Prince Lawrence Ezeh is the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the Enugu East Senatorial Zone.
In the this interview, Prince Ezeh, who is better known as the Prince of Mburubu, explains why he is the best candidate for the pairing at the moment, and why he is convinced he will win.
Who is the Prince of Mburubu, and what is your political experience that is needed in the legislative business?
When you say the Prince of Mburubu, you are talking about a very humble young man just like the name attached to it, who hails from Mburubu community in Nkanu East local government area of Enugu state. I have also heard in some political spheres the issue of what I have garnered as experience in the politics. When one talks about political experience, it’s not just about the political office a man has held, because I have heard a lot of people make insinuations, especially from the government angle that I have not held political positions.
But please, I want us to understand that politics is not just limited to party politics, it’s also not limited to the positions that you have occupied. Every human being is a political animal. For you to rise from your little cradle stages in life and get to the public sphere, it is obvious you have been able to go through a whole lot of politicking. When you look at power as only in the context of politics, you are wrong.
Politics is just an element of power. There is economic power. When you meet those in the banking sector and those that are in the oil and gas industry where we operate, a lot of horse trading goes in there. These things are politics, and these are the things that also help to expose you to the public. So, to bring us to the ladder where we are today, we have been able to go through fire. No gold shines without going through fire. I didn’t just come up to the public sphere from nowhere. It was gradual and we started growing, and this growth, you go through different strata of politics. This politics I mentioned must not be within the context of political positions you have held.
I have been in politics since 1999, and have been part of those sponsoring the PDP financially. Because of my businesses, I have never really shown interest in running for office. I showed that interest in 2010/11 because there was a lot of clamor to run for the office of the local government chairman. At some point, the then administration of Sullivan Chime said I should just hold on, after some time I should go.
I wasn’t really craving for those positions because I wanted to be a local government chairman. I was looking for a platform to be able to showcase to the world the stuff that I am made of, to show the kind of vision I have for my people. But in the usual PDP style and the way they manage their processes, they said I have to wait, another person has to go. At some point I said that if I continue to wait before clinching a political position, it might take ages with the way they are going about it.
So I went in and started projects implementation for my people with my personal resources. For the experiences we talk about, except for those who are occupying the positions of the governor of the state who obviously inherited a backlog of employees from the employment bureau, none of them can match the number of people I have under my employ. I have over 250 people that I pay monthly.
In which areas have you excelled as a business man that gave you the wealth of experience you talk about?
I started from mere souvenir jobs, handling souvenirs for politicians and companies, making cards and wall clocks and others. From there gradually, we were able to raise some resources to be able to gradually get an office. From there, we were able to get in to the oil and gas. In the oil and gas industry, we got into the provision of industrial gases for companies. Gradually from there, we progressed and today we provide a whole lot of logistics support for the oil and gas industry, we provide some other engineering services, from insulation to cathodic protection, and all that. These are parts of what the energy aspect of my company do. Our office is located in the highbrow Olu Obasanjo Way, Port Harcourt and our fabrication yard which is over 60 plots of land, and the plants are located in the industrial area of Port Harcourt, the Trans Amadi area.
When we got to a certain level in the oil and gas, we decided to diversify into the oil and gas industry. When we got into the construction industry, we started gradually by working for others and hiring other people’s equipment, and today as we speak, we have a very expansive equipment yard that houses our own equipment. As we speak now, we are not only in the oil and gas, but more into the construction industry. We have projects here and there that are ongoing.
So when I say I have over 250 people under my employment, I am not saying it for the love of words. It’s something you need to see. I have also picked a lot of young men off the streets even in Enugu here who are working for me right now. These are the basic reasons why a lot of people feel that I am the right man for this job. They believe that if I can be able to get young men off the streets, trained and empowered, then if I have access to political positions, I will do better.
Before now you were in the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, please can you throw some light into what led to your sudden change to the All Progressives Congress, APC?
