Honourable (Chief) Uchenna Patrick aka Uchman is a successful businessman by all standards and a political stakeholder in Ohuhu Umuahia North nay Abia State. In the world of business, he has carved a niche for himself in the areas of importation, long distance haulage and production of natural bitters and Gin with his plant located at Mowe, Ogun State. Apart from his commitment to his business activities, Chief Uchenna Patrick is passionate about charity works and never looked back when it comes to assisting the widows and the less privileged members of the society. He says it is a covenant with God never to turn his back on widows. In the area of youth empowerment, he has also done well as he has given out 15 trucks and other vehicles to the youths for transport business, some on hire purchase. It was in recognition of his numerous humanitarian gestures that the Anglican Church conferred on him Award of Honour as Ambassador for Christ; this is in addition to the award bestowed on him by the Methodist Church as God’s Ambassador. In this interview with NewsCritic online, Chief Uchenna Patrick spoke about his business, his political interest and his grouse with some Ohuhu politicians. He said that the Okaiuga block is dominating the Umuhu block politically which ought not to be, adding that he will continue to fight until justice is done. Excerpts:
Q: Can we meet you for the benefit of those who may not know you well?
A: My name is Honourable (Chief) Uchenna Patrick from Oriendu autonomous community in Umuhu Ohuhu. I am a successful businessman, who is quite versatile and my company is into importation of heavy-duty trucks, cars and industrial equipment. There’s another company that I own which specialises in the importation of building materials, especially on sanitary wares, and I’m the owner of Patras Water Heater and other sanitary products that you see in the market. My company is also into the production of drinks, with my factory located at Mowe Ogun state. Actually, we produce herbal drinks and our drinks have NAFDAC certification. Our products are doing well in the markets, especially in Kwara and Plateau states where we have large market share. I’m the owner of the brand of drinks popularly known as Joromi Herbal Bitters and Bumper to Bumper Gin.
Q: So why are your products not in Abia market?
A: Yes, we’ve been in the local market here but our people don’t patronise bitters much, they do more of beer and I believe that’s why Golden Guinea Breweries built their factory in Umuahia because Umuahia people prefer beer brands to bitters. There are states where the bitters are being largely consumed like Plateau and Kwara States.
Sometimes when you want to establish business you should consider the demands of the people, and what they prefer. I read accounting and we did managerial economics; in managerial economics you have to consider location where you want to set up a business to ensure that there is demand for the product. I built the factory in Ogun State because the people there consume bitters a lot and from there, we move it to other parts of Nigeria without passing through Lagos traffic jam. It is easy to travel to the northern or eastern part of the country from Ogun state.
I also have truck that move containers from Lagos to different parts of the country, so we are also into transportation long distance haulage.
Q: In terms of employment opportunities have you been considering Abia people?
Yes, I have done that for those of us that live around Lagos, I’ve created employment opportunities and also assisted some of them. Some years back I did some empowerment programme for the youths of Ohuhu, and I gave out about 15 buses to them on hire purchase. Some people were given free buses to assist them. Some people came to me requesting for heavy-duty trucks, like Omerenma from Umudiawa, who I bought a tipper and gave to him. There are others that approached me for assistance to learn a skill and I assisted them, and some of them that have completed their apprenticeship I helped to stand on their own.
When it comes to widows that is where I made a covenant with God, that I don’t need to be told. It’s a covenant I had with God in the midnight of September 1996, when God spoke to me in a dream that He was going to make me great’ like He told Abraham that I will bless you for you to be a blessing to others. And God gave me a condition that if I want my blessing not to stop flowing, I should never turn my back against widows, the less privileged and the orphans in the society. So, when it comes to the empowerment of widows nobody tells me about it. This is a yearly programme and I make sure I must reach out to the widows in their numbers.
Q: How often do you do the programme?
A: As the spirit leads me, sometimes I can do it three or four times in a year, but basically, I do the big one towards the end of the year. The last one that I did was on the 2nd of January 2021 and over 500 widows in my community benefitted. I provided over 100 bags of Rice and I’m believing God that at the end of this year I will be able to do something bigger maybe between 300 to 500 bags of rice. I love to give alms and I don’t look back. And if I could do all these as a private businessman, why can’t the political office holders do more.
Q: I heard you mention political office holders do you hold anything against them or what?
A: Not at all, most of the time I’m also a politician because I assist and participate in the political process. As a Nigeria I exercise my right to vote and be voted for, and when I like a particular candidate I get involved in the campaign. I’m a businessman and I can’t be in business and play politics at the same time, so I try to concentrate in growing my business. I’m not interested right now but I am not impressed by their performance. They should remember the people that voted them and not to personalise some of the dividends coming out from the office for themselves and their immediate family alone. What can they point to as what they have done for the masses, if I as a private businessman can give out over 100 bags of rice in one occasion, what about them who are political office holders? I can say that I’m disappointed with them, there is nothing wrong investing in the people who voted for you.
Q: You are Ohuhu by birth, what can you say about Ohuhu politics?
A: Ohuhu had been known because of the accomplishments of the late Dr M.I Okpara in politics. Since his demise I’ve not seen any Ohuhu man who has taken after his footsteps, no Ohuhu politician is like Okpara. He was conscious of developing his land instead of enriching his pockets. I’m not impressed with the performance of our politicians and I can hit my chest that aside my commitment to my business, if I get the opportunity to serve, I’ll perform better.
They are not doing well especially in the aspect of appropriating the juicy political positions that is due to Ohuhu to Okaiuga block. We’ve two clans that make up Ohuhu, Umuhu and Okaiuga and we are brothers. The other day the Speaker celebrated his birthday and it was Dr Aham Uko, Sir Obi Aguocha, Hon kelechi Onuzuruike, Chief Kingsley Megwara, and Hon Chidiebere Nwachukwu that were present. So, I ask are there no persons from Umuhu that should be there, and these are the people representing Ohuhu. The only person you can see from Umuhu sometimes is Prince Ben Okezie. Does it mean we don’t have people in Umuhu, let them carry Umuhu people along and on equal basis, that is what I don’t like.
Now for the Umuahia North state assembly seat, it will be the turn of Umuhu block in 2023. So, the next commissioner should come to Umuhu, the next elected LGA chairman should also come from Umuhu, I hate injustice and I will continue to fight against it until justice is seen to be done. Let’s share the positions equitably after all Umuhu is the first son of Ohuhu by tradition and history. It will be unacceptable for any aspirant from Okaiuga to indicate interest in the state assembly seat.