Dr. Obinna Uzoh, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State, turns 54 tomorrow. In this interview, Uzoh who is eyeing the Anambra guber seat, observes that industrially transformed, Anambra can change S/East’s and the nation’s economic fortunes.
What is your idea of good governance?
In the arena of politics the world over, good governance is central to human development and social progression. The converse leads to retrogression and socio-political stagnation. Look around you to discern the kernel of my position. Good governance has eight major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society. Deficits in these areas give rise to conflict and set back human development. Deficits in these areas are the reasons for our developmental woes. These concepts I have enunciated actually remain my guiding principle in the political arena. At 54, I cannot change this principled position that is clearly founded on deep conviction.
You are an advocate of alternative vision of governance for Anambra State. Can you share this with us?
My folks are widely recognized for their industry, courage and resourcefulness. These qualities have enabled us survive as a people in the face of daunting existential challenges. It’s worth recalling that at creation in August 27, 1991, by the General Ibrahim Babangida regime Ndi-Anambra had over 75 percent literacy level and boasted extra-ordinary human and material resources. These attributes need to be given a new direction, new discipline and new energy. God has given me the vision to do this. I have identified 10 key sectors that deserve total focus to transform the state. These include security, infrastructural development which is foundation for industrialization and will support Nnewi, Onitsha and Awka as critical technology hubs, and, real agricultural revolution. Deploying a transparent, judicious and efficient management of resources, I will empower our people with skills acquisition, mainstream our judiciary, step-up sports, provide microfinance for SMEs and pursue an integrated development scheme that should fundamentally change the game in Anambra State. Anambra needs a deep but temperate personality and thinker to guide its journey. The fate of Anambra State has fundamental connections with the fate of Ndigbo and Nigeria at large.
You are sounding like someone who has his eyes fixed on the guber seat and that reminds one of the struggle to occupy the seat in the face of the troubling issue of zoning. Pleas can you clarify some of the related controversies?
The zoning arrangement presupposes that the governorship position in Anambra State be rotated among the three senatorial districts in the state. Recall that at the inception of democracy in 1999, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Anambra South senatorial district was elected as governor. He spent a single term of only four years in office as he was not re-elected for a 2nd term in 2003 on grounds of non-performance. Between 2003 and 2014, a period of 11 years, Anambra Central Senatorial District held power with Sen. (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige holding office for a period of about three years and Sir Peter G. Obi, KSS holding office for a consecutive two tenures of 8 years. Chief (Dr) Willie M. Obiano from Anambra North Senatorial District has done a 1st term and not having performed well, the Anambra South Senatorial District should be given the opportunity to complete their truncated 2nd term. There is currently a preponderance of politicians from the Anambra North Senatorial District claiming that the incumbent Governor, Chief (Dr.) Willie M. Obiano has disappointed them with his abysmal non-performance and should step aside to give another person from Anambra North a chance. However, considering the fact that Anambra Central Senatorial District has had 11 years in power and the North has had a single term of four years with an overwhelming agreement on lack of confidence and abysmal non-performance, equity requires that the Anambra South Senatorial District, precisely the Ihiala L.G.A where Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju comes from should be given the opportunity of completing a 2nd term in office.
Why did you quit the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which you were a key member in the state and join APC?
Following the impunity and impositions in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the formation of a formidable opposition, i.e. the All Progressives Congress (APC), I joined the APC about three years ago. I have remained steadfast and I am happy to have contributed my quota with our leader, Sen. (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, other valued stakeholders and members of the Party in Anambra State in ensuring the success of the Party at the 2015 general elections. Together, by God’s grace, we will do it in Anambra State so as to make Anambra great again.
You are the only Papal Knight who has indicated interest to govern the state. Does the fact that Anambra is a highly religious community confer any advantages on you?
The dominant churches in Anambra State are the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Of all the governorship aspirants in the State, with all humility, I have done so well for the Catholics and Anglicans, as well as other religious and non-religious organizations. I have been recognized by the Pope as a Knight of St. Gregory. But of course these are God’s doing, not my power.
Who really is Dr. Obinna Uzoh?
I was born into the family of late Chief and Chief (Mrs) Obi Uzoh of Umunnamehi, Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State on March 17, 1963. I am a humble teacher, lawyer, a seasoned administrator, astute entrepreneur and a philanthropist. My elaborate exposure to these areas of human endeavour has helped nurture my private business enterprises from very humble beginnings to large concerns. Indeed, the said business which started as a mustard seed commenced in 1987 and has today grown into the conglomerate, Gocuz Group Ltd with six subsidiaries: Gocuz Engineering, Gocuz Oil Services, Gocuz Construction, Gocuz Chambers, Gocuz Finance and Securities and Gocuz Farms Ltd. Today, I am the Chairman/CEO of all subsidiaries in Gocuz Group; Principal Partner, Gocuz Chambers; Chairman, Board of Trustees, Caritas University, Enugu and founder of Obinna Uzoh Foundation. I am a Member, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Member, Institute of Directors of Nigeria, IOD, Member, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Member, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Member, Nigerian-German Council, Member, Asian-Chamber of Commerce, Member, Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Member, Ikoyi Club, Member, Lagos Island Club, Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administrators and Fellow, Institute of Cost Management. Because of the high value I place on education, I have awarded scholarships to many students in primary, secondary, colleges of education, polytechnics and universities across the country. He has also awarded special scholarships to indigenes of Anambra State in Medicine, Law, Accountancy and Engineering, et cetera. I built and donated a 3-storey building for the Law Faculty of Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State, built, donated and renovated schools across the country, constructed and equipped several computer and science laboratories in secondary and tertiary institutions in Anambra State and distributed of text books and instructional materials to schools across Anambra State. He is also involved in establishment of small scale enterprises for indigenes of Anambra State and involved in road construction/rehabilitation of rural roads in the state. I am married to Chief Barr. (Mrs.) Herietta Obinna Uzoh, for the past 26 years. Our marriage is blessed with seven children.