Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, the MD/CEO of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, is an enigma. Hugely misunderstood and highly unpretentious, the 42-year-old governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Anambra State flew in his private jet with YES International! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, from Abuja to Asaba, Delta State, en-route Nnewi, Anambra State, for a political meeting. Aboard the flight, on that beautiful Thursday, October 3, 2013, the duo had a marathon interview which saw the billionaire mogul talking about why he wants to govern Anambra State, his plans for Anambrarians, his businesses, family and more. Come with them…
Why does Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah want to be the governor of Anambra State?
Well, I think that at this particular point in time, I need to come and rescue my people. I think that at this particular time, God has ordained that I give the next 4 years of my life in order to rescue my people and uplift their status and that is why I am in this as a real game changer.
There are other people who are also in the race, why do you think that people should give you their votes?
You have to vote for Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah because one – I am the most qualified to be the governor now; secondly, I am a man who understands what Anambra people need; thirdly, I am a man who has created employment and I know what to do; fourthly, I understand the security challenges of Anambra State and I’m the only one that has what it takes to solve it…
(Interruption) – Before you progress, what are the security challenges and what do you think is required to curb them?
Anambra indeed has security challenges. If I want to aggregate it to 10 percent, we are at level 9. Level 9 means that if by chance we cross over to level 10, people will start eating human beings. You know that Anambra State was where a former deputy governor was kidnapped, ransom was paid and still he was killed; where the traditional ruler of Ihembosi was kidnapped, ransom paid and nobody has seen his corpse till date; I’m just giving you names of notable people. Where a former Ohaneze chairman, Lagos State, Sir John, was kidnapped, ransom paid and he was killed. I’m not even talking about people that have been kidnapped and ransom paid and they were released. Those ones are in thousands! 80 percent of our businessmen in Anambra State have all fled to safer states. This is my final constituency, and why would I be in my haven, thinking that all is well, when I know that it is not so. If you look at the people coming out now, you find that I am the most qualified…
Why are you the most qualified?
Everybody that is coming out now, you should go and ask them – what do they have to give Anambra people? And if you can give me a name, I can tell you why I’m better than that person and let him come and challenge me in public and tell me why he is better. First and foremost, you need to look at the antecedent of everybody. You need to know what each and everyone of them has achieved in their personal lives before they touch political office. You need to tell me what have they given to their communities, because before you start thinking about leading a state, you need to be a community developer, you need to be at peace with your family, you need to be at peace with your community, and that’s why we are going to my village (in Nnewi) so that you can understand who Ifeanyi Ubah is.
Anambra politics has always been very volatile, how do you intend to wade through?
Anambra has never gotten it good like what they are getting now, and that’s why I said every Anambrarian must support me; must appreciate my coming to rule Anambra. One – we have never gotten any governor that didn’t come from somewhere. This is the first time Anambra will be getting a governor that is not from a godfather, or the backdoor. No godfatherism or being sponsored by any group. Because when you come into governance with these baggages, it will be difficult for you to offload. I am a son of a teacher, I am from a very humble background. Where I am today, I am very contented. Everything people will get after being governors, I have gotten them before coming here. So, what else do I need? Except I’m I going to live in the sky? In Lagos State, by the grace of God, I live in a small estate that I have contributed so much to its development. My CDA, my community in Lagos, won the Best Community and there was an award by the governor of Lagos in 2011 for that. I built the best street in Lagos. Today in Lagos, I am the only one; you can go to Lagos State and check if anybody has beaten me in terms of community development, corporate social responsibility. That’s in Lagos. I’m not going to talk about Abuja. Come to my community; I have developed my community also. Nobody will come and tell me otherwise. Nobody can tell me that they have built a better community than me. I am not talking about government, I am talking about individuals. Also, I will tell you that this government has never built any community in Anambra State that is better than my community. So, I had been giving to people even when I didn’t think of governance.
Labour Party does not seem to be too popular in Anambra State, how do you intend to upstage APGA, the ruling party in the state?
