Interview with the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere.
Q- Recount for us some of the recent developmental strides in Imo State.
Ans- when we came into office in 2011,under the rescue mission government led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, one of the things the governor appealed to the Imo people for while delivering his inaugural address was to have patience because he is in a hurry to develop Imo state. Due to the state of decay the infrastructure in Imo was, His Excellency, Governor of Imo State, Owelle
Rochas Okorocha quickly declared a state of emergency on Infrastructure.
As I am aware that you guys know the terrain in Abuja because you, as journalists and residents too will know even better, I will start from Abuja. In its history, Imo state never had a liaison office in Abuja. Imo had always operated from a rented Apartment. No sooner had we assumed office than the rent of our Abuja liaison office expired. Our Governor maintained that Imo State would not continue spending such huge amount of money. He noted that the huge amount being spent on rent could be used to start the construction of our liaison office. Today, as I speak to you, Imo State has a huge befitting liaison office, like other states.
Back in Imo State, I can tell you that there is no local government area that does not have a minimum of 20km-asphalted road. There is no local government in Imo State that does not have state-of-the-art General Hospital that is 75 percent near completion and that brings them to a total of 27 Hospitals. Each of the 305 wards in Imo State has modern primary schools, which are 80 percent completion. When you come into the city of Owerri, you will see a tremendous infrastructural work, we have international conference centers. Apart from the Conference Centre at the heart of Owerri, there is another conference center at Oguta Blue Lake of Leisure that has long been completed with A Class Motel. Again, We have Concorde Concorde Hotel, which has been massively renovated. Anyone who visits Owerri will testify the illumination of the city with stainless solar streetlights.
The development under Owelle Rochas Okorocha led Rescue Mission Government is even.
The three senatorial zones are receiving their own quota in good measure. Then you see a brand new city in Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri with Streetlights. The governor further identified the need to open new mini cities and today about eight new mini cities are receiving attention. These are with a view to decongesting Owerri and make Owerri less attractive, while bringing development to those areas.
Q- when the government announced the free education policy across board, it raised a number of eyebrows. How real is this policy two years down the line?
We are over two years of existence as a government and we are already celebrating about three years of successful implementation of free education. Indeed it is one of its kind. Today, everybody in Imo state can celebrate free primary, secondary and tertiary education. And it is working wonderfully well. We are ready to invite independent inspectors to come and assess what we have done in that sector.
As a matter of policy also, the governor, having considered that local governments are too far from the people, introduced community government, which essentially brings government to the people. This is fast tracking of community development. In our model we decided to bring the people from the ministry of local government and combine them with the traditional institutions to form community government. And so these communities have their administrative and security arrangements, and this has seriously impacted positively on the local communities. For instance in Imo State today, kidnapping has become a thing of the past because of the introduction of the Imo security network, which works in conjunction with the police. They are the ones that comb the bushes and reach some of those hard to reach areas in the community. So it has been very effective in the state.
Sorry, the essence of going into Community Government Council is also with a view to checking corruption as such has helped in knowing our students and those who ought to benefit from the free education policy and other policies of the government.
Q- How is the State funding these projects particularly the free education policy?
Ans- This government is from the outset declared its willingness to make sacrifices in order to make Imo State have a total turn around. And so based on that sacrifice the governor has dedicated his security vote to free education. As I speak today there is nothing like security vote in Imo state. Naturally, we are talking about four or five billion Naira as security vote. Every state governor in the country is enjoying it today except Rochas Okorocha. So my governor has foregone his personal comfort and inconvenienced himself in order to get Imo better.
Q. There is a perception that your party the APC has not been fully embraced in South east. How do you see this?
I have a different view. That perception is created by individuals who are beneficiaries of PDP misrule and impunity and not the masses. PDP is not an Igbo party. I can directly tell you that. We have been deceived for too long. There was an understanding. We came from the core APGA, and the other people came from
APGA-PDP. And there was an agreement and understanding we had that the “APGA” will produce a president. That was carried. But I tell you that all of that understanding cannot be seen on the ground in the South East. So you cannot be playing that game and somebody will go behind and become aide to the president while others are not happy.
