By Peter Elebe
The above was an article credited to one Benjamin Nworie in your newspaper publication about a week ago. Weighing the title of the article against the current partisan status one can but only conclude that the write-up was at best, ludicrous. Again, Nworie in his attempt to market his political subject, Senator Ucha, not only exhibited a lot of disinformation on the issues he raised, but delved into a lot of miasma of untruths in his myriad of misleading facts on the personality of Ucha, his political antecedents, his present meritorious, surreptitious and mercantile partisan political activities and exhibited pitiable and very regrettable crass ignorance on a quintessential gentleman of impeachable, social, moral and political pedigree of gargantuan academic frame.
It bothers on the ridiculous when he wrote, “That the profile of Sen. Julius Ucha has been on the rise since his time as Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly and later, a two-term Senator, who engaged an incumbent in the most keenly contested governorship election in the state.” The writer, here, deserves sympathy as the reverse has obviously been the case. The truth remains that since after his experience in the Senate, Sen. Ucha has reverted to his former predicament before he became Speaker, as a serial contestant and a serial loser. This time he is even more confused and mischievous than ever.
The truth remains that since he left the Senate in 2007, his political image has continued to plummet, nosedive and dwindle. It must be stated here that even though Ucha is a lawyer, his academic background was not a brilliant one, and the few years he practised as a lawyer, were dull and unimpressive. He obviously lacked clients, because he didn’t possess the legal drive, erudition and rendition. At his Ishielu Local Government Area home, he contested many elections and lost all and at the advent of democracy in 1999, he first joined the then All Peoples Party (APP), but had to run away as soon as he discovered that the more vibrant and more popular Engr. Ben Okah was also in the same party. He then joined the then less fancied Peoples Democratic Party, where Providence smiled on him and he became the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
It was from here, that the same Providence catapulted him to the Senate. This political anointment left him in 2007.
In 2011, he left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and joined the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), where he contested the governorship election of that year in Ebonyi State. Whatever claim he would want to lay to that election, the truth is that he lost the election. It would be necessary to let the public know that Ucha cannot feign ignorance of the fact that four different human beings paraded themselves, printed and pasted their posters as his deputies. This is in spite of the fact that there was only one approved INEC deputy for him. This was a case of extreme desperation.
After this controversial outing, he left the ANPP to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
In 2015, Ucha flew the flag of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) as its gubernatorial candidate. It is yet to be said, whether he really ran for the governorship election as he was conspicuously absent in most rallies. Worst still, the humongous campaign fund provided by the party, could not be accounted for. It is even alleged that the present warm romance and partisan political rapprochement between Ucha and the present PDP government of Ebonyi State was brokered and sealed during the 2015 general elections. It is too early to forget that it was Ucha as the Coordinator of Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation in Ebonyi state who collected humongous amount of Pounds and Dollars to woo Ebonyi APC delegates to vote for Atiku during the first Presidential election convention in Lagos. In spite of all these controversies, the Buhari administration still magnanimously rewarded him with Chairmanship of the Governing Council of an oil-rich polytechnic, the Oil and Gas Polytechnic, Bonny in Rivers State.
It must be noted that the so called secretariat, which Ucha claimed to have donated to the party was originally Atiku’s campaign office under his coordination and which he later used as his own gubernatorial campaign office. The APC, Ebonyi State chapter never had anything to do with it, because they saw it as leprous owing to Ucha’s romance with the PDP government in the state, till date.
The only authentic state secretariat of the party is the one which the former National Chairman of the party, His Excellency Chief John Odigie-Oyegun visited and signed the Visitor’s Register in 2017 and which His Excellency Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also visited in 2018.
Ebonyans are, however, aware of the fact that there was an office, which used to parade APC’s flag and which Ucha used as his APC/PDP campaign office and also acted as the headquarters for his mischievous partisan-parastatal status with the PDP -led Ebonyi State government.
In Ebonyi State, we don’t know Ucha to be fully an APC member. It is to everybody’s knowledge that he is wholly with the PDP Government of Ebonyi State. He has only appeared twice at APC functions in Ebonyi; one, when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party visited; and two, when His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari visited in 2017. It is true he ran for the Senatorial seat on the platform of the APC in 2019, but the whole thing was to enable him play the spoiler’s role. For one, he was one of those who masterminded the use of fake list in his senatorial zone. The appearance of the fake names in the Senatorial primary elections for that zone gave rise to the political cataclysm which saw to the death of two innocent people, leaving many wounded and about 23 cars burnt. The result of these primaries with the fake list, did not translate to victory in the main election as Ucha lost everywhere, including his Local Government Area.
Attempt by Ucha to challenge the result at the tribunal was a mere trick, pretentious and mercantile.
As a former member of the National Assembly, Ucha is privy to the fact that a serving Senator cannot be given the chairmanship of any committee, if he has any case challenging his election in the tribunal. Ucha is alleged to have capitalised on this and negotiated himself out of court for a humongous reward. This present juicy position has enabled him to embark on media warfare in the employment of media campaign managers. With his weak academic, bureaucratic, legal, social and political background, Ucha believes that the only way to achieve this is to attempt to pull down a political Iroko tree in the person of His Excellency, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the former Honourable Minister of Science and Technology; the first Executive Governor of Old Abia State; the former National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and one of the three pivots for the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Ucha’s probable charge to his media pay servants to embark on a Pull-Him-Down (PHD) campaign is a weak, poor, wrong, primitive, cowardly, regrettable and misdirected political strategy. His conscious ambition to ensure that his image is placed side by side with that of legendary Dr. Onu is laughable. His determination to ensure he brings himself in comparison to Dr. Onu is a misplaced priority and lacks proper advice. Anyone who fights a lion will only end up in its (the lion’s) stomach. Any ambitious rat that thinks it can diminish a bag of rice will only end up by the side of the bag of rice. The tortoise cannot engage the hare in a sprint contest and with all sense of humility and responsibility, no matter how long the Elephant suffered Diarrhea it cannot diminish to the size of a goat.
