I ‘ll run Abia as business enterprise, prioritise education, industry – Greg Ibe
A professor of Entrepreneur and the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State, Professor Greg Ibe, in this interview with select journalists including Wawa News Global Publisher, Steve Oko, shares his vision to re-calibrate Abia and make it a major industrial hub and Investment destination in Africa, if given the opportunity. He also tells the story of his humble beginning and rise to affluence. Professor Ibe reveals how he met Obasanjo and what he did for all past Nigeria Presidents. Don’t be in a hurry to gulp this explosive encounter with the man with too much ideas!
How best can you be described – academic, entrepreneur or a politician?
In all that we have, in all can be ascribedn to us, remember that we were not born with any golden spoon. We were not born with anything in the academic world; rather we worked very hard to get to where the three pluses that you mentioned are. What pleases me is to say that I have a humble beginning and learnt a lot of things while growing up.
First I’m very skillful; I have in my fingers over five trades that I learnt and I perfected in them. What we normally teach in the entrepreneurship class, of which I’m a professor is that attitudinal change is the first key for anyone who wants to practice entrepreneurship.
My attitude from day one, having listened to my parents and followed God’s words is : I’m known to be a strong believer in the word of God and I follow Jesus all the way. It’s a case of teaching the child the way he should go and when he grows up he will not depart from it. I’m that product that grew in the way of the Lord following his ways and today it brought me to the three pluses.
Number two, I followed my parents. I suffered with them, I had no other future. I have no other person, I never relied on any brother, sister, uncle or anything. I followed their instructions and today I have the three pluses.
If I had refused going to school, will I be a professor? If I didn’t listen to them, I wouldn’t have succeeded. My company SkillG is all about what to do to use yourself and the talent God has bestowed on you to make success out of life. If I didn’t learn those skills, I will not get to the three pluses.
How does it feel to be successful in life?
Achievements have no end. It has not given you the right to say when I build a house I have succeeded. That’s why in the Jewish thinking, they only thank you for things you are yet to do, not things you have achieved.
If you do something for me and you are expecting thank you very much, clap for yourself, I will not tell you thank you. Rather I will tell you well done, but remember tomorrow you have an assignment. I have challenges that keep coming and I keep preparing and getting ready for the next challenge. That’s why you must be on your toes and feet.
People said Israel is careful and always thinking ahead of others about the security of their people. That is because they are always preparing about their challenges. So, I’m not successful yet, but all I know is that I’m still working towards it.
What kind of a person is Professor Greg Ibe?
I belong to no society. All I know is my Jesus. I started as a Scripture Union member. I had emersion baptism before 14 years. I was set to go for training in Baptist Church, United church of Christ to become a pastor. I knew Jesus right on time. I have worshipped in different churches, but at the same time one God. If you fail to follow him then you fall by the way side. I have faith in Jesus from point to point.
I don’t get angry; I have killed that anger spirit long before now. If you annoy me, I will close my door and go my way because the more angry you show you are the more it exposes your weakness, I don’t have anything to be angry and more over there is nothing God has not given to me. I got married at the age of 23.
You said you are good in five skills; let us know those five skills and how you acquired them?
It’s more than five skills because some are family trade that I really have to partake in. immediately after the Nigeria civil war – (I was two and half years when the war started so I was five years plus after the war), I went with my father to Enugu, naïve, the town was a mirage to us. The boys who had lived in the town before then whose fathers owned houses like our landlord’s children, if you ride their used tire they will beat you up. If you try to join them to play games they will beat you up. So, they were hitting me all the time and my father wasn’t defensive at all because as a police tailor who had nobody to fight for him, he kept telling me that they will be hitting me until they will hit strength into me, then I will start dealing with everybody.
