Ebonyi State commissioner of Information, Orji Uchenna Orji, says his principal – Governor Dave Umahi, wants to take the South East to the centre of Nigerian politics where they belong, adding that if given the opportunity to lead the country in 2023, he would transform the country.
Unlike what happened in some states, the congresses of the APC were conducted peacefully in Ebonyi State, how was it managed?
Our dear governor is a man with great experience, whose passion as a leader is second to none in the history of Ebonyi State. When he was party chairman under the PDP in Ebonyi State, he reorganized the party and gave it the best face and eventually built the biggest party office that has ever been built by any one today in the whole of Africa as a party chairman.
Also, as a deputy governor, he had his experiences. So, as a governor today, he believes strongly in inclusive politics.
He has a principle of what I call a character of stooping low to conquer; he has a carriage that absolves the pressures of stakeholders at different levels. So, in this present case of APC congresses, we did not expect anything less, he successfully held the ward congresses and even before the congress, he had to do everything to ensure that there was a consensus, everybody was carried along. He ensured that everything that would bring about bitterness was removed.
Most importantly, he allowed transparency, zoning system and equitable distribution of positions; all stakeholders were carried along, which made the whole exercise very successful.
Despite the fact that the APC controls two states in the South East, many in the South East still see it as a Northern party, why?
Let me start by saying that the South East is known for political mainstreaming; for belonging to the party at the centre, we are not known for belonging to the opposition party at all. Look at the pre-1960 political development, the NCNC. South East had always belonged to the party at the centre. So, if people say APC is the party of the north so be it, but always in the history of political governance, we had always formed alliances with the north and we had always done that proudly. What is very important is that APC has the majority of the states of the federation.
What have the people of Ebonyi benefitted from the centre since Governor Umahi joined the APC?
The history of the change of narrative in Ebonyi State which started in 2015 and is continuing till today cannot be completed, discussed or mentioned without the APC federal government. I tell you this because we were in PDP for 16 years between 1999 -2015.
We had no infrastructure in the PDP, we had no human capital. We had inferiority complex; we were wearing it like a cloth. Because of the underdevelopment that we suffered under PDP for 16 good years.
In 2015, being very patriotic, the governor had to contest under a party that was supposed to be at the centre, which was PDP, and the PDP collapsed from the Olympian height. It fell down woefully and though the governor stayed in PDP for the first tenure and part of second tenure, all the benefits that we got from the federal government that helped us were from the APC, not from the PDP.
Today, we pride ourselves as a state with the best network of roads outside Abuja and Lagos, because of the federal allocation and other grants that we get from the federal government of the APC.
Today, we have the highest number of flyovers aside Abuja and Lagos all under APC, not even one came under PDP. Today, we have Africa’s biggest shopping mall. We built it under APC central government, not under PDP. We have Africa’s biggest university of medical sciences that we are soon going to give to the private sector to own and manage. We did these all under the APC-led administration.
When the governor muted the idea that we should go to APC because he wanted to launch us into the mainstream of national politics, the entire people applauded him and said “Wherever you go, we shall go”.
The scheming for the presidency in 2023 has started in earnest, as a Nigerian he is entitled. Is Governor Umahi contesting?
There is one striking thing you mentioned, that is if he wants to contest, he is entitled to it, but let me mention that the governor we have believes that he must count one before counting two. He was never anything in politics before he became the party chairman, but before then he had accomplished a lot in the private sector, he was an adviser to leaders.
People saw his ability and begged him to become party chairman. When he was to be the deputy governor, it was people that told him, including the governor. When he was to be the governor, his boss actually mentioned it to him, saw the ability in him, but because there was an issue, he still became the governor when his boss said no.
So, for us, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it, but his burden is how to launch the South East into where they are supposed to be, except if you don’t believe in the political philosophy of Nnamdi Azikiwe.