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Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016

Nigerians should expect more suffering under Buhari — Uwazurike

Chief Goddy Uwazurike is the President General of Igbo think tank group, Aka Ikenga and a key member of the 2014 National Conference. In this interview with Business Hallmark’s Obinna Ezugwu, he avers that the President Buhari administration has visited hunger on Nigerians, even as he warned that more suffering will come when the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) begins to descend on middle level borrowers, their businesses will fold up leading to more loss of jobs.

Excerpts:

Before now, you had maintained that it was too early to assess Buhari. It is over a year, what can you say about his performance?

We are yet to see the positive impact of the change that was promised. For record purposes, Nigerians are suffering, cost of living is higher, standard of living has fallen and there is a lot of unemployment. As a matter of fact, unemployment has worsened. My fear is even that more suffering is coming because by the time AMCON begins to descend on all those middle level borrowers, their companies will fold up. When these companies fold up, more people would be out of jobs. That would mean more suffering for them and their dependants. The government has to be creative in fighting this corruption.

Recently, the president inaugurated the committee on the clean-up of Ogoni Land. Do you feel it’s a good development?

Yes, but the clean up should no only be in Ogoni Land; they should look into the menace of oil spill in all the oil producing states, including Imo, Abia and Ondo States as well as Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta and so on. It should be extended to all the oil producing areas, what A is suffering from, B is also suffering from.  It is good that the Ogoni patriot succeeded in getting the United Nations to force Shell, people shouldn’t forget that Shell was forced to get involved and they are the ones providing most of the fund. Nigeria is to provide a counterpart fund which it had not done. Right now, they are still at the preliminary stages, the impression being given is that work had been done. It is not true.

On corruption, there have been accusations that the president is targeting opposition. Do you feel the same?

When people complain, it is always good to look at their complaints twice. Generally, people are complaining that he is actually targeting the opposition. No problem, all you have to do is to look at it and ask yourself whether it is actually true. If it is not, then it would mean that both APC and PDP members are regular visitors either to court for corruption trial or to EFCC for investigation.

And if you don’t find APC people there, then something is wrong; definitely something is wrong because in this country, two major parties contested election and both spent money. The money didn’t come from anybody’s pocket, it came from various governments; either state or federal, it is still government money. Therefore people from both parties should be facing trial, otherwise, it is will amount to witch-hunt.

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Having said that, I think too much attention is being paid to this anti-corruption thing by this administration. If you ask me, fighting corruption is a normal process in government, that is why you have the EFCC, the police, the ICPC and other statutory bodies, so when people begin to give the impression that they were elected to go and fight corruption, they are wrong.

The president was elected to run this country; to run this country means that the economy must be moving, people’s welfare will be taken care of and of course, cost of living would come down.

As it is, there is hyper inflation, there is also massive recession going on. When you have hyper inflation in this case it is a problem because there is no money in the system. So he is telling us in very clear terms that look, we can’t do anything for you, just stay in your hunger and die. If you even have small money, you can’t afford to buy anything. We were told that foreign investors are coming, but what are they coming to do? If they invest in the country, how would they get their money back? Unless you have an organised business system, you cannot have foreign investors because an investor wants to make profit.

The issue of restructuring is taking front burner in National discourse. Do you feel it’s becoming inevitable?

When we started talking about restructuring, a number of people got up to say that it was not possible and that they would in fact, make sure it doesn’t happen. But we told them that they would not stop the tide when the time comes. The National Conference in its wisdom and by unanimous decision did the restructuring in various ways.

First of all, it reduced the power of the Federal Government and increased the scope of power of the state. That is the most important part, others are detailed aspects of the structure. However, some people feel that they don’t want to hear about the recommendations. Well, I have said  good luck to them but when time comes, they cannot stop it.

June 29th was the 50th Anniversary of the 1966 counter coup in which Ironsi was killed. A number of people have expressed anger over the perceived neglect of the event by Igbo leaders?

I know about that, but it is not correct to say we did not honour him. The family actually held some activities in his honour, but I don’t think they wanted it to be so big, I’m not sure they carried people along, I can’t really say. In issues like this, the family matters most. However, at Aka Ikenga we have been able to do our own bit in keeping his memory alive. On the 29th, we had our own event here. If you remember, Aka Ikenga actually honoured him two years ago. Then it was the Secretary to the Abia State Government and his daughter that represented his family. We have been honouring him and we will keep doing so. Ohaneze itself did honour him.

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Talking about Ohaneze, there was a time it had parallel leadership. Has the issue be resolved?

There was never a time when Ohaneze had parallel leadership. It was an internal quarrel, I was part of those who resolved it, that was around 2007; we were all there. Since then we have been having one leadership in accordance with the alphabetical order of the states. The President General is Chief Garry Enwo Igariwey, his tenure will end by the end of this year just like my own. Therefore, anybody who is claiming leadership of Ohaneze is making a mistake. We have actually resisted the efforts of three people who made phone calls and addressed press conferences, one said he was chairman of the caretaker committee, the other said he was chairman of the elder’s committee. We said fine, call a meeting let’s see you, but none of them was able to do so. So, it was just a storm in the tea cup.

There is an ongoing rift between the Senator Ike Ekweremadu camp and Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha over the latter’s claim that Ekweremadu should get ready to vacate his job as DSP since IMO has produced an APC Senator?

Let me put it this way, we the Igbo are proud of Ike Ekweremadu. As a matter of fact, the title of ‘Ike Ndigbo’ means that he is well loved. We are happy with him, therefore we are not looking for a any other person to replace him. You remember what happened with the Senate leadership during Obasanjo’s eight years?

We are even happy to have someone like Ekweremadu today; a ranking senator is a ranking senator. He is a rallying point for our people, so I don’t think there is any need for anybody to talk of replacing him. Again, I have always believed that the National Assembly only should choose their principal officers, which is why I am against this harassment of Saraki, Ekweremadu or Dogara.

The day the National Assembly say it no longer wants either the president of the Senate or the deputy, the speaker or the deputy they will impeach them. But any attempt from outside to impose anybody is contrary to democratic ideals. Therefore, the National Assembly should be left alone, they should let Ekweremadu be.

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