From Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Chief Chidiebere Uzor Agwu, popularly known as Obosi, is the Executive Chairman of Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. He speaks on the allegations of attack and intimidation by opposition parties, chances of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi and other issues.
How true are the allegations of intimidation and harassment against you by Labour party supporters in Onicha LGA?
Intimidation and harassment from where? Nobody is harassing or intimidating anybody in Onicha local government area. They are only raising unnecessary alarm to attract undue public sympathy. I was at Oshiri, one of the communities in my local government to attend a football tournament organized by one of my supporters for youths in the area. Suddenly, a House of Assembly candidate of Labour Party in the area stormed the venue with some boys without invitation and started looking for attention. I tactically ignored him and his boys. But he continued, bragging that he was in total control of Oshiri and that I shouldn’t have entered the community without formally notifying him. It was at that point that one of my security persons asked him to move away from where I was. Then, he signalled his boys to start shooting guns. And we left the place because I did not want anything that will generate tension anywhere within my jurisdiction ahead of the elections. I was surprised to hear that he said that I sent boys to attack him in his community whilst he was the one who wanted to embarrass the government and constituted authority by asking me to take permission from him before coming to a community in my local government. Is that not a serious affront on government and leadership? If I attacked him as he claimed, why did he not report it to the police? He was invited by the police for questioning over the incident, but he shunned the invitation and has been hiding from police. Why is he hiding if his hands are clean as he claims? Let me say that people who are not ready for leadership should stop angling for political offices. That you are a candidate of a political party is not an excuse for misbehaviour. They should face the reality of defeat awaiting them in 2023 and stop causing crisis.
What about the allegation that you led the Ebubeagu operatives who allegedly abducted a former member of the House of Representatives and Labour Party senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South, Linus Okorie?
It is also another false allegation. I have no hand in his arrest and detention. I was sad when I read some people on social media alleging that I was the one who led Ebubeagu operatives to arrest him. Why will I do that? What has he done to me. Remember he is my brother because we are from same community, Onicha Igboeze. Thank God that the matter has been resolved, and he regained his freedom. After his release, he issued a statement detailing how he was arrested. I read the statement carefully, and there was no where he mentioned my name. He even mentioned the name of one of the Ebubeagu leaders in the state who led the team that apprehended him but he didn’t mention my name. I had expected the people who wrote that I led the Ebubeagu to abduct him to retract their comments and apologise to me, but they did not. If I had dragged any of them to court for defamation, people will say that I am intimidating or harassing the opposition. But I leave everything to God. He will continue to fight for me.
Onicha is one of the strongholds of the former ruling party, the PDP, in Ebonyi. And with the 2023 Governorship candidate of the PDP coming from there, do you think you could deliver the area to APC’s candidate, Francis Nwifuru, next year?
Let me start by telling you that PDP has no governorship candidate in Ebonyi. If you have been following what is happening in PDP and their multiple court cases; you will know the bitter truth about PDP. Having said that, assuming that PDP has a governorship candidate from Onicha Local Government Area, APC will still win election. The truth is that APC has dwarfed PDP and other parties in Onicha and Ebonyi in general. APC is not only the ruling party; it is also the reigning party. And there is no way someone from Onicha LGA will succeed Governor Umahi, after eight years in office. It is not the turn of Ebonyi South; it is the turn of Ebonyi North, and Francis Nwifuru is the choice we have made. And we are proud of it. We have three Senatorial zones in Ebonyi and governorship is being rotated among them. It started from Ebonyi North in 1999 to 2007. It moved to Ebonyi central in 2007 to 2015, and to Ebonyi South in 2015, which will end next year by May 2023. So, naturally, it should go back to Ebonyi North where it started, in the interest of fair play, equity, peace and unity. Trying to have another person from the South to continue from 2023 is sheer wickedness, and it will cause crisis and confusion which will draw back the hand of development in our young state. So, no well-meaning Onicha person will support such evil.
Do you think that the APC’s standard bearer, Nwifuru, has the qualities to make a good governor?
Yes, of course. He does. He has learnt the ropes. He has the requisite experience, energy and passion for development which he learnt from Governor David Umahi. As Speaker of the House for almost eight years now, he is well groomed to succeed Umahi. And there is no doubt that he will do well as a governor. He is a man who loves Ebonyi so much and he is passionate about the development of the state. Remember that as a speaker, he has the power to delay the developmental plans of the governor but he did not, instead he rallied his colleagues to support the governor and that is why Ebonyi has witnessed unprecedented development under Umahi.
You have been on the move canvassing support for the senatorial ambition of Governor Umahi. What is the motivation?
My motivation is that he will do well in the senate judging from what he has achieved as a governor. I think, as at today, he is the best man to represent Ebonyi South in the senate. His leadership experience, political contact and passion for development are what Ebonyi South needs now. He is our best and you don’t keep your best player on the bench in a very competitive game. And you know that the issue of zoning also favours him. Ohaozara local government area where he hails from has not produced a senator before. So, his going to senate will also give his people and our own people in Onicha a sense of belonging. And our people are clamouring for his victory come 2023. It is a done deal.