Friday, 17 November 2017

Anambra decides: Why voters should try Ezeemo, not the 4 political jobbers?

Chief Ejimatu Osita Igbokwe is an elder statesman and one of those who had witnessed Nigeria’s politics in the second and third republic. He is also the group executive chairman, Truth and Justice International LTD (Service to Humanity). In this interview with Okechukwu Onuegbu, he bared his mind on Anambra Gubernatorial election holding tomorrow, Saturday 18, 2017.
Who is Igbokwe?
Chief Elder Dr Igbokwe is a businessman. I studied printing, paging and publishing majoring on colour separation. Later on, I went abroad to start packaging business; that includes plastic and paper. Then I established selack industry in Lagos which was known to be one of the biggest printing and packaging in Lagos. I majored on graphics equipments and material supply. We were in Lagos trading. I used to supply my products which are almost all that is needed in printing and publishing like newsprint and bond papers to different parts of the country. I was responsible for supplying packaging materials in Lagos, Anambra and others.  
At my later age, I went into markets and parks development and built the Nnewi Urban Market and Parks as a contractor financier with my company, Young and Quality Services Nigeria Limited. I am still the Chairman of Nnewi Urban Parks and Markets Board of Trustees with agreement by our financial partner, Anambra state government and non financial partner, Nnewi North Local Government Area. I have been the Chairman since 1987 till date. I was also responsible for bringing a modern market to Nnewi.
During my political days, I worked with Olu Akinfosule from the Consultative Assembly. I, Mark Udeh, Sam Mbakwe and others formed Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) before we went to bring back late Zik (Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe) into politics. We also brought in Jim Nwobodo (former governor of Old Anambra State). But when Ibrahim Waziri wanted to become both the Chairman and Presidential candidate of the party, some of Zik’s boys refused and told him that he should either be the presidential candidate or chairman of the party. His continuous refusal to hearken to what they want led NPP to split into two or emergency of Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP). These crises prevented the party (NPP) from governing Nigeria because they did well in the north and some part of the southern Nigeria then. However, the same problem that split NPP came into GNPP and led the party to rest as well. The major problem then was that those who won political positions like governors under the party’s platform became its leaders in their respective states. That is the biggest mistake we still make in this country till date. Once someone becomes a governorship candidate of a party whether he wins or not, he’s seen as its leader. This ought not to be so. The leader of every political party should be the party’s chairman who worked for whoever that emerged as its candidate not the other way round. This would encourage checks and balances…

