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Good day Sir
Thank you very much
Who is Engr. Sampson Udeh?
Chief Engr Sampson Udeh is a son of Imo state from Obazu, Mbieri in Mbaitoli LGA, a community leader living in America, a renowned engineer, someone who believes in community service and government participation. He believes that a lot can be achieved by working together.
Sir, you are one of the prominent Imo State leaders in USA and a community leader, what plans do you have for the people?
I have been involved in community service for more than thirty years. I belong to many community organizations both Diaspora and in Nigeria. Our aims and objectives, though not the same in all the organizations have been how to sensitize our people in community development, working together with the government for the development of our State and Communities. For instance, I’m a leader in World Igbo Congress Inc, Imo State Congress of America (ISCA), Mbaitoli People’s Congress and Owerri Senatorial Congress. All these organizations put together work towards the actualization of a common dream, the development of Ala Igbo and Nigeria in general.
You are highly involved in organizations like WIC and ISCA. How can ISCA help ndi Imo?
I’ll answer this question from two different perspectives; WIC and ISCA since I’m a leader in both organizations.
During the last WIC convention, there was a session on sustainability of Transportation for all Ministries of works and Transportations in the various states in southeastern Nigeria, hosted by Tennessee department of Transportation (TDOT). TDOT was receptive and opened her doors, inviting our Engineers, commissioners of works and Transportation, and other professionals in road building through WIC to come to Nashville for discussion and negotiation. The Chairman of WIC came to Awka, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Abakiliki, with this proposal urging our people to embrace this opportunity and attend WIC convention. TDOT was ready, which could have led to collaborations based on a signed MOU between USA and Nigeria on technological exchange. At the convention, TDOT came, fully prepared. We had to scout for other convention attendees to fill the empty hall. TDOT gave a presentation but it was scaled down due to non-participation from our folks from Nigeria. The original package included a bus tour to special project sites after the presentations and a dinner hosted by TDOT’s commissioner in his office. This was a missed opportunity.
ISCA is a non-political organization of ndi Imo in in
the United States of America. ISCA is a pressure group. ISCA applauds Imo State
Government when she does something good and constructively criticizes the
government when she falls short of her expectations. ISCA is an organization
ndi Imo should embrace. ISCA advocates for good governance in Imo State. ISCA
lead the campaign, calling on Imo state government to revert her 60 percent
pension payment to pensioners. We have our conventions every year, during which
all Imo sons and daughters come together and share their thoughts and ideas.
This year’s convention will be at Nashville, Tennessee. In short, ISCA is
a problem-solving based organization. For the 2019 convention, we have extended
our invitations to all Imo state citizens including political candidates,
business tycoons, religious leaders, academicians, taxi drivers, market women, etc.
to join us at Nashville, Tennessee to proffer solutions to Imo problems. If the 67 governorship candidates, all Senatorial
candidates, Federal House and State House of Assembly candidates can be put in
groups and charged to come up with solutions needed to solve Imo State
problems, we should be able to get some issues resolved. Having witnessed
democracy in the USA, ISCA is in a position to advise our legislative arm of
government. It looks like these legislators have lost their bearings. Today,
Imo State is where the leader of one arm of government (Imo State Speaker) is
playing a second fiddle to another arm of government (Executive). In such a situation,
the Speakership position is compromised. We should stop electing mediocreand
people without integrity into offices.
OK sir, back to Nigeria, what is your take on Nigeria electoral and political system now that general election is very close?
Having lived in a society or been in a system that has experienced democracy for so many years and the home of democracy, America, we always expect that a country like Nigeria will take the toe of a place like America where issues are placed on the table for discussion and resolution. Those not performing are thrown out rather than being rewarded. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, people celebrate appointments; they fail to realize that an appointment is a call for duty to service. When someone is appointed to a position, the person is expected to serve the State, not his own people. But today, once someone is given an appointment, his or her people will start jubilating that they have gotten some gold mine. That is a misconception. Asa result of that mindset, corruption is glorified. That is the reason, in IMO state for instance; we have almost sixty-seven governorship candidates contesting to be governor, the quickest way of getting rich today. That has become a burden to the entire system because people are rushing to become rich not necessarily because they want to serve.
In few weeks now, Nigerians will go the poll, do you think president Buhari deserves a second term?
It is a very critical issue in the sense that it is always easy to blame the person at the head. I knew when Jonathan was there, he was being blamed and criticized. When Buhari got in there, he realized that the position wasn’t really that easy. When things are good, the person at the head gets the benefits, when things are not in good shape, the person at the head gets the blame and since Nigeria is in bad shape, the person at the head should be blamed. Things can change with new programs and mindset. I know that Nigeria is a complex society with lots of challenges, leadership is not easy. If it is easy, at least everybody will strive to leadership. Since it is not easy and Nigeria is a complex society, so any person at the head reaps the benefits when things are good and gets blamed when things are bad. Today Nigeria is in a very bad shape.
How can you access Nigeria democracy since 1999 till date?
Unfortunately, Nigeria has been struggling all these while, from 1999 till date like other countries in Africa; there are challenges but consistency should be the key and in Nigeria today , we do not have consistency rather we play the politics of destruction, bitterness, politics of who you know, but it looks like we are not learning from our mistakes. All the time, we tend to start from the scratch, every time we go back to square one, we have not been able to progress. Look at the little progress achieved by the previous administrations, the current administration did not leverage it, it started at square one. Probably, the next administration will discard all that the current administration has done.
