The victory of Senator Hope Uzodinma at the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 14th of January, 2020, which led to his swearing-in as the Executive Governor of Imo State on the 15th of January, 2020, came to many as a bang.
In this interview, Peter Dibia (08137847696) and Basil Ekweke (07037591415) extracted from CHIEF CHIBUNNA I. O. UBAWUIKE, one can say the joint efforts that led to the victory, which cannot be attributed to man alone but also to God. He spoke on 100 days in office of the Governor and other issues. Excerpts:
Q: May we get to know you, Sir?
A: Thank you very much. I am Chief Chibunna I. O. Ubawuike, the Imo State Chairman of Oil & Solid Mineral Producing Area Landlords’ Association of Nigeria. (OMPALAN), also the National Treasurer of National Fish Association of Nigeria and again the immediate past Vice President, African Task Force on Ornamental Fish Development, set up by African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), an AU Body, Nairobi Kenya. I am the only Nigerian to occupy the position. Also a member of Presidential Committee on Fisheries Aqua Culture Development in Nigeria, set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 – 2007. I am a businessman cum politician. I am a staunch All Progressives Congress (APC) member. I am an ardent Buharist and unrepentant supporter of Most Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodinma (Onwa Oyoko).
Q: Chief we are quite excited with OMPLAN, the body you are its State Chairman in Imo State. Can you give us more insight into the Association?
A: Thanks so much. Oil and Solid Minerals Producing Area Landlords Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN) is an elite nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Nigeria OMPALAN IS Neither micro nor regional body, But a national association established in all the 36 states of Nigeria and FCT, Abuja. It is populated by consequential individuals who are in politics, in trade, and other ventures; those that mean well for Nigeria. It is a well organized and solidly established body that plays vital roles to help in the economic development of Nigeria.
Q: Recently Governor Hope Uzodinma celebrated 100 days in office. How do you rate the young administration in 100 days?
A: His Excellency Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma, I thank God for the great feat he has achieved within 100 days of his administration. He has performed creditably well beyond expectations, even he has achieved within this period what previous Governors could not achieve within the period of their tenure. I can summarily say that he scored 99 percent within his 100 days in office.
Q: Sir, a lot of people still wonder till tomorrow what gave you and others the courage to continue the struggle for the restoration of Senator Uzodinma’s gubernatorial mandate, even when many had written off the possibility. What was the magic?
A: During the short-lived wicked and oppressive immediate past PDP administration, they vowed to crush, decapitate and pulverize our great Party, the All Progressives Congress(APC), which threat they executed by using state power. But we were not deterred. So we continued our struggle for equity and fairness with well-meaning APC members. We relentlessly deployed our resources to ensure that the stolen mandate of His Excellency Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodinma (Onwa Oyoko) was restored.
We did not relent until the stolen gubernatorial mandate of our able Governor, in whom we are well pleased, freely given to him on March 9, 2019, by the Imo electorate, was restored. We were resolute and dogged in that fight because we knew that our expectations must surely come to pass.
Q: Sir, there has been wide outrage in the state regarding the fact that those appointed Special Advisers (SAs) and Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) have not been assigned portfolios long after their swearing-in. Can you clear the air on this?
A: My dear, you see, the opposition will always talk. The government can always plan what to do and go ahead to executive the same, irrespective of the rantings of the opposition. I will rather implore them to shut their mouth and watch as I know that all the appointees have their portfolios assigned to them.
Q: Can you throw light sir, into what made people like you relentless back Governor Hope Uzodinma, without backsliding, until victory was finally achieved?
A: My brothers, you know “There is a saying in Igbo that “Ahia Oma N’ere Onwe Ya”, meaning, a good product sells itself. His excellency Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma is associated with a lot of goodies. So the name can go places. When people were hopeless, we were hopeful. This was because we were confident we had a good product to sell to Ndi Imo. We were confident that the one we solidly backed had the ability, capacity, credibility, and expertise in him. We were sure that he had 100 percent capacity in his ability.
Even when his mandate was stolen we were hopeful that the mandate one day will be restored. So we doubled our efforts in our struggles for the restoration of the mandate. His excellency Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodinma has the best of intentions for Imo State amongst all the contestants who ran in the 2019 governorship election in Imo state with him. That was why we fought hard and victory came our way. We are ready to support him to achieve the good intentions he has for Imo people, especially, his tripod 3Rs of reconstruction, rehabilitation, and recovery.
Q: Sir, much has been said about Imo State civil servants, said to be owed salaries. What do you have to say about this?
A: The hyped issue of nonpayment of civil servants’ salaries is absolute propaganda. Every Government ascertains its civil service & staff strength in order to determine its monthly wage bill. Unfortunately, our Governor met a staff payroll padded with ghost workers and must separate the chaff from the wheat by eliminating/expunging ghost workers from the Civil service payroll and save our dear state its scarce resources that is frittered away by that corrupt system. The salaries of those genuinely in the employment of Imo State Government in this shared prosperity dispensation has been paid. Anyone claiming not to have been paid should provide his BVN to get his salary, else, he is a ghost worker. Our civil service is now well motivated for optimum performance and service delivery.
Q: What has the Governor achieved by introducing the BVN as a criterion for civil servants salary payment?
A: The policy has eliminated the ghost workers syndrome and saved our state some quantum amount of money. It has further exposed the entrenched fraud in our civil service payroll. I thank His Excellency for the wisdom in implementing the laudable policy.
More so, My dear, so many people were engaged as consultants paying the workers salaries. On paper, they were allocated and appropriated so much money but in practical terms, there was nothing to show for it. In other words, these people appeared as shadow consultants but no real engagement with the government as consultants. A lot of money went down the drain by this process.
I can assure you that these people and their agents are the ones carrying the most devilish propaganda against Governor Uzodinma because he exposed their wickedness to Imo people. I don’t say that the government should not be criticized but your criticism should be constructive and not destructive. They should criticize positively so as to join hands with the Governor, so as to deliver the much-desired good governance to Imo state.
Q: What is your message to Imolities regarding the present government?
A: My message to Ndi Imo is simple. I call on all the Imo sons and daughters to give His Excellency Most Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodinma (Onwa Oyoko ) 100 percent support, to enable him to deliver what I call democratic cornucopia to the people. I can assure you that we will never go back to Egypt and I bet you, we will all be happier for that.