…funeral arrangements to be unveiled soon -family source

Obong Uko Umoh, until his shocking demise late last year, was a key stakeholder of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State.

In the interview below which he granted few weeks before his death, ‘Commander’, as he was fondly called pointed out salient points concerning his party:

INTERVIEW: ‘ACN bloc in A’Ibom APC deserves Federal appointments’, American-trained Political Scientist; Uko Umoh

•Says President Tinubu’s steps, right in the right direction

-Tinubu, Akpabio perfect pair as President and Senate President at the right time

Obong Uko Sambo Umoh hails from Etinan Urban in Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He had his primary education in John Kirk Memorial School, Etinan after which he proceeded to the prestigious Etinan Institute, Etinan for his Secondary education.

Without any dull moment, he was admitted upon completion of his secondary education,  into the Teachers Training College, Oron, where he successfully bagged his Teachers Grade II Certificate. Upon graduation, he taught for some years. 

Uko moved to the United States of America where he gained admission into the Texas Southern University (TSU) where he bagged a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc Hons) and Master of Sciences (M.Sc) in Health Science. He also holds a degree in Political Science as well as Masters in Education. 

Obong Uko has worked in Dupont Coating in the United States before returning home to fully participate in politics and community development. 

Popularly known as ‘Commander’ within the political class, Obong Uko Umoh was the pioneer State Vice Chairman and Chairman Akwa Ibom Northeast (Uyo) Senatorial District of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was also the pioneer State Vice Chairman and Senatorial Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Obong Uko Umoh is also a former Chairmanship aspirant for Etinan Local Government election.

He holds the Chieftaincy Title of Ikpafak Iman Ibom and other traditional titles.

In this exclusive interview with EDITOR-IN-CHIEF of THE PROFILE NEWSPAPER; IME SILAS, the American-trained Health cum Political Scientist bares his mind on political developments in the APC in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria.

EXCERPTS:

As the pioneer State Vice Chairman of the now defunct ACN and later, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State as well as Senatorial Chairman of the Party in Akwa Ibom Northeast (Uyo) Senatorial District. How has it been so far?

Thank you very much. Yes, as a matter of fact, we started the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State. It was the now defunct ACN that metamorphosed into the APC. Let me also state that there were other parties then like the CPC, ANPP and so on that joined us at the beginning. But truth be told, the then ACN where I was the State Vice Chairman, formed the Majority amongst the legacy parties that formed what is known today as the APC in Akwa Ibom State.

As we progressed, specifically towards the end of 2014, other progressive-minded politicians from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state joined us and the party continued to wax stronger.

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Again in 2018 ahead of 2019, more persons joined us and today, I can say we are still waxing strong. So far, it’s been a story of consistency for most of us. We believed in the ideology of the APC and we still do. Hopefully, we shall soon take over the leadership of the state.

How would you assess your party’s last outing in the state?

First of all, the outcome of any election is determined by many factors. The political field at any given political contest is always filled by political actors. It is a case of garbage in, garbage out. Many factors come into play that resulted to an outcome of any elections.

Having said that, I must re-emphasize that many factors contributed to what was announced by INEC as the results of the 2023 election in Akwa Ibom State. As stakeholders of the APC in the state, we’re still appraising with the view to arriving at a logical conclusion.

Besides, the Election Petitions Tribunal in the state is yet to give its ruling on the status of the 2023 elections in the state. Therefore sooner, a full report of the 2023 election in Akwa Ibom State shall be laid bare for the sake of our collective political future.

The candidate of your party, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Tinubu won the Presidential election and he’s about two months in office. What’s your take, Sir?

His Excellency, Asiwaju Tinubu is indeed a great leader. He won the 2023 Presidential election convincingly. He started nursing his ambition long time ago and he worked tirelessly towards that. He discovered and made men. He empowered people consistently. And, those people he made in turn, came together to make him the President of Nigeria. That is how a leader should emerge!

His capacity to lead the country was never in doubt. He did it in Lagos and the records are there for everyone to see. As the National Leader of our great Party, His Excellency, Asiwaju Tinubu positioned the APC and led us to our first national victory in 2015. That 2015 victory was jealously guarded and in 2019, our party was reelected.

When our great leader won the Presidential ticket of our party, we knew he was going to win because of his track record. Today, he’s the President of Nigeria and I can say that his moves so far are in the right direction. Nigeria is on the path towards recovery. Whatever we’re experiencing today is going to be for a while. Soon, His Excellency, Mr. President shall deliver to Nigerians the Nigeria of our dreams.

