Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu represents Imo North Senatorial district and former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly in the 7th session (2011 to 2015). In this interaction with IGNATIUS OKOROCHA, the lawmaker cautioned that it would be a height of immorality for Governor Rochas Okorocha to impose his son in-law on the citizens of Imo state at the forthcoming general election. He also talked on the chances of an Igbo President, if the South east supports the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari among other issues
Distinguished, between the time you were sworn-in as the representative of Imo North senatorial district in the Senate till date, what has been your contributions to the development of your Senatorial zone in particular and the nation in general
Well, I am one of the few Senators that came in here in less than two years of the Senate and I have represented the interest of my Senatorial district in particular and the nation at large in this Senate at both committees and plenary. I have been able to work with other Senators in crafting legislation that have impacted on the economy of the country and the people. I am also in such critical committees as agriculture and banking. We have been able to move one or two motions that were well received in areas like currency regulations, child abuse and lately welfare of disabled persons. So I believe that we have been able to make impact in the various projects we have been able to attract to our Senatorial districts and the country at large. For example, we have been able to attract government attention to a major erosion menace in my area that has been there for the past 20 years and that site is been addressed by the federal government in addition to Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC) road projects in my zone. We have also attracted water projects including the construction of a dam known as Ezeolamaka dam, valued at about N7billion, and we are in the process of closing a project which is sited in Okigwe local government that will help to upgrade the power delivery system in the area in addition to so many other ongoing projects in parts of the Senatorial district.
The South East geopolitical zone appears to be seemingly neglect by the federal government, not only in appointing positions but even in the provision of infrastructural facilities. As a member of the ruling party in the zone, what do you think is responsible for this
I think you are wrong there, the Igbo nation should be happy with the Buhari led government because for the first time we are not been excluded from the federal government infrastructural projects. Currently as we speak, federal government is rehabilitating Port Harcourt/Aba/ Umuahia/Okigwe/ Enugu Express way. It is also reconstructing Enugu-Onitsha Express road just in the same way that Lagos and Ibadan Express way is being reconstructed. The same reconstruction work is going on in Umuahia-Aba dualization. The work is ongoing. The government is also reconstructing Umuahia Ikot Ekpene road. These are major projects in terms of infrastructure. We cannot claim that the federal government is not responding to us in terms of delivery of infrastructural projects.
In the distribution of railway lines, the President has ordered that the five states of the South East should be connected by railway. We all know that in the initial plan of distribution of the rail lines in the previous government where we claimed to have had major appointments of South Easterners, we were completely ignored in the railway lines distributions, but today we have railway lines linking the entire South East geopolitical zones to the South-South and parts of the Northern region. The fact remains that it is only in this government that the South-East are getting these projects done.
A president of Igbo extraction appears to have remained an illusion, is there any guarantee that the Buhari led administration would hand over to an Igbo man should he secure a second term in office
Ndi Igbo should play national politics rather than politics that would not benefit us as a people. This time around we need to support him by re-electing him, based on the fact that he is the only candidate that will not do a second term after 2023. He is the only presidential candidate that will do only four years to complete eight years in office and any other candidate that is coming in will do another four years after 2023 election.
And of course, based on the principle of rotation, after 2023 the presidency should move to South and by implication the South East because it is South East that has not tested the presidency since the return of civil rule in the country in 1999 and so, I do not see reason why anybody would deny us the golden opportunity of getting the presidency in 2023. President Buhari has also said that the South East deserves it and that if the zone demands it, it should go to it by right and how we show our demand for it is by supporting and voting him in for a second term in 2019.
It has become clear that your state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is planning to impose his son – in-law on the people of Imo State as his successor in the 2019 governorship election. As a stakeholder in the ruling APC in the state, what is your take on this?
The Governor has every right to support whosoever he wishes to support to succeed him. But having said that, I want to also insist that it is very immoral for the Governor to use state fiat, the powers of coercion that are attached to his office, the influence and affluence of his office to try to force a son in-law down the throat of Imo citizens. Let me also state that what is even very bad about it is that there exists in Imo State what is called Imo State Charter of Equity, which was signed way back when Sam Mbakwe of blessed memory was Governor, even before he became governor. The Charter enunciates that Imo State will run on the basis of rotation. We have three zones of Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri. It is saying that when this zone completes another zone will come and do their own term. Now, in the last twenty years of democracy, Orlu zone has done sixteen years to the exclusion of other people except Okigwe that did four years. And the Governor wants to commit another eight years to Orlu zone through a son in-law. I think it is the height of immorality. Like I said, he has a right to wish but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. I have continued to advise that he should retrace his step and recover the fallen standard and fallen popularity of his government. As for his plots, I believe that he can only imagine it, he cannot achieve it.