Last Sunday, he had a political campaign debate where top 5 governorship candidates of various political parties told Anambra what they had for them. Who do you think is the best among these political gladiators?
Well, that is a question I will like to respond to later on. In the first place, selection of five candidates for a political debate by Channels Television is wrong in a democracy. They should have allowed all the 37 political parties participating on the election to air their views. Democracy system of government provides room for freedom of expression and freedom of association.
I did watch the political debate. Unfortunately, what I learnt from their performances was that none of them is on ground except Mr Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA). The problem we have in Anambra State and Nigeria as a whole is bringing people who are not on ground to govern. But politics supposed not to be financially motivated. We don’t need money politics in this state.
Besides, I know most of these governorship candidates. I know Tony Nwoye of All Progressives Congress (APC) from when he was in university to when he was vying for the position of Chairman in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by the grace of Andy Uba. I know Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP) when he was recommended to become the Corp Marshal of Federal Road Safety (FRC) by the grace of the same Andy Uba. You see the influence of godfatherism. I equally know the trader called Mr Peter Obi who is now sponsoring Oseloka Obaze, the candidate of PDP.
The problem like erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo rightly pointed out is, I can judge certain case but there are certain cases you should not bring to an elder statesman to judge. That is a case of two thieves who have gone to steal. But as they are going, one of them is busy stealing from the other person basket. You remember that Obasanjo said it about Ngige and Obaze (if you don’t mind). That is the case of Obiano and that man you called Peter Obi. Okay, if you are bringing Obi or Obaze into the scene, what happened to his brother Dubem Obaze? What happened to the ecological funds he collected and left? Was it planned by Obi, who later appointed his brother the Secretary to the State government? Now he wants him (Obaze) to become the governor of Anambra State.
If you want to know the best candidate, you must first identify our problem which is development. It is not a matter of Biafra or IPOB or MASSOB. If you have a developed state, there would be nobody to talk of MASSOB or IPOB. It is a matter of unemployment. A hungry man is an angry man. And these looters don’t deposit or put their loots or wealth into use in the state. Peter Obi built a Shoprite in Abuja. It’s one of the best in the country so far.
Our people are development inclined. We are not living by the 20 pounds former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Obafemi Awolowo gave to us after the war without considering whatever amount of money we had in the bank before the war. Remember our enterprise. Now, check what we have done with that. We need an enterprise. We are now living like Donald Trump who promised that America must think home. We need to think home. But thinking home is not carrying gun or going to kill our people. These people should go and sit down. We will put the right person in power. When we put the right person in power, we will give them jobs.
When I was the Chief campaign manager of NPP, I pledged to build a modern market in Nnewi. I did fulfill the promise. In the cause of giving Nnewi a modern market, I added Aguedo markets extension and motor parks, and Aguedo motor parts market too; three markets. If not for people stupidity, I could have built Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu park which is a cultural and civic center for Nnewi. Do you know that Nnewi has no town hall till date? What I am telling you as regards your question on the debate is that I wasn’t listening to the technocrats. This is because we need people who have sound intelligent, entrepreneurship and developmental mind. What are we creating embassies for? If you create embassies all over the world, what are they meant for? But when you create industries you will help your people. When you see someone moving about with his luggage at Onitsha and convinced him to come and invest in Nnewi, haven’t you brought development? That is the aim. Our aim is to bring development and it should be our priority for now. When you bring development, all these threats of do not conduct election without referendum would not be heard of. We should never play in the hands of our enemy.
What can you say are some similarities and dissimilarities of politics of yester years and today?
Well, you don’t bring drugs barons or criminals into politics. There are people who studied politics properly. These are people who want to develop their states. These are people who have interests of their communities by heart. See what Awolowo did in Western Nigeria. See what Michael Okpala did in the Eastern Nigeria. They were not carrying bags of money or throwing money about yet they left indelible marks for generations to see. All these armed robbery and kidnapping we are witnessing in this generation were not known then because had power supply, portable water, accessible road, and so on. They were giver of fish. But now things are not like that again.
In the Zik’s period and domain—Onitsha, great Mathematician Chike Obi was in People’s Redemption Party (PRP) with Aminu Kano while Zik was in National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). Then, you don’t talk of going for political debate because politics was what it was meant for; full of issued based. But now people jump up from one political party to another. Peter Obi left All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) to All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and he is now in PDP. He would likely join APC whenever he wants to change to another political party. What I want you to understand is that we don’t want to bring prostitutes as politicians into our government. That is what we are preaching in this state as statesmen.