Each time they hit me, instead of shouting: why did you injure my child, my father will tell me to endure the pain. Strength later came on me and I became the big boy, if you try me you will get it hurt. From there when my mother came, we started frying Akara on the street of Ejinaoba, by then all the water pipes were bad in Enugu, we trekked up to four kilometers to stadium to fetch water for drinking and washing beans by 3 to 4 am we go grind it and fry the akara to sale it and manage to go school. In the afternoon as soon as we come back from school we go to Owerri Road and No 42 Onike to buy bread, then we move to Robinson to sale in Police College, from there I started polishing shoe with kiwi, shining barite for people. I was making money from it and selling of bread.
Later I started doing commercial babysitting. Women were leaving their children for me in the mat for me to take care of them. So, once it the time for food I will prepare pap add milk to it, sometimes I will use the milk from one woman and serve other children because I can’t give one child with milk and give the other without milk. That was how I was able to influence those children to start behaving like me.
From Enugu I was sent back home and then I started farming in this my village with my age mates. We toiled in this village, it wasn’t easy and from here I moved to Owerri and went to Shell Camp Primary School. I don’t know what today is but in our days in the primary school every Thursday, we’ll go for handicraft. Our handicraft is not far away from Cinema by Choice Road. We lived in the Batcher (makeshift house) in Shell Camp which is near the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri. I succeeded in making a great impression of discipline among the Commissioner’s children and lecturers.
When the business started going down, we started making candles, seasonal things. We were just busy trying to make money without relenting. But then education was so important for me.
My father and mother were tailors and I’m a tailor too, but again school was so important to me. All those running tailoring business from Uturu would want me to come in the evening and help them. From there I started electrical installations with one Peter Chikwe later I started Aluminum work when one Uturu boy opened a big factory called Mid-East situated on Urata Road. A Turkish was his general manager. So anywhere they went for work they called me and I will follow them with my father’s motorcycle, from there I learnt Aluminum fittings, then I learnt carpentry from one Emeka from Isuochi. Why I learnt it was because we had no money to build chairs and tables in our house, so we had an empty parlor, so instead of continuing that way, I asked Emeka to allow me join him.
I’m a surveyor too, I learnt land surveying in Onistha, from going to holidays my uncle engaged me in surveyor job. He made me busy and you have to learn. You can imagine that I never had any youthful life that some will come and say you were found there and here. Everyday is one skill or the other. I went to a commercial school, because my education was completely disjointed because it entailed self help.
Prof at what point in life did you start taking responsibility for yourself?
Well, my father used to tell us that the police law says that if you are 18 years and above you will never live in the barrack. That’s the police law, not now that even a 30 year old young man stays in the barracks. I don’t go for holidays like others in boys high school Ihube, because I’m a mason, electrician, so while the school is going on, I will to go different classes to see that there were no lights, windows are broken. I will itemized the things and go back to the principal, I will wait for him all days and when he asked what are doing here I will say I have something to show you sir. I will say this classroom is bad, the staff quarters bad are falling and I can fix it. I’ll say just give me some money let me buy cement others have gone home let me do it. When I finish he will say how much do I pay you I will say give me any amount sir. He will give me some money and I return to the bursar to pay my school fees and take the rest back to Owerri. You can imagine how I managed myself in school and by the time I finish the 14 subjects in the secondary school, I did all my acts in the GCE in class four and faced my science. I was the class prefect in chemistry and physics and the World Bank brought a lot of science kits, with those kits you can read and understand, so our teacher, Ibebuike will allow me to go and read and prepare for the next day experiment. I called those things call to duty. I worked in physics, but after class five they ceased our results because our class mates fought the police man providing security. Having ceased our results we were at the point of no return, but I had my GCE in class four. I had entered for A Level and I took the A Level in the same year November because I had my GCE, so I went to a commercial school, because I had Accounting, Statistics and Economics, I went to the commercial school to perfect typing and short hand.