Like I have said before, the sudden change was quite simple. I have an aspiration that goes beyond party platform. This yearning is actually coming from my people, and when I say my people, I speak more of the Nkanu East and the entire Enugu East Senatorial zone. We need effective representation on the floor of the Senate. After the era of Chief Ken Nnamani on the floor of the House, we have had very abysmally poor representation on the floor of the Senate.
So, my people now feel that we need a total change from what it is now to where we actually need to be. Where we need to be now is to get us to where we can comparatively compete very favorably on the floor with other senators in terms of attraction of social amenities to our people and in terms of ensuring that our voices are effectively heard on the floor of the Senate, because apart from the time of Ken Nnamani, from the time of Chimaroke Nnamani on the floor of the Senate, which for the entire of the legislative season he succeeded only in raising his hand once, and never raised a voice, so obviously our voice were caged on the floor of the Senate.
Senator Gil Nnaji also came in after him, and same thing also was going on. Never a time will you watch the NTA popular programme called ‘The Gavel’, where you can be able to watch your senators and be proud of them airing their views and airing the views that they are representing the interest of your people. So our people felt that it’s high time we sent someone who could get our voices heard again, and they found that person in me.
So my aspiration is more like an Nkanu-driven agenda, so it wasn’t really about me but has always been about our people. At some point when the PDP decided to take a very funny decision to recycle old hands, we saw quite well that the whole essence of that our struggle was going to end in futility. So we saw truly speaking, that the present-day government is not interested in quality.
They are not interested in our people, because if they are interested in our people, we see no reason why the governor of Enugu state will be running for two positions at the same time. As I speak to you, he is running for the governorship position and at the same time running for the Enugu East senatorial position. So if you ask me who I am in the race with, I will tell you I am in the race with the governor, not Chimaroke.
Why did you say that?
It’s quite simple. You have always heard Chimaroke’s name being mentioned in this race, have you seen him? The answer is no. The state government managed all the processes of the screening in PDP during the screening period. In fact, they even started by procuring the party form for him. Chimaroke is not in Nigeria. If you truly want to know whether the state government has a hand in what I am saying, go down the lane and look at how the processes of the screening was managed.
Who actually took Chimaroke’s documentation for screening? Chimaroke was not here, he is still over there. So he never took part in the screening. So after the screening, the agents of state government also made sure that large sums of money was distributed on the grounds of the primaries to ensure that Chimaroke emerges, and party faithful were called to Government House to ensure that Chimaroke was returned.
Chimaroke never saw the delegates for one day, he never met any party faithful, he was never in any local government. We went round, carried out all our campaigns, carried out every process to sensitize the people to vote for us not until agents of the government decided otherwise.
So tell me why some delegates somewhere will decide to vote for Chimaroke Nnamani who never for once went to make his intentions known to any of them running for office, leaving behind those of us who have toiled day and night to win them to our sides and were highly disposed to vote for us. Go round and speak with PDP faithful in Enugu state and they will tell you clearly that it was purely the business of the state government.
Having studied the area you will manage as a senator, what convinces you that you are going to win?
What convinces me is quite simple. Election is a game of number, and number is the people. Just go around Enugu metropolis and try to interview the people and ask them who they are going to vote for, when it comes to Enugu East Senatorial zone. They will not tell you it’s any other person other than me. I have launched people at the background to go and run a check, a survey. I didn’t just feel, politics is not about what you feel. I am a strategist, I don’t just speak. carry out a survey, except there are other forms of manipulations the PDP wants to do to get the people, but if it is actually casting of votes by the people, this elections is as good as won by me. I have that confidence.
You talked about perceived manipulations that could arise from the polls. Have you made any arrangement for this, having looked at our past electoral processes that are mired by manipulations?
It’s not whether I have made arrangements, the question is, are there manipulations? Because when I said it, I don’t mean during elections. The PDP has started the manipulations now. Now they are going to secondary schools and asking the students to bring in their PVCs, and are also getting to the teachers and are telling them, ‘if you don’t get your PVCs, you will not get your salary’.
We read about these things every day, so when you read these things everyday, what you do in your own capacity is to make sure that these things are blocked. When these came up, we made sure we brought it to the public glare by ensuring that they went online, and that they are published in the dailies.
