Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Foremost Electrical Engineer and Stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, has given a damning verdict on the ruling party, saying that the APC has not lived up to the progressive credentials.
In this interview in Abuja, Izuogu, a former head of the Progressive Movement of Nigeria (PMN) also spoke about the general affairs in the country and the recent Supreme Court ruling which favoured his party, the APC in Imo state.
Following the spate of insecurity in the country, the National Assembly recently said Nigerians cannot continue to die like cows and the president has also said there will be more action against bandits in the country. What do you make of this?
I find the statement of the Senate very, very important. Even though it came late from the Senate, I am happy that they made it, that we have to take care of the average Nigerian. The primary duty of a leader in Nigeria is to take care of lives and property. That is duty number one. So, I am happy that the president also spoke about it.
The primary duty of Mr President is to protect the average Nigerian and I am happy that I campaigned for him. He didn’t give us a religious programme; that he was going to implement a religious programme in favour of Christians or Moslems. Buhari never said that. The main thing that Buhari capitalised on was that he was going to fight corruption. And that appealed to many of us. We said ok, this man is a principled man, when he was Head of state, he was principled with Idiagbon. So, if he means to fight corruption and corruption is fought and held down, that is a wonderful achievement. That was our judgment.
So, looking at happenings in the country, are you saying that your support for President Buhari in 2015 is justified?
It is too early to make that judgement. He is still in power. Let us see the changes that he will make before we can pass that judgment.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Presidency had a spat recently. Christians are saying that they are no longer safe in the country. How do you see that confrontation?
Yes, if the Christian Association of Nigeria said that, they had good reasons to say that. I think the CAN chairman in Adamawa was abducted and murdered not because he committed any crime, just because he is a Christian leader. That will worry every Christian and if the CAN made that statement, it is justified.
Looking at the state of our economy, security and general state of affairs, will you say the APC has lost it?
I cannot say that we have lost it so soon. A party that has about three years to go in power cannot be said to have lost it until they perform more. So, certainly, the APC has not lived up to the progressive credentials for which we teamed up and joined it. We teamed up to form the APC. I mean the Progressive Movement of Nigeria. I was the leader of the Progressive Movement of Nigeria for many, many, many years. So many of the progressives you can remember, whether dead or alive, were attending my meetings. All of them! So, when we were going to form the APC, we were happy that the progressive agenda will be reintroduced to Nigerian government. APC has not done that. I must confess to you. The progressive agenda of the APC is missing. It is not being implemented.
Who is responsible for that?
I think it is the joint responsibility of the leaders of the APC. Certainly, not the progressive agenda because I led the Progressive Movement of Nigeria for many years and it was Yar’Adua, the former President of Nigeria that actually gave it the name Progressive Movement of Nigeria when he was president. Formerly, we were called Progressive Movement. It was handed over to us in 1978 by Solomon Lar, Abubakar Rimi and Ajasin. Ajasin was then the president before I took over.
So, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua bought into the idea?
He was a progressive. He was with us in the Peoples Solidarity Party (PSP) which we became. I was the national secretary and chief executive of that party. It was the biggest party in Nigeria. Yar’Adua was our secretary in Katsina State.
What year was that?
It should be 1989. Yar’Adua was the secretary of the party in Katsina. I was very familiar with him. So, when he was the president, he collaborated very much with us in the progressive movement and he added the name ‘Nigeria’ to make it Progressive Movement of Nigeria.
Do you think the problems we are currently facing in the country are throwback from the inability of past leaderships to correct them?
Yes. The old progressives are not in charge. I must confess to you. The whole progressives are not in charge and the great changes that the APC can make in Nigeria is to make sure that the progressives are in charge of the party because the party answers progressive. We are the progressive in Nigeria. We should bring about progressive changes in the country and if you have progressive changes, you will not have killings, you will not have insecurity, and you will fight corruption. Buhari is fighting corruption. Many former leaders are now going to jail because of corruption. So, to that extent, Buhari is succeeding in that area.
There are those who also believe that the war against corruption is selective and it is not being fought holistically. What is your take on that?
Well, Nigerians can make descriptions. You know Nigerians. Whoever is fighting corruption, they can also find fault with it, that maybe he should have fought it that way. But the important thing is that it is being fought at all. That it is being confronted, it makes a lot of sense.
If you are invited by this government to take up a role, will you accept?
I am not quite sure I will accept a role right now.
It is because I am very busy with my research work. I am very, very busy.
Are you saying you can’t abandon your research work for the good of the country?
If I ask the president, will you give me room to make changes in this place and he says yes, you are free to make progressive changes, then I will accept the challenge. It will be between Nigerians and I. Nigerians will see what I can do within the period.
APC has taken over in Imo State. What do you make of the Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent review of the judgment?
I will plead with you. Allow me to reserve my comments on that. I will plead with you.
Why sir? Is it because you are a friend of Emeka Ihedioha?
Ihedioha, yes, was my friend. Hope Uzodinma was my friend for many years.
Is he no longer your friend?
He is still my friend. But as long as the politics he played is concerned and with the Supreme Court, I think I am incompetent to speak on that.
Between Uzodinma and Ihedioha, who did you support during the 2019 election?
Oh! I supported Uzodinma because he was my party’s candidate. But when Ihedioha emerged as governor, we found that his policies were good. So, Ihedioha was doing well.
But did you see the judgment coming?
No. I didn’t see it coming to be honest with you.
So, you were taken aback?
I was taken aback.
Following the judgement, some lawmakers defected to the APC. Does it mean that there is no ideology, philosophy in party politics again, but about stomach infrastructure?
I was thoroughly disappointed. Thoroughly disappointed! But it is the way they have configured Nigerian politics. Nigerian politics is no longer based on ideology. So, today’s politics, people are now running helter-skelter, they are running for stomach infrastructure, what appointment I will get. That is the problem we are having and that is affecting Nigeria. If 2023 is going to have any meaning, it must be based on ideology.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said recently that it will boycott the 2023 elections except a new Electoral Amendment comes into full force. How do you view this development?
I think they have some points here. We need those changes to be made so that nobody will just think he has a right to do whatever he likes. There must be rules and regulations.
But are you confident that the new Electoral Law will take us to the promised land as far as elections in the country are concerned?
I hope so if it is done very well with a good conscience.
Are you contemplating going for elective office?
That is a very big question. Most of the progressives who know me from the South East, South South, South West, North West, North East, Middle Belt, they are pressuring me to run for presidency. They are mounting pressure on me. They are mounting heavy pressure.
Are you ready?
I am not ready
Why are you not ready?
It is because of the way Nigerian politics is played. I am a man of integrity. The whole world said you cannot design a machine that does not use an external input to work. In other words, you cannot have an engine that runs without fuel. That is what the scientists of the whole world decided for many, many years. I thought otherwise. I designed a machine, the emagnetodynamics machine that runs without any input and it is being patented in 139 countries of the world. Professors could not believe it, but they now believe it.
2023: Are you for Igbo presidency or any other part of the country?
You know I believe in fairness. If the presidency of Nigeria had been taken up by the Igbo and taken again, and the Northerners have taken and taken again, I will be the first to stand up and say it is the turn of the South West, the Yoruba, to produce the president because I believe in fairness. There are three major tribes in Nigeria – the Igbo, the Yoruba and the Hausa/Fulani. If two of them have gone and gone and gone, the third one should go. They must have somebody who can represent Nigeria as president. We should look for that righteous man and allow him to be the president of Nigeria and change Nigeria.
Are you the one Sir?
I am not the one to say so.