*insists he’s highest employer of Labour, after Anambra Government
From Chuks Moses, Awka
Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu (Ikukuoma)is the Anambra South Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Just last Thursday he won the legal tussle challenging his candidature. Surprisingly, he continued to campaign vigorously even while the court suit lasted. His admirers had seen the hand of Esau in the whole saga, and more. Personally he did too, and he admitted same.
He spoke to a team of select journalists.
You have just won your against those challenging your emergence as APGA’s candidate for Anambra South Senatorial seat. Many saw the tussle as a form of distraction and sabotage. What’s your reaction?
Most of my opponents are very unsettled about my presence and mounting popularity. From the beginning I saw the gang-up. I realized there was more to the suit than meets the eye. That it wasn’t just about the man who dragged me to court but an assemblage of my jittery opponents who were very afraid of losing woefully to me at the poll. So they motivated and encouraged the man to go to court. It was funny because the man was there live when the results were declared, and he heartily congratulated me very warmly in the public view there at the stadium. The same evening, he sent me a text message further celebrating with me and later led a delegation of his people and supporters to my house to congratulate me. Then we had a wonderful discussion. It was then he squealed to me that some people were pushing him to go to court, but that he brushed them aside. That he told them to go to court themselves that he has no reason to. So, with that settled, we went ahead to strategize to work together as a team.
We therefore scheduled to meet further in a fortnight as I was proceeding to Cotonou on evangelism programme. I was then shocked to hear a rumour that he was taking me to court when I came back from the trip. So I called to clarify things and he dismissed it. He asked me to regard it as mere rumour. It was very surprising to be served court processes from him the next day. That was how and why I know that it wasn’t just about the man(Chidolue) but about my other formidable opponents from other parties; three of them. From my independent inquiries, they were said to be afraid that my followership, strength and support base were so strong and impregnable that three of them put together cannot match me. In fact some were open to say so on the campaign grounds that I am their biggest political threat hence must be stopped at all cost.
So it was at this stage and mindset they gathered and conspired to use the man to use the court to stop me, not minding that the man’s grounds for the challenge were mere hoax. Yes, the suit was meant to be a distraction after all my legal team had after the judgement told me there was nothing in it, until the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division threw it into the dustbin.
They failed to get any of the things they prayed the court for. Because the court refused to accede to their prayers to stop me from parading as the candidate; asked for INEC not to accept me as the candidate and to stop the party from submitting my name to INEC as the candidate. The court had refused to grant any such orders because they failed to sue the proper parties, more so that he was not going to be declared as the candidate. Again, all these were done outside the jurisdiction of the court. Because you cannot contest for primary in Anambra and then go to Borno or Sokoto state to seek redress, as in this case they went to an Abuja High court instead of Anambra. So it was filed outside the jurisdiction. More so the law said that all legal objection about the primary election must be file within 14days. But it was after 19 days that he filed the suit. Again, no court process shall be filed without signing. He filed unsigned papers. So from these points anyone can see that the matter was dead on arrival.
Q: You certainly have formidable opponents in the three Ubas- Senator Andy Uba of the APC; his sibling Chief Chris Uba of the PDP and the oil mogul Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah of the YPP. What strategy do you intend to use to surmount them?
In political world, antecedent is a very big advantage, and apart from that a very important thing also is not whose son you are, but, who are you? Again, the ‘tested and trusted’, attribute is not for neophytes. It is not an attribute you give to one who has not been tested and has not earned the trust; the people’s confidence?
You just came to my house from Awka. The roads you plied into my house was not tarred by the Federal or Anambra state government. I did. Who among those peoples who are running against me today can boast of such feat? Go to any of my opponents, you can’t see any asphalted road leading to their private homes, let alone their communities. Yes, some did interlocking stone, but, that is only within their compounds and buildings. That was the highest achievement they ever did. But all the major roads and streets in my town are today tarred, asphalted, not surface dressing or interlocking. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be talking about these things.
For over 20 years now, I have been consistent in supplying the water all the people around here are using, from my borehole. Go out there, you will see a controlling metre installed in that transformer. I pay for that metre. So, everybody here enjoys free electricity services. You see, after the Anambra state government, I am next the highest employer of labour in this state. This type of gesture has a multiplier effect, because, if you have one employer, he or she may have six family members. And this other six members of his or her family are being fed and sustained through your benevolence. He may also have in-laws. So, when you look at me and the lives I have touched, you will agree with me that in this election, my victory is already about 60 percent achieved. I say this just because I want to be modest.
I remember when I was invited by a church to speak at one of their programmes, they prayed for me and then endorsed my candidature. After that, other candidates started writing to request them to endorse them too. But, they told them, no. That Prince Ukachukwu had been doing a lot for the people over the years and they were all aware. That it was not just because of politics or because you want to contest an election that you now want to be part of our programme. Some even offered to give them money, but they still said, no, that it is not about money. They asked them ” If you give us money now, after politics will you still give?” So, you can see that it goes beyond politics. I think, my investments in human beings, more, especially, the love of God upon my life is what we intend to use to surmount my opponents in this election.
To be precise, the APC candidate, Senator Andy Uba is the incumbent senator representing your district, and he is vying to return. What edge do you think you have over him considering that the incumbency factor will play to his advantage.
