By Damian Kamalu
In the first place, every fact contained in this write -up is subject to verification by anybody who cares to, and the purpose is simply to set the record straight, with a view to preventing further deceit by Dr Uche Ogah.
It is very much baffling that someone like Dr Uche Ogah will be thinking of getting a ministerial position, as being widely circulated, after all that transpired in the last 2019 general elections in Abia State.
Prior to the elections, there was so much zeal for change of government in Abia State as the PDP government in the state was seen by a large of Abians as a big failure, with huge debt owed workers in the state, as well as pronounced infrastructural deficit. And from every indications,
the masses looked up to APC to bring this much needed change.
At the general state level, the overwhelming general wish was for a kind of an arrangement that would see Hon Martins Azubuike deputise Dr. Uche Ogah. It was a widely held opinion that if this was to happen, then it would be a totally easy ride for the APC during the governorship election in the state because these two people have strong support base in the state. At first, this ally seemed almost impossible because while Dr. Uche Ogah was expected to clinch the party ticket at the primaries, there was a genuine fear by the most Abians that defeating Hon Martins Azubuike, who was equally very popular and of Ngwa extraction, would result to a very fierce intra party conflict between the camps of these two aspirants. It was a total challenge for some of us who are from that part of the state, because while we see Hon Martins Azubuike as our own blood, we knew it would be easier for the party if Dr Uche Ogah became the party flag bearer. At a time, some of my kins saw me as a traitor for prefering to support somebody who was not from Ngwaland, especially as it was widely held that Ngwa people need to complete their own 8 years just like other parts of the state have done.
When the primaries was concluded and Dr Uche Ogah was pronounced winner as expected, people braced themselves for the inevitable protest that was to ensue from Hon Martin Azubuike’s camp. However, in a pleasant surprise the following morning after the primaries, at about 7:15am, Hon Martins Azubuike issued a congratulatory message to Dr Uche Ogah. What a relief to all party faifthfuls! Many commended Hon Martins Azubuike for deeming it fit to choose the greater good of the party and Abians over his selfish aspiration. And to add to the excitement, Abians were greeted with a more pleasant news few days later, that Hon Martins Azubuike had been confirmed as the running mate of Dr Uche Ogah. It was the climax of the moment, and made me feel less guilty for being an ardent supporter of Dr Uche Ogah . Many could not wait for the election to come. People of all classes, even those who hitherto had never participated in an election before, started declaring support for APC to take over Abia State. Pro groups started springing up from all corners in support of Dr. Uche Ogah and Hon Martins Azubuike ticket . It was now simply a matter of time ass people already started talking about what Uche Ogah – Martins administration would be like.
The excitement kept mounting until towards the last stages of the preparation for the election when the tempo started dying down because the reality of Dr Uche Ogah’s trickery started hitting on so many people.
All through the campaign period, practically nothing was done by Dr Ogah to show that he was actually contesting to win the election, but the masses could not notice this huge gap as they were blinded by the excitement and zeal for change at the time. On the part of the party faithfuls and we core supporters of Dr Ogah, loyalty to the him and commitment for change in Abia State prevented us from recognising the deceit in his campaign.
Thus, there was no single advert by Dr Uche Ogah in any notable radio or TV station all through the campaign, there were no billboards erected by his Campaign Organisation, practically nothing at all. The APC billboards one could see anywhere in Abia were erected by other APC candidates
and a few supporters. The few skeletal jingles were the ones done by supporters and other candidates on their own.
A few persons who couldnt take it any longer started complaining, but the same excitement and loyalty prevented majority of the people from seeing beyond their noses. To us, we saw such complains as the work of the ‘enemies’ who want to distract Dr Uche Ogah’s train. In the few occasions when some complained openly, Dr Uche Ogah would quickly respond to the effect that billboards and posters and adverts do not win elections, and that he was doing something far beyond all those. Each time this response came from Dr Uche Ogah, people would feel relaxed.
On the other hand, every space in the state was littered by the presence of the guber candidatesof the other political parties, mainly PDP and APGA. Unfortunately for us, APC was totally dwarfed in this regard but to people like us, such things did not matter., what matters was what Dr Uche Ogah had said.
