GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE MORE INTERESTED IN WELL BEING OF THE PEOPLE – Uche Wilfred Ebu

Mr. Uche Wilfred Ebu is an Oza-Nogogo born businessman and entrepreneur who has carved a niche for himself in the haulage and logistics business. He is the Managing Director of RUV Nigeria Ltd, a Lagos based Haulage and Logistics firm and a staunch crusader for the development of his native Oza-nogogo and Ika land in general.
In this Personality of the Week Interview, Mr. Ebu highlights the inherent impediments militating against the development of Ika land as well as proffers plausible solutions to these factors. He also takes us through his sojourns as a young boy in Lagos and how in his own little way, has been a worthy ambassador of the Ika nation in far away Lagos state.

IMG-20170810-WA0005 GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE MORE INTERESTED IN WELL BEING OF THE PEOPLE - Uche Wilfred Ebu
MR. UCHE WILFRED EBU

Excerpts
Kindly introduce yourself sir
My name is Uche Wilfred Ebu. I am an indigene of Idumweha quarters, Oza-Nogogo in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State. I was born into the family of Late Mr. Felix Iduze Ebu and Mrs. Blackie Ebu. I am the first of seven children of my parents. I was born in the 60s. I started my primary school education in 1967 at St. Peter’s Anglican Primary School which is now Eno Primary School, Oza-Nogogo, but I left for Lagos in 1973 where I completed my primary education at Obele-Odun primary School in Surulere, Lagos in 1975.
After that I attended St. Timothy’s College, Yaba for my secondary education and rounded up in 1981. After this, I tried gaining admission into University to study Law, my dream course, but after unsuccessful attempts to pass the Jamb exams, I came back to Agbor in 1982 to attend the College of Education, Agbor where I studied History Education/Guidance and Counseling from 1982 to 1985. When I left the College of Education, Agbor, I returned to Lagos and began teaching in some private schools, until I gained admission into the University of Ibadan in 1993 where I also studied History Education/Guidance and counseling till 1999 when I graduated with a second class grade.
I went back to teaching until some friends advised me to quit teaching and go for more lucrative career. That was when I decided to leave the teaching profession and went into the Haulage and logistics business. It has been quite a rewarding venture, because ever since I began in 2002, I have been growing from height to height. I was soon able to establish my own company, RUV Nigeria Ltd. It is quite an interesting business and I thank God for everything.
What brought about your leaving Oza-Nogogo for Lagos at such a young age?
It was the quest to improve on the standard of life and make something out of my life. I had always felt dissatisfied with the standard of life back in the village and although my late father who was partially educated strived to adequately cater for the entire family, I still felt the need to improve the standard of my life and my family. In I973, my aunt, Mrs. Mildred Okwukwe Williams (nee Onwuemezie) took me to Lagos to live with her and this to a large extent changed my life for good. She died in 2001 and it saddens me that she did not live long enough to enjoy the fruit of her labour, as I was still trying to find my feet at the time of her death. My earliest experiences in Lagos were rather exciting and memorable. As a young child from the village who has never seen a TV set before or fan, coming to an environment where they used air conditioners and had a very big TV set. I was exposed to things that I never had the privilege of experiencing back home at Oza and for this I remain eternally grateful to my late aunt.
How would you compare Ika land of today and that of your time as a young boy in Oza-Nogogo
Ika land, especially Agbor, used to be a very lovely, peaceful, clean and harmonious environment. But nowadays, the story has greatly changed, as there seems to be distrust, disharmony and crime in Ika land. We now hear of killings, kidnapping and other crimes being the order of the day in Ika communities. Back then, we used to jump into the Orogodo River from the bridge on Old Lagos/Asaba Road and have fun as kids, but today there is no longer a river where one can go to for relaxation. There is no more love and unity in Ika land, what we now have is Agbor/Owa ethnic affiliations which breeds disunity and suspicion between the Agbor and Owa people. I will call on the Agbor and Owa monarchs to do something about this rather ugly situation by calling their subjects together and make them see that we are all brothers and sisters, that we are Ika people. There should be no unhealthy rivalries between us and this situation is simply the machination of greedy politicians who don’t mean well for the Ika people.
