‘Buhari won’t hand over in 2023 to Igbo, if re-elected’
This is no doubt a busy period for you, given your gubernatorial ambition…how has the campaign been going?
Very well. Busy schedule, but it’s fine. You just have to engage the people you want to govern and talk to them.
What should Imo people expect from your government should you win the 2019 Imo gubernatorial election?
They should expect a government with experience, huge positive background, antecedents that are traceable, pedigree, huge capacity, honesty of purpose, a government that would enthrone the rule of Law. The practice of fear of God in governance, a systemic and deliberate approach to governance, a government that is defined by the concept of planning.
We would design before executing. We shall be guided by emphasising on the restoration of the dignity of the Imo man and once more getting our people to where they used to be, our sense of industry. Positive competitiveness would be paramount and the restoration of our lost glory. These are the things they are going to expect. We have experienced misgovernance and to a large extent non-governance in the last eight years.
That is not the way to go about it. Our Local governments are not functioning, those are just part of the problems. The consequential effect of the non-governance at the local government level is very significant. It is huge because it affects the labour force, job creation, wealth creation, because local governments operate at the base level. So, when that is absent it comes with the attendant poverty, loss of jobs, hardship…it comes with a lot.
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When we restore it, God willing in 2019, it will give some hope, create some jobs, revitalize and revive our economy yet again and bring development nearer to the people. So, it is not just that there is lack of governance at the local level and you think that it is about persons. It is beyond the political appointments. We will get down to the very basics, so, Imo people will get an opportunity to rewrite our wrongs.
Would you probe the current administration against the backdrop of what you have termed misgovernance in the last eight years?
I will restore sanity in the system. I would reestablish the rule of law. I will make sure Imo begins to work again. I will redefine our appreciation of governance and the workings of governance in government. Acrimony will not be my hallmarks, I will not chase shadows, but I will get things working and I will right the wrongs.
If questions must be answered, then they will be answered, but I won’t set out to chase persons to answer questions. I will be positive. I am blessed by a good measure of capacity and huge goodwill to tap from. That will help us move the state forward, but in all, my government will carry the people along and work with the people and ensure that we realize our set goals. I will endeavour to avoid distractions as a government.
As a governorship candidate, what do you believe are the challenges of Imo state?
Total misgovernance and the need to restore sanity. Our people have lost sense of the appreciation of governance so we are going to start anew and begin to teach them how the civil service should function, how local governments should function. Imo children that are about 15 years old would not appreciate local government administration because in the last eight years they have not had any. When we begin we will reintroduce local government administration.
The present administration has bastardized the system. We are going to face the challenge of reconstruction and rebuilding. We are going to deal with and make deliberate efforts to begin to reeducate the people. It would not be very easy. Imo’s level of indebtedness is very huge, so we will have to deal with that and we have to create an economy for the state. In my understanding, Imo basically has a mono-product economy.
What comes from the federation account -monthly allocation- and it is disturbing. We have to create an economy for the state, where individuals can eke out a means of living by virtue of conducive environment provided by the government, which is one of the major responsibilities of government, catering for the welfare and security of the people. We are going to restore Imo’s lost glory.
I think at the end of the day our people would be very happy. We are going to introduce a lot of things that give opportunity and I bet you under my watch by the grace of God, we shall witness huge inflow of private sector investment, because investment comes with confidence and it also comes with provision of infrastructure in different forms, be it road, power etc.
Power is fundamental, because you cannot grow jobs without power. It is not possible. Industries cannot work without power. You cannot run your industry on diesel and remain in business. It cannot work, it just cannot work. I will attack power fundamentally and frontally. Luckily, I have a huge understanding of the problems of the power situation in the state.
I believe that the first six months of our government would witness a lot of work in different areas and there will be competition for which sector gets prominent attention.
Outside Owerri zone, how are you reaching out to other zones for support?
My level of acceptability and support in Orlu and Okigwe is huge, certainly very huge. The level of support is amazing. The core of my associates indeed are from Orlu zone, the critical players in Orlu politics find the need to support me. They are not myopic, but only a few elements in Orlu zone that we can say are myopic, who are thinking that it is their birthright to rule Imo.
