Ndigbo can only survive in Nigeria through APC –Imo Deputy Governor

Prince Eze Madumere is the Deputy Governor of Imo State. Before his elevation, he was the Chief of Staff to Governor Rochas Okorocha. In this interview with CHRIS NJOKU, he bares his mind on a number of issues bothering on good governance in the state and the way forward. Excerpts:

Having been the Chief of Staff for about two years and now the state deputy governor, which one do you find most challenging?

I have been the Chief of Staff, CoS, to Owelle Rochas Okorocha even before he came into office as a governor, and the experience then was quite different. And as a CoS to the Imo State government for about two years, the experience there was very challenging. This time you see different issues coming to your table. My own CoS was like an engine room of the state government; it was a sort of a clearing house, because everybody comes there for every issue. Not because of the office but because of the type of individual that I am. I opened up my office for everybody. The first thing I did when I came in as the CoS was to demystify the office, to allow people have easy access to Government House.
As a deputy governor, which came through divine intervention, as I did not think of it, it was challenging initially, but ‘To God be the Glory’. The difference is that now I have a statutory function. Of course, the office of the CoS is not constitutionally recognised, but it depends on how the governor wanted you to function. Now as a deputy governor, everything I do comes as a directive from His Excellency. I’m at his beck and call. He directs every minute of the day on what to do and where to go. But on my own, because of the good working relationship I have with the governor, I also try to overlap and assist here and there. We run the system as a family and that takes away some headache from the boss.

What do you think is the unique selling point of this administration?

The most important is working with a leader that is an extraordinary person, a leader that has a vision such as Owelle Okorocha. From the onset, he knew what he wanted and how to go about it. His love, desires and vision to transform the state is unique. These Rochanomics we talk about which has become the rescue mission of Imo State is something that His Excellency has put together as far back as 1998/99. You know he had ran for governor, he won the primary and today people never expected that he would come into government and up and running, but we were prepared; as soon as he was inaugurated as a governor, the next day the governor was all over the streets and directing on what he wanted to do and what he just needed was the support of the state House of Assembly.

This runs in contrast with what people say out there that the governor has no laid down plans, as he does whatever that come in anytime any day?

These are remarks from his detractors. These are people who cannot be part of the system, because they are used to sharing money and in this government we don’t share money. There is nothing that we do in this government that does not pass through the state executive council. They are wellthought out programmes, even if they are His Excellency’s ideas and once he throws it out, the Exco will chew it, digest it, and debate it and if it goes through it is carried and if it does not go through we move on with other programmes.

How true is the allegation that the governor is dictatorial and most of his programmes do not pass through the state House of Assembly?
I like to deal with specifics, however, when we came in, we sought understanding from the House of Assembly and declared state of emergency on infrastructure. The House of Assembly gave an approval and under that approval, His Excellency created a special task force for every project to fast track development in the state. And what we have achieved so far today is because of the special task force, and it was approved by the Imo State House of Assembly. If we were going through the normal bureaucracy, we would not have been where we are today. People all over the world and Nigeria are celebrating this administration, because of this task force. For somebody to seat at his backyard and say His Excellency wakes up and do whatever that pleases him is not being fair. This is not a personal business; we are talking about the state. So, I personally don’t buy their idea; these are detractors and those who are envious of the achievements of the state government.

What is the benefit to the Imo people for the House to approve a four year development budget?
Yes we have a four-year development plan and we are carefully going through the plan. It is the articulated plan that His Excellency brought for the first time in the history of Nigeria, where a state has four year budget on a stretch. It is a budget that we review every year through appropriation. They are all well articulated projects where we have about 75 per cent as capital budget and the other 25 per cent for recurrent. The four-year rolling plan is packaged to provide essential services to Imo people within that period.

In terms of road infrastructure, there was a time the government was described as doing well for opening up new roads, but unfortunately most of these roads were left mid-way to the detriment of the masses. What is the problem?
Now, if you remember when we started the road revolution, the people of Imo State were happy because new roads were being opened, to the extent that before now, once Christmas period sets in, town unions and some social clubs in the rural areas grade their roads, but some of these things eluded us because people still believe that government will do everything for them. It is not right. Government is only a helping hand. The communities should also help. When we came in, there was this road revolution we started, we started with 15 kilometres road project in every local government and unfortunately rain created a lot of challenges. There is no community you will not see certain kilometres of road being constructed. So, these are huge achievements in the history of this state, no government has done massive road project as Okorocha led administration. What is the future of Ndigbo in the All Progressives Congress, APC? This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that all the progressives in the country are converging in one house under the name All Progressive Congress, APC, and everybody leaving their individual interest to be one. The Ziks, Awos and Balewas tried it but could not succeed. And today history is made. All the progressives are under one umbrella. We in Imo State were elected under the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, but today we are part of the merger. Okorocha as a person has driven the acceptance of APC in Imo State including the South-East. So, Okorocha, being the leader, is the driving force of the APC in the South-East. The enthusiasm, the response and the way people have reacted about the registration will tell you that this is the party to beat in 2015.

What is your advice to the South-East on APC?
Over the years, the South-East has been deceived by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His Excellency will tell you this that we are joining the APC for the interest of Ndigbo and that is why we are doing that because it will not be proper to see a political party of all segments of the country and the South-East is not there. The main reason is to have equal opportunity, equal share with other Nigerians.
APGA will continue to be what it is. Bearing in mind His Excellency led the party in this state to victory, without him it would not have been possible. He has also deemed it fit for the interest of Ndigbo as the only way we can survive in this country for the future is for us to be part of the new revolution, the new progressives, called the APC.

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