The truth is that APC is a party to beat and it will go a long way in South East for obvious reasons. One of the reasons is that the trend and pattern of voting have changed. People no longer sheepishly follow people. People now follow people based on their antecedents and their belief system. And people in the South East have seen Rochas as a performer. Only two years in office and Rochas is being equated with governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State. Yet, people don’t remember that Fashola has been a governor for six years, while Rochas has only spent two years. I think that is a plus. Based on that with Rochas being at the helm of affairs of APC it is because he saw tomorrow. He had seen that the party is a party for Nigeria.
Q- how have you handled the split in the APC in Imo State. Some members of the other legacy parties protested their exclusion from the structure in the APC?
Not in Imo state. May be we can say such is happening in Anambra and we are trying to resolve it. We have harmonized the whole South East except in Anambra where we have some grumblings.
Q what are the chances of APC In Imo state, as it is being considered to be a northern party?
There is no misgiving in APC in Imo State. Again the notion that it is a northern party is yours not the people in Imo State. Look, my State, where I come from, is APC. APC is a political party where we as progressives find peace. Again, the personalities involved matter, even if you call it Rochas Political party, that is where we are going as it is no longer an abstract thing.
Tell me about those in your party, I will tell you the perception of Nigerians.
Q- So the APC is synonymous to Rochas?
It is said that institutions are very key in any system but the drivers of those institutions are even more important. Rochas’ image and as a brand make the difference. So it is with image of every organization. The image of every organization is a function of the people behind it or its products. The progressive image of APC is a function of her progressive members. And without sounding immodest, PDP can never smell Imo State because of Rochas. The truth is that with what we have on the ground in Imo State, Rochas has become synonymous with infrastructure, development and huge success. For that alone, nobody can challenge him.
Q- the PDP has accused the APC of being a desperate party of religious and ethnic bigots. How do you react to this?
Ans- let me help you out. Of course you have Buhari as a Muslim, Tinubu as a Muslim and then you have a former national chairman of the ANPP, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu as a leader too. It depends on leadership. When you have leadership that has transcended both religious and ethnicism, you cannot be discussing such issues. APC has gone beyond that. We are looking at better governance. Today, my Governor, His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and APC Governors Forum but he is a well known christian. Such matter should not even arise. We want a party that can provide a better platform that can give us steady power supply in Nigeria, where we can have crisis free Nigeria. We want a platform where our voice matter, where justice is not thrown to the dustbin and that is what APC stand for.
Q- what do you make of the crisis in APGA leadership?
Ans- I don’t have anything to do with APGA, I am APC and I have moved on and of course forward. We do not have such time to begin to nurse other people’s injuries that are self-inflicted. If they need our help, we shall help. Mortgaging our people’s future is what we cannot afford to fold our arms and watch.
Q- we are going in an election season and INEC has held some elections. How comfortable are you with the INEC?
Ans- with what happened in Anambra and Delta South, if that is what will happen in 2015, then INEC is not ready for election.
Q- what actually are your misgivings?
Ans- the problem is that we can never have an umpire that is also a voter. We have witnessed such impunity being midwifed, not just by the undemocratic political
organization but by the supposed unbiased umpire. It is sad indeed. If it is that kind, please, we better have a rethink.
Q- But APC hailed Jega’s as credible upon his emergence, what went wrong all of a sudden?
Ans- the issue is not about being hailed, we all saw what happened in Anambra particularly in Idemili North and south where an INEC staff, I don’t know if he has been persecuted, could undermine the process. The chairman of INEC, himself apologized and accepted, that alone is a tragedy. And that incident alone came into lime light and there are many of such cases we did not know about which happen everyday.
Q- Does that mean you do not have confidence in INEC?
Ans- No I don’t. In fact, Nigerians have lost confidence in INEC except they change. If they don’t change, then we may be having issues that may be more be beyond political.
Q- what kind of change do you expect from INEC?
Ans- the truth of the Matter is that INEC has a statue and Electoral Act guiding it. They just have to play by the book. The National Assembly laid it out. It is not me that wrote it so there is a law, let them follow it.
Q- But INEC has severally blamed Politicians for undermining the electoral system?
Ans- No, it is not. Are you directing this particular one to the politicians? If you do enough in capacity building and people are paid well, whom do you blame? Me? If INEC refuses to compromise, you cannot arm-twist them but where the personnel go after the politicians to engage in fraud, do you blame politicians?