In this interview, one of the governorship aspirants in Imo State, Chief Uche Nwosu, explains why Imo electorates should look beyond his personal relationship with Governor Rochas Okorocha.
What does being the son-in-law to one of the most controversial governors mean to you. Does the name Rochas Okorocha open doors for you?
Of course the name Rochas Okorocha has opened a lot of doors for me. Owelle Rochas Okorocha, forget about attaching a governor to his name, is a man that is known across the country and even outside the country. Before he became governor, when you mention the name Owelle Rochas Okorocha in the North people are happy.
There are some homes that when you mention the name Owelle Rochas Okorocha people will start clapping. It is so in the West and in the South-East. The name has opened ways for me. I have learnt a lot from this man called Rochas Okorocha. Most people don’t know the other side of Owelle as a family man, as a humanitarian and as an administrator.
Of course being a son-in-law to the governor does not stop me from doing what I am supposed to do as a Chief of Staff of the state government. The man Rochas does not know whether you are a son-in-law or a brother or a sister. He is a man that your relationship with him does not justify your getting any position. In fact, he will even be happier to fire you if you are his relation and you are not doing your job well. He has a lot of in-laws, he has a lot of brothers but why has he chosen me to be his Chief of Staff?
Your being the son-in-law to the governor is a major campaign issue against your governorship ambition. Now is there anything about you that people do not know?
Yes, I am a son-in-law to Owelle Rochas Okorocha and I am very much proud to be his son-in-law. Today in most of the countries of the world, let me just start with President Donald Trump, his son in-law is an adviser; he is a member of his cabinet, America never went up in flames, why should Trump appoint his son-in-law as a member of the kitchen cabinet of his government?
President Bush senior was the President and after his tenure, his son became President and America never went haywire, even at that his son was also a governor. What about the Bill Clinton family, while Clinton was President, the wife became a Senator, the wife became Secretary of State, the wife also came back to run for President, does that stop America from choosing the right person, does that bring food on the table of the poor masses?
So being a son in-law does not stop Imo State from getting what they want to get, it does not stop the poorest of the poor in the state from having food on their tables. What you should rather ask is what do you have for the people of Imo, forget about the issue of being a son-in-law, being a son in-law to the governor is an added advantage because I have acquired knowledge, added advantage is not in the area that people say he wants to put his son-in-law; the Owelle I know cannot impose somebody on people. Naturally, the people will choose who they want to govern them.
When you talk about Uche Nwosu, most people leave the issue of Uche Nwosu, the name they attach to it is son-in-law to the governor. Being a son-in-law to the governor, does that stop me from being who I am, Uche Nwosu; does being the son-in-law to the governor stop me from doing what I want to do as Uche Nwosu; so it has become a sin to be an in-law to the governor; these are the questions we should ask ourselves.
People should have asked, as a son-in-law or Uche Nwosu as a Commissioner, what was I able to do in the Ministry of Lands, they should go back and check my records and legacy in that ministry. As a Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations, they should ask themselves, what has this young man done; they should also ask themselves, as a Chief of Staff what was he able to give to the society? Owelle Rochas Okorocha is not a man that will bring you to his cabinet because he wants to favour you; you must have something upstairs for you to work with Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
But critics see your ambition as a third term agenda for the governor; will you not be tele-guided by Governor Okorocha or are you going to be your own man?
I am telling you who the governor is, once Owelle Rochas Okorocha leaves the seat of power, the man I know very well will not even come close to this Government House; it is we that will be telling him please come and visit us. Rochas Okorocha has made a lot of people, senators, ministers, House members, how many times has he called to say I want to put this or that in the National Assembly or called any minister and say I want to get this from you?
But that does not mean that whenever, as an elder statesman, just like we have Achike Udenwa, Ikedi Ohakim, we need advice, we should not go to them but the man I know very well, who I have worked with for over 20 years, is not a man who will leave a place and come back to that place and start saying this will happen.
People have come from across the state to endorse you as their sole governorship candidate; do we explain this to mean that you are under pressure to run?
If God Almighty has said that it is Uche Nwosu, nobody can stop it. So, the issue of endorsement, I believe it is coming from people’s heart and what they are saying is come and be our governor and if the voice of the people is saying come and be our governor, who are you to say no?
Now do you think you can fit into the big shoes Governor Okorocha will be leaving behind?
Once you enter into a position of leadership, the shoe will become your size but if it is not your size, keep matching it until it sizes you.
