By Ndubuisi Orji
Chief James Ibeka is the spokesperson, Movement for Change, a pressure group in the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this interview he speaks on the activities of the group and other issues.
What is your assessment of Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s one year in office?
Governor Ambode has really done so well. There is no doubt about that. These are part of the process of democracy whereby the citizens could always have their dividends, which our party has been canvassing.
The former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola did so fantastically well but I am so impressed with the current governor of Lagos State. Under one year, the governor has done tremendously for Lagos State and we are happy about his leadership.
How prepared is your party for the forth coming local government election?
Yes, if the election holds today, APC will retain the whole 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs. We are fully ready for the election.
What is Movement for Change all about?
The formation of the Movement of Change by the son of our national leader, Bola Tinubu, is to ensure that all ethnic nationalities are brought into the fold of the APC in the various councils and wards of Lagos State.
So, we are working in synergy with all the stakeholders, positive stakeholders to ensure that we win the forthcoming local government election. We have made our charter of demand in our last peoples’ political summit at Isolo, where the party Chairman and all of them were there. So, all we want to do is ensure that the Igbo are given position of authority. Other ethnic nationalities like the Hausas, the Calabars, the Efiks, Ibibios, everybody is here and we’re working as one.
And I want something to be on record that the brainchild, the convener of this Movement for Change is High Chief Emmanuel Ubah and one of the stakeholders in Amuwo Odofin and Lagos State. So, High Chief Emmanuel Ubah is doing everything possible to ensure that the Igbo get whatever that is due and accruable to them and we are completely non-partisan as far as this forthcoming local government election is concerned.
We have 29 aspirants under the APC. We are on strict instruction by our national leader not to be seen to be partisan, but that does not mean that we are not monitoring the aspirants to ensure that our party will elect a very credible candidate that would be acceptable to all. But Movement for Change stands for no one, until a candidate emerges.
What do you think of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?
I want you to understand that APC is just like an innocent man, who walked into a scene of crime unknowingly and he was arrested why the criminals have all run away. So, we are aware of all successive governments in Nigeria, how they have not been able to really instil the tenets of democracy and to develop the nation and to diversify the nation from oil and all the rest; so this whole thing has affected our performance and it has really given us a bad image before the eyes of most Nigerians who really don’t understand that we’re not the cause of the present situation in Nigeria but we’ve come on a rescue mission. I must tell you that President Buhari has really started well and Nigerians should just be patient. Soon, they will see what the President and the party APC has in stock for them. It’s a question of being patient; all will be well.
Yes I have to honestly appeal to Nigerians to give APC-led government a chance. Like the President has already assured that in the third quarter of this year, Nigerians would start to feel the impact of his government.
What do you think about the alleged imbalance against the Igbo in the appointments made so far by the President?
Honestly, I feel the pulse of my people but I must in all frankness advise that most of the appointments that were seen as lopsided are the appointments that President Muhammadu Buhari made in order to ensure that there is no form of conspiracy or any form of derailment in his government.
So right now, I’m sure that both the appointment of ministers and other things, most of them represented the federal character. But honestly speaking, I must assure the Igbo, my people that Buhari’s government will seriously address every perceived imbalance.
President Muhammdu Buhari recently appointed former Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Ben Akabueze as the Director-General of the nation’s budget. So, President Buhari is a man that will like to appoint people in a very sensitive office whereby they can deliver to the nation. So, honestly speaking, I must tell you that the Igbo have every right to feel agitated but the only thing I want to assure my people is that, President Buhari is not unmindful and by the grace of God, before the expiration of Buhari’s first term in office, the Igbo will know Buhari meant well for them.
What’s your take on the handling of the IPOB, MASSOB protest where soldiers were alleged to have murdered defenceless and armless protesters?
We are still awaiting the report of the panel that the presidency has set up. Up till now, the report has not been made public. But if I have to speak on personal capacity, I will really say that it is uncalled for in such a protest. We have been in government here for the past 17 years.
The protest is uncalled for?
The protest is uncalled for. I must tell you that that protest is uncalled for because if you see what is clearly happening in Niger Delta and about Biafra agitators, you find out that this is just a plot to derail our party.
Does that justify the use of maximum force against armless and defenceless citizens protesting in a democracy?
Let me say this without any fear of contradiction; it is only a tree that remains in a particular place while knowing that he would likely be cut down. I blame them, whosever that organizes such level of protest. Such level of protest does not have the government’s permit. We are not in a banana republic; we’re in a nation for crying out loud. Whatever anybody is doing in this nation that is confrontational to the constituted authority, such a thing is treasonable. They have means of alternative dispute resolution; there are other means whereby you can reach out to the President; there are other means whereby your agitation can be sustained. If you want to agitate about whatever perceived animosity you have against the President, I think that should be in Abuja.