In this interview with AMARACHUKWU EGWUAGHA in Abakaliki, the caretaker chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Ebonyi state chapter, Chief Fred Udeogu, explains that there is nothing like APC in Nigeria today.
Do we actually have APC in Nigeria now based on the legal perspective?
There is nothing like APC legally in Nigeria today, based on judgment and the position of the Supreme Court which is the apex court in the land. There is nothing anybody can say about it that will counter that position. As far as I am concerned there was no ward congresses because it will definitely be annulled, it is an exercise in futility so am not taking them seriously.
What is your view on the Gov. Mala Buni led Caretaker Committee of APC described by Gov. Umahi as authentic?
The assumption is wrong, I don’t want to go into detail of the meetings of the party because I’m not their member but the truth about it is that there are legal gurus within the party that knows the correct position. Buni is not, and I repeat he is not the chairman of that party. They flouted the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and whatever position you can claim you have as contained in the constitution of the party cannot in any form whatsoever be in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria counters the content of any Constitution of the party, they defrauded themselves. From the point of making Buni the chairman of the party that was where they lost it, and because of that there is nothing anybody can do to change it. How can you bring somebody who is on salary, a serving governor of a state and say he is serving as governor and chairman of party? Is it done that way in Nigeria from the first republic down the line. So they made a very legal mistake and I thought that’s what they are going to embark on to correct those anomalies before they can now do whatever they are doing. If not, we are not seeing them as political parties for today.
Ebonyi state for 16 years and more was a PDP state, but today it is seen as an APC state. Do you agree?
Ebonyi is not APC state, Dave the governor was four years in PDP and I think six years in PDP and if you add it up, it’s getting to 20 years of PDP ruling this state. That he left and left with few of his appointees not even all does not make the state an APC state. Just that he is the arrow head of the government being the governor of the state, is what made Ebonyi an APC state? If you conduct election ten times in the state, PDP will win and he knows that, if he is in doubt, let him try it.
I have always said, with reference to whatever I have said in the past, late in 2020 till today, that if he had contested the election in 2019 under APC, he would have lost the election. If he were so strong, why didn’t he attempt contesting under APC then, why did he contest under PDP.
We packaged him, myself I voted for him, I campaigned for him in 2015, I gave him a kind of slave support, I did the same thing for him in 2019. In actual sense he owes me because I voted for him two times and he disappointed all of us. But I thank God that has given us life. I pray we will all be alive to see him completing his tenure, he will complete his tenure but what happens next belongs to God. We will be seeing but there is God in heaven, we know the sacrifices each an everyone of us made for him. We know all we did for him to win the election, there is no way he would have being in Uburu and be winning election everywhere, we sew that oversized blanket for him but he decided to go his own way and got annoyed with us because we refused to join him, is that how to play this game? So we wish him the best. We have no problems with him, he has chosen his own best part let him go ahead and allow us. Thank God he has left us; if at all he has left us. If he has left us, we are happy, but if he has not left us, well that is left for the future, we are politicians we will always be there. It’s he that said that there is nothing like professional politicians, he made a mistake like I have always said. There is a way he talks, he doesn’t think before talking. If not, he wouldn’t have said that there is nothing like professional politicians, we are professional politicians and we are proud of that.
He told me point blank that he will not need my vote again, if you don’t need my vote, do I need to look for you? No problem as far as you don’t need my vote again. No problem because he miscalculated. If not, he would have known that a politician will continue to look for the vote of the people, even when you retire or resign from politics, you will still need the vote of the people. If you don’t need the vote directly, you need it indirectly. If you don’t need the vote indirectly or directly, you still need prayers of those people. But since he said he doesn’t need my vote, I thank him for even telling me that and that was why when he was leaving for his present party, if he felt there is no point because since he said he doesn’t need my vote, there is no need going with him. So I want to stay in PDP which we actually formed. This Ebonyi he is talking today is because of PDP, that we are working hard today is because of PDP. Since he joined APC what has he brought in for the state? There is nothing. He was even faster when he was in PDP. Is it the flyovers he is building on land everywhere, that has been there? Building the wanted and unwanted ones. Is it this misdirected projects he is citing here and there, that he is building new ones? Is it this unwanted dualization project that he is building from Ebonyi to Enugu? When he gets to the boundary between Ebonyi and Enugu, we will know what he will do.
Let’s assume that he continues to Abomege to Itigidi, let’s see what he will do when he gets to the boundary between Ebonyi and Cross River. There are certain projects that we don’t need. Okay like myself now, I’m a one time commissioner in the state, I served him as the Chairman of Capital Territory Development Board, but I can’t get to my village now because there is no road, I know what I pass through to get to my village. The road is dead, the road Elechi built is gone because of lack of maintenance. Of course, he says he has no business coming to Ikwo. What has he done for Ikwo people? We gave him deputy governor, we gave him our votes; What have we benefited from this government? Nothing. Absolutely nothing, because he just uses people and dumps them but his brothers who are not doing anything in the government, who are not holding any position are busy building schools, hotels and everything. Check along the line if there is anybody working for him who has been able to buy a car apart from the cars he gives to people and charges you head and tail. It’s unfortunate he overprices cars and does a lot of funny things. When I was in his government, he gave me a car as an elder of the state, he told me it was in the press I heard it that he was giving me car as an elder not as the chairman. He didn’t buy any car even till today for the board.