How did you meet your wife, the governor’s daughter?
The first day I set eyes on my wife was in Jos; then I was the Personal Assistant to the Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Then, he was the Adviser to the President on Inter Party Affairs and we went to Jos one day and we slept in Jos and we woke up one morning, I saw my wife, then a younger person, wash all the plates and after that she mopped all the rooms and when we went for the second time and she did the same thing and even the third time and I was asking myself that with all these wealth around the father, it was still possible for her to do this. She can still have time to sit down and wash the plates and not just the plates that her brothers ate with but both the ones used by other people including me. Plates somebody like me ate with, she just gathered everything and washed them.
So to me a saw, a virtuous and humble woman, somebody who is not controlled by the wealth of the father; I saw a woman who is not moved by the riches of the father. One thing led to another,
I developed interest in her and being a Personal Assistant to your boss you know it is difficult to approach your boss and say I want to marry your daughter but I took the bold step. One morning, I went to Her Excellency; I didn’t want to go to the governor because I was scared I didn’t know what to tell him.
So, one morning I went to her and said I wanted to see you and she asked me if there is any problem and I said I wanted to tell her something private and she said I should come back in the evening. In the evening when I went to see her behold my boss was there I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say and His Excellency looked at me and asked me if anything was wrong, I said no that I came to see Her Excellency so she laughed and said we should go downstairs and when we got down, I told her that I want to get married to your daughter. She sat back and looked at me and said you want to marry my daughter and I said yes,
I think the boldness in me made her to start thinking that this young man that had the boldness to say openly that he wants to marry my daughter even as the PA to the father. She said ok and asked me if I had told the father and I said no that I wanted to tell her first but I asked her to start working on him for me, she smiled and walked away.
Finally the day I told him, she was looking at me and he said I know, Madam has told me, he asked if I had spoken to her I said I have; I had already told her and he said if she says yes, that he can’t stop it. That was it; I could not believe it. If it were to be some families, they will not take that, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as a wealthy man that time would have wanted the son of a governor or another big man to marry the daughter but he Okayed it and before you know what is happening, we were married and God has blessed us with three boys.
Apart from being the governor’s son in-law, who is Uche Nwosu?
Uche Nwosu is an indigene of Eziama Obiere in Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State. I was born in a family of nine; we lost three, remaining six. My father was a clergyman in the Anglican Church and my mother is a trader. I grew up in the Church.
From my birth till my father died, we lived inside the Church and when my father died, I moved down to Maiduguri with my uncle where I continued my education. I did my Primary School at Shehu Sandi Karemi Primary School, Maiduguri. I started my secondary school at the Government Secondary School, Gubiou in Bornu State. When I came back, I continued with my secondary school, first of all at Obazu Secondary School, Umuna, then I went to Sacred Heart College Ugwuagba then finally came back again to Comprehensive Secondary School, Eziama.
But when I was in Aba, there is something that I will never forget; when I was in Aba things were very hard for my family. Our first son, a Customs Officer, who was the breadwinner of the family died, my sister who is the most senior, earned little money and we were six in number, as little as we were.
I remember that whenever I came back from school, boiled corn and coconut is waiting for us in our hawking tray to go and sell; we did this believing that it will get better one day. At a time we had to sell pure water, not this type they have now but the ones they tie with white cellophane.
That saw me through my secondary school before I got admission into the Imo State University. As a student of Imo State University, I was not looking solely on my mother to pay my school fees.
One particular thing I did during my university days was that during the weekends, I will go back to my village and go to building sites and carry blocks for the mason men. I did that not minding that I was a university student. I did that because I had a goal; I did not mind where I was coming from, I was only determined on getting to where I was going to. Once I get back to the university, I will dress very well and put on my shoe and look very clean and you will not know.
So when the issue of Student Union Government election came, I contested for the Director of Transport and I won. As a Director of Transport, I was able to acquire more knowledge in student unionism, in administration and leadership and it was during this time that I met the man called Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
So, you can see from my growing up that I was not born with a silver spoon. Although my father belonged to the middle class, immediately he died things went down, coupled with the death of my senior brother. My mum was a very strong woman, when we come back from school, she goes to the market and we will be waiting for her to come back but she will send somebody from the market with garri and some other items to make soup.
So my growing up was not an easy one but what I believed while I was growing up was that life does not end at the background where you come from; there is a future and I used to tell people that it is not written on your face that you will fail. For you to succeed in life, you must be the driver of your destiny. – Culled from The Nation.