Time for Imo Renaissance – Augustine Okere (Interview)

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Augustine Okere

 


Can we meet you?

I’m Augustine Ukachukwu Okere a.k.a Okereman from Umuawuka, Umuowa in Ngor Okpala Local Council. I trained as an Engineer at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) and graduated in 1989 with a B.Eng. Since leaving the university, I have been into engineering and real estate consultancy under the firm Kambula Resources Ltd.

 

You are one of the many aspirants seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in next year’s governorship election. Are you not disturbed at the huge number of aspirants in APGA?

Certainly we are conscious of that. However contrary to the notion that the large number of aspirants could be scary it is rather my major attraction. In the first place, it underscores the acceptance of the party by the people of the state. In fact, one will not be sounding immodest to declare the only party that can beat APGA in Imo State in 2019 is APGA itself. The trend of events in the country since 2015 has reinforced the urgent need for Ndigbo to rediscover and reassert themselves. My brother, take it or leave, it is only through APGA that we can achieve that. Other major parties have only succeed in dislocating and battering in Imo State; that explains why a good number of well meaning Imolites desirous of APGA being in Imo State at the fore front of Imo renaissance are in the party.

 

You just talked about Imo renaissance. Can you expatiate further on that?

Yes, renaissance simply means rebirth. We must be honest and forthright about the state of affairs here. The state is virtually dead and completely comatose in all facets. Is it in the area of education; is it in infrastructures; how about culture and orientation? The economy of the state is in total shambles. Naturally, going by the level of decay and decadence experienced over the years, the only path is that of renaissance. There must be a revival first before anything meaningful can be achieved.

 

Back to APGA, you have spoken glowingly of the party as the only hope for Imo State. You know that in 2007 Imo people voted APGA but it traded away the mandate, again n 2011 Rochas Okorocha won under APGA only to jump ship even before the expiration of his first tenure. Why do you think the people will still keep faith with the party?

The scenario you painted belongs to the past. APGA has learnt from those ugly experiences and is working assiduously to avoid a repeat. This is the reason we must be conscious and careful of whom we pick as our flag bearer. The party must go for genuine persons who will remain faithful to it at all times.

 

APGA is seen as a Regional party without a national spread. As an upcoming politician, why opt for a party that is not national in outlook?

It is funny when I hear talk of APGA being a local or regional party. APGA is a national party but only dominant in the South East. If not for rigging and

Manipulations, APGA should be controlling at least three of the South East states and also made reasonable impact in both the Middle Belt and South South states. In any case, I am of the view that this fixation over national; party has really stunted our political development. If the clamour today is restructuring of the country to allow for the component states to develop at their own pace, then we can’t be emphasizing national party. For the records, the defunct Action Group led by the late Obafemi Awolowo controlled only the then Western Nigerian but it achieved so much for the region. The records Awolowo set with his Action Group is yet to be matched by the so called national parties. Monuments like the Liberty Stadium lbadan, Cocoa House, University of Ife (easily the most beautiful in Africa) and the first Television station in Africa among others are things that were achieved under AG. Even in the present dispensation, no state in the South East can match the economic miracle being witnessed in Anambra State. Yet those states have been ruled by the so called national parties. My interest is that the people of Imo have chosen APGA as a veritable vehicle to actualize their collective aspirations. I can assure that APGA will cause a serious political revolution in the South East in 2019. It holds the political destiny of Ndigbo.

 

What is your message to the people of Imo state especially in the face of the gloom that has enveloped them in the past three years?

My message to the people is that of hope alive. I have been here; I share in their pain and despair; I share in their emasculation and marginalization; I share in their deprivations, particularly the civil servants and pensioners I am coming to return to them what belongs to them. Yes, power belongs to the people. Under my tenure the people must have a say; they must make inputs into our policies and programmes. You may have heard of things like this in the past but this time our word will be our bond. Never in the history of the state have the people been so alienated from government as in the present dispensation. That is our challenge and we are coming to fill the gap if given the mandate. Ours will be participatory democracy. The people will not just been involved, they must be seen to be so.

 

But we have representatives of the people in the various legislative houses both state and federal. So how do you want to involve the people again?

That is the crux of the matter. The legislatures in my estimation are the most culpable more especially at the states. How many of the legislators consult their constituents from time to time on policy issues in state? Even when the governors go berserk with state resources, have you heard the House members speak out. Let’s take our state, Imo, as a case in point, can you say the people have been fairly represented by the guys at the House of Assembly?

Beyond the elected representatives, town hail meetings will used to consult and enlighten the people on the activities of government under our watch.

 

How do you hope to tackle the scourge of unemployment in the state?

This is one question I have been expecting from you. You know the usual thing is for aspirants to boast of ‘job, job, job; factory, factory, factory’. I am a practical person who doesn’t believe in empty boasts. Already we have carried out a critical survey of the unemployment situation in the state. Therefore, I am making bold to declare that if elected my administration will turn Imo into a floating factory. In my many years of sojourn in the construction industry I have come face to face with ravaging unemployment in the state.

It is therefore a special area of attraction to me. It is common knowledge in elementary economics that industry attracts other infrastructures. The number one problem of the average Imolite is unemployment. In other words, this is manmade. What is required is creativity. Open up the space for the people to be employed as well as be employers of labour. One does not need to create one million jobs in the ministries. No, we need to create an enabling environment for the people’s entrepreneurial capacity to blossom.

Furthermore, there is a dire need for peace and harmony in the state. There is an unnecessary tension in the state owing largely to greed among the political elite, If I am elected as governor I will free up so much funds through a drastic reduction in the cost of governance. I am condemned to lead by example by adopting a low profile approach. I will have no need for a long convoy. Monies that will be saved from these avenues will deployed into other productive ventures.

 

Finally, you are relatively unknown and you know the nature of politics here, the more visible ones tend to steal the show. How do you hope to sell yourself to the people?

Those you refer to as more visible did not come from the blues. It all started one day. Before Peter Obi emerged the governor of Anambra State, he was not that visible like you said. For sure the so called visible ones have been tried and tested. Of course, you know the result: colossal failure. We are coming with a message to change our people’s psyche about deceitful politics and I believe they will key into it. My drive is to return governance to the people.

 

ONCE MORE, IT IS A PLEASURE SPEAKING WITH YOU.

Thank you. Onye obula tinye aka na Mezie lmo.

 


 

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