Member, Board Of Trustees (BOT) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Ezekiel Izuogu has said there are more prospects for Ndigbo in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of next year’s general elections. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he speaks on various issues.
With the primaries of the political parties over, what are your expectations ahead of the 2019 general elections?
I think the most credible one is the National Convention of the PDP which I watched on television. It was very credible and the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate was very momentous. In the National Convention of the PDP, it was transparent and there could have been no fraud at all. I totally advocate that parties especially the big ones should use the indirect method of nomination because I feel that the system checks fraud. Anything that has to do with direct primaries is prone to fraudulent manipulation because there are so many members of the party. The figures can be manipulated somewhere along the line. But if it is indirect, all the delegates are in the convention. You can monitor it. Everybody is there while the votes are being counted.
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As a member of the APC, it is surprising that you are commending the convention of the opposition party.
That of the APC was direct primaries. It was free and fair because it was only President Muhammadu Buhari that was endorsed as a consensus candidate. If there were more than one candidate, the convention could have been rigged. I have been in the field for over 30 years and I know how these things are done.
The state congresses have put your party into a major crisis. How do you feel about the development?
The crisis is because of the way they manipulated the nominations. To say that you either do it direct or indirect does not make sense. That is a fraud. It is what led to the confusion.
The primary election of your state, Imo was very contentious. Are you not worried about the level of crisis in the Imo APC?
I really condemn the governor bringing out the son in-law to be the governorship candidate of our party. That is very bad and I will continue to condemn it. Secondly, his son in-law, Uche Nwosu comes from the same zone with the governor. I am from Orlu senatorial zone and we are not supposed to maltreat other people. We should not maltreat Orlu or Okigwe. We should allow them to rule. Whichever way you look at what the governor did, it is very bad. And the Imo people will not vote for the son-in-law. Imo people are very educated and you cannot deceive them like that. You cannot after completing eight years as governor, take your son in-law to succeed you. Imo people will not accept that. After that, you take the Senate seat and the House of Representatives. Imo people are too civilised to tolerate that kind of arrangement.
From your calculations, do you think it would affect the chances of the APC in your state in 2019 poll?
Definitely. It would affect it too much. But I understand they are in the court and that they have not taken a final decision.
Governor Okorocha once said why he wants to handover to Nwosu, his son in-law was because most other aspirants for the Imo Government House were just gearing up to loot the treasury of the state.
That is propaganda number one. What of his deputy, Prince Madumere? Did he loot anything? Why did he not handover to Madumere? This is somebody who has served him for 25 years faithfully. Madumere is from Owerri zone and what has he looted. So, let us stop deceiving ourselves.
So, ahead of the governorship election in Imo, what are your expectations?
When the time comes, I will come out to say something. Let us watch them first. Let us see how they get on with the campaigns and if I have any observation to make, I will make it.
Looking at the APC presidential candidate, Buhari and Atiku of the PDP, how do you see their chances.
Atiku is my old friend. We started politics together when he ran for the governorship seat of Gongola State. That was when I started running to be Imo governor too. We were colleagues in the Progressives Party. I want Nigerians to have a better part of life. Even though I am still in the APC but whoever is a better candidate of the two major parties, Nigerians should vote for him. My politics is not the kind played by most Nigerians. I have traveled far and wide and I know how they play politics in the United States and other developed countries. Some from the Democratic Party in the US can support a Republican candidate. My attitude in politics is even-handed; I am not looking for ministerial or whatever appointments. Between Atiku and Buhari, whoever would be a better president for all Nigerians, let him emerge. That is my attitude.
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Do you agree with those who argue that the combination of Atiku and his running mate and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi would open up the economy and reposition the country?
They are capable and it is possible to achieve that. I wish them the best of luck just as I wish everybody the best of luck in the election.
There is renewed killings in Kaduna State and there are also pockets of violence in Borno recently; how do you feel about the resurgence of violence in the country especially the North? Do you think the situation has a connection with the 2019 elections?
Honestly, I do not know what is causing the killings. I believe that only God would deliver us from the situation. I felt worried when I saw it on television. I hope they can contain these things for the sake of all Nigerians. You know there is hardship in the country. So, if you now begin to witness insecurity in addition to the hardship, the situation would become unbearable. I just hope that the situation would be brought under control.
Between the APC and the PDP, where do you think the interest of the Igbo would be more protected.
You are asking me an obvious question which you know the answer. If there are two parties and one party gives the Igbo the position of the vice president, of course they would feel more protected in that party. It is as simple as that.
But the APC seems to suggest that President Buhari would handover to the Igbo in 2023. Those who hold this view believe that such offer is more juicy than the vice presidency slot.
Are you going to stop the former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu from running for presidency in 2023. He is seen as the leader of the party nationwide and you do not know the promises that Buhari has made to him. It was reported that Buhari made a promise to him sometime ago. Do you know if Buhari promised him that when he finishes, he would handover to him? A lot of speculations are going on. You do not know which is correct and which one is not correct. So, I leave everything in the hands of God. When it is time for Igbo to be president, it would happen and that is my attitude.
What is your take on the contentious Executive Order 6 and the controversial banning of some Nigerians from traveling abroad.
A lot of people have condemned it especially as it is an action taken few months to the general elections. Many believe it is a political action from the president. A lot of people have said that. I do not know which is which, frankly speaking. I believe in fighting corruption but I do not think that it means fighting your opponents. Let us take a look at it again and see how it can be modified.
How did the reaction of the South East governors and some other Igbo elite against Peter Obi’s appointment as Atiku’s running mate come to you.
I was very uncomfortable with that. Obi is a friend of mine and I think he can play the role of the vice president very well. He may not be a saint just like most people but I think he has some experience having been governor of Anambra State for eight years. I do not begrudge him at all. I was surprised that some Igbo people were kicking against his appointment. Ndigbo should purge themselves of that self-destructive mentality. When Professor Yemi Osinbajo was chosen as running mate to Buhari, no Yoruba man opposed it. So, why should the Igbo be opposing themselves. It goes down to the issue of self-centredness among us which is very bad. Let him be the vice president and let us see how he would perform.
The issue of IPOB is rearing its ugly head again, are you not worried over the development considering that this is coming just few months ahead of the general elections?
If you look at the issues involved, it is neither here nor there. The idea of using IPOB to make the Igbo man not to vote, I do not think the Igbo should agree with that. The Igbo are poised for the election but the point that IPOB or some Igbo are making for a separate state for the Igbo, that has to be looked at seriously. Let us see, what points do they have; if they have valid points, they should be considered. That is my attitude. You cannot just be sweeping everything off all the time.
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Do you agree with those who believe that Buhari caused the challenges he is facing. The argument is that he takes loyalty for granted.
I am number one person that President Buhari ignored. I brought out my nearly forty years of experience and worked for him from one state to the other. I took all the risks and all that for his election in 2015. What is the compensation for that. I am a member of the Board of Trustees and not from the president. I was a BOT member before he became the presidential candidate. I am a member of the national caucus of the party and what have I got from all that. Am I in any federal directorate? Am I not supposed to be a minister in this administration? I am more experienced than all those appointed ministers here and there.
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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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