Chief Reagan Ufomba is political figure in Abia State. The billionaire businessman and community leader was a former gubernatorial PDP aspirant in the 2007 elections in Abia, whose development he has facilitated variously.
His recently formed political group, Change Abia, on its website, listed the ills bedevillingAbia, and set up a N100m Youth Empowerment Fund, engaged John Fashanu and Evangelist McCants for this project,Â all aimed at stemming kidnapping in the state.Â Â In this chat with UDUMA KALU, Ufomba, in his Lagos office,Â explains his group’s plan for Abia. EXCERPTS:
How do you intend to bring the change in Abia
We intend to elect a government that will buy into our vision: the three- point agenda- protection of lives and property, infra structural development, socio-economic empowerment of Abia people and of course, that will bring about peace and unity we are talking about. If you look at our wake up call, we talked about elite squabbles, big men fighting here and there.
What they are fighting for, we do not know. So, we intend to cement all manner of relationships so that Abia can truly become Godâ€™s Own State. That is our vision and we are ready to drive that vision. We are very much ready and weâ€™ve started, I think on a very good note towards achieving all these.
Abia is said to be the biggest debtor state.
We need a lot of creativity in Abia state for Abia to survive. That is to I say, I do not agree with the economic ideology of the operators. They cannot say they donâ€™t have business being in business. The government in a rural state like Abia must have business being in business. They should be the path finder. They should lead the way. They should build and transfer.
That is the ideology that can save Abia state. It is not when people leave idle funds which are fraudulently taken away from the state. Because they have divested themselves from all manner of responsibility. Government should be responsible.
Government should fund education. Public schools should return. Government should build industries, engage the youths, kidnapping will disappear. All manner of vices will disappear. Since they are bad managers, they should be able to hand over to good managers by building, industrially, and transferring to capable hands who can run the industry.
But government must provide, not just the enabling environment but the capital, the funding, the necessary guarantee to set up these industries.
But you are in PDP
I am an Abian in the first place, and then I am in PDP.
Are you not in opposition?
I do not know what people mean by opposition. For me, politics begins with election which ends after somebody has been elected. After that, we all become Abians and make our contributions to the growth of the state. So, there shouldnâ€™t be any permanent enemy but permanent interest.
Do you have the structure to effect this change?
If anybody today tells you that Abia is safe today, let them tell me. If anybody tells you that Abia is better today, let him come up and tell me. If people are receiving their salaries when they ought to, let them say no to what weâ€™re doing.
So, you think the government is not doing enough?
To the extent that we are not safe. Then they have not struck the right chord. Itâ€™s as simple as that. When you see a pregnant woman in a maternity and she tells you I am a virgin, who do you believe? The man who says,Â no you did it yesterday,Â or the woman who says I am are a virgin?
Without electoral reforms, can you realise your goal?
The fact remains that the political reform must be done and concluded as quickly as possible before 2011. That is the only way people can count votes in the electoral system. If there are no electoral reforms, then we are wasting time.
With the ethnic factor?
Ordinarily, one wouldnâ€™t bother the hell where the candidate comes from if there is good governance. But when you keep having people who misrule the state, who do not have ideologies that launch us into, letâ€™s say even the next decade, then you begin to ask question.
Ethnic consideration comes in-where is he from? Who governs us? Who are responsible? Who will do it better? It comes to play at that level. Talking as a grass-roots politician, now that governance has moved from Abia North to Abia Central, in Abia Central, we have our formula.
Are you from Central?
Yes. We have three 3 LGAs from Umuahia, and three from the Ngwa axis. Thatâ€™s the Senatorial Zone-Abia Central. We rotate this thing on four year- basis. So, I think the right thing to do is to allow an Ngwa man from Abia Central to become governor in 2011, for sake of equity. At least for a change.
Hope the power rotation among the zones has been formalised, so that after Orji, nobodyÂ Â should say no written document backs the rotation.
That is why I said that we do not have leaders with enough political will. You must be able to make the people rise. It will be simple for us to. For example, for a governor of state to talk to Abians to have this thing formalised and documented for the sake of peace. But they play politics with everybody, themselves, our today, our tomorrow, our children and we die leaving this problem for our children.
That is why we need a change. So, many of these problems you have enumerated, that is why we are here. That is why Change Abia is born. They will bring about this change.
You live in Lagos. And want to govern Abia whose IGR is low. Is in debt. How will you change that?
Let correct this. I am a home boy. Okay. I live in Abia. I have my house in Abia. I was born in Abia. I schooled in Abia. I visit Lagos. I stay here and I go home. I have investment in Abia. I think that is clear enough. So, I am not a Lagos man.
I am a home boy. That is one. Second, our IGR. We need creativity. You can go to one village and put the biggestÂ Â Bible in the world and turn it into a foreign attraction if Abia is Godâ€™s Own State. People come to see the biggest bible in the world.
And it generates revenue. We have crude oil. Why are you not putting a refinery in Abia? We have limestone. Why are we not building cement plant in Abia? We have kaolin…. our land is fertile for rice plantation.Â Why are we not mechanising agriculture?
I worked with T. A. Orji when he was chief of staff.Â He has what it takes to govern a state. But who are those advising him? A leader must have able lieutenants. People who must be good and experience. People who are well travelled. People who are creative.Â What I am saying is, he needs people who are highly creative.
People who are sophisticated in their chosen fields. People who can correctly and rightly advise him. That is what governance is all about.