•Gov Udom Emmanuel has failed.
Two things stand out Ima Obong Uboh among the youths of her generation. The first is her creativity and humanity. That is why she conceived and created the famous Ibom Food Bank which generated food and cash to feed many poor families in Akwa Ibom State during the Covid-19 lockdown and later, trained over 2000 youths in various skills for independent and self-sufficient living.
The second thing that makes the great Ibesikpo Asutan daughter who was a member of Ondo APC Governorship Aspirants Screening Appeal Committee few months back radically different is her boldness to dare and speak truth to authorities of state for public good. This is the character that actually launched her into Akwa Ibom State consciousness and limelight. That was when she took a social media fight with an emotional terrorist resident in Texas, United States who constituted himself into a nuisance blackmailing and scandalising senior citizens of Akwa Ibom State, some say for political reasons and financial gains.
Creativity, humanity, courage to brave the odds and sound intelligent contents have landed Miss Uboh in the political arena in Akwa Ibom State. She is interested in good governance, a system that government is responsive, accountable and sensitive to the plights of the masses and works to make life better for the citizens. She had long declared support for Senator John Udoedehe, National secretary, Caretaker Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the APC. In a matter of days, she is launching a series setting aside the falsehood of years sponsored against the national Secretary. The series will be Premiered in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Capital on Saturday, 24th October 2020 at Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre. Governors and other top Nigerian dignitaries are accompanying Senator John Udoedehe to the show whose ticket is fast selling out.
CitizensWatch had been on Ima Uboh’s trail and thus this interview during the week.
It’s a no-hole-barred and very articulate expose of the politics of Akwa Ibom State. Miss Uboh of Ibom Food Bank is of the popular view the current PDP government in Akwa Ibom State under Governor Udom Emmanuel, has failed. In her way forward, she wants Akwa Ibom State to mobilise support for APC and Senator John Udoedehe as the next governor of Akwa Ibom State. The interview came in bits through WhatsApp. It’s a read you should not miss. She chatted with Solomon Johnny, Editor-in-chief, Global Concord Newspaper.
Read the excerpts of the interview below:
Lead the Press into your foray into the politics of Akwa Ibom State. You made a big entry into the public space when you took a fight with a certain (name withheld) who from all indications, looked bloated for even the state government to tame his excesses and nuisance. Where did you get the gut and what motivated you to square up with the “emotional terrorist”?
My foray into the politics of Akwa Ibom State was inspired by the need for tangible, sustainable development of my people and the realisation that the only man capable of driving such reality is a man who has built capacity over the years, a man with political will power who cannot be manipulated by anyone under the guise of god-fatherism and most importantly a man with the fear of God. That man is Sen. John Udoedehe, a Pastor, which explains my ardent support for him that made way for my appointment into the Ondo State Governorship Screening/Appeal Committee which was my first ever National assignment on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC). I remain grateful for that, I must say.
About the serial blackmailer, the emotional terrorist like you rightly put; I’m actually very intolerable to bullshit. When it comes to people who display gross monopoly insensitivity, impunity and levity, I have no fuse. I was a friends with the young man for about a year and I witnessed the manner at which he slandered the image of Akwa Ibom sons and daughters in the public. He will do anything to destroy peoples’ character and tarnish our collective image in the nation and world at large and I was like waow! Can’t these people speak up for themselves or don’t they have friends and loved ones who can speak up for them and put a stop to this bully and serial blackmailer who makes a living from ruining people’s lives, career, marriages, relationships and opportunities? It was absolutely disgusting! To think that most of his victims were people in government like the Governor, his wife and members of his cabinet and they couldn’t stop the nuisance? That was terrible! So I ventured to fight the nuisance. I did and Akwa Ibom won.
Where I got the guts to square up with the blackmailer is simple. He needed to be stopped. He became seemingly unstoppable, unconfrontable and I knew if he continued like that we would all be in trouble and so when he stepped on my toe and I issued him a 24 hours ultimatum to tender an apology to me on the same medium he blackmailed me, and he ignored, I went for him and every one dead and alive related to him. He had to be stopped and I succeeded in doing that by digging his dirts and revealing to the world what can of worms with pungent stench he was. That pungent stench from his antecedents robs him the moral standing to criticize how other people lived their lives.
You seem to have become very popular following your daring entry into the arena and the fight you launched to stop the “blackmailer”. How do you feel about that?
I feel better because everyone else in the state feels better and safe now. People who left FB for fear of being blackmailed have returned en masse to the social platform. People now live their lives freely without fear of being blackmailed and it’s such a big relief. Most importantly, Akwa Ibom people have learnt to stand up, look at threats in the eyes and speak up for themselves by my singular act of bravery. So, I feel better to have set that pace for my people to follow.