In the official campaign tour proper, when we were expecting to showcase our strength, Dr Uche Ogah managed to hurriedly visit the 17 local governments in the state, spending about average 20 mins in each LGA. When this was happening, we all thought he was in a haste to do a tour of the LGAs, after which he
would probably do a more thorough campaign visit of the 24 state constituencies, etc. But to the shock of everybody, that hasty LGA tours were all everybody saw of Dr Uche Ogah.
And throughout the whole campaign, Dr Uche Ogah did not buy or brand any campaign vehicles that anybody could attest to, unless his inner camp members who have refused to see anything wrong at all. In all the 17 local governments, one could not see Dr Uche Ogah’s campaign vehicle(s) anywhere. The vehicles one may have seen were the ones bought and branded by other candidates, and a few supporters. Specifically, the House of Assembly Candidates were often told to always incorporate Dr Uche Ogah in their vehicles, posters and billboards, which was readily complied with. This was done by the candidates in a quest to win the election, and on the basis of the firm promise by Dr Uche Ogah to the House of Assembly candidates that he was going to release his own personal financial assistance to the candidates a day or two to the governorship and house of assembly elections. In one occasion, he specifically mentioned that it was going to be about two million naira (N2m) from him personally to each of the 24 house of assembly candidates, in addition to the amount the party may give them. But unfortunately for the candidates, not a kobo was given to them by Dr Uche Ogah until the morning of the governorship election, when each candidate was given five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) only. Initially, Dr Uche Ogah told the house of assembly candidates that the N500,000 was from his personal purse, but later it was discovered that the N500K was part of the money given by the party from Abuja to help in the governorship/house of assembly election in Abia state.
This scenario continued until the Presidential election. On the Friday preceding the first of 16th February presidential election, INEC in the state released the names of adhoc staff and to everybody’s shock in APC, a whopping majority of the adhoc staff members were known PDP members
and/or loyalists. Even the non-party public in Abia state were screaming and complaining about the list. It was a very huge blow to all APC faithfuls, but luckily that election was postponed by one week, to the relief of all in the party. And severally before this time, most people, including House of Assembly Candidates, raised the issue of adhoc staff composition, and severally Dr Uche Ogah and his campaign DG assured everybody that everything was under control.
Even in a meeting immediately after the postponed election, Dr Uche Ogah reiterated the assurance that everything was under control and that the adhoc list would definitely be changed to avoid giving PDP undue advantage in the elections. But that list was never changed and the same people whose names were published that very Friday evening of 15th February 2019 were the same adhoc staff who conducted both the presidential/national assembly elections of 23rd
February and the governorship/house of assembly elections of 9th March 2019. It was an unpleasant situation for all party faithfuls.
On the 8th of March 2019, a day before the governorship/house of assembly elections, a meeting of all candidates and stake holders of the party was conveyed in Umuahia by about 12noon. Everybody had expected that everything concerning the preparation of, and logistics for the
election, would be concluded on time to enable the candidates and party faithfuls go back home early to their various localities in order to put up the final preparation for the elections the following day. However, to the chagrin of everybody, people were kept at the meeting venue for
too long with basically nothing tangible being discussed or done. Even when Dr Uche Ogah spoke, it was more or less a repeat of what everybody has been hearing from him since the inception of the campaign few months back. Nothing concerning strategy or logistics for the election was talked about at that meeting.
From there, around 5pm, candidates and other party members were told to move to Dr Uche Ogah’s campaign office, which was complied with. Both candidates and other stake holders remained at Dr
Ogah’s office until around 7:30pm when another instruction came that everybody should move to Hon Acho Obioma’s house there in Umuahia, which also was complied with. Everybody, including the candidates and stake holders ended up spending the night at Hon Acho Obioma’s house, totally unplanned! All this while, nobody heard anything from, or saw Dr Uche Ogah until around 6am in the morning when he arrived at Hon Acho Obioma’s house. That was the morning of the election, and most of the house of assembly candidates were present, including those whose localities were about 2 hours drive from Umuahia. Some stake holders and a few house of assembly candidates had left in the middle of the night because of lack of coordination.
