Interview: Gov. Obi Bought First Car for Victor Umeh – [The Full Story]‏

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Barr.  Vincent Ezenwajiaku, Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties
Barr. Vincent Ezenwajiaku, Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties

Barr. Vincent Ezenwajiaku is a pharmacist and a lawyer as well as a politician. He was a foundation member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and had contested for the Federal House and Senate under the party. He is presently the Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties in the Obi Government. Since the crisis in APGA started, he has remained vocal. He fielded questions from some journalists in Awka.

May we meet you Sir?

I am a Nigerian from Anambra State. I am currently   serving as a Commissioner in Governor Peter Obi’s administration. I am a   pharmacist and a Barrister by profession. I ventured into politics because I   believe it offers me wider spectrum to contribute to the advancement of   humanity.


Would you call yourself a professional politician?

In fact, some of us who are professionals are   against people seeing politics as a profession, it is not. I often get angry   when some people introduce themselves as politicians. The reason for this   obsession with politics is people’s view and belief that it is a shorter   route to wealth and renown. We have a trend in the country today of people   who soon after their National Youth Service plunge into politics without   attempt to practice their profession. For such people, whenever you ask them   about their profession, they will say “I am a politician.” The consequence of   this is that if they contest any post and fail, rather than go back to their   trade, they will be running around the corridors of power and are ever ready   to become sweepers of the offices of people in power for them to be seen to   belong. This is not good and has not augured well for Nigeria, because it is   the direct cause of people trying to cling to power at all costs.

As a Commissioner in Gov. Obi’s Govt, how would you rate his   performance?

I am part of that Government and would hurt   objectivity if I try to judge it. I think the judgement is better left for   “outsiders” to do. Whatever I say would be followed by people saying Ah, as a   Government official, what do you expect him to say? I therefore leave it to   you to do the assessment as you all are in the State and are witnesses to   what is going on. Even as umpires, you can go out and seek the views of those   who are in a position to tell you the brutal truth.

Sir, we can get your views and then balance it with the views of   others, especially…

(Cuts in) Giving you my views is very easy; all I am   saying is that those views cannot stand even for balancing. People comment about   the Government of Peter Obi daily that my own is not, in my view, important.   Let me even help you out. As the Governor of Anambra State, one thing we   cannot take away from the Governor is abundance of energy that I do not know   how many people can meet up with his pace. These days, if you read papers,   you would have discovered that due to his policy about education that saw him   returning schools back to their owners, he is much in contact with Church   leaders, I mean credible Church leaders that do not have any reason to   dissimulate facts.

I read in the papers how Archbishop Valerian Okeke   of the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha reviewed what he is doing across all   sectors and rated him as the best Governor Anambra State has had. He talked   about how Obi is building a future for the State through overhaul of the   education sector, building of roads across the State, attracting foreign   investors, rebuilding the health sector, prompt payment of salaries and   pensions after clearing the arrears owed for years, among others. He ended up   by saying in Igbo, Odi ka Obi akona anyi, may we not lack a person like Obi.

I can go on and on. The other day I followed His   Excellency to a function attended by the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev.   Paulinus Ezeokafor. The bishop echoed his brother by saying that Obi was   God’s gift to Anambra State. Having come down from Ihiala to Awka that day   from Dr. Obinna Uzor’s function, the bishop said it took him about 30   minutesto make the trip whereas in the past the journey would have lasted 3   hours because of bad road. What does that show you? The bishop asked God   inprayers to give the State a person as good as Obi if he could not give us a   person better than him.

Of course you need to listen to Archbishop Efobi of   the Anglican Communion. Talking about Obi, he quoted the Bible: “When the   righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.”

I can tell you that in Anambra today, everybody   knows that Obi has done excellently. Some people who do not have character   may want to prevaricate for one reason or the other. What I am saying is that   politicians can see A and call it B because they have not been given money. I   was at an occasion where somebody told the Governor that he was criticizing   him because, even though he, the Governor, had tarred roads, that he had not   tarred tongues and that it is with the same mouth with which the headmaster   pronounces passes that he also pronounces failure.

Take the case of Chief Victor Umeh. He was among the   number one supporters of Gov. Obi, he always glorified what the Governor was   doing in the State, but when the Gov., for one reason or the other stopped   tarring his tongue, he made a 360 degrees turn and started feeding falsehoods   to the people.