APGA has lost their bearing (Laughter). APGA lost their bearing since they deprived Soludo (Charles, former CBN governor) of coming into the field. I mean, I would have been happy if Soludo were there so that I can see somebody that I can be talking Economics and other things with. I would have been happier if Soludo were to be in APGA, then maybe I can have somebody that I will discuss with. All these other people are not even any match. I don’t have anything to discuss with them. I am waiting for the debate; let them come for the debate. I want Nigerians to see me and them.
You said the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi is not working, but anytime you open newspapers you see photographs of the things he claims to have done…
(Cuts in) – The man is a photo governor. He’s the only governor that shows pictures of money. When you say I’ve done this, people can go and cross check it. But when all you do is to show, show, then you are faking it. Maybe you’ve been living a fake life and you are forcing people to believe you, because you know that you are living a fake life. That’s what you see with our governor. Because anytime you see him, he’s brandishing cheques and all these things. Have you ever seen Fashola doing that? Has he built better schools than Fashola and the Akwa Ibom governor? He’s the only governor in Nigeria that is a photo governor. Page 3 of The Sun, page 4 or 5 or 6 of Vanguard; every day you see him there showing cheques. We even need to go and confirm that those cheques were paid, because I’m sure that by the time you get under, you will see that some of them are being paid instalmentally (Laughs).
What should Anambra people expect from you if elected?
I have 8-points in my manifesto. Security is the topmost. Again, employment, education…These are the topmost. I have heard some people say they have 9 points, I’ve heard some people say they have 12. We will get to the debate table so that I will ask them how they would accomplish them. Any man that doesn’t know how to make money cannot rule any state now. Any man that doesn’t know how to use 1+1+2 and make 10 will not be a governor; not in a state like Anambra. With the poor state of infrastructure in Anambra State, you cannot have a governor that will come and say I will do this, I will do that. Do it with what? Will he do it with his own blood?
Your party controls only one state in Nigeria, what gives you the confidence that you can increase it to two?
APGA nko? APGA also has one state in Nigeria.
So, what edge does Labour have over APGA?
Labour is the party of the moment, it is the only international party in Nigeria, it’s the party of the youths. Imagine me and my colleagues. If you are passing through any street in Anambra State, you will be seeing Labour flag. Before you do 200 metres, you will see Labour flag. Let me say something, among all these candidates, I am the only one, independent of my Labour Party ward offices, that has 326 offices in all the wards in Anambra State. Name any ward and I will tell you where my office is there. So, how can they win when they have not invested in the grassroots?
A lot of people are saying that God has over blessed you, and that you have no business being in politics. What exactly do you want from politics and what more do you want from God?
I want to use my wealth of experience and my money to touch the lives of Anambra people. I need the seal of government…
But you’ve been touching lives through the Ifeanyi Ubah Foundation?
I need the seal now, because with my money, I cannot dredge any road in Anambra State, I cannot do anything. In fact, I have to even beg certain people for me to touch their lives. But with the seal of government, I can modify and modernize Anambra. That’s what you need the seal for.
Won’t becoming a governor affect the fortunes of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited?
Well, all the time is not for money. There also comes a time for sacrifice. So, money time is over, now it’s time to work. I am very young, after 4 years, I will be 46 and I will still be shining (Laughs). The engine is so strong.
How is your immediate family taking your incursion into politics?
God has blessed me. I have a wonderful family, I have a wonderful wife, I have five children – 4 military men and a princess.
Why is Ifeanyi Ubah the issue in Anambra politics?
Mostly misunderstood, greatly controversial. It’s because they try to bring a lot of problems and my God has been defeating them. Let me tell you something, it is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria for any Nigerian character to have passed through what I have passed through and still be here. You need to be a believer to withstand all their might. Do you understand what they mean by one with God is majority? Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm (Laughs).
Where do you get the strength to fight all these battles?
My brother, what can you do when God has given you excess…He said He’s going to surprise you; He’s going to give you abundant grace. It’s God!
God has been so kind to you, no doubt. What has He not done for you?
Maybe to give me Anambra State to govern. God should give me Anambra State to see if I’m going to change. Let Him just give me small, small, small…only 4 years!