My approach to this campaign is not taking up individuals to criticize them. But, to answer your question, I must say that Andy is my brother, he is my friend, and I helped him in one way or the other to be where he is today politically. Having said this, I want to state that Andy has been in the Senate now for two tenures, so, I think that he should be humble enough to allow other people to occupy the seat. Besides, when he was running for the senate last time we had an understanding that I will also go to the senate, and that he will support me. But, you know, most people do not keep to their word or agreements, especially when it concerns issues of politics. He knew that he won the election with the votes from my local government (Nnewi-South). If not because of the results from my local government, he wouldn’t have won. But he may not remember now, it is typical of human-beings. But, be that as it may, my take in the whole thing is that he should be ready for a very fair contest. And talking about the edge I have over him, he has done two terms, and people are saying that I should go. Besides, if Andy takes pressmen to his house in Uga, and they ply on a good road to his house, I will not run again. Besides, let me challenge you, go to Uga Ward 1 and 11, pick fifty, fifty people each, come to Osumenyi Ward 1 and 11, pick fifty, fifty people each, place us on a scale, ask these people in Uga what Senator Andy Uba has done for the people in Uga community, and then, ask the people in Osumenyi what I have for the people in Osumenyi community, when you weigh us, if Andy Uba scores up to 30 percent of my score, then I will not run again. So, as far as I’m concerned, both of us are not comparable. My major support base is Uga, I have a great number of people in Uga who are supporting me.
What is your motivation in seeking to go to the Senate?
Well, I have realized that you can do more to your people using government platform, through representation of your people in government. I have also realized that Igbos need voices that have built bridges across the various enthnic, and, or geo- political zones in the country for us as Igbos to get our due share from the federal government. It is not about building roads, hospitals and other facilities for our people, it goes beyond that. You must be part and parcel of this country called Nigeria, you must be part of the equation. But as it is now, Igbos are in the periphery. You can hear now what people are saying that after Buhari, the presidency will again go to the South-West, and, I am sure that when the South-West finishes, they will hand- over to the North again, so, where is the Igbos in this whole game? So, we need to go there and talk to our colleagues, our brothers and friends, to say to them, ” Our brothers, we are also part of this country, at least we should also be allowed to function. Give us the opportunity to be part of what is going on, we are all brothers, God brought us together, it is not by election, God made it possible”. So, we need voices of people that can say this, and they can be respected, not people who are going there because they want to cover their tracks, or people who are going there from the weak angle. And for you to do a quality representation for your people, you must have friends across the various geo-political divides. That is the motivating factor. We need to bring back the Igbos to the mainstream of the activities of this country.
Now, considering that if you eventually win, that you will be going to the National Assembly as a minority member since APGA is likely to be a minority party in the National Assembly don’t you think that you may not effectively function in the National Assembly.
I have been in the National Assembly. It is a place I know very well, how it works. It is about human beings, and, having respect for each other. When I was in the National Assembly, I chaired powerful Committees, and, in those Committees, we had minority members who still got what they wanted for their people. It is about who you are, and who respects you, how they see you, how they believe in what you believe in, and what you stand for. It is not your party speaking this time, it’s their belief that you are a true Nigerian. It is about what is good for this nation., because, if things are good for the nation, it will be good for A, it will be good for B, C, D, and so on. It will be good to the APC, APGA, PDP, and, other parties, it is about saying what is right. There are so many laws made in the National Assembly which are not particularly beneficial for the North, the East or the West alone, but are beneficial to this nation as a whole. In fact, there are certain motions that are sponsored in the National Assembly by members of the APC which are supported by members who are from APGA, or PDP, but are opposed by another APC member. Are you telling me that if I am from APGA and, I am talking about a road that will benefit people in the South, then another member of the National Assembly who may be in APC, PDP, SDP, will now not support me because I am from APGA? It is about the interest of the people.
How have you been able to appease members of your party who are aggrieved over the outcome of your party primaries, at least, to save the party from the risk of anti- party activities during the elections?
Well, I must say that before six months ago, APGA was the bride of all eyes, the shining light, the next party in the whole South-East zone, but the way and manner some members feel after the primaries, because some members thought that they will be given free ticket, those who do not believe in a free contest started making agitations. The problem is that they are blaming Chief Victor Oye (national chairman of our party), they are blaming Governor Obiano about what happened, but that is not actually the truth. What is actually the truth is that before now, APGA didn’t conduct primaries to choose candidates. You remember that I was one time disqualified from contesting for the APGA ticket when Chief Victor Umeh was the national chairman. I was disqualified for no reason. Even when I was cleared by the Appeal panel, the National Working Committee then chaired by Chief Victor Umeh disqualified me. They said that they were not sure that I wound be part of it, but is that a reason to disqualify someone? But I did not take it the way people are taking it now because I believe in the party, so, I continued to be in the party up till now.
Now, the people that are crying so much are those who believed that tickets should have been given to them on a platter of gold. And because they didn’t get it on the platter of gold, (in fact, those of them didn’t even want any other person to be in APGA apart from them), they are now complaining.
So, you realize that what actually transpired is not what people are not being told. When I went to settle two of our members who were fighting over a House of Representatives ticket of our party, and I told one of them who was complaining: ‘Look, I’m sure that if you are the one that won the ticket based on the plan you made, you would have been complaining. All of you planned to win one way or the other. But, the other person out-smarted you, it is primary, so you should take it and move forward. Tomorrow might be your own day. You see, that is the problem. Your expectations must not always be met as you want them. That is why they are now blaming everybody. And because of that selfishness, APGA is now having internal problems because some people believed that others shouldn’t have been allowed to run, that the tickets should have been given to them free of charge. However, some of them are realizing the issue and are coming back, because there is need for us to come together, put the party together, because that is the only way we can be able to use the party to contest tomorrow. If you allow the party to die, you won’t have a place, and, if you go to another party tomorrow, you queue on the line. But people are coming back, the party has set up several reconciliation committees, and His Excellency, the governor, Chief Willie Obiano has called for several meetings where he appealed for peace to reign. So, I am confident that very soon we will get there, and all of us will go into the election as a united family members.