Whatever way we look at it, Obi remains the best   Governor Anambra has had. We are in the State and will be glad to see   somebody break his records.

Where do we start? He has tarred over 700 Kilometers   of roads and we are still counting. Almost everyday he flags-off road   projects and work is going on all of them. He constructed roads in the most   difficult part of the State where nobody thought about until he came on   board. In health, he has built a teaching hospital from the scratch,   rehabilitated general hospitals, built new hospitals and health centres,   bought hospitalequipment, and got accreditation for the health institutions.   As we speak, he is building, in partnership with the MDG, about 25 structures   in missionary hospitals.

It was Obi who built the first secretariat in the   state; the first and second massive business park, bought vehicles for   ranking government officials in the executive, judiciary and legislature.

He is equally superlative in the intangible part of   governance. He cleared the arrears of salaries and pension of close to 10   Billion Naira.

He has attracted multi national companies to Anambra   State. At the last count we have about four of them, some have built   facilities others are coming on board. Under him Anambra became an oil   producing State after he invested billions in Orient Petroleum

In the area of education still, even after the   return of primary schools to the Church, he has given them support to the   tune of about 6 Billion naira in cash to rehabilitate the schools.

One can go on and on, but the most amazing part of   it is that he has not borrowed money from any financial institution nor   raised bond as many states are doing in Nigeria.

The president was so excited with his relationship   with the Church, that he said the center he wants to help his Otuoke   community build through friends would be handed over to the Church to manage.   Obi has equally attracted the attention of the World Bank that had sent   people to Anambra to study his revolution in education with the aim of using   it as a model for other African countries and developing world to emulate.   Paul Collier, a notable Oxford professor was so excited about this that he   has beenpropagating it to other African leaders.

You mentioned Chief Victor Umeh, but the Chief tells   us that he fell out with the Governor due to his failure to conduct Local   Government election.

Though I have stopped reading his falsehoods, but I   can tell you that 99% Percent of what that man says is falsehood. Until he   started fighting the Governor, he single handedly brought the names of those   who were appointed into transition Committees. What then is the logic of   saying that he opposed it? I have noticed that in Nigeria, what professional   politicians do is to employ the instrument of blackmail against the person   they are not supporting and Chief Victor Umeh has it in abundance. He   doesllaneged until Mike Udah exposed him on Channels television. The exposure   has just begun. He was the one who, through his one man show business in the   form of chairmanship of APGA prevented the party from growing. If not because   of this crisis would you have imagined that APGA was receiving 20 million   naira every month and one man was pocketing it, using it to build houses all   over the country and buy houses overseas? Ithink the recent judgment of an   Enugu High Court was providential. It will now give opportunity to those who   have the interest of the party at heart to restructure the party.

Are you saying that Victor Umeh has not contributed towards the   building of APGA?

If you are in partnership business with somebody,   how do you measure your gain? It is simply by balancing gains vis-à-vis   efforts. In the case of Umeh, the ration of efforts to gain is about 5% to   90%. He put in 5%efforts and has reaped 90% gains. Would you say that such a   person has suffered for the party? APGA was largely financed by Peter Obi. It   was even his house at Abuja that initially served as APGA office. Umeh is   always for what will be of personal gain to him. Even when the President   asked APGA to get some names for appointment in the spirit of building a national   government, Victor brought names of riffraffs that he would control, one   estate manager that does not know his right hand from his left and one   jobless Campbell whose work now is to send text messages daily on behalf of   Victor. Of course the names were not considered for lack of qualification.

How do you mean?

I am a foundation member of APGA. In the beginning,   Umeh who now brags about what he is not was the Personal Assistant to an   Anambrapolitician, Chief Okonkwo (ofiadiulu) . The man is still in active   politics.Somehow he became the treasurer of APGA. When APGA removed Chief   Chekwas Okorie, we were having the meeting of Anambra party members, and Obi   said that from the experience of betrayals he has had, that he would prefer   Victor Umeh to be appointed the Ag Chairman. Apparently, Umeh had gone to beg   him. That was how he became the Ag Chairman. But today, surprisingly and   incredibly, I hear him say that he made the Governor. The man is an   interesting study in human nature.

