It has been 17 years since the First Lady of the first civilian governor of Old Imo State, Chief (Mrs) Victoria Ahukpeyi Mbakwe, lost her husband and former governor of the state, Chief Sam Mbakwe. In an interview with our correspondent CHRIS NJOKU, the former first lady sensationally revealed that no former governor of the state had deemed it necessary to pay her a visit. She also spoke on a variety of other issues, including her endorsement of the current governor of the state, Hope Uzodinma and why she believes that the governor needs the support of Imo people.
The administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma is less than five months old in office. What are your feelings about it?
As far as I am concerned, any government is God’s gift to the people. It is God that puts people in any position at any particular time. Therefore, my opinion is that it is the doing of the Lord. People should support Hope Uzodinma.
And if what he said is the truth, then my husband loved the people of Imo. Everywhere he was, he loved them. What I am telling the current governor is that since he has made that statement, he should act like my husband by loving his people, do whatever that will make them happy and comfortable. So far, he has started well and I hope he will continue.
Can you tell us one or two things you have heard about Governor Uzodinma?
As I said, he has said he is Mbakwe’s incarnate. That is good. Another thing is that he has started doing some work, repairing what my husband had started. Again, he has shown great difference between him and other past governors. This makes me believe his statement that he is my husband’s incarnate. I will also give him applause having sent his team ahead to come and see me. It is a good start. None of the past governors has come here to see me. So, this is a very good sign and I like that.
Your husband had ruled Imo State as governor between 1979 and 83. He is also the one regarded as the best Imo State governor. Are you worried that his record is yet to be broken?
Recently, Governor Uzodinma abolished pension and gratuities for former governors and deputy governors. What is your opinion on this?
I don’t know much about that. But all the same, it is the right thing to do, because if a governor finishes his term and goes to the Senate or House of Representatives and he is earning money here and there, I don’t think it is fair. So, I think I like that action the governor has taken. I like it very much.
The truth is this: if one finishes as a governor and goes to the Senate, I don’t think it is fair for the person to earn salary or pension as governor and at the same time take salary as a senator. He should take one. That is where I am worried. If he as former governor goes to the Senate to earn salary and at the same time earns pension or gratuities, this is not fair.
You must think about the masses. We have a lot of poor people around us, and part of the money should be used to solve some other problems. It is good if somebody finishes and he is given pension, provided he is not going from there to the Senate and earns money there. I don’t think it is right to earn here and there while some people are suffering.
When your husband was the governor, he established some industries and today, the industries are moribund. How do you feel when you learn that these industries are going down?
I was a part of the works done in those days, because they say behind every successful man, there is a successful woman. Then, I was helping my husband. I must tell you I am not happy to see all those factories going down. It doesn’t give anybody happiness at all. It doesn’t give me happiness because I know the efforts my husband made to put the industries in place. I think people should continue from where others stopped. And with that, there will be progress. But without continuity, there will be a problem. That is why we are having the problems we are having today as if everywhere is at a standstill. I am not happy about this development.
As a former First Lady, if you were to advise Governor Uzodinma as your husband’s incarnate, what areas would you want him improve upon?
I won’t say others before him did not do anything. I’m sure they did something. There is nobody that came without doing one thing or the other. But what I am against is when a governor starts a good project, it should be continued. However, I want Governor Uzodinma to continue with roads, water and electricity. These are very important to the people.
Of course, let the governor continue with anything that is good for the people. He should work with love as my husband did to Imo people. Let him carry everybody along in love. If he does it, I’m sure everything will be alright.
What is your advice to the people who go about vandalizing government projects such as happened recently at the Otamiri Water Works where some hoodlums damaged government property worth millions of naira?
In the first place, it is wrong for anybody to destroy public property or vandalise the good work of the government which is for the good and benefit of the people. Whoever vandalises such projects is not a friend of Imo people. So, I am against such vandalisation. I say they should stop it.
Recently, Governor Uzodinma resuscitated Adapalm Plantation. Are you happy hearing some of these good news coming from the government?
I am absolutely happy. I want such good work to continue. I want my people, as my husband used to call Imo people, to be happy. Therefore, anything that will make them happy, I will support.
What is your message to Imo people?
My message to Imo people now is they should know that every government is sent by God, and any person who comes to the throne at a particular time is the Lord’s wish, because without God’s wish, that person will not be there.
Therefore, I will ask the people to support the government of Uzodinma so that he will do better. If you support somebody, he will be happy to do more. But if you don’t support him, that is when the person relaxes and may not feel the urge to bring out his best.
So, I will urge Imo people to support Hope Uzodinma because right now, he is the person on the seat.