Fresh from his victory at the courts over the subsidy saga, Chief Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, spoke with our Correspondent, Okey Maduforo, in Awka, on his travails and his speculated ambition in the 2014 governorship election. Excerpts:
Well if you notice. May be I am not in the best position to know how people look at me or how people perceive my life style. But I know that my background has been very instructive to the way I look at people competently. Mine has not affected the way I regard every human being. The rise as you call it, I knew that I made it at the young age and that was enough assignment from God that I should start early to begin to assist and help others around me. My target in life has been to put smiles on the faces of people as much as I can. I am not God, but I try to meet people at the point of their needs. This I have done through education. God has used me to empower people in education through scholarship up to university level. I have tried to absorb not less than seventy percent of them into my many business, the oil and gas industry where I operate. You know that when you give one person employment you have succeeded in feeding ten others who may be attached to him or her. This has been my principle and it further gives me joy to see people gain from the bounties of my philanthropy.
Your name entered into the muddy waters of controversy and you were in court and soon the battle was over.
When the matter first entered the media; if you will recall, I said my hands were clean and I said that God will fight for me. If you look at the oil and gas industry, I am perhaps the only big player in the South East under the downstream sector their other players in the South East, but I think that God has made me to be ahead of others in that areas. But with that position that I occupy I tried to be honest, I tried to play straight and I tried to carry everybody along. Most people were not happy about it and I did not know, most of the donations that I made quietly through my foundations people who benefited talked about it but I was not loud about those actions. But I did not know that most of those things were not going down well with some people and some powers that be. But God has been with me. When the problem came, you recall that they locked me up for ten days, I did nothing, police invited me to come, I came to see the Police as good citizen of Nigeria. And before I could finish with them, Dr. Cosmas Maduka brought another allegation and calling me all sorts of names, I don’t want to repeat because you know them. He called me a thief, said that I committed fraud and the rest of them. When I began to answer the allegations, it became clear to the authorities, that all those things were mere conspiracy, and trump up charges meant to destroy me and to render my business and credit facilities and accessibility to the business world questionable. It was aimed at making my business facilities to be up for sale so that some people can grab and ultimately reap where they did not sow. But God was in control. Many of my friends, business associates and my family members knelt down begging, praying to God to fight for us and today I am clean and you can see that it ended quickly and God showed his hands. From the Police station, to the National Assembly and to all the various courts that we went to I was cleared and vindicated. And the Police that arrested me and wrote the initial report, saying that I was a thief and all that, wrote another report on February 12, 2013 clearing me from all those initial allegations that were made against me. The only thing that I can say is that I thank God that I am cleared, I thank all my friends, relations and the media for their assistance in fighting for the truth and we all came out victorious. Today I am glad that I am walking free and even more determined to do what I know how to do to the benefit of our people.
A lot of people feel that those attacks on you have to do with your perceived ambition to become the governor of Anambra State?
My brother, I have heard that, I have even read it in the papers and people have been calling me, asking why I was a target of this kind of thing. But I want to tell you that whether I have the ambition to run for governor or not, first I am a citizen of Nigeria, two I am qualified to run but the truth of the matter is that, as I am talking to you now, I have not declared for governorship of Anambra State. If they could do what they have done to me, when I have not declared, I wonder what they would do when I declare? But the issue have not yet been decide if I am running for governorship of Anambra State or if I am not running, I want you to regard those things as things that are being discussed by Nigerians and Anambra people in particular. They have the right to discuss whatever they like. Whether I will run, is a matter that will become clearing due course. As it is today I am preoccupied in my business, seeing it grow and reaching out to my people and touching their lives the way I have been doing it. We shall see what happens in due course.
The election is less than one year now. Don’t you think that it would be too late to mobilize support for your election?
This is a tricky question, you are trying to lieu me to say one thing or the other, but the fact remains that of you are engaged to marry a woman and that woman accepts you as the future husband, it does not matter when you print the card and invite people to the weeding. The guest would come because the woman has said yes. The most important thing is, has the woman said yes that you would be her husband?
So, in clear terms, the issue is not time or when but the acceptability of the candidate by the voters?
You have started dragging me into politics weather I am running or not running, everything is in the hands of God. It is God that make governor and who would not be governor. I also want to ask you to help me pray. If it is the will of God that I will serve my people in any capacity let God make it manifest. In fact my life, my family and business are all in the hands of God.
Particularly, don’t you think you are already bruised and badly bruised to survive Anambra brand of politics?
Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah has always been underestimated, that has been my life. People always see me that way. People has always looked at me as somebody that has been handicapped in many ways. But if you look clearly, I am somebody that God has blessed with a lion’s heart. If I decide to do something, I look at the big picture. If I decide to run for the governor of Anambra State, I see it in a different way. I will not do it the usual way of doing things. Let measure you that, I will use the brains of big players to approach it and that is what I will do and that is who I am. A man with the big idea. A man with the energy and all it takes to carry out this project to its successful end. I shall remain focused without being distracted. Our problem has been that we people have small dreams. We have people that are easily distracted, totally disconnected from what the people want. People who have lost sight on natural ingredient of an Igbo man.They are so preoccupied by selfish and personalized success and lack that spirit to carry everybody along in their lives and activities. We are talking about people that should have that milk of empowering people and also recognizing their efforts and contributions to the leaders success. You see most people appeal to the general public and when they get there it becomes their personal property and reduce it to their personal interest and aggrandizement
Too many people feel that the crisis in APGA is being propelled by Ifeanyi Uba as the face behind the mask?
You have seen my face and obviously is not behind any mask. My face is the face you know. But I must tell you that I don’t think that our previous or current leaders have been able to inspire confidence in leadership. That is why you people sowing their seed in many fields. If our people have trust that their leaders would take them one step better ahead in life, they will have confidence in them and the follower-ship would be one. Our people have lost confidence in the leadership. This is a leadership that is [totally disconnected from the people.
As a result of that, their follower-ship has gone into question. If I eventually decided to get involved in order to find the lasting solution to our leadership problem, my concern will be to restore that confidence and that would start by taken care of the individual players and begin to open space to find their dignity and if you do that the rest will take care of itself. Look at Malaysia, it is leadership that has made it what it is today. It is leadership that has made China what it is today. So I believe that Anambra State has all it takes to get involve and belong where they should be. We just need to have somebody that can restore the confidence of leadership on our people.
But you are avoiding the APGA crisis?
(Laughs), I am not a politician and I am not competent enough to talk about APGA crisis. All I can say is that my brothers should settle whatever problem it is and then close ranks.
What is your relationship with Victor Umeh?
Ah, he is my friend. Many people including the governor, Mr. Peter Obi.
But stories have it that the governor had a hand in what happened to you?
I do not know if he was involved in the matter; he has his own conscience to ask if he has a hand in the matter. Like I told you before, God fought my battle for me and if the governor has a hand in it only God knows. But I leave it to his conscience.