He may think he is a smooth talker who can confuse   and confound, but by the time he will realise the harm he is doing to himself   it will be too late. Today he is regarded as a rsik factor. He is the type of   man that gathers documents and dossier on persons he deals with and releases   them to the public as a professional blackmailer. If Obi was dubious, he   would have had tonnes of documents about him. I am sure nobody will like to   deal with him in Nigeria. I read that even Owelle Rochas Okorocha warned his   Commissioners and aides to be careful about him and not allow him get close   to any Government document.

But he contributed 4 Million naira to Obi’s tribunal   case

Who said so?

He said it in an interview he granted to Vanguard

This is the reason why I told you that I do not read   what the man says anylonger. How can anybody believe this? We know where we   are coming from. Before Obi became the Governor, he was on the Board of about   7 quoted companies, including about 4 financial institutions by the virtue of   his investment.

The man who said he donated 4 Million to Obi’s   tribunal case at that time was living in a two room apartment at Anam St, a   ghetto in Enugu. At that time, Obi was the one who procured an international   passport for him alongside other party members as well as sponsored his first   trip overseas.It was also Obi who bought Umeh his first V-boot Mercedes car   as he did not have even a bicycle and yet he has the boldness to say he   contributed 4 million naira to tribunal efforts. Can’t you read between the   lines?

I agree with a writer who said that sudden wealth   has entered Umeh’s head and he now sees himself as a little god. In Umeh’s   estimation, Mike Udah is not sufficiently big to talk with him. Can’t you see   arrogance verging on delusion of grandeur here?

Today from 2 room apartment at Anam Street, he is   now living at a palatial home, one of the best in Enugu. He has many of them   in Enugu. The one in his home town is under construction with almost 90   airconditioners amidst other facilities to meet his Epicurean taste, but the   speed has reduced now he is having problems in APGA. He now has fleet of   vehicles. When such a man tells you that he suffered for APGA, such statement   among those who knew what he used to be and what he has amassed now elicit   laughter.

I recall that before Obi became Governor, the first   real money Victor made was from buying of a house for a Lagos business man   Obi introduced him to, Emma Bishop Okonkwo for your verification. After the   sale, he made more than 50 Million naira and even asked the Governor to keep   70% of the proceeds and the Governor refused by insisting that he was not in   the business of Estate management. If he really donated money to Obi’s   campaign, it must be from the proceeds. You can ask Okey Ezeibe about this,   he knows the details among other. In fact Okey was the one the Gov. asked to   introduce Victor to their friends in Lagos. These people supported him   because he was from Mr. Peter Obi, but in his characteristic manner, today he   will tell you that he was the one who introduced Peter Obi to those people.

But for Prof. Nwosu to ask the Gov to meet Umeh if he hoped to become   Governor, do you not think that the man has some clout?

From what I have said about him, you believe him to   your own detriment. Let us see it this way, Obi and Nwosu met and Nwosu asked   him to go and meet Umeh. For Umeh who was not at the meeting to tell what   transpired between Obi and Nwosu means that he must be a spirit. Can’tyou   read into lies?

Since Umeh started talking, don’t you think it is ripe for the   Governor to speak at this point and set the records straight?

I thought you people love the Governor?

That is why we need him to speak in the first person

It will be infradignitatum for the Governor to start   bandying words with Umeh. Who is he? Is it because he stole the Chairmanship   of APGA? If you are in Anambra you would have noticed that Obi is the busiest   Governor. As I speak, he is away to Rome as part of the Federal Government   delegation for the installation of the new Pope. No week passes without his   having meeting at Abuja. He belongs to more than 10 Federal Committees,   besides being the Financial Adviser to the President. He is also the Chairman   of South-East Governors Forum as well as the Vice Chairman of Nigerian   Governors’ Forum. For a person saddled with all these responsibilities to   have time for idle people like Umeh will be lunacy.

At the end of his tenue, he will not be judged by   exchanges with Umeh, but by what he achieved in Anambra State. So we thank   the Governor for not replying to Umeh’s lies and hope he will not because it   will diminish him. It is even with difficulty that I am commenting on him   because he does not worth my time for I am equally busy. The people that are   placed in the position to reply him, if there is need are the Chief Press   Secretary, Mike Udah and the Senior Special Assistant on Media, Val Obienyem.   I am happy Udah has done that very well.