What do you think is responsible for the high level of under development in Ika land?
It still boils down to the lack of love and high level of mistrust that exists among the Ika people. Over here in Lagos, we have a lot of Ika people who are captains of industry and who are doing very well in their chosen line of careers, but they find it very difficult to come back home to establish little cottage industries which can spring up economic activities in Ika land. One of the things that breeds crime and under development is unemployment. When you are jobless and hungry, the only thing left for you to do is to go into crime. If our people can come back home and set up small scale industries, it will go a long way in providing employment for our teeming unemployed youths and by extension, reduce crime in Ika land. It will also accelerate economic growth which will consequently bring about development. When a man is gainfully employed, he will not think about going into crime or joining cult groups or engage in other unwholesome activities. We must not wait for the government to provide everything for us, we owe it to our communities to contribute our quota towards societal development.
Do you feel the political and traditional leaders have lived up to expectation in promoting development in Ika Land?
You see, expectation is relative. What may be my expectation could be quite different from that of someone else. But on a general note, the traditional rulers in Ika land in their own little ways have really done their best. No traditional ruler will not be happy to see that his people progresses, but there is an extent to which their powers and influence can go. The politicians on the other hand are majorly criminals who do not have the welfare of their people at heart. All they do is make bogus promises to the electorate during the electioneering period without any commitment to fulfilling such promises. They don’t even make sincere plans or strategies on how to generate the funds with which to implement their many campaign promises. For over 10 months now, local government workers in Delta state have not been paid salaries and yet I see posters of politicians flying all over campaigning for the unpaid workers to vote them in as local government chairmen. The question is this, all those now campaigning and promising heaven and earth to the electorates, where will they get the money from to implement their programmes?
They never think or plan on how to generate money. All they do is clamour for power by all means, arm the unemployed youths to rig elections for them, get into positions and do absolutely nothing. To me, politicians in Ika land are not helping matters. They are only interested in what they can get for themselves and their cronies and not after the well being of the people.
Who do you think should be blamed for the over 10months arrears of unpaid salaries of Local Government workers in Delta State?
The state and local government are to be blamed for this unpleasant situation that has rendered most families in the state highly impoverished and helpless. They both get their allocation from the federal government, but most times the state government does not actually give to the local government what is due to them. On the part of the local government, it should as a tier of government create ways of generating revenue internally. The council chairmen simply fold their arms and wait for monthly allocation which is not sufficient to even pay the local government staff not to talk of to engage in developmental projects. Take for instance in Lagos State, the local government generate so much revenue internally which helps them engage in various developmental projects and programme. They generate revenue from parks, shops, market stalls, motorcycle levies, tenement rates and lots more. These monies are efficiently accounted for and utilized for the sustenance of the local government councils.
What are the council chairmen in Ika land doing with the IGR of the local government ?
It all boils down to corruption and unaccountability of these politicians and until they become more accountable and innovative in the aspect of revenue creation, the plight of local government workers is far from being solved.
How will you rate the administration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, especially in the area of infrastructural development in the state?
In all fairness to the governor, he is doing very well in the area of infrastructural development in the state. For instance, in my hometown Oza-Nogogo, we would never have thought that in our life time, we could see a tarred road there. But Okowa tarred our roads as one of the first projects he executed on assumption of office in 2015. Each time I read about him commissioning one project or the other, I am always very impressed. So far, he is doing well, but as a people we can only ask for more and urge him to keep up the good work. In the area of youth empowerment, I think he can still do more and at the same time, I will encourage the youths to exercise some patience with the government because these things take time.
How do you think this administration can better impact on the lives of Deltans and Ika people in particular?
The government will have to prioritize their activities because when you attempt doing so many things at once, you end up doing nothing. If they want to face youth empowerment, let them face it squarely and get the job done. If it is education or infrastructure, they should handle it whole heartedly and achieve the desired results. So the government has to have developmental plans which it must strive to implement for the betterment of the people. Politicians must learn to develop policies and programmes that will be beneficial to the people. Most of them just find themselves in office without even having any well mapped out developmental plan and therefore, end up being overwhelmed with the demands of the people and in the process, fail to perform well. Okowa has been a seasoned politician and administrator who has gone through the ranks before becoming governor and so he should look into health, infrastructure, education and agriculture. Our people are known for agriculture, there used to be many farm settlements in Delta state while I was growing up, but I doubt if they still exist today.