When I went to Enugu in 1977 to our former yard and then I saw the boys that used to fight me and I will beat them, they were in CIC. They started asking me where were you IK? And told them I was in ICC in Owerri. Our own ICC in Owerri by Weatheral Road was called City Institute of Commerce.and the one in Enugu was Immaculate Conception College. But they were in secondary school and I’m in a commercial school. That was why I said that I must go to the secondary school. So I came and drop that Owerri CIC. Going back to class three to finish my commercial education I took an entrance examination; by 1978 I landed in Boys High school Ihube. When I came there I became the champion because I was teaching my classmates accounting and book keeping. Remember I have spent two years somewhere where I learnt economic and statistic.
In class three, our teacher, C O Ododo from Mbaise, took me to the staff quarters. I served him and going to school from the staff quarters. He now brought another serious culturing because we farmed at the backyard. I cooked for him in the morning, afternoon and night. He thought me French. I can write French 99%. He was our French teacher and a strong disciplinarian. That was how after primary school I went to commercial school, ICC and then back to secondary school.
At 21 with my Identity card from ACCA as an accountant trainee in England and Wales, I can work anywhere, that was how I went to Adiele Nominee (may his soul rest in peace) he asked me to resume work by January, but on the eve of my birthday December 29, I resumed work with the Israeli people that built Imo state University, now Abia State University. That was how life started. Then we built the Imo Airport, Aba teaching hospital. While I was doing that, I was transferred to Abuja as the area manager. I worked in the Villa and I built the Secretariat in Garki, former Foreign Affairs in Wuse 3 and God in his usual way kept faith with me because of covenant with him.
Quest : How did you get your 1st degree?
Ans: This is much, much later. By 1989, there was a military coup, Mamman Vatsa was killed and that was the end of our project in Abuja. So, I was transferred back to Owerri and resumed in completing the Imo Airport and other project, like Oba Airport, ASUTECH at Enugu, Awka and Nnewi campuses. Anambra Pharmaceutical, the Radio/Television in Onitsha, Anambra Integrated Farm etc, all were done by us. So, I had to research, I didn’t sleep. I travelled widely to see my Account Officers to see what they were doing, while I was doing that the project went down, government wasn’t paying. But I started getting contracts from Stumberger. So I built Stumberger houses and it was how I lost my money of N20million to my business partner at the age of 26. I wrote letters to the Israeli Embassy, complaining that their brother had cheated me. I want to be modest because when somebody decides to poison your food with his girlfriend so that you don’t remember you have a business to do with them that was what happened immediately I gave them the original document of skill G. Nig. Limited. When I recovered, I wrote a petition and they sacked the West African Manager of the company for changing the approval bidding of the home country. The fraudsters claimed that I had died and they changed my company’s name to theirs and converted the money to theirs. So, it was when I wrote the Embassy of Israeli that they knew what was happening.
It was the time Maj. Gen. Ike Nwanchukwu was the Foreign Affairs Minister and they were invited. At the end of the day, I was asked to go to Sonia Estate in Apapa and I arrived there May 13th. By the time I arrived there, they asked me what I wanted. That was Dizengoff firm. Dizengoff Company was the Israeli company that built the Presidential Hotel Port Harcourt under the regime of Michael Okpara of defunct Eastern Nigeria. I became Divisional Coordinator and later Marketing Manager of that company. I changed the fortunes of that company from a turnover of 30million to 300million. I was the first non-engineer to assembly split unit in Nigeria. It’s on record. Then I used to teach the Nigeria Society of Engineers at the University of Lagos any year they had a meeting. They will call me yo come and teach them. I used to call myself engineer. But they said no, you don’t have any background. At a point I challenged them and said since I’m calling myself an engineer and you said no, tell me, what the rule of the tongue is? I would mesmerize them with my teaching. And by the time I went to the board to teach, they will say thumbs up. So, that’s how I started to build that attitude of returning back to science. So, I opened branches in Ghana, in Gambia, I traveled all over West Africa to talk to people on opening of new branches.
