Delta-north governorship turn, a moral issue – Uwaka

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Mike Uwaka is a High Chief in Delta State and an acclaimed security expert of many years standing. In this interview, he expressed his belief in the ability of Delta State people to thread the moral high-ground in allowing Delta North people to produce the next governor of the state.

 

A lot has happened in our country lately; perhaps the most remarkable was the National Conference? Where you part of it sir?

No I was not. I’m sorry, I was not.

 

You were not, but as an informed and an articulate Nigerian, you must have followed closely the proceedings. How would you describe what took place at the National Conference?

Yes, and I have an independent view of the confab. Initially, I supported it 100 per cent, because I believed in what it was meant to achieve. I knew it was so important and that Mr. President played a master stroke with it by bringing those men and women together for a while, to ensure that we have the kind of deliberations they came up with.

Before now there was some kind of political difficulties in the country, but as soon as these wise ones, not just the fifty but all of them, went in and locked themselves in and did a very hard work, I knew they would come up with something worthwhile, and eventually they did.

Personally, for one, I didn’t like how the “derivation” part of it was handled, because they sent it back to Mr. President. Mr. President said, “go and do this work for me” and they are sending it back to him again. What do they expect him to do with it?

I understand they did it that way because they wanted peace; they wanted a situation where the country will still be one; and the onus lies now on Mr. President to set up a small committee to look into it again. They want a small committee to achieve what the committee of about 400 people could not achieve. However, these are the things I feel I MUST mention, but it’s my personal view anyway.

 

Would it then be appropriate to say in your view the conference was a failure?

I haven’t said so. What I said was that all the other assignments were fully completed but the last one, which was for the derivation was half-baked. The derivation part of it was half baked! Every other thing these gentlemen and ladies; these Nigerians; these able country men and women did was a great job. What I’m actually saying is that the derivation one was sent back to Mr. President. Every other one was well done.

 

As a Nigerian and as an elder statesman, how would you react to the recently circulated press release from the Arewa Youth Development Foundation threatening Southerners to vacate Northern cities?

It’s their opinion. You know, politically in this country, people try to “jiggle” things when things happen. I have seen a situation before where people reacted as a result of what another man said. You know, if the country starts doing North and South every time, I don’t know how we are going to be able to have one country. Arewa has an opinion and I cannot fault their opinion. However they came up with their decision, time will tell for us to know how they came up with their decision but if they had warned the Southerners to leave their region, the onus is on the Southerners to leave. I, High Chief Mike Uwaka have always been troubled with the situation where incidences are happening; say in Kano, in Kaduna, in Borno, in Jigawa, in all these places and Southerners are still remaining there. Who is telling them to stay there?

We Nigerians are supposed to be one, but definitely not when someone has issued you a threat. I remember in 1968 when we were in Biafra, Ojukwu enclave. We are Ika-Igbos, we are from Delta. We speak a little bit of Igbo. We have never said we are not Igbos but Ojukwu came up in a national television of Eastern region that time before it became Biafra to say that all non Igbos should leave Eastern region. That was a big problem and everybody packed up and wanted to go and the next day, a head of state for Eastern region of Colonel Ojukwu came back to the television again and said no no no, that he didn’t say that mid-Westerners should go. These are some of the things; people react to when things happen.

I believe that Arewa did not speak for the whole Northerners but if they did it is unfortunate because nobody can be told to leave a particular part of the country. As a citizen of this country, you can decide wherever you want to reside but that depends on if your security is ensured. If your security is not there, what can you do? You have to go.

 

Now let’s get back to your home base, Delta State. Do you think the governorship slot should go to Delta North?

It is a moral issue, it is not a contract issue and a lot of people make mistakes when they say the governorship must go to the North or South or wherever. Something is clear; the winning party is the winning party. Nobody has told all the parties that they must field Delta North candidate, nobody has said so. Let me tell you something that happens in politics and it is clear. If I repeat that PDP did not field Delta North candidate, it is possible that another party can field Delta North candidate and there will be what is called “a swing vote”. Things can happen, it happened in Lagos State with Michael Otedola. I don’t know where you were that time; it happened and things can happen in politics. We are saying that issue is a moral issue, it’s not a contract issue and you cannot sit down and say you must give it to me, you can’t do that. Delta North people should take it to their brothers or now say give us this thing, we have not done it for a while; you’ve done it before! you’ve done it before! you’ve done it before! allow us to do it now. Equity prevails that; justice prevails that; and I believe that Mr. President understands that; and he has decreed that; and he knows he will do it and we trust Mr. President.

 

Can you clarify your last statement?

