· Okorocha is disgrace to APC, Ndigbo
· No 2019 opposition to Governor Ugwuanyi
Barely a week after Enugu fiery Catholic priest, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, in this interview with CHUKS EZE in his office, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to consider running for re-election in 2019, another vocal Enugu clergyman, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, has in same manner urged the President to ignore those pushing him to present himself for re-election.
According to Chukwuma, who is the Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province and Bishop of Enugu, “it is deceitful of anybody to advise the President to continue beyond 2019…”
Speaking on Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, the Archbishop described him as the worst South East governor. “Governor Rochas Okorocha is a big disgrace to APC, to President Buhari and to Ndigbo … he is a big disaster in governance,” Chukwuma insisted.
How do you feel that Nigeria started the year 2018 on a bloody note, with killings in Rivers State, Southern Kaduna, Benue and Adamawa States, among others? What does such development portend for the country?
It is really unfortunate that Nigerians are not yet comfortable with the security of the country, in spite of all the bogus promises from the present administration in the last three years. Some people have continued to claim that the country is overcoming terrorism, insurgency and all that, and you ask: Where is the proof?
It is both unfortunate and embarrassing that the New Year took off in Nigeria on a bloody note, with killings in several parts of the country, like you have noted. Thank God that some of the suspected arrowheads in the Rivers New Year eve killings are said to have been killed, but a lot more needs to be done. So, those latest developments pose a question as to why the federal government cannot provide adequate security for Nigerians, with all the money that is being voted for security.
Of particular concern are the activities of Fulani herdsmen. The challenge to Mr President, in all of this is that if Buhari could declare IPOB a terrorist group, why then has he refused to declare killer-herdsmen a terrorist group too?
IPOB is a non-violent organisation, yet it was proscribed. But herdsmen, who are becoming more deadly and destructive than Boko Haram, are allowed to have a field day while carrying out their mayhem in parts of the country.
It is unfortunate! We are saying that it has come to the point that the federal government must declare the herdsmen a terrorist organisation and the security agencies must as well declare a state of emergency on killer-herdsmen in Nigeria, because the situation is getting out of hand.
We are very much worried about the future of the affected areas. And if the federal government does not take decisive action by clamping down on them now, the situation may escalate to an internal war, which would be very unpalatable.
Are you in support of the recent $1 billion request by the President to fund war against insurgency in the Northeast?
The thing is that there is profound doubt whether all the billions of dollars being quoted are sincerely going to be utilised to beef up security or whether it is a deceptive move to stockpile and steal money by politicians and security agencies, without any noticeable intervention in event of attack.
Why do our security agencies always take post-attack measures; why are they never there before attack, knowing the situation that has been on? Why is it always after attack that we hear them deploy so-so and so number of troupes for surveillance and all that? Who is deceiving whom? We are worried over such continued method of solution after fire thing, and such development must change now.
Failure to do that may lead to stakeholders mobilizing their youths to face the herdsmen in a fierce manner, which may lead to war. Therefore, if you do not want war, take appropriate decisive action now.
That is why I continue to fault Mr President for saying that the unity of this country is not negotiable. It is negotiable! No matter how much we shy away from the truth, it must prevail someday. With the herdsmen harassing and killing people recklessly everywhere, without any meaningful action by the federal government, the peace and unity of this country is seriously under threat.
We cannot continue to claim that we want to be united without avoiding things that are threatening the so-called unity and peace of the nation. We want to see action now. Let the killer herdsmen be dealt with seriously now, for all to see. Herdsmen are not supposed to be deadly.
And if the perpetrators are not real herdsmen, as have been claimed by some people, it is the responsibility of the government to fish out whoever they are and deal with them according to the law.
Ahead of 2019 general election, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo recently asserted that the Igbo will only root for Presidential candidate who would give assurances of protecting the interest of Ndigbo; what is your take on that?
For me, I am not interested, as such, in whether the President of this country emerges from any tribe. I am rather interested in good governance. The personality, integrity and credibility of whoever would lead Nigeria, is my concern and the concern of the church, as well, irrespective of religion and tribe.
I say this because, sometimes, you ask yourself: among the Igbo, are we even seriously ready to help ourselves to be in leadership? When we are serious about that then, we must start from home and get united. Imagine that in the South East, the senators and even the ministers in the zone are not even united.
For instance, the other day, the Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, was having meeting with some APC stakeholders in an area, while his Labour and Productivity counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige was holding another meeting at another location with some other stakeholders.
If everybody continues to keep splinter groups in that manner, where then is the unity? Even when they were asked to nominate SGF, as we gathered, they could not agree. So, most of our politicians are self-centred, greedy and have no concern about the welfare of the generality of Ndigbo.
Therefore, let God bring out somebody, from anywhere, to be a President who would be able to sort out the problem of Nigeria, and not one who would run the country based on tribal or religious inclinations. We want a messiah who can save the country from corruption, economic crunch, unemployment, hardship and incessant wasting of innocent blood. That is what we should be concerned about.
Are you satisfied with the performance of political office holders in the South East, including governors, National Assembly and state legislators as well as ministers among others?
My rating is 60 per cent for some of them while many others have put up much lower performance. Some governors are trying while others are just wasting public funds on irrelevant things, such as Imo State governor, who is a disaster in governance. The bailout fund has not been used to bail out anything in Imo State; it has rather, been used for moulding of statues, partying, irrelevant awards and other lavish ceremonies, day-by-day. Pensioners are not paid in the state and workers are groaning over no pay or half pay, as the case may be.
So, what is your rating of the governor, as he enters into the last lap of his second tenure?
Governor Rochas Okorocha is a big disgrace to APC, to President Buhari and to Ndigbo. Like I told you, he is a big disaster in governance. Imagine that the governor distributed empty checks to Imo State workers and pensioners in December. How can a governor engage in such criminal, demeaning act?