So, while I was doing it, my boss also left to DVT, they are in Lekki, 14 kilometers to V.I. So they started wooing me to come over there. But look at me, Marketing Manager, with disjointed education. I didn’t know where to go with my life, I said let me go and start schooling. I moved and enrolled in Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT). I enrolled to study marketing because my life was all about marketing. Look, about the same time that I enrolled, I had so much activities, so, when I left Dizengoff, I went to DVT and the first job I was given was an engineering job World Bank to install laboratory equipment for 20 Federal Universities. I was mandated to teach both technologists and lecturers on how to manipulate and use them. So, I wore my overall, remember I was technically minded, I carried my tools and went to the manufacturers of those equipments. I asked questions and got the knowledge that would go back to the universities to teach them. 20 Federal Universities, University of Calabar, University Port Harcourt, University of Maiduguri, universities in Kwara, Sokoto, Maidugiri. I was adjudged the best engineer by the World Bank for that project but I wasn’t an engineer. But because I had this skill in my hand and science in my brain, I as a physics and chemistry student was able to do them. I read and read. In UI, when I used Petroleum Analyzer, they started wondering where I was coming from. Whenever they didn’t have anything, I’ll come up with the mixture of engineer oil, palm oil, three or four ingredients and put in my system and started analyzing. If you go to Gregory University, you’ll see my job. But yet, I wasn’t a graduate neither was I an engineer, but God’s work was in my life. So, I finished about the time Gen. Sani Abacha died. During the time of Gen. Abacha, I was one person that cannot be taken away from the Nigeria military.
When Abacha died, I was already in UNDP. The national rolling plan for Nigeria in Federal Ministry of Planning states that Nigeria can get more money if it had assessment of what happened in 774 LGAs of this country. So, Mr. Harbour from Arochukwu asked me in the office, how can somebody go to the 774 LGAs and do the assessment? I said Ah I’ve gone around 20 Federal Universities, so what is wrong in going to 774 LGAs? I’ll do it Sir. He said if you’ll do it, bring the report. So, I went to the 774 LGAs of this country, did the assessment to make sure that I stopped the youths from urban migration: so wherever I went, I identified the skills I could teach so that the youth can be busy. When you go to a particular community, you don’t see a wielder, hardly would you see a tailor and other skills. By the time I did assessment, I wrote the best quantity model for quantity skills, it’s in United Nations programme. It was because of my book, they gave me contract to do the skill centres in those LGAs. I did it, four skills in each LGAs skill acquisition centres. In Nasarawa state, if you school in any of the centres, you automatically qualified to go to the university. Here, most of them have been stolen. So you can see how I continued. The head of UNDP called Prof. Kakpanga, he’s from the Great Lakes in the middle of Africa, I told him I went to the United States since my wife has moved in 1998. I said Nigeria was becoming problematic. In 1999, I completed my programme at ESUT and left. Did my Masters and continued and completed my Ph.D. in 2006. I became a doctorate degree holder in management. My Master’s programme was healthcare management. Why did I do health care management? Because it is Something that I’ll do that would enable me get a job in the USA so that I can manage facilities of health, normally grants for health. I managed patients, doctors’ recreation. The complaint that doctors didn’t treat you well or the nurse will be brought to my table. I’ll go to the doctor and I’ll say tell me what you did to this patient and would record and fault you where necessary.
At the end, I’ll write a report, government would either withdraw your license or you’ll face punishment. This is what I read. It was a good job for me, controlling doctors and nurses. Just like project manager that manages both engineers, architects, everybody reports to the project manager. That’s what I did in my master’s level. But when I finished my Ph.D., the UN were already coming to me and somebody told former President that there is a Nigerian that has Nigeria on his palm and he said call him. So my phone rang, because I submitted 46 pages to Former President Obasanjo. I said reform Nigeria now, the old pattern of doing things should come to an end. Nigeria is above 50 years. We can’t continue the old pattern. The law in reformation says if you get to this year, change your attitude. And if you can’t start practicing, do the new things for four years, it will be adaptable. But anything less than four years, your successor will jettison it. So, I was on a Sunday, my phone rang. He called me by 2am. 2am there is like 8pm Nigerian time. So I said who is calling and in USA. The voice said Okay, when did you travel? I said not too long but who is speaking? He said OBJ. I shrank and said see me see trouble. You know women; my wife nearly slapped me and put the phone off. But when I said Sir, your Excellency Sir, are you the one calling? He said hold on and another voice came and said Ah! This 419 people are at it again. The voice when are you coming back? I said I have been in United States for sometime but I can be back this weekend.
