Senator Andy Uba, the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the upcoming governorship election in Anambra State enjoys the massive backing of the ruling party especially with the recent gale of defections from other major parties.
But there are still lingering perceptions in some quarters of the state about the APC being a ‘Northern or anti-Igbo party’.
In this first part of an exclusive interview with THE FOLIO POST, Senator Uba described such perceptions as “misconceptions”. He further explained why Anambra State will fare better under APC leadership.
The former senator also shared his thoughts on the lingering internal crisis in major political parties ahead of the November 6th poll among other sundry issues.
In 2007, you emerged winner of the governorship election in Anambra State but was removed by a Supreme Court ruling that the tenure of then incumbent governor, Peter Obi had not expired. What are your lessons from that experience?
When I lost the seat to the court, I didn’t agitate or make much noise because I believed there must be a reason for that and I found out the reason at the end because I said God must have a reason for everything.
When I now left, I now knew that I was surrounded by people that were not honest. So I had to wait for God’s time to come back.
I believe that whatever programme I had in mind then I’m going to retune and redesign it to suit the present time as 2007 and now is not the same. Things have changed, so there’s going to be a modern development that I’m going to bring in place.
Number two, I now realise that when something happens to you, there’s a reason for it. I found out the reason God didn’t allow it (2007).
I would have been maybe the worst Governor because I was surrounded by people I didn’t know and that’s why God said this is not the time. My move is not my move. It is by the power of God that’s taking me where I’m going to and I believe in the end God will make Anambra a great state once again.
Is that why you have kept contesting for the governorship seat in almost every election since then?
I know and believe that Anambra needs somebody like me to develop the place. I had a blueprint which if it had happened in 2007, Anambra would not be what it is today, but unfortunately, what happened happened.
I wasn’t removed because I didn’t win the election, I was removed because of a court judgement that asked Peter Obi to complete his tenure. I believe God will give me another opportunity to show Anambra what I can do, what I’ve planned for them and that’s why I kept coming back.
I want to make sure that Anambra gets what it deserves. I’m not saying the other ones (governors) are not good and have not taken Anambra where they are supposed to take Anambra to but there’s a gap we need to fill.
There’s this perception about the ruling APC being ‘anti-Igbo’ not just in Anambra but the entire south eastern region. How are you working to change that?
The resentment about the APC and the federal government is a misconception because of the individual benefit of the opposition and people running against the APC. We are working to change that by showing the people what we are doing, what we can do and what we are capable of.
On our own as a people, we create this myth that Ndigbo must have their own party, the Igbos must be separate from every other region. There’s no way any place can develop with that type of mindset.
That’s what is going on with the people that are coming in and saying we are marginalized, not taken seriously, and have not been put in place.
You must be in the centre for you to be in, if you’re not, how can you be in? If you are not where the things are shared, how can you gain? When you are there, you will be able to get the share that belongs to your own people.
You know that for you to gain, you must be at the centre to gain, you must work with the center to gain. You must be where decisions are being made. If you are not there, how can you make the right decision for your people?
I was at the centre during the Olusegun Obasanjo government and I knew what was going on, that was when I went to search for Soludo (Chukwuma) to make him central bank governor. I had to search for him and search for people that are like minds that can deliver. But, unfortunately Soludo didn’t perform the way we wanted him to perform.
Why is aligning with the centre so important for the development of the South eastern region?
What did we really gain when we don’t have anybody at the centre? Nothing. This is because South East governors have not been at the right place at the right time, they were not where things are been decided. If they were there, they would be able to get things to our states, Anambra especially but No, none of them were there. What they do is after the governors’ meeting, they just leave and the rest (governors from other regions) will go back inside and make a decision.
If you are in the right party and in the right place, there’s no way they are going to make a decision that you will not be part of. That way, you will check what is good for your people and make sure they get what is good for them.
There’s this belief that APGA is the Igbo party with late Biafra warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu as one of the founding fathers of the party, are you working to change this narrative?
Well, I’m sure that all these years that they have been talking about APGA belonging to Igbo, they have seen no development. Nothing, no difference in what it was and what it is now because they are saying it belongs to the Igbos. What have they done, they have done nothing and they need a link to the centre that will help them develop Anambra. By linking Anambra to the centre is how we will change this.
Many PDP governors, chieftains and party members are increasingly decamping to the APC, is that also part of what aligning with the centre is about?