In a prepared list, Dr Uche Ogah started calling out names for the money he came with for the elections. The monies shared included seventy five thousand naira (N75K) for a polling unit, meant for
allowances for agents and other staff. Some polling units have up to three (3) or four (4)
voting points. Other monies included one hundred thousand naira (N100k) per LGA for security, and just a few others. It was at this point that the house of assembly candidates were given the N500k each, which Dr Uche Ogah claimed was from his personal purse, and which eventually turned out to be false. Even a few candidates never got a dime, because of the uncoordinated nature of the disbursement . Also in all this, the party structure was never seen anywhere. Neither the state party Chairman, secretary, nor other notable party executives were present. Most of them have often complained bitterly of being ignored by Dr Uche Ogah, for reasons that are obvious now.
This disbursement exercise continued till after 8am in the morning. Even while the disbursement was going on, calls started reaching those present that some INEC people had started arriving the voting centres for the election. Meanwhile Dr Uche Ogah, the guber
candidate, whom the whole Abians were eagerly expecting to bring the much needed change in the state, was still in Hon Acho Obioma’s house in Umuahia, a place that is over one hour drive to
his village/voting centre. It was a totally disorganised and confused day for the candidates,
stake holders and party faithfuls.
From there, some candidates started scrambling to get home. It is on record that most of the people were severely delayed on their way by the various security check points on the way. Even some party people were arrested and their cars impounded by the police until several days after the election when they were released, eventually out of their own efforts. And by the time some people could eventually get home on that election day, the elections were either over or half gone.
It was under this condition that the governorship and house of assembly elections took place in Abia State took place. Till date, nobody knows exactly how much was given by the centre for the elections.
Dr Uche Ogah keeps giving everybody the impression that nothing was given by the party at the centre. The writer has got information that when the issue was to be discussed at the forum comprising all candidates in Abia, Dr Uche Ogah quickly exited the group and few minutes later, the forum was abruptly dissolved by one of his aides who eventually was the admin of that WhatsApp forum. And two days later, when the matter was raised in another forum Dr Uche Ogah belonged, he immediately exited the platform and till today, nobody knows how much the party at the centre gave for Abia guber/house of assembly elections.
Contrary to the impression Dr Uche Ogah may presently be giving the party leaders in Abuja, it is a clear fact that he never spent any money in the last election, and he never did any reasonable campaign for the election. Rather what may have happened is that he made money for himself in the election. Even each of the Senate Candidates campaigned and spent more than he did.
For example, what the candidate of Abia Central, Senator Nkechi Nwaorgu, did was clear for everybody to see, both in terms of rigorous campaign tours embarked upon, and expenses incurred by her. As a matter of fact, she visited all the 62 wards in her senatorial district, and in each of them she spent an average one hour thirty minutes (1:30mins), taking time to press home the APC message. Everybody, even those outside her constituency, felt her presence in terms of mobilisation, logistics support, gifts, etc.
The same goes for the Senate Candidate of Abia North, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu who eventually won his
own Senatorial election. His campaign drive was so thorough and deeply rooted that one could
think he was even the one contesting for the governorship election. He even went as far as giving financial support to the house of assembly candidates within his senatorial district, and even some outside his senatorial district. In fact, one house of assembly candidate in Abia central said he got as much as two million five hundred thousand naira (N2.5m) cash assistance from Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, and some others got average one million naira (N1m) each from him.
But Dr. Uche Ogah the guber candidate for the state cannot point to any candidate he personally supported with any money, yet he is presently giving the leaders in Abuja the impression that he supported everybody financially. The writer has information that even severally, when those house of assembly candidates begged him for support, he would tell them that he too was a candidate like them, and therefore nobody should expect such from him. Yet, he himself personally got some financial support from others, including some APC governors, candidates and a few national stake holders in the party.
I wish to truly state here that none of these candidates mentioned above knew that this article is being written, and their consents were never sought or given. Rather, it is out of feeling of genuine responsibility to the party that I decided to take up the task of unveiling all that transpired in respect to Dr Uche Ogah’s actions/inactions in the last election.