When he left to APC, I didn’t leave with him, he ordered for them to collect the car from me. I said no don’t collect, I will send the car to you. Don’t come to my compound to collect the car. I sent the boys back and sent my boys to return the car. He wrote a letter that they have collected the car and I’m happy. After all, I have cars in my compound, those are not my problem but it’s most unfortunate for somebody to forget yesterday very easily, because the extent I went with him is not something he would have forgotten overnight, but I thank God and I thank him. He is my governor. I will continue to respect him but one day, he will remember how we navigated to the point of him being a governor.
From the point of God using me to make him the chairman of the party and God using me and use my mouth to convince my master, Chief Martin Elechi to make him his running mate. Hon. Chinedu Ogah was there, he is a witness, my brother Celestine Nwali was there, Prince Elechi Elechi was there that night too until he was picked. My disagreement with the former governor was because I insisted that he should be given the power. I didn’t know that what the former governor saw in him, I didn’t see and he didn’t confide in me up to that extent, outside given tacit support, I gave him all necessary support as a politician, pulled all necessary strings. He is aware- security wise and everything- that I can muster as a human being. I lost so many of my things, sold off many to make sure I campaigned vigorously for him without waiting for him to give any support. I did everything and he became the governor. I thank God that i contributed immensely. I’m okay, I’m happy that I have been able to produce so many who are governors. At least, to support them to be governor. So God will judge our actions.
Do you at any point regret working with Governor Umahi?
As far as I’m concerned, as a Christian, I’m a born Christian, I didn’t acquire the religion, I don’t regret my actions over anything I do, particularly helping human beings, I don’t regret anything I did and that is why I always prefer always thanking God, because God knows why he pushed me into doing all these things.
As the former chairman of Capital Territory Development Board, how do you see the actions of the present board?
Well, I followed strictly the law establishing the board, today I don’t know what they are doing. I’m not there and will never be there under Dave again in my life. They know whatever they are doing, I don’t want to look into what they are doing. I thank God and I pray the end justifies the means. I have done my own jobs and those people we stepped on their toes should know we tried to follow the rules. Yes sometimes, as somebody who is under somebody’s appointment, you could be coerced into looking to what you are not supposed to look into but I have the principle of saying let us look at the law. What is the position of regional planning over this over that? Do we have a master plan? The answer is no, we don’t have a master plan in this state, what do we do? Do we have schemes? No.
Do how do we solve some of these things? Like most of these projects he sighted, like the flyovers, somebody just drives on the road and decided to put flyover anywhere he wants without a plan for it, it doesn’t make any sense. There were flyovers that were supposed to be constructed along these roads, Enugu/Abakaliki/ Ogoja roads were supposed to have been dualised. That road is part of Lagos/Mombas/ Trans African highway, that leads to Cameroon from there down. But these things are not done automatically, it is when the other country gets to the other country, it continues to move, from Lagos to Benin, from Benin to Onitsha, has not been done, why rush to start from this side? Ebonyi is just a microcosm of what is at the centre, why rushing to dualise the road at Ebonyi. Your dualizing the road, building flyovers to achieve what?
People who designed the roads said that in the next 50years there will be no high traffic that will demand such number of flyovers, in Abakaliki they only recommended one flyover, that is what is contained in the write up for the feasibilities of this road. Now we have that of Nkalagu, that Sam Egwu, Presco side, we have flyovers everywhere wasting money. It’s unfortunate that is not how to rule people, because people will make the volume of cash they never saw that is just the truth. Somebody was referring me to the statement of the governor the other day, that the governor said “Ebonyi has never been as rich as it is now’. Well I told him pointblank that what he would say is that himself and his family have never been as rich as they are now and it is true. Go to the Ministry of Finance, everybody who matters there is within that family, you pulled somebody from somewhere and made him the Accountant General of the state, it is not done and so many terrible things are happening in this state. Once in a while you see bullion van caring money to someone’s compound, is it done? Somebody who is still in the service of the state and you think that the people are not seeing, but I wish them the best of luck, I’m no more with them, they have gone out of us.
PDP Congress will be coming up soon, how prepared is your party?
We are all prepared for our congresses by September, everything will be rolled out.
Do you envisage people turning out for this?
Of course, didn’t you witness our stakeholders meeting, PDP is Ebonyi state and Ebonyi state is PDP. PDP is a party that is well grounded in Nigeria and Ebonyi state in particular. You cannot start talking of the broom today and the old women will pick it up with you, we use umbrella to cover ourselves both in the sun and rain, you don’t use broom to work around the street, anybody that sees you will call you a mad person.