So, we now formed Bureau of Public Service reforms?
I employed one Dr Aliyu, he lost all he had in the Ife/Modekeke crisis, somebody introduced him to me and he is an Electronic Engineer. So, I made him my COO because from that little job I had been in all the ministries. I was consultant on Review of Railway Master Plan, I was consultant to Ministry of Transport equally on Maritime Education, I was in Trade and Commerce, I was in Education, NAPEP, everything I said was implemented at most I will brief Baba (Obasanjo) and he would say the UN man is coming to brief us. Nobody paid me money in this country for reforming the public service, Baba was angry and it was based on that that in Education reform Federal government and UNESCO opened a Trust fund so that FG pays in money, UNESCO pays from there they pay me money, that was how I started.
The public servants were angry that I came to reform the way they do old pattern of things but I was happy. So that man I brought was a lecturer to Charles Adagoreke in Ife, he told him Baba you are a Yoruba man why working for an Igbo man, go and bring one company let me give you all these jobs and Dr Aliyu told him where were you all these days when an Igbo man took me and rehabilitated me in Abuja, where were you guys?
So to hell with you and those monies you ate , you will suffer all throug your life. It will not be well with your life, and Charles has never seen peace till tomorrow. So, you can see how I got into the Nigerian network.I became a confidant to Baba and anything I say, he adopted the programmes of “no community will be left behind”. Baba (former president Olusegu Obasanjo) chose 47 reopening of stive areas for me to set up Skills Acquisition Centres because of my job in UN, because the only veritable tool to stopping restiveness is skill centres. So, you can imagine I was everywhere, television talk shows etc I do what comes from my heart because if you talk about skills, who are you to tell me about skills, me that is coming from the oven.
Question: What is your family life like?
Ans: You see my father died at 99 years that is official but he died at 106, if you follow when he retired from service. He did not see the four walls of a school. As a tailor the British recruited him to start a Police tailoring department and he became Chief Inspector, if he had gone to school, he would be IGP. The pain he passed through when they sent him on general duty, at least he was able to write his name for as a primary three pupil, but we kept on writing for him and teaching him attention, about turn. My father will always tell us don’t let your enemy not to have education. He said find a way and make your enemy go to school because at the end they come to the same market with you and if they didn’t go to school, everything you are doing will be messed up. He left the impression on me and the pains he had for not going to school so I didn’t didn’t take it lightly. My Education intervention programme was because of my dad’s advice.
What’s challenges did you encounter growing up?
My greatest challenge in this world, I told you point-blank that I work with Jesus; I had no other mentor, no other person. Sometimes, I want to tell the youths not to expect anything from any other person because my expectations never helped me. My worst challenge was that I expected my brothers to help me; my uncles, nephews and nobody came to my help. In today’s world people help, in those days after the war nobody helped, nobody cared. Today, people would walk up to me, they call me on phone to tell me their family situation and I award scholarships to them. I gave one in Umuahia boy that produced one car at Aba scholarship. He is in Gregory University right now. One girl called me that the family had no money and I just gave her scholarship, so I’m just doing those things because I don’t want my enemy not to have education.
Question: You are still talking about skills; how can we guarantee a skilled society?
The entrepreneurship as a skill ought to start from primary school level because we are already late, so we bridged the gap to start from Universities and Polytechnics now it’s trickling down, that was what I did. When I was lecturer at ABSU those that passed through me in entrepreneurship training, you can go and ask them wherever they are they will tell you, it’s what I told them that they are passing through now. I will scold you right there in the class. If you don’t know what to do when you become a mother like my mother, it will stare you at the face that you need these skills to support your husband to train the children and if you don’t know how to cook I’m sure that your husband you might lose him, like now, I just taught them before the exam how to produce tooth paste, I teach how to produce yeast any skill you want I have it at the tip of my finger, so I’m not afraid.