But he says that Udah is too small for him?

That tells you how deluded he is. Apart from making   so much money and wangling his way to become Chairman of APGA who is he? Udah   has more pedigree than he has. Udah is better educated; Udah has edited a   national newspaper, among others. That shows you how he will enjoy mytalking   about him. Oh, why have you journalists led me to this?

Sir you talked about Victor making a lot of money. Could you explain more?  

Just consider by which magic a Personal Assistant to   Ofiadiulu rose to head-turning fame in 7 years? Did he build a factory? This   is where I blame Peter Obi. He created the Frankenstein monster that has now   turned round to harass everybody. If the money remitted to the party monthly   went through the normal party structures we will not have come this far. I am   aware of many contracts awarded to those he brought. I am aware, the former   Cjhairman of ASUBEB, Barr. Chuma Mbonu can confirm that, that he almost   singlehandedly shared ASUBEB jobs to his cronies under the guise of party   people. I am aware that even after award of contracts, contractors complained   that he still insisted on bringing those to do the sub contract works as low   as fetching water. He had his hands in many pies.

He grew so rich that he lost control. Do you know   that when his mother died, he budgeted about 100 Million for her burial. The   Governor gave him 5 Million naira and plenty of drinks and he rejected it on   the ground that it was small. You can find out from Architect Callistus   Ilozumba for he was the one who went to his house with some people to   persuade him that funeral support is not rejected in Igboland before he   accepted. They told him that the Governor did not spend as much in burying   his own father and that the money was the Governor’s personal support as he   would not use Government money to support burials. This tells you more about   the man.

Let me tell you another story. When Ojukwu was   alive, I sometimes wentto meet him with the Governor and he will always tell   him to beware of the little Tiger (Victor Umeh) he, Obi, was feeding with   milk and know when it grows teeth and stop the milk. He has now grown those   teeth. Ojukwu spoke in tongues to Obi, but the Governor took him into   confidence. That is why I said he created the monster.

This account is contrary to what Umeh says is Ojukwu’s opinion about   him

You believe him at your own risk. Ojukwu was   thoroughly not comfortable with him. Ojukwu’s wife can attest to this. Once   we had a meeting in Ojukwu’s house and Victor said that Gov. Obi should buy   houses in Abuja for Ojukwu and himself as main APGA people. Ojukwu said it   was ok because when he grew annoyed that was one of his reactions, to say yes   to everything you said. In extreme cases he would stop talking. When the   meeting ended and we were leaving, he called Obi on phone to come back that   he had forgotten something. By then Victor and his group had left. Ojukwu   told Obi that all he wanted was service to Igbo people and that he should not   listen to those that wanted houses and planes. This was how it was resolved.

Look let me take this opportunity to proclaim that   Victor does not even read situations. In the past he was used to issuing   threats and because the Governor is essentially pacifist in nature, he will   be pacified. The last conflagration that consumed him was started by him,   somehow the Governor said enough from this little groaning Tiger. He decided   to ignore him. At a point he started sending emissaries seeking peace but the   problem he created had gone beyond the Governor. If you notice, he was   sending Alhaji Sani Shinkafi to insult the wife of our leader, HE, Bianca   Ojukwu. He himself was insulting everybody including the revered Dr   TimMenakaya. He said Obi bought him by offering appointment to his son.But it   was Umeh who brought about 5 Commissioners in Obi’s firstCabinet, including   his nephews and nieces.

If he is wise he should have realized that his   blackmails are not having any effect on Obi’s reputation, which has gone far   beyond him and his short sightedness.

How true is it as Victor Umeh said, that other parties that   endorsedPresident Jonathan were given money except APGA?

How was the monthly money given to APGA and the   millions realizedfrom the sale of forms spent for him to refer us to money   given to other parties for endorsement? This shows you that as far as he was   concerned everything is about money. When the Governors of the South –East   decided to support Jonathan, they made it clear it was not for   individualbenefits but based on his commitment to do projects in the East. If   he gave money to other political parties, it means he owes no obligation to   them, but if APGA did not collect money, he owes obligation to Igbo people.   This may explain why he is working on erosion, has made Enugu Airport an   international Airport, is set to start work on a second Niger Bridge , among   others.

