By Tony Nwankwo
Destiny Godspower Ukauwa, a.k.a. Swaz Destiny, is a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abia State. A businessman with interests in oil and gas, philanthropist and political strategist. He has never hidden his ambition to be governor of Abia in 2019. In this interview, he speaks of a failed state, the decaying infrastructure, among other issues. Excerpts:
You have been embarking on philanthropic endeavours, especially with youth organisations that include Abia State Students Association of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and the Abia Students Association (NANS) of Abia Poly, Aba, Abia Chapter, among other notable youth organisations. What informed these gestures?
It is my own way of thanking God for the blessings He had bestowed on me which is by His grace. It is my own little way of contributing to society. I am particularly touched by the failure of the PDP government in our part of the country. The PDP has enthroned mass poverty and penury especially among the youth and the elderly. It is for this that the youths are the target of my philanthropic disposition.
The PDP failure in Abia State is like a swan song. What has really happened here?
The PDP failure is all over: dilapidated infrastructure; disused roads; pot holes that are now craters; epileptic power supply; unpaid the wage bills. Failure seems to be the dominant characteristic of government in Umuahia. There is no functional street light here. Everywhere is dark once it is 7 in the evening. Modernity has left Abia State. Social life has disappeared in the state due to crime and darkness. The former robust night life here is gone, and the rural areas are worse. In fact, our people have never had it so bad.
You make it seem, the Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration is not performing?
Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, as a person, could be a pleasant young man. I also understand he is making efforts to improve the deplorable condition of Aba city. However, his government seems overwhelmed by the problems left behind by his predecessors in office. The baggage is huge. The baggage of his godfather and all the mess he left behind. Cleaning up the mess will take awhile. Backlog of unpaid salaries; pension arrears; infrastructural deficit; violent crimes, rural poverty, the list is endless. I personally pity the governor and he can achieve little unless he breaks with his godfather. The man is negatively masterminding him. His good ideas and intentions are dampened by the environment he is operating in. Such negative manipulation of this administration has consequences for the state. Infact, the situation now is so bad that many Abians who live outside the state, even my friends and relations, when they come home; they prefer to stay outside the state. They stay in Uyo, Calabar, Owerri or Enugu. They spend and enjoy their money in those cities, boosting the economies of such places. Bad governance in the state has enthroned mass poverty and hunger. Even people working in Government House are not better off. Infact what goes on here as governance is the sharing of the state patrimony. The worst aspect of it is that no one is speaking out. People have been so intimidated that they are afraid to raise a voice against the lawlessness that is going on here in the name of governance. These factors make the state a viable place for opposition parties like APC to win elections in future.
But some elders in Abia seem to be on the same page with the governor.
Which elders? Infact, some are part of the problem. It is disappointing that the so-called elders have failed our people. They have failed everyone: the youths and the women. Their selfishness and greed for money and power is above the national average, but for Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who is the only man speaking out. He is the only one mentioning the evil spell that has befallen the state governance. When Orji Uzor Kalu was governor, he made a difference, the reason he was called the “Action Governor”. Since he left office, all the development projects he initiated, especially road projects, have been reversed. That is the reason Aba is impassable. Some rural communities are no go areas. It is clear the PDP Abia State Chapter is dead, dead because the failure of the PDP government is making APC grow in popularity. Today, APC is the first choice for prospective aspirants and politicians.
But PDP is re-organising particularly after the Supreme Court decision that returned Senator Ahmed Markafi as Party Chairman.
A lot of damage has already been done to the party at some levels. The PDP can only re-organise to capture power at the federal level. I don’t think the Supreme Court victory will be of any electoral value to the PDP as many Nigerian voters will not give them the opportunity to mess up the country like they in the past.
You have electoral ambition?
Yes, I do and I am proud of it. As a patriotic citizen, I cannot sit idly by and watch this situation degenerate further. So, I sincerely intend to change it when the time is ripe.
You have a gubernatorial ambition then?
Definitely As a patriotic and qualified indigene of Abia State, I want to work for change through the highest office in the state when the time comes. I can authoritatively tell you that when it is time, I will be the first choice of the people for the office of Governor, particularly, the youths. A lot of Abians are working to bring this about, the change they desire. However, you know, all power belongs to God and He gives to whoever He pleases. I strongly believe mine is divinely ordained and that Almighty God who inspired it will certainly see to its actualization. When the time comes people will realize that I am the Biblical son of Jesse that has been in the bush for a long time. Now is the time for the realization of a divinely ordained quest.
Your party, the APC, in not popular in the state. How do you change this perception, if you must win?
That is no longer the situation. PDP’s failure in the state has made people to start looking the direction of the APC for salvation. This position has been boosted by the defection of many prominent politicians led by His Excellency, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu into the APC. The APC in Abia State will surprise many people in future elections.