In this exclusive interview with KAFTAN TV’s Annabel Orji, Senator Ugochukwu Uba, the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) authentic candidate in the November 6th Anambra Governorship election, talks about his meteoric rise from the classroom as a lecturer to public administration, private sector and then mainstream politics. He believes his vast experience sets him above his contemporaries.
Who is Senator Ugochukwu Uba?
First, Ugochukwu Uba is an academic who began life as a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. From there he proceeded on secondment as a special assistant in the Old Anambra. When the new Anambra was created, he returned as an executive assistant. He later served as director-general under two administrations and then Commissioner in two ministries. After serving in the Senate, he returned to lecturing at the University of Abuja and resigned to run for governor of Anambra state because he felt he has something to offer.
I started my elementary school in Port Harcourt. I later went to Stella Marris, Government College Umuahia and then the UNN. I also schooled in Canada, where I bagged a first-class in Political Science. I did my Masters there too and later my PhD. When I returned, I began lecturing.
What were the circumstances surrounding your birth to the renowned Ubah family?
I’m the first male child and eldest of the Uba family. There are three of us; Andy and Chris. I was born in Enugu like every other child and moved with my family to Port Harcourt when my father was transferred. There we stayed until the end of the Civil War and then back to Anambra.
What inspired your career choice?
Well, right from childhood, I had a lot of interest in politics. I was further motivated to follow that path in secondary school after an alumnus who had a PhD in political science visited us. I kept on telling my classmates that I will do likewise and major in international relationships. But as I grew in the discipline, my interest now shifted to Public Policy Analysis and that is where I now anchored comparative government and local government administration which has been a serious deficit in Nigeria. If elected, my first assignment would be to tackle the local government administration and put it where it should be.
As a trained political scientist, what did you do differently when you served as administrator and lawmaker?
I did a lot. As a special adviser, I played a huge role in policy formulation. As executive director in the new Anambra, I ensured that the new government settles in seamlessly. I was there for three years with the military administration. And when a civilian government came on board, I was asked to stay back and made DG public utilities. Another government came and still asked me to stay but this time, under finance. During the Abacha transition, I was approached again to venture into politics. I was a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party and was appointed Commissioner in 1999. First I served under youths and sports, later under agriculture. In 2003, I was elected into the Senate. There, I made a lot of impacts, most notably NIMASA. As committee chairman on marine transport, I made sure the institution attained world-class standards as it is today. As you can see, I’m not going to learn on the job. I am focused, experienced with a perfect plan.
You headed straight for the classroom after graduation. What was the motivation for that?
Back then, when you graduate from university, the issue of unemployment wasn’t a thing. Those who graduated with first and second class, no matter the kind of job you offered, preferred lecturing. Acamedics were role models for brilliant students.
As a founding member of the PDP, how would you rate the internal party management now?
When the party started back then, there was a lot of enthusiasm and determination to make a difference. Due process was followed, so internal party crisis was avoided. Once due process is followed, everything is transparent. There will not be any need for complaint.
As you know, defection is the day’s order in our politics. What could be wrong?
Fundamentally, our parties don’t have ideologies. That’s why someone can move from one to another and still fit in. Our parties have virtually identical ideologies that is why defection is rampant. But we must start working on instilling different ideologies, no matter how small. I have not shifted one bit from the PDP because I believe in the party’s ideology even though it has not been fully imbibed by members.
What led to your exclusion as a PDP candidate in the list released by INEC?
It started as far back as 2017 when we had our congress elect local and state executives. There was a crisis over delegates for the state level which brought in the Commissioner of Police and Director, DSS. The state congress was then postponed. That was why during the 2017 convention in Abuja where we elected our national officers, Anambra executives didn’t attend because they had none. A new national working committee decided to wade into the matter and they set up a caretaker committee at the state level. They inaugurated them alongside the ward and local government executives. But along the line, the state committee stopped working with the other two and set up a parallel executive. Those elected and inaugurated protested and the national tried again to wade in. However, along the line they didn’t achieve much, forcing the aggrieved executives to go to court.
And on June 9, the court ruled in their favour and recognised them as the main executives. Rather than follow the court judgement and use the list of delegates recognised by law, they dismissed everything. Eventually, they went back to court ask for a stay which was turned down. Meaning all they did since the judgement was null and void. They still went ahead to gather 196 ‘super-delegates’. The party was advised by INEC to obey the judgement on the 22nd of June. More importantly, the Constitution of PDP stated clearly the category of people that will constitute congress of the state. It is the chairman that will convene it. On the day of the primary, we finished by 5 pm and at about 9 pm, we heard that another was going on and won by 62 votes. So when we went to court, we were told that this is the only congress that was held.
What steps are you making to reconcile aggrieved members?
If you go down to Anambra, this division is not there. People at the grassroots know where they belong. They know the position of the party. Anambra is a PDP state from the start. Out of the three Senators, we have two. We also have the majority in the house of reps. Nonetheless, we will reach out to make sure that everyone is carried along.
You are 72 and will be 80 after two terms if you emerge governor. Do you think you have what it takes physically?
You can see me, the strength is there. Experience counts. When you are inexperienced, you will learn on the job. You can see what happened in the United States with Donald Trump. He came without any experience in public service and virtually turned everything upside down.
Going against your brother Andy in the APC, don’t you think the family will be divided?
I have said it before, I don’t think there is anything wrong with two siblings vying for the same political position. We are not the first.