Politics as played by people like Victor Umeh is   injurious to the Igbos. It is dangerous to reduce everything to cash value. I   am aware that when Jonathan was discussing with APGA, Gov. Obi raised the   appropriatenessof his meeting APGA leadership. Obi asked Umeh to come with   principalofficers of the party, but he came alone and rather than discuss   what support of APGA for Jonathan would fetch the SouthEast, started   discussing his personal interest. Of course that was the first time he met   with the president.

He would always tell you that the Governor did not   support other APGA candidates but it is not true. When Obi was campaigning   for his second tenure, no South –East Governor campaigned against him. Even a   Governor that came for his party’s campaign, explained to him that it was to   fulfill all righteousness, but did not go to the campaign field him simply   because they relate as brothers. When election came, Umeh now wanted Obi to   go to their states and probably call them thieves. Of course he did not go,   but he gave then financial support. Because the money he gave in the past   through third parties did not get to them, he did it directly. Some people   complaining had actually planned how to appropriate the money if channeled   through them. They have every right to complain. It is human, it is normal.

The love of money, the saying goes, is the root of   all evils. I can assure you that part of what Umeh is doing today stem from   his relationship with a money bag, whom he is irrevocably committed to dash   APGA gubernatorial ticket in the State.

May we know the person now heating up the politics?

You will at the appropriate time.

With Umeh against APGA merger like your own faction, don’t you think   the possibility of reconciliation with him…?

He is no longer the Chairman of APGA, but he is not   expelled from the party. If he wants to join us in the restructuring of the   party he is free. But let me tell you one thing. The moment the merger was   announced, all genuine APGA members condemned it. How come it took the usual   garrulous Umeh weeks to come up with denial. The original plan was that he   would be made the Chairman of the new party or he would become its Senatorial   candidate, but when the interim chairmanship was discussed without mention of   his name and he realized that he may be fooled in the end, he backed out.

How would you compare the Interim Chairman of APGA, Maxi Okwu and   Victor Umeh?

It is like asking me to compare light and darkness.   There is no basis for comparison. Maxi Ukwu is a through-bred party man who   believes in consensus. Just few days as the Chairman, the fortunes of the   party have started to change. He calls meetings and allows everybody to   contribute unlike Umeh who saw the party as personal property. Today, I   always read releases from our Publicity Secretary, Bernard Akomas and he is   quite efficient, but under Umeh, he was in charge of everything. Under him,   you would not know APGA had a Publicity Secretary, because he wanted to do   the PR and make money. Under Umeh, Gov. Obi was never invited to a meeting   because he would find out that the money for the party did not get to them,   now it is different. Igbo people say that from the smell of fartwe know how   sweet the defecate will be. From what Maxi has done so far, we all in APGA   have confidence that APGA has entered its glorious moment.

Away from politics Sir, what is your Government position on the Ezu   River corpse dumping?

Well, we are satisfied with what the Governor has   done. Remember he cut his trip short and returned to the State the moment the   sad incident was discovered. Since then he has visited the place four times,   personally supervised the removal of the bodies from the river and   commissioned an autopsy on the bodies. He also got the entire town fumigated,   sent supplies to them and provided the only borehole that is working. I say   this because some people pretended they were digging boreholes but nothing   has happened. If you go there today, the only boreholes working in the town   are the two provided by the Governor.

Sir has the autopsy revealed how the bodies were killed?

We are all waiting for the report.

Sir why has Anambra Internally Generated Revenue remained low?

Anambra was the most notorious state in Nigeria   until Obi restored sanity to the State. Before him nothing worked as   gangsters took over the place. Today things are changing. We have completely   got some things right, but because the Internally generated revenue was a   mess the rate of getting it right appears long, but the Governor is working   assiduously to get it right for good.

Sir, with politics approaching, will you be interested in elective   posts?

By the grace of God and confidence in me by the   Governor, I am a Commissioner. My present preoccupation is assisting the   Governor to turn Anambra State around. When we get to the bridge, we shall   cross it.

Any message for the people of the State?

They should all continue to pray and support the   Governor to remain focused in his work as he has continued to do.

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