Are you sure that allegation is not one of the many yet to be substantiated weighty accusations and rumours against the governor?
What rumour? I am an Archbishop and you should know that I do not make careless public statements. Many of the affected people came and besieged my Cathedral, with the bounced cheques, crying for help – that the cheques that had been issued to them by the Imo State government had bounced – and that they had nothing with which to celebrate the Christmas.
How can you issue dud cheques to pensioners when you are partying about with the state’s funds, and moulding images of people who do not even have credibility in their countries? We all know that check bouncing is a serious offence in Nigeria, and I urge the relevant agencies to ensure that the issue is not swept under the carpet. Let it be properly investigated, because, we are watching.
I am saying that Governor Okorocha has been unable to entrench credible leadership in the state. All that he has been doing is scaring all opposing politicians away. What type of governance is that? Under his watch, crime rate has increased in the state; and to make matters worse, he is not even in good terms with men of God in Imo State. The other time, he changed the Assumpta Road to Buhari Road; if not that that the people rose and stood firm against such move. Nobody said he should not name roads after whomever he may want to, but he should build new projects and christen them after such people.
So, if Okorocha does not take time, the church will rise against him one day and he would not even finish his remaining tenure. I am therefore, warning the governor again to change his ways. I have also asked his party, the APC and Mr President to call the governor to order. Okorocha is a huge disgrace to APC and Mr President. The governor is even a bigger disgrace to Ndigbo.
He is not representing the South East well; he is the worst governor in the zone. He has no regard for the people of the state, no regard for the church and for men of God. He has no fear of God and no respect for mankind. He is a pretender and a sycophant. He has been wasting bailout funds on worthless things. I therefore, urge relevant agencies to place Governor Okorocha under financial investigation. EFCC should go after him and investigate how he has been spending the bailout fund and Paris Club refunds. He has also taken huge loans such that every local government area in the state has been plunged into enormous indebtedness now.
I challenge the EFCC and ICPC to investigate the governor and save Imo State. He is the worst APC governor and the most corrupt, and I do not mince words when I say so. Imagine someone creating Ministry of Happiness and allocating the position to his sister? Is Imo State Okoriocha’s business outfit?
He is running the state as if it is his personal property, and it is unfortunate. Let him be investigated and made to give account of all that he has spent public funds on, which are not for the development of the state. More so, it is a mark of gross irresponsibility for cheques issued by a state government to bounce. That is a very shameful act.
What can you say about Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State? It seems that you do not hide your support for his re-election, do you?
Yes, the governor of Enugu State is doing well and I do not hide the fact that I love him. I will continue to commend him and support him. He is doing road networks both in the city and hinterland, as well.
The roads are there for everybody to see. He has fixed so many roads that were in terrible conditions before he came on board, and he spreads his projects across all the 17 local government areas. He also pays salaries as at when due. Look at the budget that the governor recently presented to the state House of Assembly – a sincere and realistic budget.
If you look at the outrageous figures that were being presented by many state governors, just because we are in pre-election year, you would shudder. And when you consider the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of most of the states, as well as their estimated expected federal allocations and other incomes, you find that those budgets are unrealistic and deceptive.
Are you saying that Governor Ugwuanyi deserves re-election?
One thing is that Enugu State is a PDP State. I am not a card carrier but that is the true situation in the state. There is peaceful co-existence of people and parties in the state and the people are happy with the party and the governor. So, anybody who comes out from any party to contest governorship in 2019, he would only be coming out to test his popularity.
Another thing is that the State is operating zoning formula just like it is in Anambra State. It is the turn of Nsukka zone now, and since the governor is from Nsukka and he is performing nicely, he should be allowed to complete his second term. Other governors who had emerged from other zones were allowed to do their second terms. You cannot push the governor away like that.
It was the same way that we insisted that Governor Obiano should be allowed to run his second term in Anambra. If Ugwuanyi was not doing well, we would urge the people to push him away; but he has been awesome in office. He is a governor that is not arrogant; he is sincere, open, approachable, and the people love him.
He is concerned about the people and cares for the poor and less privileged. His consistency in payment of salaries and pensions gladdens people’s hearts. The Child Rights Act was passed into law under his administration, which was not done by his predecessors.
The IGR has increased in his time, which is another mark of sincerity in governance. So, I am happy with him. Above all, he is doing well for his zone Nsukka, and I see no reason why anybody from Nsukka should come out to contest against him.
There is on-going national debate over Buhari’s 2019 Presidency, with some people urging him to re-run and others advising him to jettison such idea; what is your input on that?
My advice to Mr President is that he should forget 2019 re-run. He should not listen to those pushing him to run in 2019. Anybody that is above 70 is out of order. President Buhari has done his best and we commend him for his efforts so far. But, he should just go and rest at the end of his current tenure. God has spared his life after the illness that he experienced last year. So, he should return to his village, in Daura, in peace. I do not think that it is advisable for the President to continue due to his age.
So, as far as I am concerned, it is deceitful of anybody to advise the President to continue beyond 2019. Those encouraging him do not love him and they do not love this country either. They are a bunch of selfish elements who want to seize such opportunity to continue to milk the country dry. Moreover, Mr President should remember that he had repeatedly stated earlier that he would seek office for just one term. He should not renege on that in order for him to keep his integrity intact. Anything against that would ridicule him. It is always good to bow out when the ovation is loudest.
Another thing is that the youths of this country should be given a chance to lead the nation. The youths are not happy. We cannot continue to recycle same old people every time. Nigeria needs a new wine in a new wineskin, if we want a new Nigeria. The country does not need people who are old, analogue, with weak intelligence quotient as her leader. We are tired of executive stealing, corruption and recycling of same old names in Nigerian politics.