That same period, you started Akwa Ibom Food Bank which fed a lot of less privileged Akwa Ibom people across the 31 Local Government Areas of the state. What gave you the motivation and how has it been having to convince the public to donate food to those who don’t have?
The motivation was simply me relating to hunger without hope of what to eat. You see, if you’ve never been there, you’ll never understand that right now. There are people who haven’t eaten in days, have no hope for the next meal, there are people who have enough, to spare and to trash.
I was also motivated by the fact that, there are people whose daily livelihood depended on their daily hustle and they would be financially incapacitated during the total lockdown. That was my motivation. I needed to bridge the gab between plenty and scarcity. I need to appeal for donations from people who have, and distribute same to people who lack.
When I was incubating the idea of Ibom food Bank Initiative, there were seemingly insurmountable reasons I thought would truncate the successful implementation of the idea. No 1 was my partisanship. As a very core and vocal supporter of Senator John Udoedehe who is of the APC in a PDP ruling state, my target donors were the PDP state government officials because they were the ones with money and of course, the ones close to me. So I had thought, will they support the project? Will they donate to the project? Or will they not support it because I wasn’t PDP? will they believe that regardless of the political difference, we can come together as a people, at a time when nothing else mattered in the world than humanity itself, to save ourselves? So when I weighed the possibility of not getting support for the project, people laughing at me if I started and failed, I almost let the idea slide but then I said to myself; what have I got to loss if I start and fail? Start it. Make the first video soliciting for donations and if you dont get any donations, so be it. I move on with my life. So, I had to take the shot and it was a boom!
The support base was wider than I thought. Our first donation came from a woman I know not in Germany. The second donation came in from Senator John Udoedehe who donated 133 bags of 50kg rice and 33 big bags of beans. We had Akwa Ibom men and women in USA, UK, Belgium, Port Harcourt, Lagos, people I don’t know, donating massively to the project. A handful of PDP politicians in the state did a great job donating their might to the project.
In total, 70% of the donations came from Akwa Ibomites abroad and 10% from Akwa Ibomites in the country, while 20% came from politicians in the state.
It was an amazing love and support shown to vulnerable Akwa Ibomites from well meaning Akwa Ibomites, home and abroad. I love them and I always pray for them for coming to the help of those who did not have.
“Truth remains that Sen. John Udoedehe is the most blackmailed and misunderstood politician in Akwa Ibom State. The Udoedehe series are short movies or skits produced to tell the true stories of all the propagandas and blackmails labelled against Sen. John Udoedehe. It is an informational material that spot lights the Senator and projects his true nature to people who haven’t had the opportunity to interface with him personally, but who have probably been misled by age long lies against his descent, peaceful, loving, supportive and God fearing nature.”Ima Obong Uboh
I saw you building houses for the homeless. You haven’t mentioned that too. Are you impressed at the humanity so expressed by the people? Is Ibom Food Bank temporary or has it come to stay?
Yes, during the course of the free food distribution in one of the villages, we met a physically and financially challenged old man who was deformed from birth and victimized by family and friends. Because we videod all our food distribution processes for transparency and accountability of funds management and our appolitical distribution approach to the donors, one of our core donors who prefer anonymity and who I call ‘the Port Harcourt donor,’ saw the man’s video, had compassion on his detororiating state and pledged to build him a 1 bedroom flat. He did. What’s left to complete the house and hand over right now is the tiling, doors, windows, painting and furnishing. All these will be achieved in a few weeks time, to the glory of God.
The humanity displayed by well meaning Akwa Ibomites home and abroad to vulnerable Akwa Ibomites in the state was commendable. I found out that people had long sought to help our community but the challenge was who they could trust with their money to do the job. The donors in diaspora said, they couldn’t trust the government with their monies to deliver on intervention programs nor their family and friends who had betrayed their trust in times past. So, they decided to take a chance on me, a total stranger they met on Facebook and to the glory of God, I didn’t fail myself. I didn’t fail them too. I even had donors in America who sent me hundreds of dollars and were appealing that I use the special funds for myself. They said; “this money is not for palliative. It is for you. Use this to take care of yourself. Use this give yourself a treat. Pls dont use it for palliatives.”(laughs). A sweet woman even demanded for my personal account number not the NGO’s account details to send the money to further emphasis, the money was not for palliative but for me.
Ibom Food Bank Intiative has come to stay. We will be taking up more free house building projects for vulnerable Akwa Ibomites in the future. After the lockdown and having witnessed first hand the poverty and unemployment level in the state during the course of free food distribution, we had planned for a post COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The strategy was to appeal to skilled professionals in the State to adopt and train for free, Akwa Ibomites who were passionate about their skills. We believed there were people who would like to learn a skill to better themselves but, couldn’t afford the training fees. So, if we could get skilled professionals to volunteer to train them for free, it could go a long way to supporting our community at the critical time of the pandemic, creating jobs, desuading youths from social vices and boosting our internally generated revenue (IGR).
