Chief Ray Ugba Morphy, is from Cross River State and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He spoke with PAUL UWADIMA on the successes and challenges of governance in the two years old administration of PMB.
What is your assessment of the APC administration after two years, given the accusation that it has failed to fulfill its electoral promises?
Mind you, there has never been a time when we said all the rots created by 16 years of PDP would be gone in two years. It is not a matter of APC promised this and that, yet they have not fulfilled all. Let us understand the human process of doing things. The truth is that Nigeria was in far worst state than most people on the street could understand. We are a people who often forget our history. We tend to forget the recent history that all of us just experienced. A clear case is the issue of Boko Haram terrorism which almost hold the nation to ransom. The terrorists even held sway in the nation’s capital, Abuja. Remember the bomb blasts at the Banex Plaza, United Nations Building, and other places? These are things that happened which are now history as we do not have them anymore. So I can use that to illustrate to you that certainly no matter how we want to deny the facts on the ground, the threat to the ordinary citizens on the streets has reduced to the barest minimum; the issue of Boko Haram has abated. Another issue being tackled aggressively is corruption in high places. I can also tell you today that until recently, most roads in my state were not motorable. Anybody who knew Cross Rivers will know that for me to drive from Ogoja to Calabar, I had to go to Ebonyi State first before turning back, but now the road that everybody complained about has been contracted to Julius Berger and work is in progress. They are building a completely new road.
Your party appears to be in disunity, how could this be addressed?
Look at the evolution of APC as a party, how did APC start? Various parties including ACN, CPC, APGA, DPP and PDP came together to present themselves as alternative option to the PDP. They have not yet bonded to a point where they have same mission and vision, but we will get there. You know politics is a game of interest.
The APC administration has been accused of being too slow in taking key decisions which had led to present hardship in the land, what is your take?
The truth of the matter is that what you see is the evolution of all the process of building a system and that is natural. As much as you like to paint the scenario of the state of things being very bad, there were specific campaign promises they made and they gave time frame as to that. Also, another thing you must bear in mind is that we don’t have all the available information before we came into the government. I have been around the corridors of power for some time now, one thing that is hard to get is information. There are some things you do not give out by law. That is why we have the Official Secret Act. So, there is no way the APC as a party, could have had access to certain information about the government until it took over government.
Are you saying that APC ran its campaigns on unreliable information?
You go and find out. The information by the Federal Government of Nigeria which was given out to the people was false. One of the ministers of the PDP government said that some of the statistics that were being pushed out by the government were also false. So if the last government gave you falsified statistics about the economy, power output, investments in power, infrastructure, what do you do?
What in your opinion is the progressive politics of APC anchored upon?
APC operates under the principle of “welfarism”, which is a system where you put the welfare of the people first and always. When you have an ideology that is tended towards a welfarist state; you will work towards such things as social security. The fact that they were not in government could not have given them the kind of authentic data that was required for them to understand as much as they perceived.
Nigeria’s problems appear protracted, could it be the reason why APC is finding it difficult to solve them?
My position is very simple; the longer the problem, the more the work needed to solve it. In psychiatry, you do not treat somebody who ran mad yesterday the same way you treat a person that has been mad for ten years. The fact remains that if you are given a story, you must make an effort to go into the structures. In all these years, the political elites paid lip services to the challenges of our nation. If you look at the money that was spent by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government on power, it ought to have given us steady power, but look at where we are today.
What is your stand on the health of the President?
First, illness is a ‘human right’. Every human being has the right to be ill. You cannot preclude it. Second, the Nigerian presidency is the most powerful in the world. The Nigerian presidency is also one of the largest presidencies. The fact is that illness is a human right and that Mr. President is not in the best of health at this point in time is obvious, but the doctors have not declared him unfit for office. All I am saying is that, he is a child of the constitution.
Chief Bisi Akande appears to suggest that the health of the president is having serious effects on the state of the nation. Do you agree with that?
One, Chief Akande is a nobody in this matter, just like me. If Chief Akande is a layman in terms of health matters, then he is not in a position to determine the president’s capacity. Anybody who is ill will affect people around him, and will underperform for the period of the illness. The job of being a president is a chronic job and Nigerians voted for Mr. President despite his illness. These are some of the possible fallouts of doing the job and we should not punish him for becoming ill from time to time. I have not seen any ministry that has shut down because the president did not go to work. I have not seen any part of the presidency that is not operational.
Do you have political ambition for any elective office in 2019?
First, my political ambition is to ensure that the politics of Nigeria is stable. That is my ambition, hope and aspiration. Whatever I can do, whatever office I can take, by the grace of God, will be determined by time, and certainly I am up for it. My state, Cross River has deteriorated in recent time from the most peaceful state in the country to the terror state in Nigeria. The situation today is that some of us are even scared. I am interested in our state returning to what it used to be both as a tourism destination and as a peaceful place. The governorship of my state is vested in northern senatorial district right now and that’s where I come from. Governor Ben Ayade is doing a first term of our normal eight year rotational turn and he is in PDP. He is not doing well. We in the APC will vie for that office. We are not going to let the PDP keep it and when we vie for that office, it will be from the north, my senatorial district. Therefore, if my people consider me worthy to spearhead the change, why not? I am all for it. Right now, the incumbent governor is not doing well. In fact, we believe that Calabar and Cross River have deteriorated in the past few years and anybody who is honest will accept that.