In this interview with EMMANUEL MGBEAHURIKE, former deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, speaks on the need for a review of the constitution in respect of the powers of deputy governor of a state. He also speaks on the strategic role he played in the emergence and formation of the present administration under the leadership of Senator Hope Uzodimma.
You were a year older recently; do you feel accomplished in life against the backdrop of challenges after office as the deputy governor?
I feel great and I owe God all the gratitude because without Him I am nothing. I have looked back and taken time to appreciate how far He has led me. I give Him all the glory because if one critically evaluates some of the things he has passed through, you will realize I had no chance as a human being. Again, I have always been contented with whatever God has given me at every point in time.
I will say that I feel fulfilled because I am alive and I am as healthy as anyone could ever wish to be. Interestingly, God has also used me to accomplish a number of projects. My children are all doing well. At every point in my life, I have always lived above board. And most importantly, when I had some opportunities what did I do with it? I believe God used me to achieve certain things for humanity.
You left office as the deputy governor of Imo state. How do you feel now as a private citizen?
I feel great and good, yes, there is nothing as good as a good name. I am a free citizen and I walk freely. When I want to sleep, I sleep with my two eyes closed because I am not worried about who comes to the door looking for me for explanations. What is important is the grace of waking up every day and finding a way to contribute to humanity. Sometimes, your experience could be shared with other leaders to help resolve some challenges which are normal.
Of course, I am still active in politics, I have my eyes on the ball, but prefer to keep it cool, as the real meaning of politics, should humble anyone because it is a selfless and thankless service. As a pragmatic and compassionate politician, service and struggle to bring about development to your people should be paramount.
It was observed that you were conspicuously absent during the last State Congress of the All Progressives Congress. What happened?
I am aware that most stakeholders took notice of my absence. However, let me straighten the records. I am the Leader of the political movement that paved the way for the emergence of Senator Hope Uzodimma. As a party faithful and one of the founding fathers of our great party, APC, my personality gave the present administration the edge and platform. I also contributed my quota towards the stabilization of this administration and will continue to play a prominent role in uplifting the party.
What is your relationship with the present administration that you guarded and guided even when other stakeholders did not give the present leader a chance?
I don’t intend to dig deeper in this direction. However, suffice it to say that like I mentioned earlier, I am a front line progenitor of this administration, nobody can take away this from me. The governor hope Uzodimma is my friend and brother, I am aware of the challenges confronting the administration and the positive efforts put in place to tackle same. My people have a proverb that if you intend to use ten eggs to appease the gods on behalf of a child, courtesy demands that you give him one to taste.
Are you vying for any elective post in 2023?
I keep that close to my chest. However, be rest assured that I shall be vying for an elective position. I am yet to see the Nigeria of my dream. By God’s grace, I shall achieve this by what I shall achieve in both human capital development and development of our country. At the nick of time, our people will be addressed and you too will be in the know.
What were the challenges faced while in office and the high points within the period you were in office?
The first challenge I faced as someone who midwifed the emergence of our administration, I took it as a challenge to ensure that the government succeeded. So, as the then Chief of Staff, I worked round the clock to always ensure that areas where we couldn’t get it right were managed effectively. To the glory of God, I achieved a number of things successfully. The second challenge was being in power but not being in power. As a Deputy Governor, Nigeria’s constitution renders you dormant except whatever the governor considers to leave for you to handle. Except the statutory position of being the Chairman of Boundary Commission, every other assignment is at the discretion of the governor. Even as chairman of the boundary commission, you may not be funded. So, these are fundamental challenges we have in the polity. The challenge was what to do to help even your immediate Constituency, who are suffering because of the impassable road network. Again, our people do not know what is possible in any position in government. The moment you are in government, the feeling is that you have it all. Of course I had to stoop, plead for me to achieve the little I did, especially to the loving people of Mbaitoli. Apart from the link roads from Okigwe road through Obazu, my Community, Achi to Ubomiri, then linking you to Orlu road; the same with the link road, starting from Orlu Road express to Orodo, then towards Ogwa. Again, some efforts were made from Orlu road to Ifakala, then towards Ogbaku.
The then Governor Okorocha called for your impeachment months before the end of second term in office. Were you taken aback?
I thought I could have been spared this past. It’s already in history. The issue of impeachment onslaught didn’t come as a surprise. As a strategist, I should read situations and preempt the next step and of course other options at your disposal. The last was the challenge of allowing Imo people to have their way politically and walking the rope of political onslaught. You are aware that there was a serious effort to have me removed from office as a Deputy Governor but the God I serve, Imo people and Nigerians at large said no to that landmine. Beyond that, I was marked for elimination, but I survived not by my power, but God shielded me from all that. I was starved of funds among other wickedness to break me. God gave me the heart and grit to withstand such blows. It’s history. They never succeeded.
You have been battling to collect the backlog of your salaries and allowances running into billions of Naira apparently withheld by the then governor Okorocha. Why have you not been paid all your entitlements?
I would have chosen to be silent on this. For the records I have not received a dime. I say so because most people have accused me of having been paid part sum or even all the sum.
How would you access Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration so far?
That is why it is said that every leader emerges for a purpose and God designs such because you may think you have it all but the whole thing changes. That is the God factor. Looking at how he came in, he has done well. The quality is what I admire. The recent empowerment move must be commended. Some felt he just gave out money. No. These youths had been trained in entrepreneurial skills before the stage of backing it up with some funds.