Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart and one politician from Imo State who grew from the ranks. He was a former council chairman of Owerri West Local Government Area before he later represented his people at the state assembly. He is presently the House of Representatives member for Owerri Federal Constituency. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he gave reasons the PDP would bounce back in 2023, why Igbo presidency is also paramount in 2023, as well as his confidence in Governor Emeka Ihedioha governing Imo. Excerpts:
Going by the skirmishes the PDP has been having in the past, do you think they have the capacity make good impact in future elections?
Why not, I believe that PDP can still win elections if we have free and fair polls. I want you to look at the state of economy in this country, is it something to write home about? When PDP was in power in the last 16 years, Nigeria had the largest economy in Africa, but now, what state do we find ourselves? A country that does not talk about economic policy, rather what is being heard is banditry, terrorism and kidnapping, I believe that PDP as a party is having new ideas every day; PDP does not believe in nepotism and favouritism, we believe in technocrats that even after office they are still relevant, look at the former Minister of Agriculture, he is the chairman of Africa Development Bank, Aremo Otie is in the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is being sort after everywhere in the world , PDP believes in choosing the best of the best because we believe in the economy of this country and that is the most important thing, we don’t care if you are Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba, if you can do the thing required, we allow you, so I believe that PDP would take over again by 2023 because in APC, it is only Buhari and Buhari alone, I don’t see anybody in APC today that can sustain the PDP momentum, remove Buhari out of APC today and you will see that the system will collapse, it is even collapsing now, where they are fighting among themselves, there is already infighting in APC because of 2023. Tell me anything good today that is not attracted by PDP, when we did our anniversary sometime ago, we listed all our achievements. PDP believes in zoning when it comes to the Southwest they occupied it through Olusegun Obasanjo, South-south through Goodluck Jonathan, and sensible Nigerians should know that it is the turn of the Igbo to produce the next president and I believe that PDP would abide by that.
As you just read my mind I wanted to ask you if you believe in Igbo presidency?
So much, we believe that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, if we believe in the spirit of reconciliation because after the war we said no victor no vanquish, and we want to see it this time practised, every other tribe has occupied the presidency, the nearest we’ve gotten there was the position of the vice president through our late brother, Alex Ekwueme, if you want the agitation of the Igbo, the IPOB, to end, what are they fighting for, they are not terrorist group, they are fighting for equity, nothing else because we believe that we have been marginalised enough and I am one of those who believe in that. I believe we should be given a fair hearing and opportunity to produce the next president of this country, some people have been campaigning as if there is no Igbo man in this country, but I tell you there is no complete Nigeria without the Igbo, we are the only tribe you can see in every part of this country living freely, associating freely with every tribe, if you go to Lagos, the Igbo have developed it as if it was their own, go to Sokoto, Kano, Gombe, the same thing applies, so why can’t an Igbo man aspire to be the president of this country?
Insecurity has so many brothers in Nigeria now, some are banditry, kidnapping, herdsmen attack, as a lawmaker what do you think is the way forward?
The issue of banditry in this country if you have followed the National Assembly in the last two months before we went on recess, we even devoted some days on issue of banditry, our Speaker even had to visit Zamfara State to discuss with those bandits in making sure that peace is restored in this country, there is no nation that can develop under this banditry and kidnapping situation, no foreign investor would even come to this country, you hear security alerts from Britain, US to their citizens not to travel to some places in the world, it is because of this kind of thing, it is not good for our economy and I think for us to get rid of these things we need to tell each other the truth, there are certain people who are fueling these for their own selfish interest, we need to identify these people, we need to bring them to book, is it the Boko Haram that has changed their name to banditry, we need to look at these things, these bandits almost finished Niger State and some people said that was because of Ruga, but it is not it, when the Jonathan administration came, he introduced the Almajiri programme so that these nomadic can go to school, but when they teach them the next day they are on the street, tell me as a young man after two years and you don’t get something doing, they end up in these things. Some people say that Nigeria’s borders are porous, yes, but how do they get these guns and that is why I am advocating for state police, the whole system in police should be reconfigured whereby if you are from Zamfara State, you are posted to Zamfara State for you to be able to identify who are the bandits in that place, if you are from Imo and you are posted to Imo, why can’t you fish out bandits in your area? Of all the security heads in the country none is from that zone they are serving, we should run a true federalism.
Ruga has been causing a lot of controversy in the country, what do you think of Ruga?
It is only in Nigeria that a government would interfere in an individual business, cattle rearing is an individual business, in America, they are the richest people, we are of the opinion of ranching, most developed economies are doing that. In Anambra State, for example, they are rearing home breed cows, so why do we need Federal Government resources to do those things, these people are they special people that they cannot do ranching. Let’s even look at it, some states today have vast land while others have small parcels, if you come to my place in Owerri West, especially Ihiagwa area, where they say they want to do Ruga, the land is so small, even in the Owerri Municipal, they don’t even have land to build houses again, many of them bury their dead ones today in their rooms because they have no land and you are talking about doing Ruga in the Southeast. When you take the ratio of land mass in states, Imo I believe is second to the least. There is no problem in the Federal Government giving loans to farmers for ranching instead of talking about Ruga. Fear of Ruga today is that if you give them land after 10 years those places would develop as Emirates, they would have their emirate local government chairmen; an example is Wuse in Plateau State, it’s a one local government with House of Representatives member, that is why people are afraid of all these things; some also think that it’s a plot to Islamise the country, that is why people are kicking against it, not that it is a bad idea, but the idea that the Federal Government is interested in helping these nomads, why don’t they give them loans to set up their own ranches. If they set up ranches they would make more money and the cattle would be healthier and that would bring about competition and good business they can even be selling grasses. Today, Nigeria imports grasses from Brazil during Audu Ogbeh’s tenure, but this grasses can grow in the Southeast; if they start some people can decide to just trade on grasses, that way it can generate employment.
Let’s come back home, I want you to access the 100 days in office of Governor Emeka Ihedioha who happens to be from your party, the PDP?
If I speak, you might say it’s because I am from PDP, but I am just telling you this the way it is; Emeka Ihedioha is a child of circumstance, he is a man sent by God to rebuild Imo State. From the Bible, there is always a leader sent by God, Imo was in a state of disrepair, but Emeka Ihedioha’s 100 days in office was to restore the confidence and sanity in the people, that is one of the greatest achievements but people don’t know, but his great achievements today again is that our ministries are working again, he is a man that has taste, he is a man that has been tested. The kind of decay in Imo before he came in is one some governorship aspirants would have a change of heart if they are in Ihedioha’s shoe, but today he has used his contacts to bring eight investors, he is presently constructing a N9 billion road in Ideato yet he is from Mbaise, many contracts have been awarded they are just waiting for the rains to subside. I am a civil engineer, there is nothing you can do under the rain except palliative measures, RAMP has been mobilised to site, the worst road we have in Owerri West is the Naze/Ihiagwa road, FUTO road, it has so many higher institutions there, it is a state government road and he has done the flag off, he came and set up committees that will study the problem of Imo State and they have come out with a blue print and that is what he wants to follow, come and see how Imo State would be in the next dry season, no more China roads, drainage has been opened, he is thinking of how to dredge Nworie and Otta Mmiri rivers, that was what Ikedi Ohakim saw many years ago people were criticising him, but today it is inevitable, you must dredge them; so,100 days of Ihedioha has been eventful, it is only the grace of God that would help him succeed .
What is your priority in your constituency?
My priority would be to create enabling environment for employment to the teaming youths and availing them a good educational system.