Banking is seen as a lucrative business, but here you are venturing into politics. Why did you leave your position as CEO of a major bank to go into politics?
Let me make a clarification. I have not come as a politician rather to give services to the people of Abia State. I voluntarily resigned from the bank to vie for Abia governorship and my aim is to reshape the state, transform it into a modern state because the way things are happening makes me unhappy.
If you go round the state, you will agree with me that it has suffered and is still suffering from misrule. People who have no vision have been ruling the state and people are now crying for change.
The rate of poverty in Abia State is relatively high and it has come to a level that people should talk, and that is why I want to sacrifice myself. Like I said before, I have not come to play politics rather to serve Abians.
With my wealth of experience, having controlled money and human materials, I think Abia would be easy for me to manage. My major aim is for the state to follow the path of growth. Are we talking of roads that are deplorable, especially in Abia?
This year workers went for Christmas without salary and bonus, and this is God’s Own State. There were complaints here and there and I pray to God to hear our prayers for change.
Aba needs to be reconstructed so that there would be roads connecting communities. The state needs somebody that would restore hope and create employment for youths. If youths have nothing to do, they would resort to arms.
Therefore, I will fight insecurity and create employment for youths and the financial base of the state would improve through the intervention of international agencies. Already, I have made arrangement for this.
What legacy did you leave in the banking sector?
Many, but the climax was the turning around of Diamond Bank from its global economic crisis. It was a big challenge to rescue the bank. I started with Diamond Bank in 2011 and discovered that it was in deficit of over N16 billion. My team swung into action and by the end of that year, the bank returned to normalcy with a profit of N27 billion. In 2013, it recorded a profit of N35.5 billion.
I am proud of that, and the bank is one of the banks to reckon with and as at when I left them, it has a total assets of N2 trillion. The bank is now among the first three recognized banks in Nigeria.
You were in PDP but later defected to APGA. What prompted your action?
Abia PDP has refused to accept internal democracy. There was a congress election that was supposed to take place where people would come and vote for the three men delegate that would eventually vote in primary election, but the PDP in Abia refused to do that.
In all the 184 wards in Abia State, there was no election. Rather, they went back to Umuahia and wrote the names of all the delegates that would favour aspirants who are in their good books. If they had allowed delegates to do proper elections, delegates would have voted for aspirants of their choice.
As far as I am concerned, PDP is not running a democratic government in Abia State. People should be allowed to exercise their franchise. I can’t belong to where people are rubbed of their right, and that is why I moved to the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Do you then have the political muscle to withstand the rising influence of PDP in Abia State?
PDP has no influence in Abia State. It would better be described as declining. Everybody is not happy with PDP and that is why many people shifted to APGA. A vote for APGA means alleviating the sufferings of the people.
APGA will install me in Abia State. The party had done that in Imo and Anambra States, and of course, it is an Igbo party. Abia in 2015 would be controlled by APGA God willing.
APGA would bring the needed change in governance and youths would be empowered. There would be quality education and above all, APGA can never use youths and dump them.
On godfatherism in Abia polity, God is my father and He will help to install me. My only advice to Abians is that they should resist imposition of a governor on them.
One of the things you campaign with is a planned free medical programme for Abians; could you explain how you intend to go about it?
Free medical treatment for Abians is what I have been doing. A lot of people suffered from glaucoma, and we invited a medical team to treat them and some were given glasses. Those with diabetes and other ailments were treated also.
This time, we are packaging free medical treatment for Abians. Healthcare delivery is my major concern and, of course, most hospitals in Abia are in a state of disrepair. Abia State has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality.
What we are trying to do is to help people who hitherto were unable to treat themselves due to poverty. Equally, over 800 people will benefit from free health medical insurance scheme under the community health insurance. Beneficiaries will be drawn from churches in seven pilot local government areas in the state.
It is free and those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, stroke etcetera will be treated. In the past too, I have had foreign doctors who came and treated people. In fact, if God has blessed you, you should extend that to other people.
If I win and become governor of Abia State, my administration will continue with healthcare with vigour. Already, I have made arrangements with foreign doctors in USA in this regard.
This programme is mainly for indigent people. It is expected that 300 people will benefit from this scheme in each local government area. The churches know these indigent ones, because the pastors are closer to them.
What will you tell Abians as the elections draw nearer?
Abians should vote wisely and vote for APGA “Ebe Esere Okuko” (the picture of a Cock) and shun money bags. They should collect the permanent voters’ cards, because 2015 votes will count. The era of rigging is over because of the use of electronic voting where voters’ cards will pass through automated card reading. Those that want to buy voters cards for rigging are wasting time.