How would you actually appraise these governorship candidates?
I have said before. First, I criticized the selection by the media house involved because we are in democracy. I said that the only person we want is a grassroot person. That is, we want a person who is going to bring development not MASSOB or IPOB. The only person that gave it to us at the debate is Ezeemo. I once left Nnewi to Umuchu to see his various investments at home myself. I don’t want be hearing it alone. I was already at his hotel, Honeywel in Umuchu when I informed him through phone that I was in Umuchu to see him. He was surprised. I know that he contested for governorship election last time (in 2013) and now he is contesting again. This is the type of Governor we want not people working about and sharing money to people. This man, Peter Obi has not only devastated Anambra by bringing Obiano into power. Do you know what he has done? These our traders most of them have committed suicide because when we were giving 20 pounds after the war not considering the amount we might had in the banks before the war.
They had money to buy our assets. Again, all these companies that belonged to them, we were meant to go and bring their stock exchange into Onitsha. Is that what we want in Onitsha? Our people were intelligent enough to build shops in Onitsha and the whole money went. Some people were dead already. This man is telling us about World Bank, he should stop telling us about world bank. We are not interested on how you can manage money or what you can do better. What we are interested is what development you have brought to your home town, Ochuche? What is on ground in your home town. He is my brother-in-law. As I am talking to you, I have my younger ones in other political parties. Joe Igbokwe is one of them and he is publicity secretary of APC in Lagos State. I trained him as a mechanical engineer. We have Moghalu, he is my younger brother too. But I have looked at all these. My vote will not go for money. It must go for development. Mind you, adi edu onye aguu ozi maka na idu onye aguu ozi onwu miri ejiri kwa aka. And that is what we are doing. That was how they brought an hungry man from nowhere and made him our governor. You must never bring a do what will make you blame yourself tomorrow. A hungry boy can unmake the economy.
What do you have to say about bribery, money laundering and counter money laundering allegations, exporting of vegetables and yams?
Where is the irrigated farms? Where are the all seasoned farms to cultivate and export vegetables. Does he know what is called ugu self? Does he know what is called onugbu or yam? He knows nothing but telling of lies. Go to Aguleri his hometown and ask them if they will vote for Obiano again. They will tell no. it is all lies. There is no farm. He should stop using the posters and names of late Ikemba Nnewi. They should allow his soul to rest in peace. Are we going to leave by lis? Because there is no road that leads to Eze Odumegwu compound, the home of grandparent of Ikemba Nnewi. You can go and investigate it if you doubt. Peter Obi finished using the name of Ikemba and jumped ship. This is a man he virtually starved to death. You can call Chukwuma Mbonu. Go to Obosi and asked for the last Ojukwu’s Chief of State, Colonel Nwobosi, the Director of Operations of Biafra. He was the last servant who stayed with him and me. I was with them. I was the politician and Ikemba was not a politician. Ikemba was virtually starved to death by Peter Obi and co. so he can not come to me and tell me that he said he was his last wish, his our own or whatever. Whse own is that? This whole wickedness cannot allow the soul of old man to rest. They are bringing all posters in the world and posted on the streets and used generator to empower them while the citizenry have no power. When I asked Ezeemo, my boy, I have seen all you have done but if ask you to sell all these vehicles that waste the fuel and energy of our people so that we can have free education from nursery to tertiary institution. He said look, I am operating my campaign everyday from Umuchu and I will continue doing it. We can have free education, free medical care, portable pipe borne water, accessible road, power supply and others. Everything you see in Igbo land are from the 20 pounds we were giving by Gowon and Awlowo government. So, we are self made. I am made in Nigeria. I was not imported like Obaze, Obiano and these people you are talking about. Let us stop wasting time and do the thing now. If we don’t do the right thing now. We shall end up creating people for our children which they cannot tolerate. They have become restless. But if we do the correct thing and salvage our people from these hoodlums, we have salvaged the Southeast and Nigeria. This is because it means that when you salvage Anambra which is where we have core people that gave Nigeria independence you have rescuded Easter Nigeria. When I had opportunity to talk to Ikemba Nnewi, he said well whernever everyone will sleep in peace is where is his money come from. The other young man went to Abuja to tell President Buharu that our mumu don do. So, the earlier we wake up and do the right thing is better for us. We don’t have to go to war because we don’t want war. War does not build rather it destroys what was developed in  the past. To avoid war, we have to vote for the right party. The last opportunity we have is to vote for Ezeemo. He has tried and proven.
 What other area do you think that the incumbent administration has failed which you want the incoming administration to address?
You are with me in Anambra. I don’t want to look into the issue of governor Obiano. Peter Obi went and bring in a sleep drone to destroy Anambra. He heard how many people and amounts he spent on his daughter’s graduation ceremony abroad? I think you are a journalist and ought to know better than I do. He showed them the new house he was able to buy in Houston. He paid their hotels bills. And he come back to tell us he is paying workers salaries. He is paying workers. Where is the development. Excuse me, are they not receiving their rights? It is their rights. What developments do we have on ground? Every government should be able to pay their workers. Once you worked, you must be paid. You said you gave them promotions. It ought not to be so. these officers you see are very intelligent and educated people. So, don’t attract them. When they said they want civilian government that doesn’t mean they don’t know what to do. They have all it takes them to takeover.  The best thing to do is have good government in power and they will go back to barracks  to sit down.
What advice do you have for election boycott crew?
Like I have said in the past, we can’t boycott the election. We can’t attract state of emergency to ourselves in Anambra. They should be patience what we want is to put install a good government that can address their problems. The man calling for boycott of the excretion where is he from? Is he not from Abia state? Where was he when the python dance was ongoing? Where was he and where is he now? He should return to London if he doesn’t have any better thing to do here. he should stop deceiving people whose patient has been trampled upon too much. What we are assuring them is that their problems would be solved we get a right government in power. If our youths are well informed, he would not have them to misinform. The other one used MASSOB to gain popularity and build mansions. This one has started again. He is an APGA man and has now changed to IPOB or what.



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