By Chidi Obineche Senator Andy Uba represents Anambra South Senatorial District of Anambra state at the Senate on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). The acclaimed beloved political son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who held the power levers during Obasanjo’s reign from 1999 to 2007 made history as the shortest serving governor in…
By Chidi Obineche
Senator Andy Uba represents Anambra South Senatorial District of Anambra state at the Senate on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). The acclaimed beloved political son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who held the power levers during Obasanjo’s reign from 1999 to 2007 made history as the shortest serving governor in Nigeria. He lasted only three months as governor of Anambra State in 2007. The two-term Senator and Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, speaks on his relationship with his godfather, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, why he dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and why he wants to return to Anambra State government house. He speaks about his involvement in the attempted abduction of the former governor of Anambra State and current Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige among other issues.
You were among PDP lawmakers that decamped to APC, what informed your decision?
It was not an easy decision to take considering that I was among the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I played a vital role in the success and progress of the former ruling party for 16 years. I lost interest in PDP when my political father and mentor, former president Olusegun Obasanjo tore his membership card publicly because of constant problems in the party. Even when Obasanjo left PDP, I stayed and when everything I did to restore peace in the party failed, my people sent a delegation to my house and advised me to cross over to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Of course, you know that there are problems in the state chapters of the party especially Anambra State, which have defied all solutions. This internal wrangling has cost the people of Anambra a huge political fortune and good governance.
In Anambra, we have been in court since 2011 over election matters. So, it is impossible to deliver the dividends of democracy under this condition. Those of us who have good intention for Nigerians felt distracted by the infighting and pending court cases from delivering infrastructural development that will improve the living condition of our people, hence the reason for dumping PDP. Since 2011, we have not had rest in the Anambra State chapter. So, even if PDP settles its differences at the national level, I don’t see a possible solution to the problem in the Anambra State chapter of the party. Everybody relies on godfatherism and many use the party for financial gains.
So, I looked at the situation and decided that if I must carry the state and my people along, I must make a change. And you cannot change a system from outside. Rather; you must be part of the system to effect positive change. That is part of what informed my decision to join APC. I can now present the needs of my people to the Federal Government so that they can benefit from developmental programmes of this administration. Don’t forget that it is the wish of every person or state to belong to the party at the centre that controls the resources. It is worthy to note that I’m not new in politics, and I had run for Anambra State governor and I won. Also, I have won senatorial elections twice, and my people know that I mean well for them.
Have you mended fences with your junior brother, Chief Chris Uba who many believe can be a stumbling block to your governorship ambition?
I have no problem with my brother. Moreover, it is only God that gives power
So, what is your relationship with him presently?
I don’t have any problem with him. My relationship with him is cordial.
Did you dump PDP because of fear of losing out in the forthcoming governorship primary?
I have never lost out in PDP, I have not lost an election and I will not lose in 2018 no matter the platform. I’m on ground and I have impacted on my people positively. That is my selling point. My reason of joining APC is because my people have not benefited as they ought to from the present administration in the state. This is due to political squabble that has lasted well over eight years. My continued stay in PDP will amount to denying my people federal presence in the state.
Are you saying that it is only on the platform of APC you can deliver dividends of democracy to your people having been a member of the former ruling party for 16 years and a two-term Senator?
You can’t rule out the fact that my people benefited from Obasanjo’s administration. Most of the present generation of Igbo leaders in the South-east got appointed to strategic positions between 1999 and 2007. By the grace of God I recommended most of them and that was the major reason I won the governorship election in 2007. So, my people trust me hence their support for my switch to APC. They know that there will be no meaningful development in the state except I join the ruling party. With what is happening in PDP, we can’t make any change in the state.
With the number of gladiators who have expressed interest in the governorship race, what are your chances?
As I said earlier, it is God that gives power and whoever He chooses there is nothing anybody can do about it. I’m not afraid of contesting against anybody. As far as the primary will be free and fair, I’m sure that I will win. Remember I contested against an incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi and won. Also, I have been elected senator twice.
Are you not disturbed that you may lose your seat in the Senate for cross-carpeting?
There was a ruling by the Supreme Court that once there is crisis or faction in any political party, members can decamp. So, that issue gathers no water. And until we get to the court, then we will know if there is division in PDP or not. I’m not disturbed because I left in principle, hence I didn’t have problem with any individual in the party. Many expected me to leave PDP when my political father, Obasanjo publicly tore his membership card, yet, I stayed in PDP. My people and supporters prevailed on me to dump PDP and I have no regret over my decision, because it is timely. I heeded the voice of my people, because they want Igbo to be key player in the mainstream of Nigeria’s politics in 2019. So, they don’t want to suffer further political loss having lost hope in PDP. Therefore, as their leader if I must take them to the promise land, I should move out of PDP.
Many may not believe that your people asked you to leave the party they had voted for even in the last general elections considering the fact that it was on the platform of PDP you attained the political height you highlighted earlier. Why are you leaving now?
APC lost in Anambra State because the party was not well marketed in the South-east zone. This is why the region is marginalised in appointment by the present administration, but now with people like us in the party, I promise, APC will be deeply rooted in Igbo land. I repeat, my movement out of PDP is timely.
When you took the decision to join APC, did you consider the fact that you were going to meet your major political rival and Minister of Labour, Sen. Chris Ngige there?
