Chief Willy Ezugwu is the Secretary General of the Alhaji Balarabe Musa-led Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and the President/National Coordinator of the South East Revival Group (SERG), one of the highly rated national leaders in the Nigerian Civil Society community, a first class traditional rules and the
In this interview with James Ezema, he spoke on recent verdict of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Imo governorship tussle, the future of Imo State under Hope Uzodinma administration, among other issues.
As a stakeholder south east politics, the Supreme Court recently removed Imo State Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma winner. What is your reaction to that verdict?
You see, as we the members of the South East Revival Group described the validation of the election of Senator Hope Uzodinma as the Governor of Imo State, it is a good omen because we must see life from God’s perspective. It is God that enthrones and can dethrone. That is why we urge all Imolites to see the Supreme Court verdict as an act of God. To whom shall you appeal the judgment?
It is time we looked at life from the spiritual perspective and stop killing ourselves over nothing.
The judgment was unanimous as the seven justices held that Hope Uzodinma won by valid votes and the decision was based on facts before the highest court in the country, without a single dissenting voice. They have said that Uzodinma is the validly elected Governor.
I think that at this time we have to see how we can move ahead, carry everyone along and make progress as south easterners.
How do you explain a candidate who came distant fourth being declared winner of the Imo State governorship election because that is the question on the lips of the critics?
Most of the critics of the judgment are interested politicians who are holding on to the straw as every drowning person. I have contested elections and I have been to the tribunal and I can tell how it feels to lose a case at the tribunal or the courts. However, how do you reconcile a situation where, as a candidate, your valid votes are cancelled deliberately to put you at a distant third to make you appear as a bad loser?
How do you explain that? If your victory at election is badly robbed to place you at a distant third position, in connivance with INEC officials, where do you go for redress? Is it not the court? The only place where cases of disagreement on any issue is settled on point of law is the court, whose duty it is to examine the facts and take decisions.
So, following the sentiments of politicians to condemn the verdict of the Supreme Court without taking into account of the reasons for the verdict is a pure display of emotions. That’s the way I see it. We should be arguing based on the point of law and what transpired in the court not based of electoral interest. Let me remind you that he (Hope Uzodinma) was elected Senator for the Orlu zone in 2011 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party but his election was challenged on the ground that he was not the valid PDP candidate. It was the Supreme Court that validated his election as a Senator. So, you can now understand that he is not new to election litigations and he has always come out victorious?
How do you see Imo State under the administration of the new governor?
I am personally convinced, just like the South East Revival Group has said, that of all the governors that have ruled Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma will outperform them. I have strong believe that by the time he finishes his tenure, he will be celebrated by Imolites like the late Sam Mbakwe.
The only thing I would want him to do is to focus on development of Imo State. There is no need to waste energy fighting individuals and before you realize it, your tenure has ended without any legacy to point to years after you leave office. He will deliver because he is focused and won’t allow himself to be distracted by critics and he won’t chase the wind.
That is why we urged him in our press statement to reconcile Imolites, rebuild the state as a man sent by God. And I know that he will put smiles on the faces of the good people of the state just as he did as a Senator. He lived up to the overall expectations of his then constituency, the people of Orlu zone and other Imo State people saw his performance as a Senator.
There were evident Federal Government projects in all the twelve Local government areas in the zone during his tenure as the Senator representing them.
It is on record that Senator Hope Uzodinma facilitated the construction of roads in the zone and the setting up of rural electrification projects across the zone, among various Human Capacity Projects, bore-holes and gainful employment of youths and women in the zone.
He was vibrant in the Senate and initiated bills and expanded his legislative representation beyond his senatorial zone as the Senate Committee Chairman on Aviation to make a case for the actualisation of the Sam Mbakwe Airport as international cargo airport, which it was originally designed to be. That is the type of man Senator Hope Uzodinma is. It is not surprising that Imo people voted for him. He will, in turn, change the lives of Imo residents as an appreciation for the confidence they have reposed in his capacity to deliver.
What will be your advice to Imo State people?
They should continue to trust him and cooperative to deliver on his campaign promises. It is better to ask questions and demand answers than to become an armchair critic for political purposes.
The election is over, the people of Imo State should unite and get the best from the new governor. No state or country can develop with unity of purpose. He needs the support of all Imolites to succeed as their governor.
In view of the verdict by the Supreme Court, what would you say to the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)?
In simple words, INEC should do better. They have been on the business of upturning the will of the people. The number of cases in court after each election conducted by the current INEC leadership indicate that they have to do better.