Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly and deputy governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Dr. Acho Ihim, have declared that he and his principal, Mr. Uche Nwosu, are poised to deepen the development of Imo and make the state greater.
You are in AA but you’re mobilising for Buhari in APC. Is this not a recipe for confusion?
We are at liberty to support whoever we want to support. There is no restriction to it. As members of the Action Alliance, we have our own governorship candidate but in Imo State we do not have any other presidential candidate except President Muhammadu Buhari. There is no hard and fast rule that says you must not support someone in another party. We are Nigerians and we must have a say in who becomes the president of the country. To that effect, we are supporting Buhari and if the governorship candidate of the APC in Imo State and his group are supporting Buhari, so be it.
We have endorsed him as our own presidential candidate and we are all out to ensure that we make his reelection a reality. There is no confusion about it. Interestingly, the presidential election will come first and we will do what best we know how to do. We are still the same people who delivered him the other time in the South -East. We did more than any other group in the South -East. It is like doing what we know how best to do. We will even improve on our records because then the APC was a taboo in the South -East. It was seen as a northern and Islamic party but we stood our ground and made sure we delivered against all expectations. Of course, our performance helped to lower the aggregated political gains of the PDP. We in AA will deliver Buhari in February.
Considering that the AA emerged from the APC, what are your chances in the governorship election?
What makes a party? A party is determined by the people, not the other way round. The hood does not make the monk. It is the monk that really makes the hood. The same people that did it in APC are the same people in AA. In the House of Assembly where I’m the head, we have 27 members and 18 of them are in AA. We were in APC but we defected to AA, which means all the APC structures we already had in our different Local Government Areas automatically turn to AA. We have 27 Local Government chairmen who are also in AA. We have 646 councilors who are from all autonomous communities in Imo State and they are in AA. We have 27 commissioners; we have special advisers and others. So, the structure is humongous. There is no gain saying we are going to win. There is the added advantage that Governor Rochas Okorocha has done extremely well. For example, if you take a ride in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, you will see opening of new roads, dualisation of roads, roads that were impassable before have now become so beautiful. In the night, the scenario is better imagined. It is as if you are on the streets of Shanghai. It is an undisputable fact that Okorocha has expended so much energy to spruce up the landscape of Imo. The state is now tourists’ paradise. If you come to Imo, you wouldn’t want to leave. The governor has changed the narrative.
Uche and yourself have been part of the outgoing government from inception, what new thing, will you bring to the table if elected?
The governor’s time is up and cannot be extended by one day because the constitution does not allow that. So, he has to handover to the people he has groomed and we will improve upon what he has already done. We will continue with the free education policy and improve on it. We will continue with the policy of urbanisation, and transform the villages. We will open more roads and take care of pensioners. We will ensure that we increase the economy of the state and create wealth for the people. We are discarding nothing, we will rather improve on things Okorocha has done. You cannot score the governor less than 90 percent in terms of performance. We will continue to ensure that the people are happy. The governor does not owe civil servants in the state for one month even when his colleagues owe several months. So, we will continue like that. A former Accountant General was sacked for delaying the payment of pensions. We will ensure that no worker is owed at any point in time.
What would you consider the cutting edge of your team?
First, the political genotype of Imo is AA. And our selling point is that we have learnt the ropes. Again, age is on my principal’s side. He has the experience by the fact that he has learnt the ropes from the governor. He has understudied the governor and knows what to do to excel. On my part, I have been a former transition committee chairman, a former elected local government chairman, a two-time House of Assembly member, Speaker of the House of Assembly and a former president of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), African zone. So, I have garnered a lot of experiences and I will bring them to bear in the new administration. I will offer quality advice, support and loyalty so that we can serve Imo State to the best of our knowledge and ability.
There is the fear that the election may be violent because of the political turbulence of the recent past. What’s your take?
We are not violent people and we thank God for that. We are not like states that very violent. There could be disagreements and tantrums but we don’t spill blood. We are brothers, friends and in-laws. After the elections, life continues. It is not a do-or-die affair. There could be intrigues, maneuvers and throwing of tantrums but it cannot snowball into shedding of blood. It is alien to us. If you check the history of our elections, you will see that they are always violence-free. Positions could be keenly contested, even leading to supplementary polls sometimes, but we don’t even throw stones. Those who feel aggrieved seek redress in court.