Chidiebere Okoh is the deputy national coordinator, Informal Sector on Good Governance, a pressure group mobilising support for former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu to represent Abia North in the senate in 2019. He says the former governor has the qualities the people desire.
What impact has your group been able to make so far?
The informal sector on good governance is a pressure group consisting of people in the informal sectors of the economy. It is a coalition of about 15 different groups consisting of dockworkers at the ports, artisans and many other informal sector workers. Our major role is to monitor and evaluate public and appointed officials in the country and know those that are doing well. We commend those of them that are doing well while urging those that have performed below expectation to sit up. Presently, we are mobilising our members to see to the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. We are also mobilising for the election of former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu as a senator representing Abia North senatorial zone. We are going around the country sensitising people on these projects.
You talk about what President Buhari is doing, what yardstick did you use in assessing him?
People should remember the way Nigeria was before Buhari took office. The country was almost a failed state. Buhari has actually done a lot for the country, but he is not the kind of person that will announce what he is doing like many politicians do. Buhari likes to work at his own pace.
For instance in the South-east, though the people are shouting of marginalisation, the Buhari government is working seriously on infrastructure in the region. The Enugu – Onitsha expressway is being fixed. In the area of security you can also see that the security situation is improving, but the people that are supposed to market the president’s achievements are not doing enough.
You say the security situation is improving, but the killings by herdsmen are getting worse, a situation blamed on the fact that all security chiefs come from one region of the country, the north?
The last time Buhari was Head of State was in 1984 and again, you know he is not a very sociable person. So the security chiefs he appointed are people he knows he can trust. Buhari did not appoint security chiefs from the northern region because he is Fulani, he only appointed people he can trust. Some people want to frustrate Buhari with allegations that he is tribal, but if you go to his house, his chief chef and driver, both of them are Igbo.
But former President, Obasanjo has described Buhari as a failure…
(Cuts in) What I will say is that Obasanjo should write a letter to himself. While Obasanjo was president he impeached several senate presidents and two governors. Before Buhari was elected, Obasanjo said he (Buhari) is the best for this country. Obasanjo and his group that have dissolved into the African Democratic Congress (ADC) are laughable. Parts of the problems we have in Nigeria are all these old men saying they want to unseat President Buhari. But who is the person coming? There is no serious person coming out, if there is, by now we will know them. Obasanjo has caused lots of problems for Nigeria. Because of his enmity with one person, he closed Slok Air; he closed Hallmark Bank, businesses that provided employment for thousands of Nigerians. Obasanjo has no moral right to say Nigeria is not making progress.
You say you want Chief Kalu as senator in 2019, are you dissatisfied with the performance of the sitting senator?
It seems the current senator representing Abia North just went to own a house in Abuja. If you go to Abia North, he has not attracted anything to the area. But chief Kalu on the other hand has been doing a lot for the people on his own. If you go to Abia North today even a blind man will see what OUK (Orji Uzor Kalu) is doing.
For instance, if you go to the place called Okagwe Item, there was no access road to that place; when OUK was campaigning the last time he promised to construct their road and provide them electricity whether he wins or not. Today he has done that. He didn’t stop there; he also repaired the Igbere Izu Item road that is why we are mobilising to send him to the senate to represent Abia North. Abia North needs a senator that knows the needs of the area, who can speak for the people and not just collect salary at the end of the month.
How do you decide on who represents you, by rotation or what?
It is not by rotation, if not for the manipulation they did last time, OUK is supposed to be there. But OUK being a man of the people chose to forget what happened. But this time I can tell you that the Informal Sector and people from Item will resist any rigging or manipulation they plan to carry out. My people are already meeting to ensure that the election is not rigged because we have decided that OUK is the one we are going to vote for.
Chief Kalu is in the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is not very popular in the South East…
(Cuts in) APC is solidly on ground in Abia State working to ensure the party takes control of the state in 2019. The APC just concluded a very peaceful state congress where nobody is threatening to go to court. Members of the party have been working for the past three years and with the way they are working I can tell you that the party is going to do well. Abia State is tired of being held hostage.
Why do you think Chief Kalu will be the ideal Senator?
Chief Kalu is a man of the people and he is very compassionate when it comes to people’s welfare, he is also very serious with whatever he does. So if he goes to the senate you can be sure there will be lots of changes. The truth is that many people don’t like him because of jealousy. You can imagine somebody who entered politics and his net worth began to decline. Many other people with less than N100, 000 in their bank account when they went into politics, today have several billions of naira in their accounts because they went into politics not for people’s welfare.