My challenge to Gov. Orji, by Reagan Ufomba
By CHIDI OBINECHE
Monday, April 09,  2012

Ufomba

As the Supreme Court verdict on the 2011 governorship election in Abia State comes up in May, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Candidate Chief Reagan Ufomba has challenged the Abia state governor Chief Theodore. A Orji to a popularity contest in Aba to prove who actually won the election.

Ufomba speaks on this, the serial booing of the governor over the years in Aba and Umuahia , amongst other electoral and governance issues. CHIDI OBINECHE met him in Lagos and presents the Excerpts.

State of affairs in Abia
Abia State has been in the news for all the bad reasons. Bad reasons of misgovernance, wastage of funds, blackmailing, intolerance of the opposition. For this and many more, the opposition has risen to the occasion. They have decided to defend the people who voted for them in 20011.

We have a government in place, so intolerant to constructive criticisms. The other day I was reading the Newspapers, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said President Jonathan, is the most cunning politician he has ever seen. The following day, Mr. President congratulated him on his 60th birthday anniversary. That is what it should be. The opposition must have a voice and that is why we are talking; and that is what governor Orji wants to shut out. And we will never allow that.

Clamp down on opposition
What is raging in Abia State today is well known. Sometime last month we buried our leader, late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu. And the people reacted spontaneously against a governor and government of oppression. A government they never voted for. A government that has refused to empower the people; a government without vision. They booed at him, which they have always done and the man resorted to some pettiness. First they said it was Governor Rochas Okorocha, because the man received a heroic welcome into Aba. Then, they said it was APGA leadership, and they narrowed it down to me.

As unfortunate as that may be, we reacted; and said no, we were not part of it, count us out. And ever since, hell is dripping with blackmail, insult, threats, and of course we cannot be deterred by that pettiness we will continue to defend our mandate, we will continue to defend the people who voted us. It was not the first time; he was booed in public places. In 2010, when he visited Aba uninvited (catholic diocese), he was booed and had to be sneaked away from the premises. In 2011, during the presidential flag-off in Aba, he was disgraced before President Jonathan. The same year in Umuahia diocese, he walked out, and I wasn’t there. APGA people were not there. He staged a walk out after he was booed.

At Nnewi, he was also booed. What I expect this man to do is to do a self introspection and ask why are these happening to me? If the people didn’t vote for him, and he imposed himself on the people, then he ought to start a new process. We know what happened in Abia. There was no election in Abia. They simply sat down and wrote some results. And that is how he is in power, and that is why the people are opposed to him, coupled with the fact that he has got no vision.

This is a 21st century governor that is constructing roads without gutter. This is a 21st century governor that spent over N50 million to commission a well celebrated footbridge recently. He ferried people from all the local government areas, sowed uniforms as an identity. Our people will continue to oppose him until he realizes that every kobo that comes into Abia State is not his personal money, it is money meant for Abia people, both PDP and the opposition and it is our responsibility to put the government in check; till he vacates that office, because we are very confident that the Supreme Court will do the needful this time around by removing this man from office constitutionally.

This is my party card. He has no party and has not been able to prove to anybody that he was a member of PDP. This is a man that got an award from the court of Appeal, that he was Deputy to Chief Orji Kalu. That was the ruling of the court, that he was deputy between 2003 to 2007. It is on record that Onyema Ugochukwu went to court because he did not resign as a civil servant.

These are all the albatross he has around his neck. So naturally, I am not a trouble maker. But I think they have stirred the hornets nest by mentioning my name in this ugly incident, he knows I know nothing about and that is why I reacted, and will continue to react, since he has created opposition, and made me the opposition leader in Abia State. I accept that responsibility and will continue to defend the people of Abia State because I have their mandate to defend and we are going to petition the Chief Justice of Federation, because all the petitions that went to the Election Tribunal, 99% of them were dismissed on mere technicalities and that is against the law.

