But your principal, Governor Okorocha did not leave the party with you, don’t you think this decision by the governor amount to anti-party?
The governor has said repeatedly that he will not leave a house he built for another to inhabit. He said he will support me and President Buhari because it will be unfair for Okorocha to dump the ruling party. Like I said earlier, AA has adopted President Buhari as its presidential candidate. So, Okorocha will ensure that the people of South-East did not only vote for Buhari in 2019, but ensure Uche Nwosu is voted as governor of Imo State.
You said your popularity and strength lies with the youths; don’t you think that they are supporting you because of the little handouts they are getting from you?
Are you saying that the other youths flocking around the other contestants are rich and gainfully employed? Okorocha has done much to get youths in the state meaningfully engaged and that is why they are supporting his candidate so that his good work will continue beyond 2019. I found favour in the sight of young people in the state right from when I was Commissioner for Lands. At thirty something years of age, I tried to mingle with the youths and I helped as many as I could to maximise their potentials because government is a vehicle through which you can empower the people. I believe in the younger generation and I reached out to them and that is the reason they are supporting my ambition. I’m from a poor background like most of them. There was a time I had no job. I know the pain of not been able to pay school fees; I hawked oranges and pure water in Aba. I went through difficulties in paying my school fees just like most of these youths. So, I understand their pains and what they are going through. So, I try to empower them in my little way and that is why these army of youths are saying ‘ if not Uche Nwosu,’ nobody. He is the person they trust and are ready to cast their vote for. People should stop accusing Okorocha as the one pushing for me to succeed him, it is the people of Imo that are clamouring for Uche Nwosu. Young people in the state believe in me because they see that I’m sincere and also because I passed through the stages most of them are passing through today. I have to connect with them to give them hope. I made them understand that you can make it whether you hawk or do menial job, informing them that I did not look at my background. My father was a catchiest before he died and I had an uncle who was a Customs officer, but also died. So, I was left alone, yet I wasn’t looking at where I was coming from, but I was looking at where I was going. I encouraged them to be focus reminding them that if Uche Nwosu who hawked oranges and pure water to pay his school fees could make it, then they can also make it in life.
Is your party adopting Buhari as its presidential candidate to make the race easy for you?
No, we are not adopting President Buhari to make the race easier for us. After all, in 2015, we did not adopt former president, Goodluck Jonathan and we were in APC and we won. In 2011, we were not in power at the centre, but we won. We are adopting Buhari because of his achievements within three and half years. These include the area of agriculture, anti-corruption and security. Today, we can proudly say that Ebonyi and Kebbi States are among the largest producers of rice in the country. Today, you can proudly say that Boko Haram insurgency has been dismantled. Investment in infrastructure is awesome especially, the rail mode of transportation. The nation’s integrity which was bastardised has been restored by the administration. We are supporting Buhari’s re-election because he is a man of integrity. Our support for the president did not start this year, it started in 2015.
What difference are you going to make to improve the state?
I’m going to run an open government and an all inclusive administration. Okorocha has done so much in the state and whoever that will succeed him is expected to do better than him or the people will stone the person. My idea of seeking to govern Imo is to surpass Okorocha’s achievements. I want to have a one city state where you drive from Owerri to Orlu or to Ahiaran junction believing that you are still in Owerri. Also, you can drive from Owerri to Okigwe still believing that you are in Owerri. I want to stop urban migration. I want to institute rural migration. We will build an agriculture-based state. Salaries, pensions and gratuity will be paid as at and when due and you will agree with me that the Okorocha government has stabilised security in the state and we hope to improve on the achievements especially in the area of security. Let me put it on record that Rochas inherited and paid 15 months pension and we still have some backlog of pensions and if the governor is unable to pay before he leaves office, I will pay because government is a continuum. On the issue of commerce, we will create an enabling environment for our brothers and sister in Kano, Lagos and Maiduguri to come establish in the state. We have so many industrial layouts lying fallow.
Your popularity according to many is anchored on your marriage to Okorocha’s daughter, what is your take?
Okorocha discovered me, took me and made me who I’ am today. As I told you earlier, I was a boy from poor background that hawked oranges and pure water. It was after I graduated from the university that I met Okorocha. Probably, without meeting him I won’t have become a commissioner and his Chief of Staff. So, Owelle helped me to rise, politically. Therefore, I give God the glory for making me to encounter a true friend, a helper and mentor in the person of the governor.
Many say you lack experience to lead the state. They say the only time you applied for a job was during Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s 10 thousand job opportunity, where you among other applicants applied, but you failed to secure the job. How true?
I’m surprised to hear that I’m among those who applied for a job during Ikedi Ohakim’s administration. I have told them to bring evidence because by 2010 that they were talking about, I had already become a Personal Assistant (PA) to the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs and that was an employment. I was also a PA to chairman of former Nigeria Red Cross and PA to Rochas Okorocha. I was paid very well as Okorocha’s PA whose name sound well in every home then. I was living comfortably. I don’t know the reason I should start applying for job when I already had a well paid job. You will agree with me that I have gathered more experience than some of the people saying this during my seven years as commissioner for lands. The new Owerri and the urban renewal you see today were my concept and hand work. Most of the developmental project done by Okorocha was my ideas. As Chief of Staff, I’m over qualified to lead Imo State, after all, most governors today were Chief of Staff to their predecessors. Why is my case different? Is it because fortune favoured me? Being a Senator or House of Representatives member does not provide you with enough experience to govern a state.