So, you are going to step aside after 4 years? No second term for you…
Let us complete one term first (General laughter). If I do well, it’s the people that will determine if I’m going for a second term. But for the first time, let a real trader, a real businessman govern Anambra State. A real businessman in the real sense of business. Somebody who understands how he can move a generation from trading to industrialization. That’s my passion. My passion is to see people making money, my passion is seeing that everybody is happy. I have that passion for my community and it’s working in my community. I have built the best community in Anambra State. Nobody can contest that with me. If anybody wants to contest it, let’s see him.
What is the hardest thing about being wealthy? Are there any disadvantages in having too much money?
The disadvantage is government policy. Some government policies can thwart your business plans. That’s the biggest problem I have. And you can’t fight government.
What is the greatest thing that God has done for you?
So, how much of a family man are you? Do you ever have time for them, because you seem to be always busy?
How will you know? Do you know what happens in the night? You don’t know (Laughing). I’m a core family man, I believe in family values and I love my children and my wife.
Which singular individual has affected your life the most?
This is a very tough question (Thinks). It’s only God. God Almighty.
What exactly is going on between you and AMCON? Some of your opponents are using that against you…
Let me tell you this, I want to thank AMCON and thank Sanusi (Lamido, CBN governor) for bringing AMCON to Nigeria. If not for AMCON, maybe some of us would have entered into a very bad thing. See, AMCON is there to support businesses or businesses that might have problems. Capital Oil is one of the least companies in my group, but people are always thinking that that is all I’ve got. I have bigger companies than Capital Oil. So, I don’t know why everybody is talking about Capital Oil alone. Capital Oil is a very small company within our group, but because everybody knows me with Capital Oil, they are always talking about Capital Oil…
I have a lot of oil companies. I have over five other oil companies. So, why is everybody talking about only Capital Oil? Now, let us even face facts. Capital Oil and Gas is the biggest downstream company in Nigeria and I built it in 5 years. Capital Oil today is a household name in Nigeria. When government said they were going to deregulate, we invested in line with deregulation and when they didn’t deregulate, nobody has come to say, okay, all those investments you made, all those projections you made, take this. You cannot have 2+2 and say it’s one and you want it to be fixed. You must make it 4. So, it’s a problem and I thank God that AMCON came, took over the company through a means that was not appropriate, because they were looking at another action by another bank. They rushed in to take me; I took them to court and thank God, they appreciate the judgement of the court. AMCON appreciates the judgement of the court because what they did was overnight, coming to hijack you. But there was something that happened that made the fish bend or crayfish to bend. So, we needed to fix it and we went to court to sort it out. Immediately we sorted it out, we negotiated with AMCON. We went back to the drawing table and today, Capital Oil and Gas, I’m sure, the company is doing well. They have AMCON support. It’s not a takeover! It’s a management change. If I were not in Capital Oil, I will need to find somebody that can manage Capital Oil. If somebody is bringing money to my company, I need to get somebody that will manage it or if you are bringing, we can negotiate and say okay, give me this management staff…We have not sacked one staff in Capital Oil. AMCON only injected a few management staff. So, these are rumours that Anambra government is spreading in order to castigate me, but the more they are doing it, the more I’m becoming popular.
Why are they scared of Ifeanyi Ubah in Anambra State? Everybody is talking about you…
A man that has no godfather, a man that has only God. You see, I’m a realist when it comes to anything I believe in…
How much have you sunk into your campaign? You seem to be spending so much money on this?
It’s like asking you how many pieces of rice did you eat today? For me, the grace of God has always been there. Every good businessman must also know how to play his game. I’m not alone.
There are few people who are 42-years-old and have the kind of money that you have. What did you do that they did not do?
Well, life is about style. I have my own style, everybody has their own style. I look at 10 years ahead; my friends are 10 years older than me. Those I call my core friends. I don’t have friends who are my age mates. My mode of thinking, articulation is 10 years, 15 years ahead of my time. I see 5 years ahead of today, and I accomplish things, I position myself 5 years or 10 years ahead. So, that’s what makes me different. I can see Anambra State in the next 10 years and I can tell you what I’m going to do to make Anambra great and bring 10 years of Anambra State into 4 years.
Why do some people make money and lose it?
Sometimes it is due to lack of planning. When you don’t plan very well, when you don’t have the grace of God or you don’t even know God. Money is something that you need His grace and then you also need to be sincere.
