By Brown Chimezie
Gerald Onuchukwu, is a chieftain of the All Prodressives Congress (APC) and convener of Buhari/Osinbajo- Etiosa Stakeholder Forum, a social political group that is committed to the promotion of good governance in Nigeria.
He speaks on the need for the Federal Government to urgently repair the infrastructural decay in the South East and also called for the release of the leader of the Indegenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
What’s your take on the controversy generated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation?
As human being we are all vulnerable to sickness and President Buhari is no exception and that was why we all prayed for his quick recovery. It was good that he eventually returned to the country so as to continue the fight against corruption and the pursuit of the change agenda of the APC.
While he was away governance continued without interruption, his able deputy continued to implement government policies.
Do you think Osinbajo performed well in his capacity as acting president?
Yes of course. He was been able to show his loyalty and capability by ensuring that there was no vacuum. We salute the bold courage of the Vice President, Prof Osinbajo, on the aggressive approach in addressing and tackling the socio-economic and political problems in the country while President Buhari was away. We commend the bridge building approach to addressing the restiveness and militancy in the South -East, which have yielded so much peace and understanding in the Niger Delta region.
Osinbajo’s visit to the South -East state of Imo has endeared the Federal Government to the people of South- East and if such visits are extended to other South- Eastern states, Igbo in the region who felt marginalized may begin to trust the FG. For the first time, the Vice President was able to see for himself the level of neglect and absence of Federal presence in the region and promised to address them.
Do you support the call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu?
I strongly add my voice to the call for the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu. The gesture will be a great honour to us and it would also be a way of winning back the hearts of the South- Easterners as a whole. If you look at Kanu and the IPOB struggle, you would find out that the agitation is centered on marginalization. If the issues raised by the Igbo are addressed, the agitation would slowly die down. For instance, the bad roads, problem of erosion and lack of Federal presence in the South- East are major complains of people in the region. So what we are saying is that the Federal government should release Kanu unconditionally, and then it would be easy to talk about reconciliation.
Do you think the FG has been able to address infrastructural problems in the South East?
The infrastructural problem in the South- East is terrible. The roads have virtually collapsed. It is disturbing that the three major express roads that link the South- East are in a very sorry state. Onitsha – Port Harcourt, Onitsha/Enugu and Enugu /Port-Harcourt were abandoned by the past government. The 2nd Niger Bridge has gradually become political campaign tool in the hands of politicians who at the end of the day abandoned the work. Also the dredging of River Niger so as to boost trade and commerce in the market has become a mirage. We thank God that the present government has shown determination to complete the project. I’m optimistic that when completed, the bridge will ease transportation challenges in the area and boost the relationship between the federal government and the people of South- East.
What necessitated the formation of Buhari/Osinbajo Etiosa Forum?
This organization dates back to the pre-election period when Prof. Osinbajo visited us and assured us that the APC- led government has the interest of Nigerians at heart. We then suggested to him through this forum that to ease the traffic build-up on the Lekki-Epe Express-way, the construction of a fly over in Ajah round about, was necessary. We are happy that the bridge is nearing completion. So we thank Gov Akinwumi Ambode for ensuring that the project is on course.
What is your assessment of the new Ohanaeze Ndigbo President?
The appointment of Nnia Nwodo as Ohaneze President-General is coming at a time the Igbo needed a vibrant leader to put them on the right track after years of soujorn in political wilderness. We believe that Chief Nwodo has the pedigree to lead Ndigbo to the Promised Land. Since his appointment, the Ohanaeze boss has been able to condemn the marginalization of Ndigbo in area of FG appointments. He has also called on the federal government to address these inequalities if the nation must move forward.