A former governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election in Ebonyi State, Senator Julius Ucha, is not happy about the situation of things in his party both in the state and in the entire South East geopolitical zone. For him, if certain issues he raised are not addressed as soon as possible, the party may not make serious inroad into the zone ahead of the 2023 polls.
In this interview with OBINNA ODOGWU, the former lawmaker who represented Ebonyi Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly from 2003 to 2007 and 2007 to 2011 also spoke on the feud between the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, and the governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki; the emergence of Senator Hope Uzodimma as the Imo State governor through a Supreme Court ruling, among other issues.
What effort are you and other leaders of the APC, making to reposition the party in Ebonyi State and by extension, the South East geopolitical zone ahead of the 2023 election?
In the South East generally, the reward system of our party is very poor, generally poor. In most cases, those who have put in everything they have for the party to gain some electoral victories in the South East are not remembered. That is the truth. And that is further depleting the fortune of the party in the South East. And if it continues like that, the way it is today, practically the APC…unless in Imo State where we have a governor, I do not know any state in the South East that has strong presence of the APC because the party is factionalized in almost every state in the South East. Is that not a bane? Judgements have also been obtained that the party has not resolved the issues. The crises are deepening every day. And people who made efforts and did everything under the sun to give the party a facelift in the state, in the South East are not remembered. So, it is like the party is saying to us, ‘we don’t need South East.’ I am from Ebonyi State. I ran for governor in APC. I made a very serious impression. I ran for Senate in APC and I made a very serious impression. Indeed, it is an election that if it is a civilized democracy, nobody can defeat me. But we are in a democracy where people thrive in carrying ballot boxes and running away and making nonsense of the franchise of the populace. So, in my ward alone, APC in the presidential election had over 6,000 votes. And my zone had the highest number of votes that made the party to score about 30 or 33 percent in Ebonyi State. But today, I don’t know what I will describe my position as in the party in Nigeria, South East or even in Ebonyi State. This is because what the electorates look for is, if this man has put in this and we are his followers, how far has he been rewarded? But if the party leaves those who have put in everything in a particular environment to go and reward those who failed woefully in their own area, that reward system is faulty; it is not encouraging and it actually makes nonsense of democracy. So, unless the party introduces and very fast too, a special reconciliatory arrangement that brings all the contending interests and strengthen the party in the South East, I don’t see any…well, God is a miraculous God and capable of favouring whosever He wants to favour but God also helps those who help themselves.
You are not the first expressing this kind of grievance against the way certain things are done in your party. Do you not think that this may affect the chances of APC making a headway in the next year’s governorship election in Anambra State?
God is a miracle worker and can spring any surprise anytime. But I think, in all honesty, Anambra State is one of the weakest links of the APC in the South East and you know that yourself. So, as Christians we believe in miracle. There is nothing that is impossible with God. With God everything is possible. So, on the basis of that, nobody can predict what will happen.
What would you really make of the friction existing between your National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and the governor of his state who incidentally is his successor, Godwin Obaseki?
These are two gentlemen. They started well. Like I said, I do not comment so much on what I do not have facts about. They are gentlemen. Edo State is their constituency. And they are also people I believe that could also appreciate peace. I think the date of the election is still to come. I think they are going to get on well maybe before the election. That’s my prayer so that, that will give our party necessary boost for electoral victory.
The coming on board of the Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, through the Supreme Court generated a lot of controversy. Series of protests followed that court’s decision and all that. Do you think that the controversy the ruling generated was necessary?
In every situation, human beings are given the freewill. Like I said earlier, God is the greatest democrat in the whole world and in heaven. He gave us an enormous freewill to make a representation on issues, even issues that are more or less deep, so to say. A man has his freewill to make his comments. That is a freewill that is given to us by God and that is why every country also tries to entrench it in their constitution – freedom of speech. However, when a Supreme Court has given judgement, every other thing you say about the judgement of the Supreme Court whether rightly or wrongly given, all the things you say go to no issue because only where you can speak and it becomes relevant if you are able to convince God is to appeal to God. So, that is the situation in that respect.
How would you rate President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency from 2015 to date with emphasis on his second tenure. Are you impressed with his performance so far especially on issues that concern the economy?
Well, I am a lawyer. I am not an economist. I do not have full facts of the situation of the economy. And I am not in a position to give any assessment on issues that I don’t have facts about. So, I am not competent to address this question.
To some persons, their hopes were dashed when your party lost the Ebonyi State governorship election last year. What went wrong?
The fragmentation and the incoherent nature of the leadership of the party in the state contributed enormously to that problem. The leadership was fragmented. The followership was also fragmented. The entire structure was incoherent and there was also a kind of mistrust in the whole APC political environment in Ebonyi State. And it is still persisting. So, that is the problem. There is nothing that defeats a system like lack of trust. The party members lacked trust in a fragmented leadership to the extent that they even lost their trust in God that they were going to make it and everything went ablaze.
There were allegations that during the campaigns, that some of your party members were working for the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] against your party. In fact, it was alleged that you were one of the persons working for the state government under the PDP against your party. What would you make of that allegation?
Mr Obinna, do you know me? Do you know my antecedents?
People speak very good about you.
Okay. What I have always tried to do as a person is to trust in God, trust in myself and ensure that I do justice to all manner of persons because if I don’t do that I owe a responsibility to my God. And I know I have given you the summation of the travail of APC in the state. And that it is still prevalent because there are people, ordinarily who have established a kind of relationship, may be all over the world and all over the country that they don’t care about whatever happens to the followership and the leadership at the state level. And until that issue is addressed, I told you this and even as it affects the entire South East. It is not about what this person did and what the other person did not do. So, it is about the reality on the ground. That is what is affecting the fortune of the APC and the party has to address it especially using a positive reward system.
Supposing that in 2023 your people call on you to come and lead them as governor, what will you do differently to uplift the state from what is being done currently?
Let me tell you Obinna, one thing I do not do is to put the cart before the horse. If you do that, the horse will jump on the cart and destroy it, and then the whole thing will collapse. As I am today, like I told you, what I am doing is to commune with my God; my friendship with my God, the love I have from my God, the good health of myself and my family, it is much more than being anything you can think of. God has been very benevolent to me. And I have also said that in most cases when I am still anxious of thinking that I can make it for myself, God leaves me to go and do it. But when I am on my own, God Himself is a miraculous worker. He knows what is good for His people, for everybody. His favours are for everybody. That is why even when you’re praying, and you are praying that God must favour you, you are wasting your time because the fact that you slept and woke up, you should thank Him for that because He has already favoured you. You don’t dictate to Him. So, my brother, it is too early in the day to begin to consider what somebody will be in 2023.