While no one can decide for President Buhari whom he chooses to appoint his ministers, it is important to point out here that it will be totally unfair for Dr Uche Ogah to to be given the post of a minister simply because he was the guber candidate of the party in the state. From all indications, as has been highlighted, it is quite obvious that Dr Uche Ogah never meant to context any election, and he never really contested any. His target from day one has been this appointment he is lobbying for and every indication points to the fact that he had negotiated with the PDP for monetary compensation. It is on record, as has been confirmed by the writer, that Dr Uche Ogah is heavily indebted to banks to the tune of about seventy billion naira (N70 bilion naira). But he was giving everybody the impression that he had enough money available for the election, until the last moment when the reverse was seen to be the case. All he was looking for was how to make money to help him pay his mounting debts, not to genuinely contest election.
It became too disturbing for people like us to have discovered that Dr Uche Ogah has been owing his workers up to more than 12 months salary, while all along, one of our major points in our campaign was that the PDP government in the state was heavily owing Abia workers.
The election itself was an unpleasant experience for APC. The soldiers who were supposed to be neutral fully worked in the interest of the opposition PDP to the extent that the APC deputy governorship candidate, Rt Hon Martins Azubuike, was thoroughly manhandled while the governorship/house of assembly elections were ongoing that fateful day. This was to the extent that the soldiers seized his two phones and cars in order to keep him incommunicado for several hours while the PDP had a field day. The police themselves were hostile to APC people at every slightest provocation with people alleging that the police were angry because the APC gubernatorial candidate/people refused to ‘see’ them regarding the election.
Even after the results were announced and the APC party failed in the state, Dr Uche Ogah’s reaction simply showed that he was not expecting to win, a shock to many in the state. So many questions are in people’s mind today: was it that Dr Uche Ogah had agreed with the opposition PDP to pretend to be running in order to allow them have a smooth ride for Governor Ikpeazu’s second term? Was such arrangement based on monetary compensation to him by PDP or on the agreement that they will support him come 2023? While will Dr Uche Ogah be so selfish not to consider the interest of majority of suffering Abians who had wished, prayed, and worked tirelessly for the much needed change in the state? These questions have been answered in recent time as Dr Uche Ogah’s original motives have been uncovered.
In addition, Dr Uche Ogah’s petition at the election tribunal has just been struck out on Saturday , something that is not of surprise to many people any longer because it has been made obvious before now that he was never serious ab initio.
In the first place, Dr Uche Ogah never bothered to collect his results on LGA by LGA basis to discover his areas of strengths and weaknesses that would have aided him in the petition. Secondly, he deliberately refused to pay for the required certified true copies (CTC) of the INEC results. Thirdly, he never paid his lawyer on time to enable him do the necessary filling, if at all he has paid him by now, and as a result the filling was done about eleven (11) days after the stipulated time by the Electoral Act, a purely deliberate ploy by Dr Uche Ogah to make himself to be disqualified in the whole petition matter!
All he was targeting from the very initial period, even before the primaries, was ministerial appointment.
If one is to consider all that has transpired, it will simply lend credence to what everybody has come to realize: that Dr Uche Ogah never contested any election, everything he did in the process was a big hoax!
In saner climes, Dr Uche Ogah should be facing prosecutions at the moment for deliberately deceiving the good people of Abia APC and for denying the party the golden opportunity to take over the State at the polls. Thinking of being appointed a minister is a huge insult on our collective psyche; more so, he may have thought that President Buhari would be too busy to discover all these deceits.
It is obvious that making Dr Uche Ogah minister will only help him settle his huge personal loans with the banks, it will not serve the common Nigerians any good.
If President Buhari goes ahead to appoint Dr Uche Ogah as minister, in the face of all these issues, it means that deceit is being encouraged and even rewarded in the party. However, the I take consolation in the fact that on the basis of his integrity, President Buhari will never habour or encourage this deceit by Dr Uche Ogah..
Writing from Osisioma.