Recently, Prince Eze Madumere had an interview with Leadership Newspapers where he spoke on the circumstances that led to his emergence as Deputy Governor among other issues.
If you’ll be patient enough to read through to the end, it would be worth every second of your time:D
You rose from the position of chief of staff to Governor Rochas Okorocha to the number two citizen of Imo; did you see it coming?
Of course not. Everybody in Imo State knew I loved my job as the chief of staff and how passionate I was with the job. And I say with all sincerity that I was very comfortable as the chief of staff as it had kept me in close contact with my boss. So I never thought of being the deputy governor. As a matter of fact, I was packaging somebody else for the position and it came to me as a shock as I never dreamt of it. But I take it to be God’s will and I give Him the glory.
Why do you think you were favoured amongst those tipped for the job?
Those who know me will always tell you that I have always remained consistent. The truth is that I believe in and I am an apostle of Rescue Mission, an apostle and defender of Rochanomics. I am a believer of the man Rochas – whether dead or alive; that is me! Come rain or shine, I believe in that principle. I think that has been the guiding principle for the close to two decades that we have been together.
I also believe that for you to have some kind of stability in government, you need somebody that you are comfortable with, and I think I represent that. Humility is my trade mark.
The events that led to your eventual ascension as deputy governor are still fresh in our minds. A lot of stories were carried d in the media. It was said that your nomination by Owelle Rochas has to do with 2015 politics in Imo State; is this not the case?
Well, just to say this: today is 2013; 2015 is too far away. Now, months ago, I was the chief of staff, today I am the deputy governor. 2015 is not in the equation. The equation as at today is governance: how to make Imo better; how to change and uplift the infrastructure in the state; how to continue to provide free education and sustain it; how to provide good roads, especially the 15km road in every local government; how to make sure we complete the 27 hospitals we have started and, of course, the 345 primary schools in the state and provide basic infrastructure across the state. That is what is in our mind at the moment, not 2015 politics in the state.
The allegation came from the former deputy governor, Jude Agbaso’s mouth; he said his removal was all about 2015 politics and that he was being used as a scapegoat in the fight between Owelle and APGA chieftain, Chief Martins Agbaso, his elder brother. Is it not true that you are a beneficiary of this power tussle?
These were all allegations and insinuations. You have not heard from Owelle himself. So whatever it is they are saying or claiming is just a one-sided allegation and it does not mean that it remains a fact. Besides I am not to speak for Owelle, you understand. And you have to bear in mind the sophisticated nature of Imo State. No two persons can trade off Imo State, and to tell Imo people that come 2015, Imo has already been conceded to a particular family is not only fallible but insulting. You know it cannot happen as we have the most advanced and educated set of humans in Imo State. So it cannot be sold and cannot be traded off; so that idea of 2015 is out of place.
But for emphasis, let me just use this analogy: if you watch a monkey falling downfrom a tree, the monkey would do everything possible in this world to grab some form of support. As it is falling down, it would do everything possible in this world to grab things, including leaves. It would never want to go down empty and it won’t. So when someone is falling down, the tendency to always hold onto something will always be there. This is what I personally feel happened in this case.
So, there may be no truth in his assertions?
Not as it relates to me. I’m less concerned about that. Governance is the priority at the moment as we have been called for service.
Could you let us into what a Prince Eze Madumere deputy governorship portends for Imo State?
Those who know me very well as chief of staff, especially for someone like you who knew me outside government, know that I am a total operations person. I am a vibrant and steadfast person. Like I said in my inaugural address, I await His Excellency’s directives and assignment and be rest assured of excellence in the discharge of these duties.
The Owelle-led government has been criticised by some opposition members for non-adherence to due process. Some say that the administration is biting more than it can chew. Do the state’s earnings from federal allocation and other revenue support the massive programmes and infrastructural revolution going on in the state?
Thanks for admitting that Imo is on top gear. Some media practioners would rather prefer to shy away from this fact or keep mute. Let me tell you something: when we came in 2011, because of the supplementary election and the way the election went, there were so much in terms of expectations from us. People expected so much from us. What is killing those we call ‘Abuja politicians’ – and this is the truth – is that we have exceeded every expectation of Imolites .
