Ubah: The Candidate to Beat

Although Ifeanyi Ubah, candidate of the Labour Party in the November 16, governorship election in Anambra State, is regarded as a neophyte in politics, he is likely to be the candidate to beat

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Nov. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

HE is better known in the business world than in politics, especially in the oil and gas sector. He is reputed to have an unrivalled investment in downstream infrastructure. But his entrance into the murky world of Anambra politics has equally raised a lot of dust, enthusiasm, and hope that should not have been expected from a political neophyte. Prior to his political move, most people will remember him for his embroil with Assets Management Company of Nigerian, AMCON, over some debt issue, his fight with his estranged friend, Cosmas Maduka,  owner of Coscharis Group, over some financial issues and the distribution of kerosene to the grassroots across the country.

Those who don’t know him well must have harboured doubts that his adventure into politics was to join the group of those who also ran for the post of governorship election in Anambra in November 16, and thereafter continue to answer the accolade “His Excellency” like some of his peers did in the past but failed to secure victory. Some people have also doubted that he had the capacity to make an impact in Anambra. But Ifeanyi Ubah, candidate of the Labour Party in the forthcoming governorship election is leaving no one in doubt that he means business in politics.

The gusto with which he has carried out his campaign, visiting every nook and corner in Anambra state, and mobilising the grassroots has surprised some of his opponents. Even his gusty show despite his limited proficiency in English language, did not take off his shine at the debates which were held first in the US and recently in Anambra state. In the debate held in the United States of America, USA, it was believed by those who witnessed it that he roundly floored Willie Obiano, his opponent and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, much to the disappointment of the latter’s godfather in politics, Governor Peter Obi. Ubah boasts that he has no godfather and will change Anambra State for the better if he wins the election, throwing jabs at the man he is going to succeed that in seven years Obi managed to build only one industry in Anambra state.

Ubah has a lofty manifesto with which he wants to renew the spirit of Anambra state once he gets to office. His manifesto is hinged on a clarion call to Anambrarians:  “Let’s Make Anambra Great”. This implies that his will not be a do-it-all alone government but one that will work with the people to turn things around for good. According to the manifesto posted on his website, Ubah said “Anambrarians are tired of receiving vague promises from politicians, only to have them broken once they are elected into office. If elected, I pledge to act as an instrument for our desired change and progress. That is why I put before you, in detail, my action plan to build a better future for all our people.”

In an eight-point manifesto, the Labour flag bearer pledges to: “ensure security of lives and property, so that our citizens are safe and our businesses can thrive; reform education and training, to empower Anambra youths with the skills and opportunities to achieve their dreams; lead an economic revolution, which harnesses the drive and entrepreneurial spirit of our people and revitalise agriculture and protect our natural environment. He also promises to provide world-class healthcare, ending the current inequality in healthcare access and emergency deaths; develop public infrastructure, including a reliable power supply and potable water; reform the government to ensure transparency and accountability in all sectors; and engage Anambrarians in the diaspora to invest and take part in the growth of the state.

In his campaign trail and other auspicious events, Ubah makes bold to talk about the practical solutions he will bring to tackle the problems of Anambra people starting with raising its internally-generated revenue to solving the insecurity problem in the state. He said that his government would make building an airport in the state a priority as the economic value it would add to ever mobile people of the State will be unrivalled.  He is to build an industry in all the local government areas in the state to enhance job creation and reduce the unemployment situation in the state and tackle worsening youth unemployment which would invariably reduce the insecurity in the state.

According to Ubah, he will create two types of government in the state – one that will be administrative to be manned by his deputy and another which will be business oriented to be overseen by him as the governor. He said that he would create a template that would end insecurity in the state which other states could copy from Anambra state and fight crime with technology. Ubah’s area of intervention include granting the children of widows free education. He is of the view that education should not be free. “I won’t give free education. I will build technical schools that will produce 21,000 youths every year. It’s a pity that in Nigeria, we don’t value our own and we don’t know how to create jobs,”  adding that he would leverage on his experience in creating jobs in the private sector to run a government that would replicate same in Anambra. He said that he would conduct local government elections within 90 days of assuming office, check capital flight from the state and develop skill acquisition centres.