His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio is the President of the Senate. What are your expectations?

I can’t expect anything less than an uncommon performance. Akpabio’s performance as governor of Akwa Ibom State is still fresh. His emergence as Senate President is a testament of his general acceptability by Nigerians.

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As a matter of fact, I can say without any iota of equivocation that Their Excellencies, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of Nigeria and Distinguished Sen Godswill Obot Akpabio as President of the Senate, are two good things that have happened to Nigeria in recent times. They are perfect gifts to Nigeria. And, it’s so unique that both of them are working together in the same dispensation with each controlling an arm in the same government.

Nigerians should watch out for better days. I see a positive collaboration of the Executive and the Legislature for overall development of Nigeria. So, Akpabio would bring to bear his leadership acumen that would help the already prepared President Tinubu to give the country the much expected dividends of democracy.

As a prominent Stakeholder of your party, how would you rate the reward system in the APC?

Well, I must confess, this is the first time we have a thoroughbred politician as President of Nigeria. And by extension, this is the first time my party would have a man who believes in reward system as President. Of course, it is the general sentiment today, everywhere you go.

However, this is not to say that the winner must take it all. No. But the truth is that, as a President, you must have to consider that people worked tirelessly at their respective localities to garner votes for you. The President must not also forget the fact that these party stakeholders and stalwarts believed in his ideology and keyed into the manifesto of the party.

And, for you to even succeed, you must consider appointing into your government those who worked for you and your party across the states because they are the ones who would be able to interpret your visions, helping you to succeed. In the course of them serving in the government, they will benefit from it, one way or the other. That’s where the reward comes in. But whereby that is missing like what happened in the last eight years, then a reward system of such a dispensation is subjected to questioning.

Recently, the President pronounced dissolution of nearly all Boards, Commissions and agencies of government. What’s your views on this?

Again, I would say that it is the right step in the right direction. This is what the outgone President, Buhari ought to have done. You can’t inherit a governmental machinery from past administration, a different party entirely especially the losing party and allow them to continue almost in totality, till the end of your government. Who does that?

Although in a way and in developed and policy-driven democracy, it could help in policy sustenance and implementation. But on the other hand, it could also pose a threat to the new administration especially in a typical Nigerian politics. If you allow all of them to continue, you might be sending a signal that you weren’t prepared and never had a team. It could also mean that you didn’t plan how to run your government. Others may also think that you don’t trust your people, and so on.

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So, talking about President Tinubu and his actions so far, I would say it clearly shows that he planned for governance. It shows that he assembled and nurtured a team. Now that he emerged as President, those he groomed in the course of his political interactions over the years, he would bring them aboard his government.

These are people who have respect for him and strong belief in his leadership abilities and they would always want him to succeed. Therefore, dissolving the Boards, Commissions and so on, would afford him the opportunity to inject new hands in governance as well as bring his trusted team and party men who would be able to interpret his visions, into his government.

Will you be willing, Sir, to serve in President Tinubu’s government if called upon to do so?

Why not? Why won’t I? In fact, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the reason most of us remained in the Party till date. Don’t forget I said earlier that we started the APC in Akwa Ibom State. Don’t also forget I told you we came from the ACN bloc which had Asiwaju as the National Leader. So, I remain one of his followers and I would be glad to contribute my quota towards the success of his administration, if given the opportunity.

And again, I think it would only be fairer if those from the aboriginal APC, I mean of the ACN stock in Akwa Ibom State are considered for various appointment this time around. Note that I am not against Mr. President appointing people from other legacy parties or some PDP members who later joined us. 

It won’t also be out of place for me to state here that as one of the pioneer leaders of the Party in Uyo Senatorial District and indeed, Akwa Ibom State, I know that hundreds of thousand of our party men and women have not tasted any benefits, even as members of the ruling party at the Federal.

So, what I’m emphasising is that while we have witnessed Federal appointments for the PDP bloc from Akwa Ibom State in the past eight years, the ACN bloc should also be considered for purposes of equity, fairness and sense of belonging.

What would you tell Nigerians as your final words regarding President Tinubu’s administration?

Patience! Nigerians have to be patient with President Tinubu. Yes, the times are hard. But these hard decisions like the removal of fuel subsidy is for the best interest of the country. I believe Mr. President has the solution to the problems of fuel in this country. Nigerians must accord him all the necessary support and prayers for him to succeed.

It’s been a good experience sharing thoughts with you, Sir.

The pleasure is mine. Thank you very much.