From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The former Secretary to State Government (SSG), Imo State, Uche Onyeagocha has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will regain control of the state in the next general elections, if the exercise is free and fair.
Onyeagocha noted that this is because of the impact the immediate past PDP administration in the state, led by Emeka Ihedioha, made in the state, within the few months it was in office.
What is the status of the PDP in Imo State, as it is today?
I will say that we are very strong. We have a scenario where our present state chairman is a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I don’t think there is any state, in Nigeria that has a former minister as state chairman. That is the former Minister of Commerce, under Yar’Adua, Charles Ugwu. You are sure that we have put in a place a state chairman, who cannot be bought by any of the aspirants, who will be coming to run for office in future, because what are you going to offer him.
We are putting the same structure in place across the state, because there is a new PDP in place; which we believe is going to be very accountable. And where party primary will be full of integrity at the end of the day. So, PDP is very much alive.
Of course, I will admit that at the beginning, some members of our House of Assembly left us. But if things were not going well in the PDP, some of those who left would not have started coming back. Some have already come back and many more have indicated intention to come.
How prepared is the Imo PDP for the next general elections?
I will say that the election is going to be determined by voters, and these voters comprise of Imo civil servants; we will win. If it is going to be determined by voters, and these voters will include pensioners in Imo State, we will win. If that election will be determined by different local government areas, because we were the first to ensure that money accruable to each local government was utilised to serve the people of that local government.
But that is not the case since we left. We didn’t dip our hands into the coffers of the local government funds.
I believe that if all of these is taken into consideration and our people follow the fact that we served them creditably, we served them with strong measure of accountability. And we showed them what governance really meant and we were ready to sacrifice for them, definitely they will appreciate the need to restore the mandate of His Excellency, Governor Chukwuemeka Ihedioha’s administration.
A lot of persons gathered recently for His Excellency, Emeka Ihedioha’s birthday. What did you intend to achieve with the celebration?
What we want to do is very simple: celebrate his legacy, celebrate the opportunity God gave him to serve the people of Imo State even for a short period of time. And celebrate all that he was able to inspire the people of Imo State to look forward to, within the short period he was in office and give God the glory; for all the successes recorded that period.
Is like you are preparing him for the next election in 2024?
It won’t be a bad idea if he steps forward to run in 2024 because the election will be in 2024. And I believe that when that time comes, the people of Imo State will actually decide.
What exactly are Emeka Ihedioha’s legacies in Imo, that you talked about?
First and foremost, we succeeded an administration that ran down the entire system. We inherited a civil service where people lost confidence in themselves, because the procedure for promotion was gone.
We inherited a government where workers and pensioners were owed all their dues and entitlement in a very reckless manner. We were able to get that resolved. And pensioners and workers were, at least, able to go home, not wondering whether their salaries and pensions will come or not. They just simply get an alert. We followed an e-payment process.
He left a legacy of clean, very incorrupt administration; where contractors could get their award letters, without having to know anybody in government. And without having to pass any fund to anybody. At least that was properly and duly recognised.
A system where you could plan the state and people know what is to come in the years to come. Where people had confidence and began to move to the state to invest in it. And looked forward to coming back to the state to come and invest more and more.
We were sure that definitely, the state was on the right track to developing in a manner that was most sustainable. And then our accounting system, we made sure it was within the international standards.
The APC administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma marked one year recently. How would you describe that administration?
The person, who is there now as governor has continued to openly admit that a lot of what he is riding on are things we put in place. He admits that the panels of inquiry, the commissions he is working with their report today are panels and commissions of inquiry we set up.