What do you think about the extended medical vacation to London embarked upon by President Muhammadu Buhari?
First of all, I would like to sympathize with the president over his Ill-health. Health is wealth and when a man is not healthy, he cannot think or function effectively. Thank God we have a sound and efficient man in the person of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo who has effectively piloted the ship as Acting President. But for ill-health, President Buhari means well for the country, but the corrupt politicians and power elite are frustrating all his efforts at every turn. He has the interest of Nigerians at heart, but unfortunately, he has had to be away on sick leave. We don’t have to blame him and we should stop abusing him and calling him all sorts of names: let us pray for his quick recovery instead and when he comes back, continue his good work.
What implications will the call by Arewa Youths for all Igbos to vacate the North by October 1, 2017 have on the unity of Nigeria?
This issue is coming up because of one man, Nnamdi Kanu and his clamors for the realization of Biafra Republic. To me, he is one of the most unserious human being on the planet. What are his antecedents? This is a man who has been in England all these years coming back home to cause confusion. Nigeria is a place where we don’t ask questions. Who is Nnamdi Kanu to demand for Biafra Republic? If today Biafra secedes, there are a million and one intellectuals in Igbo land who are more able to lead the Biafran Republic than Nnamdi Kanu. What are his antecedents? As far as I am concerned, if you understand the quality of brains in Igbo land, you will come to see that Nnamdi Kanu is a Mr. nobody. I do not blame the Arewa youths. They simply said that since the Igbos are demanding to break away, that they should go ahead.
However, I appeal that we tread softly in this matter because if for any reason the issue escalates, it is the poor and the innocent people that will bear the full brunt. Nnamdi Kanu has a British passport and if trouble breaks out here, he can very easily run to take refuge in Britain while the rest of us will be here killing ourselves for no just cause. I will advise the Arewa youths not to go to the extent of threatening Igbos living and doing their legitimate businesses in the North. They should be patient and allow the authorities tackle the situation within the ambit of the law.
Do you support the call for restructuring in Nigeria?
To me, the problem we have in Nigeria is not restructuring. The problem we have as a nation is corruption and indiscipline. When we are disciplined and do the right thing, nobody will call for restructuring. People are calling for restructuring because they feel dissatisfied with the present political and economic contraption. If those at the helm of affairs do what is right and give to all parties what is due to them, you will see that there would be no more calls for restructuring. There is no system of government that is perfect. However, it is the people who run the government and implement policies that ensure its workability. We should strive to get rid of indiscipline and corruption in our society.
Coming back to you sir, how have you in your own little way, contributed towards the development of Ika land?
I love Ika land and I am so proud to be an Ika man. As the Vice President of Oza-Nogogo Elite Foundation, I have been able to canvass for the development of Oza-nogogo. We have been able to mobilize and empower the people of Oza-nogogo, especially the women and the youths, built a community Town Hall and awarded scholarship to deserving Oza students. Even in Lagos, I always try to identify with my Ika people because whenever I see an Ika man, I have seen a brother. I sincerely look forward to when we as Ika people can all come together in unity and sit on a round table and discuss the way forward as a people. Eat roasted yam together, play, wrestle and harmonize as brothers and sisters. I love the Ika culture and I am so proud to be an Ika man.
Have you received awards of recognition for your outstanding contributions towards societal development?
I tell you this, I am very reserved and believe that you don’t need to blow your trumpet and let the whole world know what you are doing. My antecedents always speak for me, but I will prefer not to speak on the awards I have received so far.
Apart from the Oza-nogogo Elite Foundation, do you belong to any other Ika socio/cultural organization?
No, I don’t. But if I see any Ika organization that is championing the cause of development in Ika land, I would definitely love to be a member of such an organization because I believe that we all have a role to play in the development of our dear Ika land.
What is your philosophy about life?