You can see what is happening everywhere. You see what senators that belong to the centre are getting. They bring projects to their people. Everything that goes, they are there, look at the Senate President and Deputy Senate President. Now, look at the governor we have in the southeast, Hope Uzodinma, he’s getting everything he wants from the government and that goes to his state. So why are we outside that, I don’t understand that. We need to play the right politics.
There were some controversies that trailed your emergence as the APC flag-bearer. What actually happened during the party primaries?
I don’t see where the controversy is and secondly, the 13 of the other aspirants did not jump to another party. It was only three that did.
And you know they always use the media to make noise and I bet you, you are going to see what will happen.
What actually happened, Is when we started registration, they were hoping to do indirect primaries based on where you select delegates, which they did in previous elections.
Now, they thought it was going to be the same, they planned and unfortunately for them the party wanted direct primaries, where everyone will participate from the ward. So, they didn’t register. In my own ward, about 38, 000 people registered.
They (other aspirants) were not ready because they thought it was going to be an indirect primary but when they saw it was direct, they fell apart.
That is why you see massive people that came out to vote for me because I touched every part of the state, I went and registered all my people.
It is on record, check the number of registration we have and what they had. They were caught with their hands down. The president said he wants a direct primary to allow everyone to participate in this party, not selected individuals where you get some people and put them in the hall and you start haggling for how much you will pay each voter.
Having said so, we still need to come together and work as one and I said something to them when we were running, it is not a do or die affair, this primary we are going into, the most important thing is for us to make sure that APC wins and whoever wins, I have nothing to lose as I’m a member of APC and I have been a ranking member in the senate and when I go back, there’s no way I will not be a principal officer if I didn’t win this primary and somebody wins, we would have made sure the person wins as a governor so I can go back to the senate.
So it was a win-win situation for me, either as a governor or senator. And I told them that let’s come together and make sure APC wins.
That’s the most important and not about who becomes the governor or not because I actually had nothing to lose actually. I have all to gain by us winning as APC.
That’s why when it happened, only three aspirants left, the three that were disgruntled. Those people have not been in politics before, they don’t know how it works.
You cannot come to somewhere you have not paid your dues, you have not ran for any election, you just want to carry yourself because you have money; money is not everything, it’s not about money, money is not everything in politics.
You must have the people that are there for you to work with. There was one that came because he had a lot of money to buy the entire system, to buy the government, to buy everybody in Abuja.
He was moving around promising houses, promising things. Now, God decided who was going to win, it’s only God that makes a king and even if I have the whole money in this world, if God says that I’m not going to be governor, there’s no way I would be governor.
I have the capacity, I have the contacts, and I have what it takes to turn Anambra around. I’m very sincere about what I want to do, I’m not that politician that wants to tell lies and say I’m going to build a bridge and you come at the end and say you cannot build that bridge.
And everything I do I have God behind it, I don’t move any day without asking God to take me to where I’m going to and he’s the one that knows that this day is the right time and he made a way for me.
One of the sponsor groups of one aspirant said they did everything to stop me, they planned everything, and the person even said it is only God that wants this man to come out otherwise he won’t be there because the plan was to completely stop me.
They knew that where I was going as a governor they can’t come and dictate to me what I’m going to do. I’m not the kind of person they take to Abuja to introduce to the minister, etc.
They can’t introduce me because I’m a system person, I have been in this system for a long time and I have friends both North, South, East and west. I have a lot of contacts which are fretting for them but they don’t know that these contacts will help them. Whatever it is, we will make it work, and most important thing to me is that Anambra will be different under my leadership.
Other major rival political parties you are contesting against – APGA and PDP – are also having their fair share of internal issues, do you plan to capitalise on this?
Am not into taking advantage of quarrels or people that have problem but I know that we have friends in PDP and APGA that know my capability and will come to work with me and they have mentioned that they will rather work with me than work with any other person because they know that Anambra will benefit.
Once again, you and your brothers are on opposing sides in the Anambra election. Chris Uba is leading the PDP faction supporting Senator Ugochukwu Uba who eventually lost to Valentine Ozigbo. People are asking why can’t the Uba’s be on the same side?
When you talk about my brothers running, politically in Anambra, everyone knows that nobody can run an election without this family.
When it comes to Anambra, you can’t mention politics without mentioning our name. For me, it’s all about letting the best man win, telling Anambra what you can do. How do we change the narrative in Anambra? I am happy that my family has people that are at the top of discussion tables.
How does Senator Andy Ubah unwind with all the stress from politics?
I always have a good time with my family. We enjoy, we pray together and we go to places. I like music – Jazz and Soul especially.