But I have no problem with a good candidate running, but the truth of the matter is that I am convinced and many people in the state are also convinced that when you place me side by side others who have tickets from prominent political parties in the state, I have clear edge over them.
Are you saying you are a candidate without any political baggage as it were?
Yes and I thank God for that. I was brought up to be responsible, to fear God, to do the right things, to know that there is difference between good and bad, to respect my seniors, to protect my right and that define my upbringing, my growth, my actions and I never abuse responsibilities and opportunities, because I know that those opportunities come, and it is a privilege.
I took seriously every opportunity I have had to serve, it is a referendum on your person, character and family background, and I have been guided by it. I thank God that I am perceived by many people as credible, a person that is regarded highly in terms of character and capacity over and above other candidates.
Have you assessed the reasons why you lost narrowly during the last election in 2015 and what you need to do this time round ahead of the 2019 polls?
I think I won the election in 2015. I scored the highest number of votes, but I was not declared winner, we battled it through. This time around, I began in 2015 to take stock on why we were not favoured. I think today we are in a position to be favoured by God, and for the people to protect their votes.
The hint I am getting from the populace is that this election is about their future and that they will withstand any effort to manipulate it. I am aware that some of my notorious opponents are boasting how they will rig the election; how they would use security to deny Imo people their hearts’ desires once again. I believe the desire of Imo people to have good governance will obviously outweigh the desire of some persons to steal the people’s mandate again.
I caution any person who thinks it is business as usual, those who are allies of individuals who believe they would deny us of the people’s desire to perish such thoughts. I caution them to be careful and beware, because the people will resist any attempt to manipulate anything. It is important to emphasise that any attempt by anybody to rig the elections would be resisted.
Imo people would confront anybody that would want to shortchange them. I am sure our people would pass this message clearly with their votes…warnings will be given and actions will be taken.
Do you see the cracks in the other major political parties as an advantage to you?
Yes, it is. You can see the confusion in the camp of my opponents. They don’t even know how to solve their problems. The problems are intractable. It is impossible to solve, because you cannot solve a problem that has to do with character. The good news is that I stand out, in the midst of the other candidates.
That humbles me; that makes me to appreciate the enormity of expectations on the part of the people. So, I prepare consistently and very hard, every hour, every minute. I am also not taking anything for granted, given the desperation of those I am running against. Interestingly, I don’t see them in the field. They are not talking to Imo people.
I don’t know whether it is for lack of what to say to the people or they do not value our people well enough. I will continue to do what I m doing, I believe on that eventful day, it would be about the people. I am hopeful that our people will take the bull by the horns.
What is your take on the southeast governors displeasure on the choice of Peter Obi as candidate for vice president for PDP?
I think that it was at the beginning that they raised issues of consultation and I think we have gone past that. I expect every south easterner (Ndigbo) to support Atiku/Obi ticket, because that is where we have a stake in. Peter Obi distinguished himself as a credible governor for eight years in Anambra State. He redefined development.
From all intent and purposes, he stands out as one man, who as governor, did very well. You can see his footprints are still there for anybody to appreciate in Anambra State. We couldn’t have gotten it any better.
What is your take on the APC promise of a possible Igbo president in 2023?
Who promised you that? The fact of the matter is, as vice president, God helping us to win in 2019, we are a step away from the Presidency. Which would you prefer? APC has no capacity. They cannot, President Muhammadu Buhari, will not support an Igbo man to succeed him. He will not. But they won’t have that opportunity to determine who becomes President in 2023, because Buhari would not be reelected in 2019, if the electorate vote wisely.
Can you assess PMB’s government?
President Buhari has run a failed government, how do you assess it? How many promises have they kept? And someone deludes himself daily to say, ‘We have met all our promises.’ You begin to wonder is he in our world? Obviously not in our present world. We know there is no electricity.
I have been here in my country home (Mbutu, Mbaise), I have not had light all through this festive season (Christmas and New Year). I run diesel. In our present world they said they will give N5,000 to the unemployed, I don’t know how many people who have benefited from it. When a government deliberately deceives itself, that is the height of irresponsibility.