More especially, we don’t know what is being practiced in Nigeria today. Is it democracy or unitary system of government? In the presidential system of government, the 3 aims of government should be respected and should function independent of each other. We have a situation where the judiciary, executive and legislative branches are not independent and respectful of each other. So, it is a big challenge, our democracy is full of challenges.
Sir, how can you access the administration of Rochas Okorocha in the last seven years?
The assessment should be on phases. He started well, later in his second term he started deviating. He promised that he will surpass Sam Mbakwe’ s achievements when he was sworn into office. Today, he is practicing politics of family and friends, a form of monarchy. You do not get into government because you want to enrich your family members; you get into government because you want to serve the people. Most of his projects are poorly executed where he monopolizes everything. For a structure to be erected including roads, there must be a plan. Those wonderful ideas are expressed on paper first. It is easy to correct mistakes when they are drawn or written on paper, but once they are built, it becomes a waste destroying what was erected. Those who embedded due process within the process are not fools. Check out all the waste in Imo state, yet salaries are been owned to the innocent workers and pensioners. The system allows a Governor to function as a Governor and allows an engineer to do his job as an engineer; people’s professions should be respected. In Imo State, what you experience is organized madness. Policies are executed based on how well the Governor felt after the night’s sleep. So in a nutshell, what we expected is not what we’ve gotten; honestly Rochas Okorocha has been a disgrace.
Considering your position now, what do you think is the challenge the next administration will be facing?
It is going to be tough in IMO state for the incoming administration. Today the IGR is nothing to write home about. During Ikedi Ohakim administration, it was about N5billion; it increased to N7billion during Okorocha’s first administration. But today it is in decline. Compare the neighbouring states, their IGR is higher. Lagos State enjoys a robust IGR of N280billion, Rivers State’s IGR is about N70 billion and yet Imo State IGR is about 6 billion. What if something happened and the Federal government fails to sustain the usual monthly allocation, what do we do? Look at Anambra state, the state has lots of Industries. It’s able to sustain itself without loans. Even when the Federal government offers loans, they reject the loans. Reason being, Anambra State generates a lot of funds internally. In Imo state, I don’t know how many industries we have. During Mbakwe’s time, Imo state used to be the model for other states. We had at least one Industry in each of the local Government Areas. The little industries we have today are in bad conditions, so it will be a big challenge for the next administration. Most of the infrastructures in the state are in deplorable conditions coupled with the crazy market trader’s displacement policy and property destruction program embarked by the state not too long ago. I do not envy the next Governor because he or she has to perform some magic to correct all the mess and anomalies done by Okorocha. Imo State has been very much unlucky with persons we elected as our governors. I hope we will get it right this time.
Sir do you think that Owerri zone has the chance of producing the next governor of Imo state considering the political development now?
It is going to be difficult for Owerri zone to produce the 2019 governorin IMO state. It is unfortunate that the agreed gentleman’s rotatory arrangement is not being respected. Orlu zone has been able to produce the Governor of the state for about sixteen years, Okigwe zone has produced the Governor for ten years and Owerri zone has been able to govern for one year plus few months. By right, if things are done properly which people from Okigwe and Orlu zones are saying, Owerri zone should be given the chance to produce the next governor of Imo state. Having said that, we, the Owerri zone people are not really serious because you cannot produce the next governor where everybody wants to be the governor. In a situation where Orlu zone presents one or two candidates, Okigwe zone also presents one or two candidates but Owerri zone floods the arena with more than thirty candidates, that is madness, that means we are not serious. It is quite unfortunate. For instance, the governorship candidates for 2019 election in IMO state are about sixty-five. Within the sixty-five, Owerri zone alone has about forty candidates. Whom will you be voting for? So, it is a big challenge, ndi Owerri zone have to go back to the drawing board and look at the entire spectrum critically well and be candid to ourselves by telling ourselves the common truth. Since Orlu and Okigwe zones have refused to respect the zoning arrangements that was made in 1998, Owerri zone should present one or two consensus candidates to vie for the governorship election if the zone wants to win the governorship election..
What is your advice to Nigerians, IMO people to be precise on the forthcoming general elections?
Unfortunately also, most of the candidates are not discussing issues; they rely on party manifesto and who has the biggest money. Ndi IMO and Nigerians should look at the candidates, ask them critical questions, not who makes the best noise or who speaks the best English. The candidates should tell us what they will do and how they will do it.
They should give their own manifesto not the party’s manifesto. Tell us how you will do all the things you are promising us. I’m advising IMO people to be very critical of all the candidates. Ask hard core questions. If you are given money, take it and still vote your conscience. Don’t vote and start crying tomorrow. Don’t montage your future because of peanuts being given to you today by people who lack what it takes to reposition Imo state for a better tomorrow. Remember our future is at stack.
On a serious note, everyone should be careful and cautious during this election period. Unfortunately, this election will be deadly. Some candidates are willing to cause havoc on their fellow human being.
Thank you very much Sir for your time
“I know that Nigeria is a complex society with lots of challenges, leadership is not easy. If it is easy, at least everybody will strive to leadership. Since it is not easy and Nigeria is a complex society, so any person at the head reaps the benefits when things are good and gets blamed when things are bad. Today Nigeria is in a very bad shape”