“2019 election is very critical to the political survival of the Igbo. It will make or break the 2023 Igbo presidency. We should be very strategic in our political calculation.”
Chukwudi Igwe, a lawyer, aspires to represent Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani federal constituency in 2019. He speaks on why youths should be active in politics and other issues.
How do you see governance in Nigeria since the current democratic dispensation?
Nigeria has been struggling with governance since independence. We have had very few selfless leaders that focused on what they can keep on the table for the growth of Nigeria. All we have had are leaders that are more interested in what they will get from Nigeria.
I would say that Nigeria has been underdeveloped by corruption, which is not only found among the political class but also very predominant in civil service and other spheres of our existence. During the last administration, it was reported that about $2.2 billion were illegally withdrawn from the Excess Crude Oil Account of which $ 1 billion was supposedly approved by then President Jonathan to fund his re-election without the consent of the National Economic Council made up of state governors, president and vice president. Also during the last administration, about 60 percent of $1 billion foreign loans obtained from the Chinese by the Ministry of Finance; $2.2 million Vaccination Medicine Fund by the Ministry of Health; about N 1.9 billion Ebola Fight Fund were all allegedly diverted to private pockets. There was also massive scam in weapons and defence procurements and misuse of N3 trillion defence budgets since 2011 under the guise of fight against Boko Haram.
But this present administration has however remained resolute in fight against this ugly trend called corruption. It has recorded significant improvement in the economy since Nigeria came out of recession. This was made possible as a result of its policy on diversification of the economy through agriculture and manufacturing. In the area of security, this administration has done very well in its fight against insurgency. Boko Haram is gradually becoming a history. There are several infrastructure projects currently going on. This APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted on completing abandoned projects of the previous administration. The herdsmen/ farmers crisis is being handled. And I am very sure that very soon this crisis will end like other security challenges we have had in the recent past.
A lot of political realignment is ongoing at the National Assembly. Do you see the nation benefiting from this?
The ongoing realignment is a notable characteristic of democracy and the exercise of the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom of association. I have no doubt that the nation will benefit from it. Even though most of the people that recently defected did that for their personal gains, it will, to a very great extent deepen our democracy and strengthen our political institutions.
In 2015, people left PDP as a result of bad governance, insecurity and the massive corruption prevalent as at that time. The current realignments are mostly triggered by desperation on the part of those that felt that their performances may not be enough to earn them party tickets for another term.
You aspire to represent Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani federal constituency, don’t you have faith in the current representative?
I would say that our current representation has been below average. There has been a total neglect on the needs of our constituents. A typical legislator is meant to be a link between his or her constituents and the government. There is presently a very huge gap existing between the government and our people. I do not see any bill sponsored by our representative that has any form of impact on our people in the last seven years. I am going there to be that legislator that our constituents would be very proud of. I will lay more emphasis on economic development and empowerment of the good people of Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani. I will also focus on improvement on education and attract infrastructure development to my people.
You have chosen to run on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), a party that appears not to be too popular in the South-East. What are your chances?
The APC is not an unpopular political party in the South-East. It will be good to mention that the region has several former state governors, ministers, senate presidents and other notable men and women in the membership of the APC. We are going to leverage our strength to win several elective positions in the region. My chances are very high. The people of Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani can easily identify a good servant when they see one. They trust in my ability, sincerity, commitment to good governance and potentials to turn things around for their good. My background as a lawyer would be an added advantage in the discharge of my legislative responsibilities when elected.
A school of thought believes that the South-East stands a better chance to produce the president in 2023 if they support President Buhari for a second term. What do you think?
I agree totally and expect the South-Easterners to tie our 2023 presidential ambition to the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. 2019 election is very critical to the political survival of the Igbo. It will make or break the 2023 Igbo presidency. This is the time to lay aside all complaints and cry of marginalisation and focus on producing a Nigerian President from the South-East in 2023. We do not need to destabilise the current political formula. We should be very strategic in our political calculation. As you know, out of the three regions in the South, it is only the South-East region that has not produced the president of this country and we deserve to give our quota to the development of this entity called Nigeria.
Nigeria is suffering from what some call ‘recycling of failed rulers.’ What do you think is the way forward?
The youths should stop complaining of the domination of the political space by the older politicians if they continue to distance themselves from political leadership and responsibility. Political leadership is not a gift but a contest. Nobody can give you power; you work for it. Youths should concentrate more on political leadership rather than exposing themselves to all forms of political vices. Meaningful youth political participation will guarantee this expected growth of true leaders in Nigeria. We have the determination, passion and energy. What is lacking is our actual participation in political leadership. This is why I have decided to give my people qualitative representation at the House of Representatives.