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Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu

Why I am close to Obasanjo – Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu

Former President Obasanjo with Gov. Otti, Nze Chukwu and others during the visit

Nze Ozichukwu Fidelis Chukwu is an Imo State-born national political leader. He was part of the delegation that accompanied Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on a recent courtesy call on the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti.

Nze Chukwu was National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in charge of the South East zone for eight years, and is presently a member of the Imo Elders Council.

He granted an interview on the visit to Abia State and some other issues.

Excerpts.  

Nze Sir, we saw you and President Olusegun Obasanjo visiting Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti?

Yes I was privileged to be on Baba’s entourage.

How did you feel after the visit?

I was quite thrilled. Gov Otti is doing great in Abia. Baba said it all. I pray he continues like that till the end.

 Have you briefed Governor Uzodinma on your findings since your return?

I have no reasons to brief him. He did not send me. What am I to brief him about? It was not an investigation visit. They are two separate and distinct individuals, from different backgrounds, who came into Government at different times from two different parties, under different circumstances and facing different environments. Anyway, I have not even met him since I came back to Imo and indeed for quite sometime. It is important for you to realise that while in Abia, that Baba went to Okai Item to lay the Foundation Stone of a hospital being built in memory of the late 23 year old daughter of Bishop Onuoha of the Methodist Church of Nigeria.
Like William Safire would say: “When duty calls, that is when character counts.”

Nze, can you compare Governor Alex Otti’s performance in Abia with Governor Hope Uzodinma’s performance in Imo?

My dear, there’s nothing to compare. The trajectories are different. However, they have similar challenges in both social and physical infrastructures. I am impressed with Governor Otti’s speed and priorities. But recall that Governor Uzodinma has demonstrated rare courage and exceptional brilliance in the establishment of the first University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in Nigeria at Umuagwo, and went further to breath life into three decadent State institutions to vibrant tertiary institutions: K. O. Mbadiwe University, Imo State College of Education Ihitte-Uboma and the State Polytechnic, Oru. He has ensured that the institutions in Imo State regained and sustain their accreditations unlike what they used to be before. He has undertaken unprecedented Civil Service Reforms and cleared backlog of gratuities and pensions. There’s also massive improvement of road infrastructure. Today, Sam Mbakwe Airport wears a new look with a beautifully laid access road. Alvan Ikoku has recovered it’s lost University status as a Federal University of Education while FMC Owerri has been upgraded to a University Teaching Hospital. When he took over as Governor, Imo was a private estate under sovereign siege. Fortunately, he worked with the fear of God, missionary zeal and Socratic ideal to decolonise it and ensure that right things are done right. He adopted the Commission in existence on his assumption of duty without altering its composition, character and conduct. I also recall vividly his efforts at a time with an Imo State entrepreneur extraordinary, Leo Stan Ekeh on the empowerment of our youths. Promoting digitalisation and e-governance for speed, effectiveness and efficiency. There’s another effort at internalising same with another outfit driven by Prof Maurice Iwu. Sometime ago at a meeting in Abuja, His Excellency Governor Nwifuru of Ebonyi State requested the meeting to specifically thank Governor Hope Uzodinma for the inclusion of a South East Officer in the Federal Defence Council; that it was his singular effort and bold initiative that brought the position of Chief of Naval Staff to the South East. Governor Hope has shown determined efforts at building the Oguta Sea Port and the establishment of the Orashi Oil and Gas Free Zone including the approval for the Construction of most modern Owerri Central Market Complex as per the 1976 Original Master Plan and the ongoing rehabilitation of the 184MW Egbema Power Station. I am sure that there are many more. I think Imo is on track. With sustained growth and opportunities, initiatives for our youths, Imo’s revival and survival are certain and the future guaranteed.

 Nze, most of these are not known to the public.

Frankly, no one told me. I read, make enquiries and learn from them. I am not in APC. Elections are over. This is time for governance. Imo comes first.

 Please, go on Nze.

I have nothing else to say unless you need any clarifications.

 Yes on infrastructure?

Well, for social infrastructure, in the absence of anything to the contrary, let me rely on the report of Macrotrends/Africa Facts Zone as per twitter X December, 2023, that Imo State is rated first/highest in Nigeria’s Literacy Score Board. This is quite phenomenal.

But if you want to know the performance in contract awards and infrastructure disrepair in Imo, please plead with the Governor to set up a Commission of Enquiry at least to help identify abandoned projects and the reasons for their abandonment. They are littered all over the place. Provided tomorrow you will not accuse him of witch-hunting. Even the APC as a party in Imo State can set up a Standing Committee on Projects Monitoring to look into the books, and go round the 27 Local Government Councils in the state and document the abandoned projects, their status(es) and outstanding issues for action.
Someone wrote from the UK that Governor Hope Uzodinma is “intentional and deliberate in leaving a legacy of tangible and intangibles in Imo State.”

 Why are you still close to Chief Obasanjo and how would you describe him?

I hope my memory will not disappoint me. There was this critical thinker, a great man, Chan Master Fuchan Yuan who said, “There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage.” To Arnold H. Glasgow: “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” While Max DePree contended that, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” Another great Philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson cautioned, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For great leaders, Thomas Jefferson spoke from experience when he said, and I quote: “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Let me also recall Gen Colin Powell saying, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through arguments, debates and doubts to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Considering sayings on attributes, qualities, abilities, capabilities, knowledge, skills, competences and more you will see all the above in Baba. As to how I would describe him, I would rather say with every sense of responsibility that Baba Obasanjo is a visioner and missioner not given to ego trips. He is a very special Creation and a unique personality. A general in nature and in name.
Baba is futuristic; does not engage in idle talks nor disposed to praise singing.
People say so many things about him including that he banned the study of history in schools. My suspicion is that he did so not to ignite and inflame passion and emotion but to hasten the much desired healing and bonding after the war. He received the Instrument of Surrender with self-evident compassion and unconditional love (if you would excuse me, what would be likened to a transcendent Agape love). He went about reconciliation with a stroke of genius and without preconditions; neither sought for self glorification nor self gratification but all for the common good.

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