Today, Imo people are proud to have a governor they can call their own. They are proud to have monumental changes across Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe zones. They have a governor that they cannot call an ‘Orlu Governor’; they have a governor who is even more of Owerri zone than Orlu and Okigwe put together. I don’t know if you have gone round to see the infrastructure that is on ground. You must have driven round Owerri and noticed the resurfacing of all the roads in the town barely six months we came into office. Go to Sam Mbakwe block, the Hero Square Boulevard, the Concorde area – all these things were done in less than 12 months and are all in Owerri. Check out the White House, Junior Scientist, Owerri City School, the new roads connecting from St . Mulumba – Wetheral road all the way to Aba road. The city has grown to Nnaze junction now. They were not there before. The J-Pros roads that ran my predecessor into a mess starting from the Sam Mbakwe road will take you to Umezurike hospital from the warehouse behind Emmanuel College and burst out at Aba road. We are opening roads.
Today, if you go to Orlu, you would see a brand new city, same for Okigwe. Eight more additional cities are to be opened. I am from Mbaitoli, for example, now we have Orubi city, we have Aka city and Aham city, and these are modern cities and satellite towns that are coming up. I tell you that my leader is a visionary leader and that is why we are all following him, because it is clear to everyone that he means well for Imo people.
So, do the internal revenue and federal allocation support these programmes including the free education project of your government?
It is quite simple. People think we are borrowing money but the thing is bearing in mind how much billions used to be collected as security vote, the governor has rejected security votes and ploughed it back to the state’s treasury and that is the bulk of the money that goes into free education from primary to tertiary education. And then we looked at a lot of places where we had leakages and started locking them up and that is why we have been able to sustain this development in the first one year and moving to the second year. Again, its been a lot of sacrifice. I stayed as the chief of staff for months, going to tribunals and never collected a duty tour allowance (DTA). These are part of the sacrifices being led from the governor, unlike what obtained in the past and that is why we say we are in a ‘Rescue Mission’.
Let’s talk about investment drive in Imo State; what’s been the degree of success in wooing investors over?
The investment department is doing the best that they can. This is an area where the previous administration totally failed and so the governor has empowered the unit here and assembled a crack team which has been travelling within and outside the country to woo investors, and the move is paying off as investors are trickling in as the right environment is being created for them. The response has been impressive.
There has been hues and cries in APGA over Owelle Okorocha’s bid to key into the merger move for the All Progressives Congress (APC); how comfortable are you with this move?
I am very comfortable with the move and initiative. Wherever my boss is, that is where I am. The merger talks is still going on and we are still in APGA. We are negotiating, putting all the structures together and making sure that everything is secured. So we will get there.
But the move has led to divisions in APGA, with APGA-APGA and APGA–PDP emerging. Is this healthy for your party ahead 2015?
There is APGA-PDP, but we are APGA-APGA and by the time APGA-PDP would have realised it, we would have triumphed. The recent Court of Appeal ruling which returned Victor Umeh as the legally recognised national chairman is fresh to all of us and, of course, shows you the course of events in the party. So we are still in charge.
On the proposed merger, you must have heard some people saying that it may be difficult for the average Igboman to endorse APC; how do you react to that?
I totally disagree with such thoughts. Even if one does not appreciate it now, you will come to appreciate it later. Sam Mbakwe of blessed memory was not well appreciated but today the legacy that the Rescue Mission, led by Sam Mbakwe want to beat is that of Sam Mbakwe. Why is that?
You have Nigeria coming together: The CPC, ACN, APGA, ANPP and other small parties are coming together, led by 12 governors. And the only way we can wrest power from the PDP is by coming together and building an alliance. And the only way is for parties to leave their pride by the side and help build this mega party for the benefit of Nigerians. And it is working very well.
It has also been rumoured that the reason why Owelle is keen for APGA to join APC is because of an alleged presidential ambition on the platform of the APC; is this so?
Every human being on earth must have an ambition. If Owelle desires to contest the presidency, what is wrong with that? You on your own surely has an ambition. And don’t forget that Owelle has run for the presidency twice. So he is not a new comer in that. So if he has (the ambition), it’s a good thing and I will support him all the way.
After 2015, what would you wish Imo people to remember this administration for?
By the time we complete all the projects we have initiated and embarked upon and deliver them to Imo State, I will look back with His Excellency and say ‘to God be the glory’. This is because after these projects, Imo State will never be the same again. I will be happy that His Excellency has left a lasting legacy for Imolites, especially for the next generation. This is our dream and, hopefully by the special Grace of God, we shall get there.