By Olalekan Bilsanmi
Senator Ugochukwu Uba represented Anambra South 2003-2007, but has just emerged as the factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the November governorship election in Anambra State. In this interview, Uba explains why he is the authentic flag bearer of the party in the coming election. Excerpts:
If given the opportunity, what are you bringing to table as governor of Anambra State?
If I am given the opportunity, I think the vision of our founding fathers is very important to me. I want to realize that vision. I have served in various capacities in the state.
I am looking for executive power to transform the state especially in the area of local government system. What is happening in the local government administration in the state is painful. This is what I teach in the university.
If the local government functions properly, there would be less pressure on the state and federal governments. The system is in comatose and we should not allow it to continue.
Insecurity is a problem in the state and the country now. Job opportunities will address that menace. I have something fundamental to offer the state. We are tired of people learning on the job.
Until now, your name did not ring bell in the political circle. You appeared to have gone on political holiday?
That’s not true. I have always been around. Remember, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, isn’t in power in Anambra. As the party isn’t in control, what should I be doing around Government House?
You have to allow the party in control to administer the state the way it deems fit. That you are not in the media doesn’t mean you are not active. It’s pure strategy. If you look at my profile, you would see that not only I am in the academic, I am also a public servant.
I started when I was seconded to the Old Anambra State as Special Assistant to the military administrator. This was when the Babangida government experimented with military/civilian government where the governor was military and deputy governor civilian.
So, when Anambra was created, those from Anambra were asked to go and help the new state. On getting there, I served as Deputy Assistant to Commodore Tony Abulu, military administrator of the state. He was there for three months.
Then a civilian governor, Dr. Ezeife, came in; it was in his government I was appointed Director-General Public Utilities. I served in that capacity for almost a year.
When the new military administration came, the administrator dissolved the cabinet only for me to be appointed again as Director General in Charge of Finance. I served in that capacity when another government came. I had to leave to go into politics.
I ran as Deputy Governor with Senator Joy Emodi under the CNC during the Sani Abacha transition. We were about going for election when Abacha died. It was after Abacha’s demise that the PDP was birthed under the Abdusalami administration.
I was one of the conveners of the PDP in Anambra. I have not left the party since then. As the new government came in under PDP, I was appointed Commissioner of Sports, later for Agriculture. I was later elected as senator; I was Senate Committee Chairman on Marine Transport.
After that stint in the Senate, I returned to the classroom at the University of Abuja. So, I have always been in the public sector. I have a lot to offer Anambra with my experience, training and background; going into government proper, I believe I will make a lot of difference.
This was one of the reasons I decided to go into the race. I am offering myself for service because I am familiar with the vision of the founding fathers. Unfortunately that vision is yet to be realized.
Over 16 aspirants would have contested the election. Who and who contested with you that made you victorious?
About seven of us contested the primary. About 668 delegates were accredited. I had the highest votes of 275. The next person had 114. Another had 56. Another had 40 something. Beyond this, there were aspirants who withdrew.
Emeka Etiaba cited court judgment as his reason, saying the party ought to have complied with the order of the court, so he withdrew. Tony Nwoye also withdrew, he wrote a paper which is already in public domain, saying the process was not transparent enough.
He said the process was already skewed to a pre-determined outcome. The issue is this; the other primary should not have held because the court gave directive that this is the people you should use for this primary.
The court never stopped any primary from holding. The court only emphasized the need to use the correct list. They had the wrong list. You can’t just import names from anywhere.
Rather than go with the court order, they pursued another agenda of using super delegates which is even a violation of the Section 25, Sub Section 1 of PDP Constitution.
That Section talks about how primary congress should be convoked, who will chair it and who members should be. What they did was in total violation of the Constitution.
Who actually took the party to court and why?
It was the local government chairmen and ward executives who were elected during the party congress held on November 28, 2017 and December 1, 2017 when ward and local government executives were elected.
They were inaugurated by the party and certificates of return given to them but, because the State Congress was not held, the party then decided to set up a committee with those elected at the ward and local government level.
Now, the care-taker chairman decided that he was not going to work with the elected local government and ward executives and set up parallel ward and local government executives. So, the elected ward and local government executives decided to go to court, asking the court to recognize them, rather than the unelected.
The court agreed with their submission. That is what the court ordered the party to do – work with the elected and inaugurated party officials both at the ward and local government levels.
Tell me, is it possible to have less than 70 delegates to choose a governorship candidate? That is exactly what happened in the so-called congress the other people held. And it was so because they flouted the court order and the Constitution of the party.
Who monitored the primary? Were INEC officials present?
Yes. They were publicly announced. I don’t know them though.
How do you bring about reconciliation with the other faction and members who feel disenfranchised?
The way forward is doing the right thing. However, I can assure you that, at the end of the day, we shall reconcile everyone and everybody under one umbrella.
The umbrella is big enough to accommodate all interests. I am a party man. My candidature emerged as a result of doing what the court says, meaning, we went by the letters of the law. We did everything according to the rules and laws of the land and Constitution of the party.
Don’t you think the present mess could prevent the party from solid performance in the coming general election?
I can tell you that we would have no problem mobilizing the people for the election. I have been in this party since 1998. I know what it takes to mobilize people for our victory.
I have been here since the state was created. Everybody will be looked after. We shall mobilize everyone for support.
Talking about mobilization, the likes of Mr Peter Obi, are they now falling in line for the party?
Peter Obi will not want his party to fail. I am sure he is going to come on board. He is the leader of the party. He will do everything to ensure the party succeeds.
He cannot abandon his party. He should lead by example which of course will encourage others to come on board. This election is not for us to lose. We are poised to take back the state.
What is the reconciliation drive like?
We are already talking and we are already making progress.