George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Ngozi Olehi, a lawyer, is the governorship candidate of the All Grassroots Alliance (AGA) in Imo State. He speaks on his agenda for the state.
You contested for the governorship in 2015 and here you are again. What’s actually the driving force?
Yes, Imolites are becoming aware that the pattern of governance that isolates the state from the international development grid is not the best for Imo. Right now we are in the jungle and it is your agenda that will define where you will take Imo State to as a governorship candidate. The All Grassroots Alliance (AGA) is the only party that has the agenda of development governance to pull Imo out of the jungle and connect it to the international development grid, so that we can be members of the global citizen and interface with others in commercial and business transactions. These are the essential things that will grow the economy; create employment opportunities and improve the welfare of the people.
Should you become the governor, what will be your priority?
Our priority will be to redefine governance. Hitherto, governance is seen as a governor coming to rehabilitate old roads that would be washed away by ‘acid’ rain in the next few months, then make lip service with regard to education and health. That has been our understanding of governance before now. On our part, we relate governance to creating favourable environment for foreign direct investment to flow. That is why I talked about connecting Imo to the international development grid. You must have heard that the world is shrinking into a global village. In every village there is usually a market, it is the duty of the governor and which we want to spearhead this time to survey the global market square and identify what Imolites can sell. Identify what they can buy at the global market square and come back and build capacity for Imolites to be real participants in global transactions.
Now, let me tell you, cassava is a common crop in Imo State. Presently, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava. We have large parcels of land in Imo State that is wasting and Imo has not been able to produce a basket for export. It is being analysed that income from cassava as a raw material for over ten industrial products will soon surpass that of oil. The government hasn’t cared to develop that aspect and it is not that government will even spend that much, but just do the connection, educate the people and behold, we will become part of the global community in cassava business transactions. But it is not taking place in Imo State.
Similarly, maize is also a raw material for close to ten industrial products. But in Imo State, all that we know about is roast it or boil it or prepare it as pap and that is all. But these are the things that will create the desired employment opportunities for our youths and create a future for our businesses.
Today you no longer hear of Owerri Chambers of Commerce. But if we assume power, we will reactivate and trigger business transactions that would make these bodies very relevant. You cannot exist on mere promises of infrastructure development and that will not be our pattern of government.
Your party is relatively new, how do you think it could make such impact for you to win election?
I want you to note that by our political culture, we have created our bondage and it is a shame that we are not making effort to get out of our self-imposed bondage. Our bitter experience makes the past very relevant. There is a programme on the China Cable Television that is called ‘Ideas matter to the world’ and you prefer the political parties of the old that have created opportunities for the destruction of the economy through corruption and you are proud to remain there, then you have my sympathy.
Our current dispensation is 20 years, from 1999 when the current dispensation debuted and compare it to what we have now; you will know that our standard of living in 1999 was far better than what you have now. And somebody is talking about the same old political parties, who should not be given any power because they have so crippled our economy, the society and shattered the destinies of the people of this country. Yes, All Grassroots Alliance may be new but has all it takes because we have the structure across the 305 wards and 27 councils in the state.
Again, various organisations that feel the pain inflicted upon us by the so-called big parties are solidly behind us and very shortly; things will begin to unfold. Our democracy is 20 and our condition is worsening. I have also examined the agenda of the old parties; they are not different from what they had in 1999. But have you bothered to ask yourself what made Dubai that had only one tall building in 1991 to have hundreds of skyscrapers in 2011 exactly 20 years after they started their democracy? Have you asked yourself what agenda took them there? It is the same agenda that AGA is bringing to Imo State. That is the agenda that we are going to implement.
Look at Dubai; it is not even a country of its own, but just one of the Emirates in the United Arab Emirates. They just developed their polity, their economy and today it has become a global tourist destination. It is therefore the decision of the Imo people to choose to remain in bondage with the big old political parties or to support AGA for freedom and progress.