So, skill is the only thing that anybody can depend on in life. Now in my university I have a plastic making factory, I have a soap factory; I have a baking place, printing press, television station, radio etc. What we are saying is that you must learn two skills before you leave the school. If you are a girl learn confectionaries, when the family is becoming tougher for you, then you branch over because you have skill. That’s what is happening in the school because I encourage that so much.
Question on education intervention programmes?
Obasanjo the great leader of Africa, each time I go to him some people said I look like him whether I’m sure he is not my father. I’m not ashamed if he is my father but I have told you the genesis of how he called me, so if because I stay with him and go to his room to talk to him and he listens to me, maybe God has made me to look like him and I am very happy about it. When I started the education reforms, it was christened revamping mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I turned to UNESCO so we can do presidential briefing and while we were doing that presidential briefing President Obasanjo would like to know. Take for instance how did I start the Labless Lab? Labless Lab teaches you science under the tree, in a classroom. Remember I know 80 per cent of our peculiar circumstances in the country having visited the 774 LGAs, I know what is peculiar to us, how many primary schools have a store, how many primary schools have a library, how many secondary schools have a full functional Lab…
We supplied it to 20 primary schools in each state, 40 secondary schools in each state from Oil producing communities had more and then all the 62 colleges of Education, so I went with my team to teach all the Colleges of Education how to use this kit. I will bring some now so you can see. That’s how I perfected the act. If you start science you can’t just stop at the basic science, so I did primary school science, primary school mathematics and I did junior and senior secondary school science. As I’m building this study of science and mathematics then, I need to think about moving to the highest point by converting all Nigerian universities and Polytechnics to be well equipped to meet the art of science and technology.
I took it back again to Obasanjo he said Nigeria is too large, we have to do it batch by batch, so we have 51 federal Polytechnic and state Polytechnic,. If you go to any of their Lab you will see Skill G equipment in all, both the state and federal universities everything you see in their Lab is my equipment.
I’m a proud person in terms of what I have achieved for my country. Obasanjo started the Pilot phase; the first phase came but I can assure you that Jonathan adopted the same thing to take it to the second phase and towards the end Buhari now was able to complete the final phase of that project.
When someone say I’m studying megatonics it’s just me, I’m in charge. I continued with the skills then I felt I need to turn these brains to products, now they have ideas in engineering what do I do with them now? But before then, two years before then I opened my company called Skill G Pharmaceutical, I started selling modular lab by the time COVID started my modular lab was being used by the Centre for Disease Control across the country. Anything I start I protect, God answers the prayer, now my equipment dominated the country even at FMC Umuahia go there.
People might be sleeping but I don’t. I keep thinking what do we do to make our place functional, so that’s how I succeeded in education then that I now decided to expand that my thinking because I succeeded also in Israel in a start-up company. I brought my invention centre here that’s called the INNOV 8 hub, so you can imagine. That’s why all the heads of states of the world are coming wondering who could be this guy that could bring the world to Nigeria, the Israeli deputy Prime Minister came the other week, so if you are visiting, they call me to come and receive you.
Question: Joining partisan politics is it not a distraction?
You see from nowhere, out of nowhere, and you see whatever that is in my brain was utilised by the man who identifies clever man or woman and that’s Obasanjo. I’m proud today that since the age of 23. I have been in Abuja; I have done so much for my country that any sector you call I will put my hand. Now I’m like getting to the highest peak of my job, when I was teaching in ABSU I go to teach with my motorcade, I go to teach at Tansi, Anambra State two and half hours of teaching and Imo, but people thought I was busy doing nothing, not knowing I was trying to grow more people like me. And then finally they forced me out of their school and I built a university.