Opposition politics
I’ am a refined gentleman. Everybody knows that I am a very humble person. I have carried myself in a most dignifying manner, before, during, and after the elections. I ran one of the most decent campaigns in this country –issue based. I had my 12 point agenda for Aba, because Aba is the heart beat of Abia State. I never troubled anybody. When they rigged the election fraudulently, I went to the tribunal. They deceived themselves, we went on appeal. They served a different lawyer, and not the one we hired. And we resorted to God. I went back to my business. I have not been in Lagos.

For the past eight months, I have been to Abia state. I flew into Abia for the first time for the burial of late Ikemba Nnewi, our leader, my hero, one of the two Nigerians I adore in this country. And then, they started calling names, funny names ,made from a familiar template, a script written by a character I know too well, an Ugwuabia exponent; by the time you call Ugwuabia fiesta, some of them will scamper for safety. We will react, fire for fire. Nobody has a monopoly of blackmail. As long as they continue to blackmail the opposition, witch hunt, the opposition, intimidate the opposition, we have God with us, and we have the people behind us.

Legal challenges and 2015
We are not yet thinking of the 2015 elections. We are thinking of what will happen in May. If what we expect to happen in May does not happen, then we will form formidable opposition against this government. But let me tell you opposition is there already. All they need is to be organized. The people of Abia do not want T.A. Orji. We have a few big names that are saying. It must be PDP, and T.A. Orji. The ordinary man in the street, does not want PDP, and T.A. Orji. The farmers, Traders, artisans do no want him, because he lacks vision and what it takes to be a 21st century governor.

Our case
We went to court saying that there was no election known to law in Abia state, and they said we didn’t cross our “Ts” right, dot our ‘Is’ of course there was no contesting the fact that I was a candidate in that election, and that I had grievances which were legitimately taken to the tribunal. Let me also give you a very bad scenario in Abia state. There was a man, Mr. Owanta, his party logo was excluded, his name was excluded, yet the man was allocated some votes. And the man went to court and said look, my logo didn’t appear and they said, shut up, you have nothing to say. What do they want us to do? To take to the street?

Even at that, we managed to say, look we don’t want violence. We need to approach this thing in a more dignifying manner, and yet that has not been appreciated by T.A.Orji. He thinks we are fools. He thinks he has a godfather who must lord it over us, and over Abia people. And we are going to stand up, to say no, because we can never abandon Abia state to anybody. We have equal stakes in this country, in Abia state and we are going to stand up to defend our rights. We are waiting for their next move. We are only waiting for May. After May, you‘ll see what will happen in Abia.

Support from Abia VIPs
Government is about perception and Nigerians and Abians have gotten to the level that it is now everybody for himself and God for us all. But it should not be so. Most of the big men in Abia are simply doing siddon look, because nobody wants to die. We are aware of what happened during the kidnapping saga, and who the sponsors were. You talk, you get kidnapped. We are saying no to all this. The average man on the street, the youths whose tenure had been taken by our forefathers, who have also taken their own, and want to take the time of our own children, we are standing up to say no. We are poised to restore most of them. A new generation is coming up in Abia to take over the reins of power and chart a new course.

My challenge
This is the only way to know that the election was rigged. I have no people who believed in me? Even in my own ward? All the senators that contested in all the parties, their friends, supporters, kinsmen were dead? Their party men did not exist? They were stupid in the manner they rigged the election in Abia state. If they had some respect for humanity, for their fellow politicians, and for Abia people, they should have at least conceded some areas where they knew that were over whelmingly for us. Let me also tell you that within the next one month, I am going to publish the original result, collected by our agents in Abia state.

I will give what PDP got, what APGA got and what they changed it to. And I am going to deliver all the ballot boxes that were found in the bushes of Abia, with the electoral materials intact. I am going to send copies to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN. Let them tell us how T. A. Orji won the election in Abia state. That man did not win any election. If he won, I want him to come to Aba, no soldier, no policeman, no scout. We will walk from Osisioma junction, through Ngwa road, to Aba-Owerri road, through Asa road, Ohanku, let us see who will come back alive. Let us see who the people will hail, and who they will boo, stone, and throw sachet water at. And I want this covered by the press. We will walk into Aba, me and him alone we will stand, no police, no soldier, lets see what that contest will turn out to be. If he knows he won election, I challenge him to the contest.

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