He said that he would engage youths to build interlocking roads in the state, create a strong economy. “Igbos need to go back home, develop our economy. Whoever told you that River Niger can be dredged is deceiving you. It cannot. Instead of being deceived, we will have an agreement with other neighbouring states such as Akwa Ibom and build ports closer home. With that, 30 percent of our business will go back to Anambra state. According to him, he will run an all inclusive government which “will ensure that the disabled and vulnerable groups are involved in government activities.” He would embark on urban renewal and entrench transparency in government activities by presenting audited accounts of the government to the public every three months. “In Anambra State, the 2012 audited accounts have not been submitted. We voted people into power to render accounts” and they have not done so, Ubah told his audience in Lagos during the launching of his manifesto.

Ubah has some people who could vouch that he is the best to govern Anambra state out of all the about 15 contestants. In an article on Spy Ghana, which was posted on Ubah’s website, Afam Ilounoh states why Ubah is the most qualified candidate to govern Anambra State. “With less than three weeks to the governorship poll in Anambra State, I have taken a look at the issues in the governorship campaign and the array of candidates who have presented themselves for the election come November 16. I can rightly say that there are two main groups of candidates: the pretenders and the contenders. I can say without any iota of equivocation and without fear of contradiction that, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, is not just the best candidate but the candidate Anambra State needs. I am not to be understood as saying that the other candidates are not good. I am simply saying that Ifeanyi Ubah is the candidate who has the requisite background, vision, passion and programmes to take Anambra out of the present situation it unfortunately finds itself. He is indeed the candidates who will wake up this sleeping giant, make it great and create never-seen opportunities, jobs and wealth for her people. Anambra needs a governor that is an achiever.

“Anambra needs a governor that is a visionary; that has life-transforming ideas, that is a project initiator and a governor that is a project finisher. Ifeanyi Ubah will be that governor. I have looked at the antecedent of all the contenders and the pretenders, most of them do not fit in. His antecedents stand him out. He is in a class of his own. While others see vast land, he sees opportunities that can transform a people into achievers of great repute. This is no idle boast. His successes in many spheres of human endeavour bear eloquent testimony to his ability to transform ideas into enviable realities.”

A profile of Ubah in his website described him as a successful businessman who started out with nothing. From an early age, he was never afraid of taking on the odds. “Through hard work, perseverance, faith in God, and belief in himself, he became one of the most successful businessmen in Nigeria. It’s an opportunity he wants to make possible for every young Anambrarian,” it said. Ubah was born September 3, 1971, to the humble, working class family of Alphonsus Ubah of Umuanuka in Otolo, Nnewi. His parents, all teachers, provided for their family’s needs with their meagre salaries and a fervent trust in God. They inculcated in him the virtues of deep faith in God, honesty, hard work, leadership, and innovativeness. His father distributed what little he made for the education of his children and other relations. While attending OMGS in Nnewi, Ubah saw his father struggle and, as the first son, chose to take on responsibilities beyond his years in order to lessen the burden on his father and help provide for the family, made up of three older sisters and three young brothers.

When he communicated this decision to his parents and siblings, it was the first time he ever saw his father cry, expressing his frustration that he as a teacher was unable to fund the education of all his children by himself, and his concern about the risk of an uncertain future for his son. Ubah demonstrated courage and assured his father that he would make him proud, and that not only would he eventually shoulder the responsibility for the entire family’s upkeep, he would pursue his education and develop himself intellectually.

“In honouring this promise, and reflecting his tireless pursuit of excellence, he has continued his quest for knowledge and attended several local and international courses and seminars in leadership and business management. As a result of his creative leadership, his economic ideas, and his entrepreneurial ingenuity, he was conferred with an Honourary Doctorate of Management Technology, DMT, by the Federal University of Technology Owerri, in Imo State and an Honourary Doctorate of Philosophy in Critical and Creative Thinking from Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. He is in the process of completing the prestigious Owner/President Management Program at Harvard University, Boston, USA,” according to his website.

Ubah rose swiftly from apprenticeship at the age of 16 to running a very successful regional business at the age of 18. He travelled to Ghana and throughout Africa to expand his business and increase trade for Nigeria. By the age of 19, he made his first million naira. He emerged, quickly, as a significant player in the tyre export trade from Nigeria to Ghana. He was among the biggest suppliers of tyres to Ghana traders such as Kingsman Enterprises. From Ghana, he expanded his business into Liberia and Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, the war that began in Liberia affected his business forcing him to returned to Lagos. He then expanded his business, which now include the supply of auto parts to the Congo, DRC.