Mr. President will understand that there is what they called rotation in governance, that’s what I’m saying. But I’m telling you that it’s a moral issue for the other zone to understand that they’ve done this thing before, and so why don’t they let the other guys to do it. Is it possible that these guys don’t have a candidate? If they don’t have a candidate that’s fine. But if they do have multiples of candidates, people who are well educated, people who are politicians, people who understand governance and can move the state forward, so, why can’t they be given the opportunity to run?. That’s what I’m saying but then if the party decides that they are not going to do that, another party can do that. That is what I’ve just told you and what happens, happens. That’s politics.

 

Are you a politician sir?

Well, everybody says they are not politicians. But I will tell you that I’m a politician. That’s what I will say and I’m green, I’m fresh. I don’t have barrage of office positions behind my CV, but I can tell you that I have come in with good ideas coming from the corporate world where I served 26 years with Chevron both in Nigeria and in the US, that I’m competent, I am ready to be an aspirant which I am right now as a matter of fact.

 

Are you governorship aspirant? Under what political platform?

PDP. I’m a governorship aspirant. I have declared and I am taking it to the last hall.

 

Are you an advocate of Anioma State?

You know, one thing about politics is that your heart desire is not more important than the people’s desire. Your heart can desire A, the people can desire B. But if you are a politician, you must go with B. Anioma State has been long agitated for, it is coming late but it doesn’t matter. But one thing I need you to understand, despite that the confab had come up with 18 states, I don’t think 18 states can be created in this country at the same time.

 

If Anioma State is eventually created in the future, how do you think it will affect Delta State?

The only way I think it will affect Delta State is me because I want to run my term, I will like to run my term as a full Delta State. I am not saying it is not good to have Anioma state but I don’t want to have a balkanized state. I want to make sure that I am running the state that is full-fledged, a state that can be run by my predecessors, a state that I can contribute my quota, a state that I can put in everything that I have to ensure its success.

 

While wishing you success, what words would you put across to Deltans as regards your ambition?

I have gone round the length and breadth of the whole place and I have been telling them I have 5 point agenda. My five point agenda are in my fingers and I said it everywhere I went. I talked about Agriculture -how I will sustain them, I talked about Education- how I would empower them, I talked about infrastructure – how I would continue to do from what my predecessors had done and I’m talking strongly about the empowerment of the youths and women, and lastly but most importantly, I’m telling them about security which I will do because I am a security practitioner and I know that I will protect the state. I know that I will do all these. I have a barrage of security experience behind me from Chevron Nigeria and Chevron overseas where I functioned for twenty six years. So I am going to put all these from corporate world into governance to make sure the state works.

 

 

May be we should talk a little about your presence here today. You are in Abia State, in Abiriba village precisely. What brought you here?

I came here to felicitate with my very good friend, my mentor, my leader, someone I have a very high regards for, of course you know he is Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe who today was given the “Ofo Ndi Igbo” title. Ofo Ndi Igbo is one of the biggest titles in Igbol and I am very happy to be with him and that’s why I am here.

 

That is showing brotherliness and true friendship.

Thank you.

 

Aside being his friend, do you know the meaning of and significance of the title he is being conferred with?

Well, it’s a simple story in the sense that it is like when you spell the word ‘IS’ in capitals, is it spelt “is” in lower cases. In the sense that “Ofo Ndi Igbo” means the Ofo of all the Igbos. It means that he is the holder of some kind of Ikenga of all Igbos and it means a lot when one man is singled out in a community like Igbo land to be given that title and I think I know the significance because it is very important and I believe that the holder today will definitely know how to use that title perfectly well for the Igbos

 

What you are telling is that from his past records, he has merited that title and found worthy to be conferred with it, and that he make very good use of it for the benefit of the entire Igbo?

That’s what I’ve just said. I was privileged today to listen when the title was being conferred on him; when they said that fourteen (14) individuals in Igbo land were shortlisted for it, and that they have screened all the fourteen (14) and they found no other person but the former Chief of General Staff of Nigeria, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe as being worthy to receive the title. We are very glad to be understanding that our friend is now the “Aka Ji Ofo Ndi Igbo of Igbo land”. It is very important and the significance is clear in the sense that if in any community one is singled out, out of one thousand to be so honoured, we must give honour to God because it is not everybody that can be so honoured. People are bestowed with this kind of opportunity to be able to do these kind of things and he is the man, the red cap fits him at the moment and I believe that he will use this office to cement the relationship between all the Igbo, to bring people together and at the same time use it to support the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is what is important, if he can use this office to support the agenda of the Federal Government because we all want peace as you know. We just finished Confab and we knew or we heard what happened in the Confab where people were throwing words. Confab nearly became a tribal Confab if not for the way the fifty wise men handled the situation and they came out with what they came out with.

With that title that Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe has now, he is going to be in a pivotal situation to ensure that he cements the whole country together, ensuring that we have peace in the country.

 

 

 

Posted on July, 22 2014

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