Remember, I was with Sen. Chris Ngige in the 7th Assembly. And we have been relating very well. Every ugly thing that happened between us is now in the past. We visit each other, and while he was in the Senate we rubbed minds and collectively attracted projects to Anambrarians. We always speak with one voice on the floor of the Senate especially on matters that would guarantee development of the South-east region and improve living standard of Nigerians. In a nutshell, I never had any problem with Ngige. That is why we are working together to ensure APC wins the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra.
Will you leave APC if you fail to clinch the party’s ticket as is the case with Nigerian politicians?
Why should I leave APC if I fail to get the party’s ticket? My major reason of joining the ruling party is to attract development to the South-east.
We have witnessed mass defection of politicians from South-east to APC? Could this be attributed to the recent statement by Obasanjo that Igbo can be President?
There is nothing wrong being in an opposition party, but when members of the party are not ready to present a formidable opposition to the ruling party, the purpose of being on such platform is defeated, and that is the problem. Another major reason people are leaving PDP is because of the uncontrollable power of the governors. You may want to remain in an opposition party, but your followers and supporters may prevail on you to defect to another party because they are not carried along by the party leadership. Belonging to the ruling party will attract infrastructural development and federal government presence in your locality.
You will agree with me that South-west played opposition for many years until recently when they formed alliance with the North which gave birth to the APC. So, why won’t Igbo do the same?
As your party attempts to capture Anambra, do you consider the power of incumbency. Can you contend with Governor Willie Obiano if you clinch APC ticket?
Under free and fair election, yes I can defeat Governor Obiano. The present administration in Anambra has not done well, as the governor has concentrated development in one area of the state while other areas are left alone. Obiano has not shown that we are in democracy, and the people are yet to reap the dividends of democracy. The people are not happy and that is why I’m being prevailed upon to run for the governorship of the state.
But Obiano has received several awards for his performance, especially restoration of security in the state. Are you saying he does not deserve those honours?
Mind you, he is only consolidating on what former governor Peter Obi started. All this achievements people are attributing to Obiano was Obi’s making and not the present administration in the state. He is building on the already laid foundation by his predecessor. So, he is taking credit of Obi’s achievements. To me, Obiano has not done anything, but taking glory of what Obi did.
So, what are you bringing to the table if elected governor?
If elected governor, I will carry everybody along. This I’m known for, and that is why the people are drumming for my return to Anambra State government house. Under my watch, the people will be involved in the development process of the state. By this I mean we will run all inclusive government. That is what I did in 2007 when I was elected governor, until I was eventually removed through the court. If I had concluded my tenure, Anambra would have been a different place today.
How were you able to warm yourself into the heart of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to the extent that he described you as the first person he sees in the morning and the last person he sees before going to bed at night?
When my book comes out you will find the answer.
Did you consult Obasanjo before you dumped PDP?
Yes, I did consult him, because I can’t take any political decision without seeking his approval. He said since I want to help my people, I should seek a platform on which I can achieve my political goal, especially now.
Have you at any time regretted any action you took when you served in Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet having been betrayed by some people who benefited from that administration through your help?
I have no regret and that is one of the reasons I’m alive today. It is probably because of what I did. And if I have the opportunity again, I will help people. There are many of them I just rendered the same help to some weeks ago. It is in me to help people, even my enemies.
How did you know Obasanjo and what made him trust you?
I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, wait till my book comes out.
How do you rate the 8th Assembly when compared with the 7th Assembly. You are part of both?
The National Assembly is evolving, and it will continue to improve over time, until it gets better. The present Senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki was part of the 7th Senate and as fantastic as the former senate president David Mark was, so is Saraki.
Now that you are a member of the APC, what is the state of health of the President?
The information from the Presidency is authentic concerning President Buhari’s health condition.
What are your plans for the youths and women if elected governor?
I have attracted a vocational school to Uga, Anambra South Senatorial District. That school is where youths are being trained in various trades, such as how to fix fridges, television and other household equipment. The aim is to keep youths who could not find job after graduation busy. These teeming youths have different talents, and if properly put to use will improve the nation.
Are you one of those who masterminded the attempt to Kidnap Ngige when he was governor?
No, I had no hand in that saga. If I was involved, I wouldn’t have lasted with Obasanjo because my former boss is principled and would not tolerate such an act.
You are among leaders in Anambra that discourages boys from leaving school for apprenticeship, would you sustain it when you become governor?
Yes, in fact that is my major plan if I return to Anambra Government House by the grace of God. I’m not new at it because I have already through my scholarship scheme given many young people free education, and I will continue to sustain the drive to encourage youths to stay in school if elected governor again.
When are you officially declaring your intention for the governorship race?
When the Independent National Electoral Commission’s time table is out.
How are you reaching out to those you consider can help you achieve this dream?
I’m a team player, I have always done that, and I’m doing it now. Stakeholders are very important, even the youths and women.
Why are you silent over the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu?
Remember, I was among the South-east lawmakers who went to the president to ask for Kanu’s release and Buhari promised to do something about it when the court is done with the case. I don’t know why you are saying that I’m silent over Kanu’s release. Don’t forget that the charges brought against him have reduced to 5, and I assure you that very soon Kanu will regain his freedom.