His leadership qualities led him to become the president of the Nigerian community in the DRC at a young age. He took responsibility for catering for his business and for the welfare of all the Nigerians in the DRC, including taking responsibility for feeding thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled from Congo Brazzaville.

His company continued to grow, becoming a major importer of automotive spare parts in the DRC. He also attended international trade shows such as Automotive Industrial Week in Las Vegas, USA and Automechanika in Messe Frankfurt, Germany. He extended his business activities into England, Belgium, South Africa, Dubai and other parts of the world. He did business with large companies in South Africa, including: AE, Payen, Kolben Co., and the AngloAmerican Industrial Corporation. In Belgium and London, he did business with companies including Banque Belgolaise (Brussels) and AE Automotive Parts (Leeds, UK).

Ubah had built a business empire beyond his dreams and expanded into the field of oil and gas. He established Capital Oil SPRL in the DRC, through which he imported oil and gas from Ibeto Petrochemical Nigeria to supply the biggest transporters and industrial establishments as well as governmental agencies such as the national railway. In South Africa, he did business with Chevron Oronite and Elit South African Pty Limited. With the help of his mentor, Cletus Ibeto, who supported his business and further tutored him on the oil and gas climate in Nigeria, he invested his growing resources from his successful business enterprises to expand his operations in Nigeria, creating Capital Oil & Gas Industries Ltd. and thousands of jobs.

The company was founded in 2001, and by 2003/2004 it had extended into haulage, transportation and petroleum products retail. He has built three of the largest oil and gas depots in all of Nigeria and acquired a fourth. By 2011, Capital Oil Group’s depot facility was the largest in Nigeria, with a combined capacity to berth 3-6 vessels simultaneously and 32 loading arms. The group today accounts for about 30 percent of daily petroleum products distribution in Nigeria, employs a work- force of more than 3,000, and has created an additional 1,000 related jobs.

Ubah’s core businesses are oil and gas trading, and port and harbour investment in the African continent. He also invested in property and real estate development, telecommunication, commodities importation, financial institutions, and hospitals. He sits on the board of several companies, including: Knoll & Hachfer Engineering Co Ltd, Chevron Oronite & Chemical Co Ltd, Hero Communications Ltd, First Nigeria Independent Oil Co Ltd, Commodity Giants Nigeria Limited, Capital Group Congo S.a.rl. in the Congo DR, Oil Force Nigeria Limited and American Hospital Ltd. Ubah led the building of strategic regional reserve depots within the geopolitical zones of Nigeria: Suleja in Niger State, Funtua in Katsina State, Enugu in Enugu State, Warri and Koko in Delta State. These developments have created thousands of jobs for Nigerians, mostly youths. He believes that “wealth and job creation is an art and empowerment is an obligation.” He was profiled by the Oxford Brooks Magazine as one of the “Forty under Forty 2009”, a list of the top forty Nigerian business leaders under the age of forty.

“He remains faithful to his friends of early days and they also form part of his strength today. He appreciates friends, but has no god-father. Instead, he has Father God, the Almighty!That is why Ifeanyi is fondly called “Ebube Chukwu uzo” meaning “Placing God First”, according to a message from his campaign organisation.

Ifeanyi is also a philanthropist. Driven by a desire to give back to society, he established the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation, which gives students free university education, drills boreholes for communities, installs electricity transformers, repairs and constructs roads, provides free fuel to the popular “Okada” riders and bus drivers every Monday in all his filling stations.

He is building an ICT Centre for the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and has built and donated a student hostel at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He has built and fully equipped with state-of-the-art tech a 160 seating capacity ICT centre for the Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna.

He is also building a 3,000 seat Catholic Cathedral for the Nnewi Diocese. He was a lead donor in refurbishing St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Umuanuka Otolo, Nnewi, his home church, and has generously donated N60 million for the acquisition of the Bishop’s Court for the Anglican Diocese of Awka. He has also materially supported bishops and other clergymen of various religious denominations across Anambra State.

Ubah is married to Uchenna Ubah, a graduate of Business Administration from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira. He says that their marriage “was the beginning of God’s manifestation in my life, by blessing me with a jewel of inestimable value: my wife, the mother of my five children – a girl and four boys.” It remains to be seen if his successful business acumen and his well-organised campaigns laced with aggressive and scintillating advertisement will propel him to victory in the governorship election in Anambra State.

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