So again, we appealed and because we had created an antecedent of passion for our community beyond political lines, transparency and accountability, skilled professionals in the State readily volunteered to partner with us on the Ibom Food Bank Initiative Economic Recovery Plan. Today, in partnership with the various skills professionals we’ve recorded the training of over 2000 Akwa Ibomites on cake-making, makeup artistry, fashion designing and tailoring, catering, paint making, Plaster of Paris (POP) and 3D wall paper installation, Electrical wiring, wig making, cosmetology, graphics designing, photography, web development, Livestock farming, crop farming, fascinator and hat making, camera operating, video editing and TV presenting amongst others.
We’ve graduated over 900 beneficiaries of the IFBI free skills acquisition training already while others are still on training and we still have other trainings yet to commence. We are currently working on an empowerment facility for our graduants and I’m using this opportunity to call on well meaning Akwa Ibom people to donate towards the acquisition and furnishing of this facility for the benefit of Akwa Ibomites who participated or are currently on the free skills acquisition.
You see, the empowerment phase of this project cannot be overemphasised because without which the graduants will not improve and establish on their skills. They will even loose touch of what they learnt and the whole process of economic recovery, will be effort in futility. We dont want that. We want a facility that will be equipped for the various skills. What that means is that, there will be a tailoring department with the state of the art machines, that our graduants can access free of charge to make clothes for their clients for a period of 1 year, during which they will tutor a new batch of IFBI free skills acquisition.
This strategy ensures that we closely monitor the progress of our graduants for a year and sustain the project for other Akwa Ibomites to participate in the future. We have strategies that will help us promote the goods and services of our graduants within the 1 year period so that by the end of that period, they will be self sufficient as an independent brand and capable of setting up their own outfits while they make way at the facility for the ones they trained.
So you see, sustaining the human capacity development in AkwaIbom State is our goal and we appeal to well meaning Akwa Ibomites and governments at all levels to support us with funds. We promise as proven in our antecedent to properly manage and account for all funds received. We believe that if we got here, we will get there and beyond. We are unstoppable!
“The only political alternative in Akwa Ibom State is APC. Let me stress that we in Akwa Ibom State cannot afford to get it wrong in 2023, else it will be calamity”Ima Obong Uboh
I love what I’m hearing, sounds pretty good. How would you describe a situation where members of the public, like you have said, trust private individuals instead of the government to deliver on humanitarian activities?
I think it’s about antecedents. Generally, aside from corruption which scares people from partnering with government, another factor is the bureaucratic bottleneck associated with government. As an NGO, it was easy to go straight to the project implementation and deliver a timely intervention programme once we had the funds whereas, government processes are usually stifled by several approvals here and there. So, for a swift and efficient implementation of social intervention project, it’s advisable for individuals, organisation and government to partner with NGOs.
Let’s discuss little of politics. How would you assess Politics and governance in Akwa Ibom State? Do you think Gov Udom Emmanuel has done well as the governor of Akwa Ibom State?
In all honesty, the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel is the worst government since the creation of Akwa Ibom State. Gov. Udom Emmanuel has failed woefully in taking the state from where he met it, to the next level and this is a factor of how he came into power. That is why Akwa Ibomites must arise and oppose godfatherism in Akwa Ibom State come 2023. A system when an outgoing Governor seeks to impose a successor on the state, is a monopoly system targeted at our commonwealth which if allowed, it leads to our collective impoverishment because, the imposed successor has conditions he must meet. One of such conditions is to ensure the predecessor remains a stakeholder in our commonwealth.
Here is a man who was doing well in his chosen banking career in which he was aspiring to the top. He never had it in his life goal to be a politician, let alone a state Governor but by interface with the Immediate past Governor Akpabio who became his boss, he was imposed on the people of Akwa Ibom State. So this man was handed what he didn’t know what to do with-Akwa Ibom Governorship seat. His first 4 years in office featured him being a puppet in the hands of his predecessor. He was merely a furniture Governor, while someone else decided who was what in his government. He even borrowed structure of the Akpabio government. As politics will always play out, his predecessor dumped the PDP to the APC leaving him alone to fight or run away. He decided to fight and it’s on record that the only achievement of Governor Udom Emmanuel is winning his second term election. This second term presented an opportunity to Governor to actually be the Governor, after getting rid of his God-father but unfortunately, you can’t use second term to achieve anything you didn’t start in your first term as a governor. That’s why you see the Governor running from pillar to post. Abandoned projects here and there. The government acclaimed industries are only functional on Facebook and pages of newspapers, whereas in real life, they are locked up with tall grasses, rodents and snakes having a field day. To make matters worse, 2023 looms and the Governor having known that there’s nothing he can start and accomplish in 3 years has shifted his attention to imposing a successor which is evident in his monopoly of the structures of the Peoples Democratic Party and hoarding of state funds. Everyone in the system is complaining. The other day, the house members were all over the place complaining over lack of funds to execute Constituency projects.