I must assure you that the rigging will not be business as usual. Some keep asking why did I go into APC? My brother, its only APC that can protect my votes. People are ready to vote for me to represent them, because they are tired of voting these old people who obviously will get to Abuja and shut them out and will never give access to anybody, nobody has access to them anymore.
They are willing to vote for a younger person who is very accessible to everyone. I cannot, after knowing that people are willing, committed, and are waiting to vote for me, PDP will come and tell you don’t worry, it’s a party decision. Decision my foot. I have to go to a party that I know is capable of giving me the mandate, and protecting my votes. I know these votes will come, and when these votes come, they will help me to protect them.
How will they protect it for me? The APC will ensure that the security of my votes will not be compromised, and that the security agencies will not compromise during the elections. They will also ensure that INEC will not compromise during the elections. We are already aware of the arrangements on ground to rig, and the boasts of the PDP of the huge amount of money it has put on ground to buy up everything, buy up INEC, buy security. We are waiting for them to buy all. But we known that the federal government will not allow anybody to compromise INEC or compromise the security. These two are taken care of, and nobody will be able to rig the elections.
Are you saying that you are sure that INEC will conduct a free election?
Free, fair and credible elections.
It’s a known fact that in the history of Enugu state, no other party has ever won elections apart from the PDP. Are you saying that you are setting precedence by being the first outside the PDP to break that jinx?
It’s as good as saying that yes, in the history of Enugu state, there has never been a time that there is a competitive elections in Enugu state. Yes nobody has ever been able to win elections because there has never been any form of competitive political contest in Enugu state. Reason is because even when you are on ground, even when you have the capacity to win election, even when the people eventually vote for you, you will obviously not win because we had a PDP-controlled federal government and a PDP-controlled state government. So, the state will always connive with the federal to rig elections. So this case of the current elections, there is going to be a whole lot of surprises that will spring up.
Our people make a lot of mistakes. The politicians in the populace don’t constitute more than 15-20 per cent. So the rest 80 percent non partisan populace don’t like politicians, they don’t like politics. Above all, they believe that they are all dubious, and are people who don’t tell the truth. This is because the PDP has dragged us for so many years, telling us the so many things they will do for us, but they end up doing none. But when the elections come, these people want to ventilate their anger through their votes. But those votes are never brought to fore because many things happen. You see elections going on and people are drinking at beer parlors waiting for results to arrive. So when the results come, they now begin to do all manipulations, and some funny results will be announced.
Expect serious surprises this time around, because the people are determined to vote out PDP, just watch what will happen in Enugu state. The people are determined to vote out PDP because they are not performing.
Do you think the APC will be able to work in unity in the coming elections, since there are aggrieved members of the party from the primaries?
The party is very much ready to win elections in the state. Some of these divisions are creations of the state government which they now push across to the party. The state government wants to make sure that the APC in the state is divided so as to make sure that they don’t have a common front to win elections. As much as I know, I haven’t seen any other position that is not contested by two or more people, other than that of the governor.
But you have two party chairmen in Enugu state…
No, one party chairman is what APC has. These things are make-believe, like I told you. When you sit down and you have for instance, Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party, the national chairman obviously would work with all the state chairmen of the party. We just had primaries in all the states. We just had candidates’ names that were submitted to INEC in all the states. We had a whole lot of activities that also took place before and after the primaries. Between you and myself, are you saying that the candidates that won primaries, that their names were submitted to INEC? The answer is yes. The next question is, through who? That’s why I told you that these things are just cooked up by the state government. We had primaries and names were submitted and after names were submitted, we went through the right processes, through the right persons. When you have a divided house, there will be two conventions, and they will bring in two different lists. It happened in PDP last time. They will be struggling and either the group with upper hand is used or their will be harmonization. But in this case, there is no such thing.
Whatever transpired between Ben Nwoye and Okey Ogbodo happened before I became a member of the party. I also don’t want to drag myself into what transpired then. But as far as I know, I and other candidates submitted all our documents through Dr. Ben Nwoye.