NAN Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi on Wednesday sought the collaboration of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), for easy movement of personnel and electoral materials. Prof. Godswill Obioma, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi, who spoke at a meeting in Abakaliki with NURTW…
Uche Onyeagocha, a lawyer and an activist is a former member of the House of Representatives. He was the former Special Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha on Policy and Strategy, before dumping the All Progressives Congress (APC) for All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In this interview, he revealed why he fell out with Okorocha, saying that he has destroyed the state with his policies. He also spoke on other issues of interest.
Why did you leave the APC?
I left APC because I could no longer continue to be in the same party with the governor of Imo State. If you have him as a friend you don’t need an enemy in your life. Here is a governor who had refused to campaign for his party’s presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. When the present Director – General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Osita Okechukwu said that the governor of Imo State did not campaign for APC and Buhari people thought that it was a joke but that was the truth.
I was with him during the campaign trail as the senatorial candidate of Owerri zone and on many occasions he deliberately refused to campaign for Buhari, I accosted him on many of the occasions to ask him to talk for Buhari. In fact, in one of the occasions he took me aside and warned me seriously to refrain from insisting that he campaigns for Buhari saying that don’t I know that Buhari is not accepted in our area, do I want him to suffer a back lash for campaigning for Buhari.
So, somebody who did this to his party’s presidential candidate you could imagine what he would do to his party members who are contesting for lesser positions. Governor Okorocha worked against the party candidates contesting for several positions. For example, he worked against Osita Izunaso and Ozoemena. In fact he actually worked against Uwajumogu, but it was under compulsion and duress that he had to work for him in the repeat senatorial election. In fact, if the senatorial re- run had held on the first scheduled date Uwajumogu would have lost to the PDP because the governor had already compromised APC . Hate him or like him he is the leader of the party in the state and there is no way I can continue with him, it is like having a traitor as a leader of your group. So, I decided that in order to have my own peace I cannot continue to be in the same party with him and consequently I decided to go back to my original party, APGA.
You alleged that Okorocha sabotaged the elections of some of the candidates of the party, was yours also sabotaged as well?
I don’t want to talk about my own election because if I do, people will say that was why I am angry with Okorocha.
You were Special Adviser on Policy and Strategy to Okorocha, So At what stage did you become aware of this character traits in?
Well, I have always been warned to stay clear from Governor Okorocha that he could not be trusted. But I have always resisted the warnings because I felt I should experience it myself and when I became close to him I began to notice the kind of person he is. Don’t forget that I was already in ACN which is one of the bigger parties that merged to form the APC when he and his group from APGA joined APC and all through the negotiations and process of the merger he also exhibited what we are now seeing today. But we felt that we can manage him but at a certain stage I said I have had enough and I moved on.
Now that you are back to APGA, what are chances of the party in winning the gubernatorial poll in the state next year?
If we present the facts correctly APGA won the 2003 gubernatorial poll with Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, but that mandate was stolen. In 2007 APGA won again with Martins Agbaso, that mandate was also messed up. In 2011 APGA won again with Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha and he sold it and crossed over to APC. I am certain and I trust in God, I believe that God will deliver Imo State through APGA in 2019. You can see the mass movement into APGA because people now realize that this is the party to beat and I believe that APGA will win the gubernatorial election in 2019 .Already, Okorocha has become very jittery and he has been making clandestine moves to create confusion in APGA. He is already working hard to plant a candidate in APGA because he knows that APGA will emerge victorious in the next year’s election because he knows that APGA is a mass movement and not just a party.
Don’t you think that the influx into APGA of political heavy weights from both the PDP and APC could create problem for the party especially during the primary election, like what happened in the PDP in 2014?
No. It is rather an advantage to the party because it shows that APGA is the party to beat. Problems could only arise if the party fails to manage the primaries efficiently where everybody will be satisfied, that it is free and fair and that is the challenge before the party leadership. It must ensure that the primaries are free and fair.
Owerri zone says it is its turn to produce the next governor of the state. How possible is it given the current political scenario?
I would say it is possible because the entire Imo State is prepared to give Owerri zone the chance, except one man, Okorocha. And the reason he doesn’t want that is because he wants to foist his son – in-law as his successor.
