Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, yesterday in Abuja boasted that only members of the ruling party had accelerated access to federal resources, saying members of the opposition, on the other hand, could only rely on fasting to secure divine help.
Uzodinma, who made the claim while briefing State House reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, emphasised that the fate of members of the opposition was only in the hands of God.
According to him, what a member of a ruling party will get with ease will not be automatic for members of the opposition.
Uzodinma who was basking in the euphoria of the recent defection of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), insisted that nothing was automatic for opposition politicians from the federal opportunities.
He said after the defection of Umahi, South-east governors were not the only next targets of the party but the entire political class in the region, adding that anyone who believed in Nigeria must identify with the ruling party.
“Once you believe in Nigeria and you have a pan-Nigeria attitude, of course, you will go for a national party. There is no gainsaying that if you are not with the national party, and you choose to be in opposition, of course, you will continue to fast until God answers your prayers.
“But we that are in the ruling party, of course, what it will take us to solve certain problems may be different from what it will take somebody who is not very close to the source of authority to solve his own problems,” he said.
Uzodinma said he counted himself so lucky to now have a colleague in APC in the South-east, recalling that when he became governor through the Supreme Court judgment, he was more or less an orphan because he was the only APC governor in the region.
He expressed hope that the entire South-east would become an APC zone, emphasising that the avalanche of resources available for those who belong to APC was not comparable to the little the opposition could tap from.
He said: “Well, I must count myself very lucky. After I emerged as APC governor, I used to be an orphan. You will agree with me, I have a brother now, who is also in APC. My hope is that the region will see the reason and the wisdom in coming over to the ruling party because the ruling party is a national party. There is no way you can compare what your people will get in an opposition party to what they will get from the ruling party.
“APC is the ruling party which has access to the federal government, and because our preaching and gospel has always been how to unite Nigeria, how to encourage national unity, national integration, and national cohesion, it will be more cost effective to have my people; the people of South-east should see reason and join APC, the national party. I’m very optimistic that gradually, we will get there. It’s a matter of convincing our people, which we are doing.”
Speaking on beliefs that Umahi had defected to APC with the optimism that he would be compensated with the presidential ticket of the party in 2023, Uzodinma said a presidential ticket was not secured in the market square but only given by a political party as a product of loyalty.
He said even though he knew Umahi as a formidable politician in the South-east, he (Umahi) never told him that he defected to APC to grab the party’s presidential ticket, warning those spreading the rumour to avoid creating confusion.
“It is not about whether you want to be president now or not. You don’t get presidential ticket by the market square. It is the decision of the political party. You must be loyal to your political party. So, I know that my brother Umahi is politically strong in the South-east and joining APC would add to the value of the party in my region but he never told me he is coming because he will be president.
“So, I want these people who want to cause confusion and create bad name for Umahi to run away from that point and then encourage our people who have decided to align with the ruling party,” he said.
On the controversy over the true candidate of APC at next weekend’s senatorial election in Imo North, Uzodinma who insisted the matter was subjudice said the people of the district were eager to vote at the poll, adding that his utmost desire was for the APC to win the election.
“I don’t want to go into the matter because it is pending in court. It’s subjudice. My interest is for the APC to win the election and the party, of course, going by the authority we have, at the end of the day, know who their candidate is,” he said.
Uzodinma also spoke on the threat posed by ecological challenges to Imo State, saying there were no fewer than 360 erosion sites in the state with a study conducted on 57 of them and over N75 billion required to tackle the problem.
He said it is not a challenge that can be solely tackled by the state or federal government but rather required a collaboration of both the federal and state governments as well as international partners.
“As at today, we have over 360 erosion sites in Imo State. We’ve done a study of 57 erosion sites. Those we consider very critical and immediate and as at the last count, a lot of money would be required – over N75 billion will be required.
“Of course, you will agree with me that state government alone cannot handle that. It’s only through constructive partnership with the Ecological Fund Office, the federal government and other donor agencies and global partners that the problem of erosion can be solved, not only in my state, but also in the country, because you will also agree with me that the ecosystem has been tampered with over time to the extent that because of that disorientation, there’s no control to the way flooding happens.
“The drainage system has broken down. A lot of things have been done in a manner that led to this constant erosion and flooding in the Niger Delta belt and our appeal now is to solicit the help of, not only federal government, because federal government alone cannot even address the erosion problem in Nigeria. Global partners like the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, all non-governmental agencies that are into humanitarian services should come and partner with the government of Nigeria and at the provincial level, state governments, to support and help in addressing this menace,” Uzodinma submitted.