Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has opened up on what transpired during the governorship poll in the state and why he decided to contest the outcome of the poll at the Imo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal. He speaks on other issues, including the crisis rocking the APC.
You have been silent since after the elections; can you give us insight into what transpired?
It is a sad situation because our people came out to vote, but the results that did not reflect the will of the people were declared. We campaigned, our people embraced the party and we sold our messages to them and because the people needed a change, they supported my candidature, they came out en mass and voted for us. As a law abiding citizen, I have remained calm and approached the governorship tribunal and I am hopeful that at the end of the day, justice will prevail.
People attributed the defeat APC suffered to the internal crisis within the party in the state. How true?
Party is about human beings, when we came into the party from the PDP, we populated the party sufficiently. Majority of our people came into APC because it is the party to beat in Imo State. We have the men and women who can deliver in every election. I emerged through a keenly contested party primary and became the candidate of our party. Both the political class in Imo and the religious leaders were unanimous in agreeing that Hope Uzodinma is the solution to the dictatorial regime of the then governor, Rochas Okorocha. So, they all joined us to campaign and the people came out to support APC despite the sabotage by the incumbent governor. Yes, there were issues in the party, but the enthusiasm of our people to ensure that another APC-led administration is enthroned after the woeful outing of Governor Okorocha propelled them to vote for the APC despite the crisis. As I said earlier, we are hopeful that the wish of Imo people who voted massively for me will prevail at the end of the judicial process.
Okorocha boasted on several occasions that without him there is no APC in Imo and the South East, how would you react to that?
I will not like to join issues with Okorocha, but as we all have seen, he became the problem of APC not only in Imo State, but also the entire South East due to his character as a person and as a governor. He allowed his greed to supersede his sense of reasoning. He is one man who run people down to survive and that is why today karma is catching up with him. Political party is not about one man and leadership is not something that one sits in his bedroom to claim. Leadership is defined by the type of followership one has. Of course, you know his current status, he is on suspension from the party and the APC did not just wake up overnight to suspend him. They suspended him due to various cases of anti-party activities. I have refused deliberately to join issues with him publicly; the reason is because I am a loyal party man. Once the leadership of the party takes decision, I follow. No one man can arrogate to himself the powers of God, or think that without him, the party will not be. The party is for all of us, that is why in the state we have 305 electoral wards and in those electoral wards we have party executes. In the 27 local governments, we have party executives and at all these levels we have Executive Committees and membership. So, it will be unfair for anybody to say that without him there is no APC in the South East. South East has great men and women in the APC. If Okorocha has such powers as he is arrogating to himself, he should have also won the governorship election for his son in-law, Uche Nwosu whom he sponsored. He is a man that loves attracting attention to himself and also enjoys misinforming the people with a view to scoring cheap political points. But his time is up. APC, any time any day, will win election in Imo and the South East without Okorocha. And I can tell you that in the next elections, APC will win more states in the South East when people like Okorocha are out of the scene. Okorocha should learn from the leadership style of President Buhari and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole so as to be a good leader. I can also add that the elections in the South East were manipulated in favour of the PDP and I am optimistic that by the time the cases at various courts are over the popular wish of the people will emanate.
The results declared in some of the states in the South East do not reflect the true wishes of the people, but I am optimistic that justice will prevail at the end of the day.
What is your take on Okorocha’s claim that the APC National Chairman, Oshiomhole and INEC are behind his travails regarding his certificate of return?
Let me also tell you, he is not only accusing the national chairman, in his heart he is also accusing the presidency, but due to his sycophancy he has not said it. He is scared, that is why he has not said it openly, because he has been accusing everybody. I don’t know where and how the national chairman will possess that kind of powers to direct INEC to cease his certificate of return, decides what happens in the DSS, and the Police. Meanwhile this is a national chairman who campaigned vigorously across the length and breadth of Nigeria to ensure that the APC emerged victorious not only at the state but also at the national level.
So, if he has such powers as Okorocha is claiming, it means that APC would have won in the entire 774 local governments in Nigeria and the 36 states. The APC would have won the entire National Assembly seats because that is the wish of every national chairman of a party that is in power.
But, he confined himself to the dictates of democratic norms by campaigning for his party with our presidential candidate, which led to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC candidates. But I don’t want to discuss Okorocha, reason being that he is one of those not comfortable with the discipline the Oshiomhole-led NWC brought to the APC.
Greedy politicians like Okorocha cannot like Oshiomhole. Was Oshiomhole in Imo the day Okorocha harassed INEC Returning Officer to declare him winner under duress as alleged by the man? The man just makes frivolous claims to draw attention to himself because he is looking for an escape route.
What should Nigerians expect from President Buhari in this second term?
His re-election shows the confidence Nigerians have in him. When a president is re-elected, it means he has done well to justify the confidence reposed in him by the electorate. All we need to do as Nigerians is to continue to support his good works. He needs the support of all Nigerians to ensure that his war against corruption is sustained. His agricultural policy is sustained. I can tell you that under the leadership of President Buhari, things will change for the better. Electricity will work, drinking water will be available, our transport system will function and we will have quality education. His vision for Nigeria is working. So we do hope that in the next four years Nigerians will have cause to rejoice.
Does it bother you that some Nigerians are resisting the agitation for South East to produce presiding officers in the 9th Assembly on account that they did not vote for the APC?
Honestly this is politics. During the campaigns, I spoke to our people at different fora, informing them that since APC is the ruling party, it is the best route for us as Igbo to be relevant in the Nigerian project. I warned them that tomorrow we cannot come and cry of marginalisation if we fail to join the ruling party now. I told them that Nigerians will re-elect President Buhari because of his impeccable records. I equally told them that Igbo needed to be part of this moving train in the second term. We told our people to join but some thought otherwise. However, the voting pattern in the South East will come out better after the various litigations in court because of the poor handling of the electoral process particularly in the South East. Majority voted for APC.
How will you access your journey at the upper legislative chamber?
If you check my records, you will discover that I sponsored many motions passed by the senate. I sponsored many Bills and some have become laws just like the Electronic Transaction Bill which Mr. President signed into law to make electronic contract a valid way of transaction now in Nigeria. All the bills I sponsored are there. I attracted several roads to my constituency, I was able to give jobs to unemployed graduates in my constituency through the assistance of various agencies and we have many of them working today. I brought rural electrification projects to my constituency. I built several town halls and rehabilitated some federal roads in my constituency through the assistance of the federal ministry of Works and the NDDC. So I did a lot and because of my achievements, I have received awards from Churches, communities. My passion for rural development urged me to attract developmental projects to my constituency. I am putting my achievements into a document which will soon be unveiled. In fact, in that book, I am called the Democratic Soldier. I am happy I was given the opportunity to serve my people, I was never declared winner under duress. I am always ready to serve my people in any capacity. We will continue to serve our people to the glory of God.
How will the 9th National Assembly leadership pan out?
I have been around for a very long time playing partisan politics. I am a true party man; I will not be one of those that will question the decisions of the party hierarchy. The essence of party democracy is that the party is supreme. So, if the party takes a decision it is incumbent on all of us to follow and toe the line of the party because no matter where you are, House of Representatives, Senate or Government House, you got there through the instrumentality of the party. So, it is even the party that wins the election not the candidates. If you are saying that you don’t want to be loyal to the party, it means you are telling the party to withdraw their sponsorship. And once the party does that it means you have lost your position. I think that the 9th National Assembly should adhere to the decision of the party and not be disobedient to the party. Constitutionally speaking, you cannot contest elections in Nigeria without the sponsorship of a political party. They should all bear in mind that there is no provision for an independent candidate in our constitution.