Was this the reason Uche Nwosu accepted the indigeneship of Umuonyima community in Owerri?
I will answer that question in two ways. First, the only reason Uche Nwosu had gone to collect the indigeneship of Umuonyima in Owerri simply means that it is the turn of Owerri zone. If he does not believe that it is the turn of Owerri zone he would not have bothered to accept the indigeneship. Why has he not gone to Okigwe to take indigeneship? This is because he knows that his greatest obstacle to becoming the governor of Imo State is Owerri zone. So, as a way of cutting corners believing that will actually work out he said that he has acquired the indigeneship of a community in Owerri.
Now, let us put it this way, if he has acquired the indigeneship of Owerri zone, that means that he is running as Owerri zone candidate. He should also join us in clamour that it is the turn of Owerri and we will now decide whether that his indigeneship is legitimate or dubious. The Owerri people did not make Uche Nwosu an indigene, what happened is that an Eze from the community of Umuonyima who was made an Eze by the governor without the consent of the people and due process, decided to thank the governor and decided to pronounce his son -in- law as indigene of his community and it is their cup of tea and it means nothing to anyone. When the chips are down we will actually know if Uche Nwosu is indeed an indigene of Owerri zone.
While you were the Special Adviser to the governor on policy and strategy, what kind of policy advice did you give to him to make the state better?
I advised him on so many things that would have helped the state. One, I had told him to turn the Imo state Polytechnic Umuagwo to a Degree awarding institution. I gave him the blueprint and he thought that would have amounted to making it a university. I said no and that there are so many Polytechnics outside the country that are awarding Degrees, that it only requires three sentences. First a bill or law amending the establishment of the Imo Polytechnic, second that this institution shall become a Degree awarding, third, that the Polytechnic council shall have the power to award B. Tech or whatever. The date it is signed by the governor, it will become law when passed by the state Assembly. I told him that the next thing that would follow is that the NUC will come for accreditation to see if the institution has the qualified manpower and necessary things to run a degree Programme.
I told him that it will help bridge the gap between the HND and Degree holders because they would have been able to do it in a special programme. But the governor was unable to see that. I also gave an idea that since Imo State has the highest candidates who write JAMB every year we have the capacity to start a minimum of six universities and still will not absorb all . That he can support the Catholic Diocese of Owerri to start Assumpta University, the same for Orlu Catholic Diocese to assist them in establishing Trinitas University and the Anglican Diocese of Owerri to start the Bishop Lasbry University in Irete. I also told him that Mbaise has the manpower and that it needs to be properly channelled and I had suggested to him that we convert the Ahiara Technical School into a Polytechnic and also make it a Degree awarding. I told him that we should let it have remedial studies, let it have polytechnic primary and secondary schools and that the population of the school will not be anything less than 25,000 in five years time. I told him that if that is done that Ahiara and its environs will witnessed the kind of rapid development we have seen in Nekede and in Ihiagwa because of the University and Polytechnic, and that the development will extend from Nkwogwu to Ogbe and it will create its own town like what is now happening in Umuagwo and Mgbirichi. These are simple things that the government needs to invest in which is human capital development and the boosting of the local economy but he was not able to understand any of these things.
But he did establish another University in Ogboko?
Yes, with state fund which he is now trying to convert to his private university. I bet you when a new administration comes on board it will be taken back by the state.
But the governor said that the Eastern Palm University is owned by the state government. What have you to say to that?
Have you seen the caveat? Did you read the caveat? Well I had left him before he started the university. I left before the APC primaries in 2014 around September because I had to resign before the primaries as stipulated by the electoral Act.
But he says he has no opposition in the state because of his laudable achievements. How about that?
Let start by saying that Governor Okorocha is a petite dictator and wishes he could be a real big dictator. Whenever citizens of the state come out for peaceful protest against his anti -people policies he will order the security agencies to disperse them with force. The latest was that of last December 18 when the Imo People’s Action for Democracy came out on a peaceful protest. And by 2019 we will reverse all his anti- people policies which have made the people poorer than they were eight years ago.