Chike Okafor is a member of the House of Representatives. He is the chairman, House Committee on Health Services and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Okigwe South Federal Constituency of Imo State. He speaks on aspiration and other issues of interest.
How do you reconcile the situation whereby Okorocha have opted to help Uche Nwosu actualise his governorship ambition in Action Alliance (AA) while in APC?
We have more than 50 political parties or more than a handful and these political parties are platforms for people to pursue their political ambitions, so, the young man Uche Nwosu sort for the ticket of APC for the position of governor and won the primary, but he was denied the ticket. You know the rest of the story. The ticket was given to the preferred candidate of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Because Uche Nwosu has the constitutional right to pursue his ambition on the platform of any of the political parties, he became the preferred candidate of Action Alliance (AA) and that is what has happened. That is not an indication that there is crisis in the camp of Governor Okorocha.
This move by Okorocha has been described as anti -party by Oshiomhole?
Well, I don’t want to join issues with the National Chairman. Everybody knows that the National Chairman has issues with Okorocha. These are two big men and they are best of friends. So, I rather leave them to sort out their differences.
So, what camp do you belong to?
I’m of the APC. I’m a candidate of the party for Okigwe South Federal Constituency and that is not in doubt.
Many are of the view that your relationship with the governor is cordial because as his former commissioner for Finance, you will help him cover his tracks having been accused of financial misappropriation, was there any financial misappropriation under your watch?
There was no misappropriation of the state fund under my watch as commissioner for finance. If there is, the anti -graft agencies- the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) are active to detect that and eventually the law will take its course. During my tenure they came and investigated me. They have invited me over and over and in some cases detained me and other officials of the state government quite a number of times and our statement obtained. The EFCC would have taken any of us to court if there was reason to do so.
Are you not concern over the allegation that Okorocha has turned the state into his private estate?
But there are other allegations against him that you and I have seen that is not true. They said the governor built mosque in the Government House in order to Islamise the state, but you and I know that it was a lie rather what Okorocha built turned out to be a chapel. So, anybody saying that the governor has privatised Imo is telling lies. But that does not mean that Okorocha is a saint, he is a human being just like every other governor in the 36 states of the country.
You seem too sure of victory for your party when many have accused APC of plunging Nigeria into abject poverty?
I disagree, President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency is the best thing that has ever happened to this country and APC remain the best party. APC has also produced the best president in person of President Buhari in terms of good governance. You don’t expect the APC government to fix an economy that was battered for 16years by the PDP within four years. But I can point out some conscious and laudable programmes of the APC government that appeared visible to all.
Even when the president has been described as incompetent by some notable Nigerians?
Just as former President Goodluck Jonathan was described as clueless, so it is neither here or there because when you are in power, the opposition will never see anything good about you. There is an adage in Igbo land that when your enemy hears that your wife has put to bed, instead of using the word ‘Omuna’meaning, she has given birth, they will use the word ‘Onwuna’ meaning, she is dead. So, in the local saying, it is put this way ‘Onye iro gi nuna nwunye gi amuna, ya sin a onwuna.’ Your enemy never wants to hear that a life is birth in your house, but a life is lost. Therefore, in this part of the world, the opposition will never see anything good that the government in power has done.
How prepared are you to confront a former member, Emeka Nwajiuba who many believe is the preferred candidate of President Muhammadu Buhari?
If he is or was close to the president as you said, why did he not get the president’s party ticket? But I have President Buhari’s party ticket. So, that puts a big lie to the speculation that my former colleague, Emeka Nwajiuba is a preferred candidate of President Buhari. His closeness to the president or presidency should have given him APC ticket. There was a party primary and I defeated him at the primaries. He came third in the contest that produced me as the party’s flag bearer for Okigwe South Federal Constituency. If truly he is close to the president, I would have been the one who will appear on the ballot for Action Alliance not Nwajiuba. The question of how I’m going to manage a man who is close to the president shouldn’t have arisen because I’m in the same ballot with President Buhari. So, to you, who is closer to the president? Me, of course.
Why are you seeking re-election and what are some of reasons you think will inspire your constituents to prefer you to other candidates?
I promised them that I will be a strong voice in the National Assembly and I believe my people can attest to the fact that I have indeed, been a strong voice in the 8th Assembly as a first timer. From June 9 when I assumed duty, I was the first voice that spoke at the green chamber when I seconded the nomination of Yakubu Dogara as Speaker during the inauguration of the 8th Assembly. I was selected in caucus to nominate him, but they say I was a first time member. I went ahead to become the returning officer for Dogara when the ballot was counted and that earned me the chairman of a juicy committee. I’ am the only first time member to head a committee while the other first time members are either deputy chairmen or members of committees. I have had more bills and motions passed more than my predecessors within the period I have being in the National Assembly. In terms of delivering the dividends of democracy, as Chairman of Health Services, I have within three years build at least seven cottage hospitals and Teaching Hospital, including where my opponent’s brother is a the Vice Chancellor who was my former Directorial-General of campaign in 2015. He came, cap in hand begging me that where he was teaching there was no health facilities and I obliged him. I put it in the 2017 budget and that gave birth to what is known today as Teaching Hospital Ndofoh Alike, Ebonyi State and Prof. Chinedu Nwajiuba is the vice chancellor.
Buhari has been described by many as incompetent, with opposition against his re-election, don’t you think APC may lose the presidential election?
It will be impossible for President Muhammadu Buhari to lose the presidential election. I repeat, only God can stop Buhari.
What are some of the reasons Nigerians should re-elect Buhari who many claim have impoverished them?
His government has shown capacity to manage the economy to the extent that the economy is gradually regaining strength considering the 16years of damage done to it by PDP. So, in the three and half years of the administration, Buhari has been able to put the economy on the right footing. Remember that we did not go into recession before he took over, but he was able to steer the economy out of recession. What the president did was to block all revenue leakages through the implementation of the Single Treasure Account which has reduced wastages in the system, and that made it possible for us to get out of recession quickly realising that the nation’s economy which is oil based, received surface shock by either drop in price or drop in production which leads to pressure on the economy. So, my argument is that, if not for a person like Buhari, Nigeria’s economy would have been worse than it is. That is why I said it will be impossible for President Buhari to lose the presidential election. It will be impossible for President Muhammadu Buhari to lose the presidential election. I repeat, only God can stop Buhari.