Chief Geo Uguru is a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) and National Secretary of Igbo’s-Diaspora Initiative for Buhari. He is also a member Field Operations of APC Presidential Campaign Organisation. In this interview with….. he reveals how the people of South East helped President Muhammadu Buhari to win the March 28 election. He also advises the President to appoint competent hands from the region into his cabinet.
The people of South East region where you hail from played significant role in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last general elections, can you dwell more on the role played by the South East in the elections?
The erroneous view people have is that the South East didn’t give the president enough votes at least 25 percent; I said it is erroneous. It is not that we didn’t know that because of the political sentiments then , that it would be difficult for him to win outrightly in South East in any of the states. But the thing is that people were hammering or using it knowing that they wouldn’t win outright there that he should get at least 25 percent, that’s one quarter of the vote because of what the Constitution stipulates that he must achieve 25 per cent in two third of the states and Abuja.
But the thing is that for some of us strategists who belonged to groups that work with the campaign organization and for APC, coming from outside and the broad knowledge we have about politics we knew it would be an uphill task. But we had other plans, some of us who have been in the game. What we tried to do was to find out why has he not done well in the South East all this while when he was the candidate of ANPP and CPC. And now that he is now in the APC, was obvious that he had enough support from the South East, we compared what happened; the kind of votes he got. In fact in 2011 when the South East voted massively for PDP, we called it mopping up votes when they were scoring millions, and the least was Ebonyi and they almost got everything there. We compared it and we in APC we planned how to witell down that votes because we can understand how these things are done. We saw that the previous times he didn’t have people to man positions for him; the polling units, ward collation centers at the local governments and states.
But this time because of the kings of people he had working for him from the South East we made sure that we had people there because we knew that these votes were just written and nobody challenged them. So this time we made sure that we were there, every polling unit had our people manning there who made sure that the votes were witelled. Now if you look at the kind of votes he scored and compared them with those of 2011, you would discover that where for instance, Abia state where I come from, in 2011 president Jonathan then scored 1.3million votes and he didn’t get anything. But this time around the PDP candidate, President Goodlkuck Jonathan scored three hundred and something thousand votes not up to one million. In Enugu where he got almost a million votes, this time he scored about 550,000 votes. The same thing Imo, Anambra and if you calculate the difference in votes between 2011 and 2015, you would discover that about four votes were knocked off from what Jonathan scored. What he scored in 2015, four million was knocked off of what he scored in 2011 and if you look at the number of votes that were the difference between him and the winner, President Buhari now it is almost 2.5million.
What was responsible for that?
It was because of the kind of foot soldiers we had on ground. What happened was that members of APC from the South East were committed members of the party.
But the belief among members of the public is that the people of South East did not vote for Buhari….
Yeah, that’s erroneous; that’s what I’m trying to tell you. You see in election strategies, it is not just about votes. Yes it is about the number of votes you score but it is also about the differences in votes. Let me say for instance, if Abia has countered let me say Kano, Enugu would counter Bauchi and by so doing if you calculate, if people return the kind of votes they had in 2011, we won’t be saying this.
Elections have come and gone, now there’s a new government that us trying to settle down for the business of governance, there have been speculations as to who should be appointed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). And there was a report that the President has appointed Chief Ogbonaya On but only for APC to deny that. Are you not worried that the South East may be schemed out of this position?
I don’t know whether the APC said their twitter handle was hacked into. What I have to say about this is that in the first place, the President didn’t issue any statement that he has appointed any SGF. A lot of people are careful about it. There’s no mainstream media that really carried that. It was online thing; it could speculation. But about key positions going to sections, South East has had key positions under Jonathan; we had SGF, two deputies in National Assembly, we had the Finance Minister, the Minister of Petroleum is our wife.
Although this federal character something and spread are always there but I think we should be talking about because of my belief, people who can handle jobs. People who can fit into positions, that merit and can give service.
Are you talking about technocrats?
No. Let me tell you about technocrats. When you talk about technocrats, you have more technocrats as politicians than you see outside. Who is a technocrat? Somebody who is in a discipline, trained, knowledgeable in it and competent in it. Technocrat can be a military man too; if you have a military man who retired and goes into politics, would you say he is not a technocrat? A known accountant is a technocrat. Look at someone like Akeredolu former NBA President, he is into politics, is he not a technocrat in that area? I have worked in public service and in corporate establishments too, am I not a technocrat? But that is not the issue. The issue is, the man who is best suited assuming something is zoned to an area, the person who is most suited, who is most competent should handle it. And if they had announced Ogbonaya Onu that time then, he is a very good hand. The man has discipline, trained and very competent and he is the kind of person that if you put him in charge of anything he would give you results.
Are you rooting for him?
It is not about rooting for him, I think that position is the prerogative of the President, he has to decide. It is not what you campaign for. It should be the President’s prerogative.
Besides Chief Onu, there are also other people who are being speculated to have been penciled down for the job such Dr. Chris Ngige…
All we are saying here is “that have been penciled down”. The only person who can pencil down is the president himself. I don’t think he has told anybody that he has penciled down any person. I try to avoid speculation or rumour. I was at the forefront of this campaign in media, whether mainstream or the social media. I have always believed that if you don’t work with facts you will not get a correct output. If you dwell with speculation, hypothesis, you understand, you are just doing trial and error, it is not that you are going to gag people from speculation, there are leaders who pick things from this kind of speculation but I don’t think this is the kind of the president. He is thorough in what he does. This position of SGF does not need a Parliamentary approval. It is the prerogative of the President because he is the head of the cabinet office, if I can use that word because cabinet office is mostly presidential thing. If there is a FEC meeting today, he is the person who actions it, he is the kind of provost that makes sure everybody falls in line with what has been decided. He is like the engine room.
Given the fact that the President reserves the right to appoint SGF, don’t you think he might choose not to appoint anybody from the South East?
The President has the prerogative. That is what I’m saying. What I’m saying is if something is zoned to an area and I don’t think anything was zoned to any area, the best hand in that area should be given the job.
In your own thinking, how do you think APC should have a foothold in the South East?
I think a lot of things went wrong during the campaign and mostly some erroneous views and kind of sentiments were brought to the political arena by trying to sectionalised parties. People claiming this is their brother, this is not their brother, this is a religious bigot. They are all lies and PDP today is blaming itself for dishing out lies and hate campaign.
I think our South East brethren would benefit from the outcome of what happened to PDP and it would be sad that they would not embrace political parties based on conviction and principles. I don’t belief the real Igbo man would want to think that he does not belong in. It would be easy because they have seen the strength and wisdom of opening up, analysing things not on primordial sentiments. There are good hands in APC who are Igbos. But what happened is that the way they were being abused by their own people, they were called names, threatened them. Now the scales are falling off their eyes and they are seeing. There should be change and there are so many Igbos. The only thing that I’m afraid of is if there is any mistake in carrying Igbos or South Easterners along in giving out positions. I don’t mean they should just throw positions to the South Easterners because you want to carry them along.
There are good hands in the South East that any position that you want to appoint people into give it to them. If you don’t do it, they will say is it not that thing we said, that this is not our party. This party is not the party that can take care of our people and things like that. The South East has people and appointment should be made on merit.