CHIEF Achike Udenwa, a former governor of Imo State in this interview spoke on the prospects of President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential election and concluded that it would be a tight race. Udenwa, who expressed confidence that the president would emerge victorious, also spoke on the chances of his party, the PDP, in the governorship election in Imo. Excerpts:
Can you predict the outcome of the 2015 presidential election?
It will likely be a close contest but at the end of the day President Jonathan will still win. Buhari is not going to have the kind of votes he had in the North in 2011. In 2011 Buhari rode on religious sentiment and then on the sentiment that the North said it was its turn. But a lot has happened between 2011 and 2015, especially the Boko Haram insurgency. We have seen the devastating effect of Boko Haram on both Muslims and predominantly on Christians. So that means there would be a shift in the voting pattern in the North.
Are you saying that the security question will play a prominent role in who becomes the president?
Christians in the North have seen what Boko Haram is all about. And also the Muslims themselves who thought didn’t concern them are now concerned. So there would be a lot of mixed feelings. Boko Haram crisis is not as a result of leadership failure. The leadership is doing a lot. You can see the massive defense budget we have had so far. What was the spending when Buhari was Head of State?
Even Obasanjo spent less on defense. It is just now because of the effect of Boko Haram that we have started re-equipping our armed forces. You could remember initially when Boko Haram started the army was complaining that they were not well armed. But now, gradually arms are coming in. So the Boko Haram thing, I believe will be over very quickly.
On the welfare on Nigerians under President Jonathan
Jonathan has gradually started investment in basic infrastructure. You can see the ongoing revolution in every sector. I was a member of the National Executive Council when the railway concept came up under the Yar’ardua/Jonathan administration.
At that time it was meant to only link the South-West to the North-West. But when Jonathan became President, he approved that the Eastern wing of the railways from Port Harcourt to Enugu and Kaduna be revamped. That tells you his desire for basic infrastructure.
In fairness the first investment in the power sector stared with Obasanjo. But you can see to what extent it has taken place under Jonathan. He has privatized the generation and distribution sub-sectors.
So this has resulted in some form of improvement though not the type we’re expecting.
As the head of the President’s re-election team in Imo State, can we know the chances of the President in your state where the governor, Rochas Okorocha is believed to have performed well?
Rochas has not done well in Imo. Just compare the amount of money that is coming into the state and what we have on ground.
Imagine the type of investments that have been done. Are there basic economic investments in Imo State for the past three and half years? Has there been any investment that would boost the economy? It is not by building conference centres. All he has been doing is showmanship.
One of the projects the present administration has undertaken in Imo State is the building of new general hospitals. We have these general hospitals already existing. At least in my time we had about 21 general hospitals in 27 local government areas. He built so much general hospitals when existing ones have not been well equipped. The present administration is so much concerned about showmanship.
Even the so called free education is not free because parents pay indirectly. Parents are paying more than what they were paying in the past. You have registration fee, you have the acceptance fee, you have this and that. At the end it is more than what you’re supposed to be paying.
That was why he announced in November last year that the fees would be abolished. If you now say you want free education at tertiary institution level where does it happen in the world? Where and where? And when you say free education, to who?
It is either if you’re saying free education to all Imo indigenes, it means it is free to them wherever they are in the country. There are a lot of deceits going on. And we are definitely going to expose them.
When are you going to expose these alleged deceits?
Having commenced our campaign on January 19, 2015, we will then expose the tissue of lies Rochas has been feeding our people. It is wrong to believe that our people love him. Most Imo people are already beginning to understand. They’re already beginning to understand.
Sustenance from government
What you’re seeing is a lot of people who depend on the government for their daily bread.
There is hunger in the land. There is so much hunger in Imo State today. So whoever is getting some little sustenance from the government is bound to tell you that he is popular.
What do you want him to say? But I can tell you that when the chips are down most of the people working in this government will vote against the governor and against the APC. His second term ambition is a complete day dream. He is not coming back as governor
On APC administration in Imo
You can deceive people some of the time but not all the time. A lot of eyes are beginning to open. Some of the roads you know, when he came he started roads left, right and centre. Ask me how many of these roads have been completed. Some of the roads that were even completed are already breaking down.
But, is that right? Go to Orlu town many houses were demolished without any compensation till today. Some are in court some have even won their cases. Why would a government do that?