The write-up by Benjamin Nworie about a week ago was repeated in THISDAY newspapers of Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at page 19. This time, he was more emboldened, elaborate and amplifying to promote the image of Ucha as a possible minister, only by diminishing a quintessential Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, which he believes can only be possible.
In his write-up, titled, “Battle for Ministerial Position Intensifies in Ebonyi”, he began as follows; “The current thinking in Ebonyi State favours a cosmopolitan politician who will advance the political evolution in the State as a member of the Federal Executive Council.’’
In the myopic, biased and insular opinion of the writer, Ben Nworie, a newspaper correspondent, not a politician, attached to the PDP government of Ebonyi State, where Senator Ucha is a known partner, the person his description (write-up) fits is, Ucha.
Little wonder, Ucha’s name is conspicuously in the list alleged to have been sent to the Presidency by the Governor of Ebonyi State, which has leaked and is currently trending in the social media.
We need to be reminded that when President Buhari visited Ebonyi State, in 2018, it was Ucha that the PDP government of Ebonyi State recognised to speak on behalf of the APC in the State. And a day after, when about 25 APC delegation led by His Excellency Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and included His Excellency Chief Martin Elechi, Senator Chris Nwankwo to mention but a few, were accredited by the President’s Protocol team to have an audience with Mr. President, Ucha and his few cohorts were seen helplessly hanging outside, although they were later smuggled in, on the intervention of the PDP Governor of Ebonyi State.
During the May 29 inauguration, the PDP Government invited Ucha, his family and friends to the celebration where he again spoke, claiming to be APC by urging the governor to join the party.
This write-up by Ben Nworie is full of many falsehoods, incongruencies, inconsistencies and half-truths; but when one remembers that he is not a full fledged politician; neither is he a member of APC nor active participant in the process, he deserves more enlightenment and possible advice. Everything about his write-up is nothing but the voice of Jacob and hand of Esau.
Among many of his absurdities and claims, the one in paragraph 11 of page 19 of THISDAY edition of Tuesday, June 11, 2019, deserves special attention.
“In Ebonyi, the fear is that Buhari is known to be faithful to his friends, not minding criticisms and resistance. In this case, even if the former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has performed abysmally as he was rated from the home front, Buhari may be guided by his past relationship with him.’’
By this assertion, Ben Nworie and his sponsors have admitted failure in their bid to make Ucha a minister through the pages of newspapers. The reasons are as follows; the belief that Buhari does not forget or joke with long time friends is not only a view held by Ebonyi people, but one that is universally acknowledged as a fact. But it must be acknowledged that the same Buhari goes for the best and Dr. Onu is certainly one of the best.
Again, Buhari has zero tolerance for non-performance and failures. And Dr. Onu, certainly is not, and cannot belong to this category. Please, read this assessment and commentary by Yusufu Alli, Managing Editor Northern Operation with Jide Babalola, Vincent Ikuomola, Tony Akowe, Eric Ikhiale, Segun Ogunjimi, Frank Ikpefan, Grace Obike and Rosemary Okeke in page 44, paragraph 2 of THE Nation of Sunday, June 2, 2019, “Onu came into the cabinet as one of the few egg heads. A man of impeccable character, he was edged out of the race for the Secretary to Government of the Federation to get a consolatory ministerial offer. Notwithstanding, he made a modest success of his ministerial appointment. He focused on researches during his tenure. He was restless in promoting science and technology with a robust focus on the next generation.”
In their concluding opinion, in the last paragraph of same page 44 stated as follows; “Onu was a symbol of integrity in Buhari’s Cabinet. His type is still needed to move the nation to the Next Level in Buhari’s second term.”
Dr. Onu’s record of performance as a Minister of Science and Technology was very outstanding so much so that it attracted so many awards. In 2017, the Verbatim Magazine awarded him the Most Performing Minister of the year. In 2018, the Authority Newspaper awarded him the Minister of the Year. He received the Award of Best Ever Performing Minister of the Year of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology by the management and staff of the ministry, on May 21, 2019.
Among his numerous achievements in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Onu did not forget the home front. This year, precisely on Monday, May 6, 2019, he commissioned so many projects belonging to different parastatals of his Ministry in Ebonyi State. This was evenly spread among the three Senatorial Districts of the State. This included, but not limited to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology Model Laboratory site located at Agba in the Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi Central District of the State; the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO); Cassava Processing Plant at Nkalagu in Ishielu Local Government Area of the Ebonyi Central District of the State; the National Bio-Chemical Technological Incubation (NBTI) in Izzi Local Government Area in the Ebonyi North Senatorial Zone of the State; the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Amasiri and the National Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR) South-East zonal office, at Ozziza, both in the Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone of the state, and it must not be forgotten that the National Raw Material Research and Development Council has a branch office in Abakaliki, the state capital.
His Excellency, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. He holds patents and has written 12 books on different subject areas including philosophy, poetry, politics, developmental studies, biography, science and technology.
Dr. Onu’s attainments in life and CV are so rich and monumental that an attempt to diminish him would be an effort in futility. One should therefore approach it with care and scrupulosity. Apart from his brilliant career, his moral rectitude is unparalleled. He is a rare gem and whatever may be the antics of local political neophytes and traducers will never prosper.
Elebe writes from Oshiri in Ebonyi State