What is the easiest way to make money?
The easiest way to make money? (Yes!) To see beyond others.
How did you start?
I started as boi-boi (apprentice). I started as a Baranda man. Go to Isale Eko, I’m an Isale Eko boy. My brother, I cannot hide my past. I suffered to get to here. I used to be the leader of the Baranda group. I was once a Baranda man…
What kind of Baranda are we talking about here?
When you have customers and you don’t have what they need, you depend on people. I’ve done a lot of things. We grew up in a very difficult atmosphere that even if today you decide to throw me from a 7-storey building I will be laughing at you.
What is the best way to attain success and sustain it?
You see, sometimes nobody can challenge God. God takes pre-eminence in everything one does. You must always be steadfast in appreciating God, in asking Him for sustenance of wealth and for giving you the wisdom to change things that are unchangeable.
Do you sometimes get scared about being so wealthy?
Akuadiatukwa egwu o! (Meaning wealth doesn’t scare one). I’m just contented. If I have N1 billion coming; I know what I will do with it, because there are a lot of people that need that money. So, I don’t get scared. You manage it.
Your parents are teachers, what prompted you into business?
I wanted to change my world; I wanted to help my parents, I wanted to touch the lives of my family members and I wanted to also generally touch the lives of people. That is my guiding principle. My brother, as you see me, I don’t have any baggage. I’m a cooler.
Away from work, what does Ifeanyi Ubah do for relaxation? You are always busy…
I love a lot of things, but sometimes I cannot do most of them. I love playing football, I love boxing, I love sports.
So, which one do you have time to do?
I think the one I do most is football. Sometimes I go to the beach with my friends to play beach soccer, so that when I fall I won’t break my bone (General laughter). I fall on sand.
Do rich people pray, and if yes, what kind of prayers do they say?
Everybody has his own style, but I will tell you my style – I like to praise God because they say that praises bring down glory. I praise God so much.
When you pray to God, what do you normally tell Him?
I’m always praising God (Goes into a song – Thank You, thank You Lord, thank you Lord for everything You have done).
The general belief is that women run after successful men, how have you managed that?
Men sometimes do things that are not pleasing to God. But once you are arrested and you say God, I’m sorry, God will forgive you. No man is perfect. But for me, I tell you the truth, I am a one – man one – woman person. I don’t have time for those kind of things, because when you see the awesomeness of God in your life, you should be careful. I make friends, chat with people, but going deep is something I don’t do. I have one of the best wives on earth. Everything I need is in her. So, I’m satisfied. I don’t want to have any moment of regret in life.
The dream to govern Anambra, when did it come?
After the problem I had, and the support I got back home, and with all these killings, kidnapping and so on, I said, God help me. When you help me, I want to go and help my people. But before the challenge, I remember the last discussion I had with the governor, I told the governor; things are not working well. You said you were going to match unemployment with jobs, we voted you in, but up till now, you have built only one brewery. Only one brewery! And this brewery, after getting drunk, our people will be having the urge to go and kill (General laughter). There’s something in that drink. After taking it, our youths will want to do something bad. So, his brewery is putting a lot of our people into trouble.
How did you meet your wife? You’ve poured so much encomiums on her…
My wife? I love my wife so much. I met her when God decided that I will meet her, and since I met her things have changed, to tell you the truth. My wife brought a lot of luck to my life and I will leave it at that point.
A peep into your life as a young man?
Life as a young man was full of work. I’ve been working, working, working…I wasn’t a rascal, but I was committed. I was a hard worker and I’ve been doing business since. I was born a businessman. Business is in my blood even though I’m the son of a teacher and I was courageous enough to tell my parents that I wanted to go into the business world.
When did you make your first million?
I think at the age of 19.
What did you do with the money?
I went home, I built a house, because I was scared that the money will get missing (Laughs) and immediately I started thinking about marriage so that I can compound everything. I got married between the age of 20/21. So, I built my first house, I bought properties. I have been investing in property. My first money was put into property and then marriage. Because then, I was scared that women may come and take the money. It’s rare, even today, for people to marry at that age. And I married my own choice, not my parents’ choice.
NB: First published January 2014