Do good to everyone you meet. See everybody as your brother. I tell you what, I eat and drink with my driver and we have a cordial relationship that goes beyond boss and worker type of relationship. In the end, I just believe that some of us are privileged because in reality, what stops you from being that driver who is presently driving you? What stops you from being that gateman who is guarding you? It is just privilege and God’s reward for our dint of hardwork. I believe that in life you should do unto others what you would want them to do to you and see every human being as yourself. I see every person as a brother and in my own little way, render help where necessary.
What are your likes and dislikes?
I like truth and hate deceit.
Can you recount your best and worst moments in life?
As for my best moments, I must tell you that in life, I have been very lucky and blessed. When I look back at my beginning, sometimes, I shed tears because I never envisaged that I could be honoured this way by God. Each time I visit my mum and she rubs my head and blesses me, I feel so happy and privileged and always take such times as one of the best moments in life. Looking back from where I am coming from to where I am presently, I can only say thank you to God and always remain grateful to Him for keeping me alive despite all challenges and for honouring me the way He has done. Conversely, the day I lost my aunt who took me to Lagos, Mrs. Mildred Okwukwe Williams can be regarded as my worst moment in life, because I never thought that she would die so soon. If she were still alive today, I would have taken her in as my own mother. Then also, the death of my father came as a very rude shock and I consider it as one of my worst moments in life.
What Ika delicacy do you enjoy most?
I think the Ika people have the best food in the whole world. I enjoy pounded yam with Okro soup prepared with snails and dried fish. When I finish eating this food, I retire to my bedroom and sleep. And I have a good wife, Mrs. Roseline Ebu from Ekuku-Agbor who knows how to prepare this delicacy just the way I like it.
IMG-20170810-WA0005 GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE MORE INTERESTED IN WELL BEING OF THE PEOPLE - Uche Wilfred Ebu
MRS. ROSELYN EBU AND DAUGHTER, MISS. VICTORY EBU

In your candid opinion, do you see Nigeria rising above her current state of political/economic woes?
I believe that at the end of every tunnel, there is a light. There is no problem that does not have an end point or solution to it. If you will recall, by this time last year, we were in total economic mess and nobody thought that we would get out of that situation, but today, we are gradually finding our feet as our economy is re-surging. Nigeria is a blessed country and the current challenges we are facing in this country is far more than what they faced in Syria, where there is currently civil war. But God loves this country coupled with the fact that Nigerians are very prayerful and in the end, I believe we will overcome all these problems confronting us as a nation. But first, we must fight corruption, become disciplined and begin to see each other as brothers and we shall indeed become a better country and a more united nation.
What is your advice to the government and the youths of Nigeria?
My advice to the government is that it should be more interested in the wellbeing of the people because the essence of governance is to promote the welfare of the people. If the government cannot provide social facilities and welfare for the people, then I wonder why it is called government. The government of Nigeria is indeed lacking in almost every aspect of life, healthcare, education, infrastructure and a host of others.
They should work for the people or else the people will lose confidence in them and consequently protest and revolt against them. They must do away with corruption because presently there is so much corruption in our system. For the youths, they should be patient and not be greedy. They must work hard and face their studies squarely. The reality on ground is that for one to face tomorrow, he must either have a skill or go to school. Money does not fall from the sky. You must be prepared to face the realities of life by learning a skill or going to school and if possible have both of these to guarantee a bright future.
How many children do you have?
I have one beautiful and wonderful daughter and she makes me a proud father.
What is your final word?
Yes. I will like to thank my beautiful wife, Roseline Ebu for taking good care of me and for standing by me all these years. I believe that behind every successful man, there is a woman and I remain ever grateful to her. To my mother, I say a big thank you for her love and motherly care for me till date. To my friends, I also say a very big thank you. I tell you, I have the best friends any man can ask for. They have been very nice and supportive to me and for that, I say thank you to them. And of course, to my big brother,, Publisher of Ika Weekly Newspaper, I say a big thank you. He has been a wonderful friend and gives me good advice. He is doing a very wonderful work in Ika land with his newspaper and I call on all Ika people to support his cause and help propagate development in Ika land.

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