The local government chairmen are all singing ‘mkpo ibaha’ as if allocations have not been coming to the state. Everyone in the system are all suffering and smiling.
The masses are in trouble. Akwa Ibom State unemployment rate is second highest in the Federation. Small and Medium Enterprises are shrinking because the purchasing power in the state is at an all-time low. Only the governor and top government officials are enriching themselves, building mansions in Shelter Afrique and Asongoma Estate at the expense of the poverty-stricken citizenry.
So, the Governor Udom Emmanuel has failed beyond redemption.
What is the way forward? What would you recommend to the people of Akwa Ibom State going forward?
Power must change parties. The monopoly of power by the PDP in Akwa Ibom state has contributed to their government of impunity, levity and reckless abandonment. We need a new set of leaders entirely, with the purest intentions. We need new set of ideas, new set of managers. PDP is exhausted of both ideas and capacity to run Akwa Ibom State. After 20 years and we are still a civil service State, there is nothing they can do or promise to do again which they couldn’t have done 20 years ago. So what Akwa Ibom State needs right now is an entirely a new system with young dynamic and intelligent homegrown Akwa Ibomites to run the system differently for a better result.
What alternative do you see for Akwa Ibom State in 2023 in terms of party platform?
The only political alternative in Akwa Ibom State is APC. Let me stress that we in Akwa Ibom State cannot afford to get it wrong in 2023, else it will be calamity
We need a man who has built capacity over the years. A man that is intelligent, bold, courageous and in touch with the common man and his challenges. We need a man who knows the common man by name and challenges. A man with the fear of God. A man with the political will power both at the state and federal level, to take us on the platform of APC from the rot that Akwa Ibom State is in now, to the promise land. That man is none other than Pstr. Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe.
Looking at the conflicting interest in the APC, do you think Sen John Udoedehe can win the ticket of APC in 2023? Added to that, how would you react to the accusation especially by the PDP that there is no APC in Akwa Ibom State?
I don’t see any conflicting issues at the moment. Sen. John Udoedehe is the only one vocal in the party about his 2023 Governorship ambition. All that has been going on is reconciliation in the party. The APC by now has learnt it’s lesson for ignoring the foundation. Twice, the party had ignored the foundation and twice the party had failed. You see, by virtue of Sen Udoedehe being the founding father of the APC in the state, he holds the key to the grassroots. He knows his people and his people know him. Winning a governorship seat doesn’t happen by chance but by pure hard work and confidence and capacity building over the years. So yes, Sen. John Udoedehe by God’s grace, has the ticket because only he has what it takes to lead the opposition to victory 2023.
With regard to the PDP’s accusation that there’s no APC in Akwa Ibom State is a clear indication that there is APC in Akwa Ibom State and the PDP are frightened about that. Do you accuse or debate over what is not in existence? For example, can any Nigerian debate on whether or not Trump is the president of Nigeria? Of course not. That’s because Trump is not the president of Nigeria. So the PDP’s agitation that there’s no APC in Akwa Ibom State is an indication that there is and they’re scared.
You see, they wish there was no rock-solid opposition so they can continue their leadership of impunity, levity and recklessness and abandonment. But truth is that as far as 2023 is concerned, it’s game over for PDP because APC is totally committed and rededicated to forming the next Government in Akwa Ibom State.
Tell me about your series for Sen John Udoedehe. We have seen the fliers everywhere in social media. What is all about?
Truth remains that Sen. John Udoedehe is the most blackmailed and misunderstood politician in Akwa Ibom State. The Udoedehe series are short movies or skits produced to tell the true stories of all the propaganda and blackmails labeled against Sen. John Udoedehe. It is an informational material that spotlights the Senator and projects his true nature to people who haven’t had the opportunity to interface with him personally, but who have probably been misled by age-long lies against his descent, peaceful, loving, supportive and God-fearing nature.
Before releasing the series for public circulation, we’re premiering it with a bang. The premier holds on the 24th of Oct. 2020, by 2 pm at the Ibom Tropicana entertainment galleria Udoudoma Avenue, Uyo. It will be a grand event that will be attended by Senators, Ministers and Governors from across the country. Sen. John Udoedehe is the Special Guest of Honor.
Let me also use this opportunity to call on all APC supporters, well meaning AkwaIbomites and lovers of the truth to turn up enmass for this event. For ticket, seat and other package reservations, pls call 08038969518. Udoedehe series promises to be revealing, educating, inspiring and mobilising. The premier is a must attend!