Instead of keeping my money abroad I invested it here and today we have one of the best universities in the country representing Abia state, and I’m the chairman Private universities proprietor’s association of Nigeria. Do you hear me talk, I do my things diligently but I’m working for my country Nigeria, so why can’t I go home and turn the fortunes of my state?
Question: Talking about politics, it is seen as a dirty game here, won’t it dent your integrity?
If I had wanted in this world to occupy political position Obasanjo would had given me everything because I was in every ministry. He would ask me, do you want to be there and I would say no, I just want to teach another person to do your job I monitor the person. So, what’s dirty in it? Why it’s dirty is because of lack of transparency, I’ve served in the UN and have you ever heard my name mentioned anywhere. I’ve served diligently and if I might use it the Igbos my people, they love excellence. Ask your son, brother who is this Greg Ibe and they will tell you he is the founder of the university where almost 500 Abians are studying on scholarship.
Go and ask around, have I stolen your money before? The answer is no. It’s just all about trust.
Question: How rich are you?
No I’m a teacher, I’m a Prince, a heir apparent to the throne of Eze Cyril Ibe. Life is not all about material possession but impacts and service delivery. I’m carved out to impact positively on lives. That’s my joy.
If given the opportunity you are seeking, what practical steps are you going to take to quickly fix Abia?
They are contained in my manifesto and I read them on the day I declared for the race. I want to give Abia the proper definition of enterprise. An enterprise is an idea that is well planned when, and when implemented, it will create activity, and that activity will lead to rewards.
If this state should be run as an enterprise, then an idea of what happens in the state must be well planned, and must be implementable, and it must create activity. Not just in one small corner but everywhere across the state. Under my watch, there will be total decentralization of governance. There will be no discrimination because if you discriminate you will be living a child behind. If you fail to give equal opportunity to every Abian you will be creating a vacuum and that gap will continue to widen. But I don’t believe in that ideology. My ideology is that every child should be given equal opportunity. I will take development closer to the people. At a point Abia was the second largest producer of cocoa. For many years the Lebanese, and the Yorubas were coming to buy our cocoa, and after take them to Shagamu for processing, yet poverty is killing my people here in Abia.
The British came and decided to locate ceramics industry here in Umuahia because Umuahia has the best kaolin for all breakables and tiles. But that company is dead today. The Lebanese come to Umuahia and take our kaolin, and take it to Kogi where they are producing tiles because of the gas pipeline that passed through Kogi. They make their millions of Naira, yet my Abia people are impoverished.
How do you intend to handle this?
I’m one Abian that has worked with past Heads of State including IBB, Obasanjo, up till Jonathan. Have I not ‘carried bags’ in politics? I think I have got enough tutulage. Am I looking at the elite or the people? It’s the people I care for. The elite may be the vehicle but the same elite should know that there must be a paradigm shift.
The man Greg Ibe has something excellent to showcase. I have antecedents. I have added value to lives. I know what I want to do for the people. I want to leave an enduring legacy. The Imo Airport, Abia State University and the Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba which the Old Imo State prides itself with who built them? I’m the one that did the three projects.
So, if I want to build an airport today in Abia will I need to look for somebody to do that? I’m building a 100-bed hospital for Gregory University at Okigwe Expressway. There is nowhere in Nigeria that has well-planned, purpose-built hospital than the one I’m building. But I’m quiet about it. I still go to the classroom to teach.
I’m above 50 years, and I have no pleasure in food anymore. My children are already made. I don’t need to steal the state fund to enrich them. My children live in the US, and if I take Abia money and send to them the US Government will come after them. So, why should I mess up my clean record which I have built over the years?
Why did you dump the PDP for APGA?
If the Abia Charter of Equity which gives us from Isuikwuato Division the moral right to contest for the governorship, is not respected by our elders, they should not expect us to chicken out from the struggle.
Do you think Abia of today fit into the dreams of the founding fathers?
We don’t need to bother about yesterday. We need to move on. I have a total plan that is implementable; that will create activity that will make Abians proud of their state, see and enjoy development in their state.
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