Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Toms Chukwuemeka Ugwu doubles as the Chairman of Enugu State Professionals in Ireland and the chairman of Nsukka Welfare Association in Ireland and UK. A native of Orba in Udenu Local Government Area, Enugu State, Ugwu, a practicing Lawyer in the United Kingdom (UK) is also a member of People Democratic Party (PDP) in Orba Ward 1. He speaks on the just concluded elections in Nigeria, the way forward for democracy in Nigeria and particularly his expectations from Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has been re-elected for a second tenure.
Let’s start with the just concluded elections in Nigeria; I am sure you people over there followed events of the elections, what is your take on the outcome of the polls generally?
We followed the elections and personally I am happy that Nigerians came out massively to participate in the elections. That is a huge boost to democracy in the country, let me quickly inform you that I am a card carrying member of the PDP in Orba Ward 1 at Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, so as such I was interested in the victory of my party at all levels by winning the presidential election and retaining the governorship seat in Enugu, my home state.
However, let me express my disappointment at the failure of the PDP to win the presidential election and also express my joy for the re-election of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. I had my fears that the bandwagon effect of the victory of the national ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election would turn out to jeopardise the chances of Governor Ugwuanyi in Enugu but that was not to be. Permit me to say that Governor Ugwuanyi deserves his re-election in Enugu because he worked for it. His achievements in security, road construction work all over the state, adequate payment of workers and pensioners, improved development in education and health sector, improved housing development, youth empowerment drive and the atmosphere of peace and friendliness in the state speak volume for him and I am happy that the people deemed it right to give him the mandate to complete his second tenure like his predecessors did.
Your party, the PDP is protesting the outcome of the presidential election and has gone to court to challenge the result as announced by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). How do you look at that?
I can say that the PDP as a champion of democracy in Nigeria for the past 20 years is experienced enough in the process of elections, so the party can kick against the process if it is not genuine. As an experienced party, PDP knows what it takes to contest and win elections in Nigeria. Prior to the elections, PDP sold a good manifesto to Nigerians which includes the promise to yield to the clamour for restructuring of the country and consequently Nigerians accepted the party, so expectedly PDP with the message of restructuring did wonderfully well at the polls and the result didn’t go down well with the party, so the party is protesting. Such protest is welcome all over the world in so far it is free from violence.
Unlike what is obtainable over there in the U.K, elections in Nigeria always attract condemnations, protests and petitions in court, in your opinion what do you think that people should do to be able be to have good elections in the country?
People are mature and experienced in politics, so they know what is right or wrong. People know the process, so when the process is not genuinely followed and is tampered with and compromised you see them reacting sometimes in anger, so that is why they go to court and file petitions. The truth is that there are lapses in the Nigeria system that gives room for irregularities such as ballot box snatching and mutilation of results. The lapses emanate from the fact that people who are mature and experienced are not interested in doing the right thing, so the solution lies on the people’s desire to do the right thing. Some of us over there expect Nigerians to adapt to the digital system of running things. For instance, adapting electronic means of transmitting election results from the polling units to the collation centre, it makes ballot box snatching irrelevant and mutilation of results will die. So the solution is for people to accept to do things in the right way.
Let’s come to Enugu State. What do you expect from Ugwuanyi’s second term?
Well, first of all it is good for the governor to consolidate on the performance that earned him the mandate of the people for a second term. Let the security situation remain intact as ever; let road construction work go on in top gear. Let the prompt payment of workers and pensioners suffer no interruption. Let what he is doing in education, health, housing, skill acquisition programmes for the youth continue and let the peace and friendly atmosphere of life in Enugu remain intact, these are my expectations in the first instance. Secondly, I would say that as a member of the PDP at the grassroots level for now, my interest is on rural development, so I know the plight and the feelings of the people at the grassroots level. And as such, I have observed that some electoral wards in Enugu are suffering from marginalisation by other wards. In most cases some wards have produced Local Government chairman, commissioner, SSA and Board member all most from 1999 while some wards are yet to produce even SA or a board member since 1999, so I want to draw the attention of the governor to the situation of things among electoral wards in the state when he is sworn for the second term in office. Three, let him in his usual friendly attitude extend the hands of fellowship to the opposition and accommodate them in his administration and ensure an all inclusive leadership in the state. These are what I expect of him in the second term.
In 2017, you aspired to be the Chairman of Udenu Local Government, what are your plans now?
Well, the most important thing is that PDP my party has retained the leadership throne of Enugu State, so I think my movement as you said depends on my party and where the party may consider me fit enough to serve. As a lawyer and a leader out there in the U.K, I think I have the capacity and the experience to give a good account of myself wherever I find myself.