Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in the 2019 presidential election, Chris Emejuru, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to lift Nigerians from poverty.
In this interview, the US-based politician, among others, disclosed that he has articulated programmes capable of repositioning the country to compete favourably with any other developed country in the world.
You once tried to contest public office under the platform of the APC, at what point did you drop the ambition, and why did you leave APC for ANRP?
Coming back to Nigeria in 2015, I became increasingly engaged politically. It was the era of change within the APC and I became interested. I started reading articles from major newspapers, books on past presidents (Olusegun Obasanjo-PDP) and participated in conversations and hoping to see how this new administration emerged.
I eventually found my way to APC headquarters in Abuja and expressed my desire to be a part of the movement. I was 33 years of age then, I had travelled to Nigeria almost every year since 2004, yet lacked the understanding of how things were done.
Apart from the bureaucracy, I was also a youth and there was not till this day opportunities to succeed within the party. I had all but given up hope until I found the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP). It is a party that promotes empowerment for the youth and for women and promoting itself as the political party with causes to better peoples’ lives.
We strive to improve the life of every Nigerian citizen through representation in health, education, finances, and all sectors of the economy. Renewal, renaissance and respect is our motto. Renewal because it is a new day and things will get better.
Renaissance comes with fresh ideas and a better way of thinking and respect because we value our members. When you’re a member of the ANRP, we say “This is our Own.”
Do you have intention to contest in future elections and what office will you be seeking to occupy?
I was a presidential aspirant during the 2019 general elections but it wasn’t the right time. Having reflected on the past and where Nigeria is today, I strongly believe the time is now.
If given opportunity to hold political office in Nigeria, what would you bring on board?
My vision for Nigeria and all her citizens is to have opportunities. They need opportunity to grow. People are tired. People are suffering. They want consistent power. They want to spend money which is good for the economy. They want to be able to pay for their hospital bills without worry.
All these ideas I have written in policy format in a book titled “A Pledge for the Establishment of a Sustainable Future” 2023 and beyond. It is a book I have written on where Nigeria is but more importantly, where it can be with proper leadership and guidance. These are ideas I will fight for and continue to advocate for on behalf of all Nigerians.
What is your assessment of the President Buhari-led Government?
There have been some developments in the Buhari-led government that are worthy. The Cashless Policy makes economic sense. The maintenance of our diplomatic relations with South Africa was very significant. However, there are many pressing issues that affect the lives of Nigerian citizens that have not been solved.
Such issues include the power sector crisis, increasing purchasing power so that people can spend more money on food, clothing, petrol etc and be lifted out of poverty, health, and the threat of insecurity. So, although there have been steps taken, the underlying issues still remain.
Having seen how politics is played both in Nigeria and the USA, where you grew up, what are your fears?
Politics within Nigeria and in the USA are quite different, yet very similar. It is obviously different in terms of the environment. In the USA, political leaders are held accountable by their constituents. In Nigeria, constituents are held accountable to their political leaders.
What I have learned in the United States which is not always perceived in Nigeria is the idea of what a public servant is. A politician’s job is to serve the public. It is to advance your constituency. It is not about greed or power but what you can do for the people who elected you into office and how you can better their lives.
However, there are similarities as well. The framework based on government are both ideal. There is separation of power (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) providing checks and balances. There is freedom of press, freedom of religion and an attitude of patriotism which strengthens a country’s resolve. They are two great countries and politics will play an important role in how they shape the global economy.
How prepared are you financially to contest political office in Nigeria considering that such venture is very expensive and demanding?
All coordination in political affairs within Nigeria will be in accordance with the electoral Act (as amended).
What programmes do you have currently in Nigeria?
Thank you for asking this question. I recently initiated the Chris Emejuru Foundation and our focus is to alleviate poverty throughout the six geo-political zones through education, training and human capacity development. Our focus is primarily on youth empowerment and women development; however we plan to improve the lives of many people.
What do you think the current government is not doing right that you could offer some advice, especially in this New Year?
The best advice I can give in this New Year is for the governments at all the three tiers to accept constructive criticism. There are many people who give great advice and articulate ideas as to how to move Nigeria forward. Listen to advisers and consultants. But most importantly, listen to the people. Once the voice of the people is heard, a nation will progress.
Can you explain more what the book ‘The Pledge, 2023 and Beyond’ is all about?
The book is yet to be published but it addresses many issues facing Nigeria. It addresses the power sector crisis and how to solve it. It provides solution to improvements in the education sector, the importance of the health sector and why every citizen deserves the right to have an industry that benefits them.
How important is the labour sector, not just for the individual but for the entire Nation. It also focused on the significance of monetization within the Oil & Gas sector and the transitioning to the global demand for renewable energy.
It equally focused on the environment with the continued threat of Climate Change. The Book among other topics also emphasises on the threat of insecurity like kidnapping, Boko Haram, herdsman crisis and the rest and what we must do to solve them.
What was your growing up like?
Growing up in the USA was wonderful. I was born on December 1, 1982 to Ogubuike and Comfort Emejuru. I am the first born of five. Overall, my childhood was fairly normal.
I had friends, played sports, went to school, and every evening my mother would prepare delicious meals of everything from pounded yam and okra soup to Pizza depending on the occasion. As I got older, I became more interested in business (I had written five business proposals between High, Secondary school and during my time at my University.
In politics, I gained an internship with a Republican candidate in the district I was from where I went to the grassroots making sure people understood who he was and what he represented and philanthropy where I engaged in fundraising activities for the less privileged. However, due to all the distraction, my grades suffered and I received poor marks in school.
But it was my trip back to Nigeria in 1999 which changed my life. On returning to the States, I was more attentive in school and graduated both at Secondary and University level.
What is your driving force in taking decisions in life?
Purpose and compassion are the two things that drive me. In order to survive in life, you must believe that you are here on this earth for a reason, whatever your religion, whether you believe or do not believe. Advancing the cause of humanity that is divine which only comes from the creator.
As a Christian I believe a lot of good lessons come from the Bible. The Koran, which many of my Muslim friends study, also have good principles to apply in life. So, purpose is important, however without compassion for your fellow man or woman, you cannot live a fulfilled life.
I remember as a child, playing with friends, and someone mistakenly dropped money on the ground. It was a lot of money to a child and I saw it. Instead of keeping the money for myself, I ran towards the person and joyfully returned the money.
I knew that it was a good thing to do. The same day my mother came, saw me, and for reasons beyond understanding, gave me the exact same amount of money I had returned to the person. From that day, I knew that wherever there is compassion, there is love.