Chibudom Nwuche is a former deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. He speaks on why he left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), his foray into the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other issues.
You were recently anointed by his Royal majesty Eze Robinson as the political leader of your ethnic nationality, the Ekpeye tribe, how does it feel to be so anointed?
I feel honoured and flattered to be found worthy to lead my people politically, especially since it’s coming from those that have known me from my birth and know my character and capacities. This is indeed a worthy and priceless honour, as honours from outsiders who may not know you so well is less significant. His Majesty Eze Robinson O Robinson Eze Ekpeye Logbo the Paramount ruler of the Ekpeye Ethnic Nationalty is a revered traditional ruler in Rivers who was in his younger days an Air Force senior officer. He has served and fought to defend our country and has remained a beacon of hope for the Ekpeye people and a unifier for our tribe- I therefore feel honoured by his affirmation.
As you know, the Ekpeye ethnic nationality is the third largest ethnic group in Rivers state after the Ikwerre and Ogoni, and it is a major hydro carbon producer in the state and plays host to several oil companies including Shell, Agip, Total, NDPR etc. It is also a major gas producer from the Ubeta field, and it criss-crossed by several pipelines that also take gas to the LNG in Bonny. Our youths under our guidance have always protected these oil assets and worked harmoniously with the oil companies in spite of our marginalisation. Our area has suffered great neglect from successive Governments at both the federal and state levels, and we have been appealing to them to come to our aid and develop our land in order that our youths can be meaningfully engaged and be productive. We are still hopeful that Government will hearken to our cries and reward our contributions to the National Economy.
His majesty Eze Ekpeye Logbo warned those he claims were persecuting you for political reasons to stop or else they will incur the wrath of your people and land. Who are these people and are they really persecuting you?
Recently there have been series of well funded and sponsored media attacks against my person in a clear attempt to tarnish my image and possibly silence me. There was also an attack at my office in Abuja, and certain interests have been sponsoring false allegations against me and using their influence to instigate security agencies against me for reasons best known to them. My businesses appear to also be a target for these influential people. It is difficult not to see a clear agenda and orchestration in these random but inter connected events, and also hard not to see that those behind it are either in government or are close to government and have access to resources to induce some sections of the media.
They forget that I had served Nigeria at various levels, including as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives without blemish, and you can ask any member of that vibrant assembly about my character and if I am corrupt. I have never in my life received any gratification from anybody. I presided over the passage of all bills as chairman of committee of the whole and did not demand nor receive a penny from anybody. You can verify this independently. I have always been a successful business man and legal practitioner and have always funded my political activities from my personal resources. I am in politics purely out of a desire to serve my people and the country and not for money. My involvement in politics has negatively impacted my business, as many of those I started business with are now at the pinnacle of the private sector. I see it as a worthy sacrifice to make for one’s people and the country. Unlike my traducers, I have always had a second address as I am a lawyer and entrepreneur, and that is why I am not desperate for appointments and power. I will not destroy people just for power, and I will not seek power for its sake, but as a tool for the development of the country and the improvement of the welfare of its people.
I have not been in any government position for the past 14 years and have not superintended over public resources, unlike my traducers who had presided over government institutions and resources. I have been working in the oil and gas sector without any failed contracts. Organizations I am involved in have only had difficulties with government agencies where you win a contract and it is awarded, you spend millions of dollars and you are not allowed to commence operations just because those at the helm see you as a threat or do not like you. You win open tenders and they award to their fronts; you are requested to intervene in urgent situations with evidence and they turn around to attempt to deny; they owe you billions and it’s of little concern to them even though Nigerians from every tribe are in your employment and their jobs are at stake. I leave these people to God’s judgment – may they receive all that they plan against me or wish me.
Some prominent Ekpeye sons have accused some politicians within the APC and from your state, of being behind the attacks. How true?
Well I can’t say much for now as I am still investigating. When I am certain I will speak out and confront them. Nobody is God, and our destinies cannot be in any man’s hand, but God’s. I am a true Christian and I believe that what one sows, he will reap, and that the truth will always prevail. No just system allows the persecution of innocent people as therein will lie the foundation for its demise. Some politicians believe in political progress by eliminating their opponents, either physically or by destroying or tainting their image by whatever means. They destroy their businesses where they have oversight, making them, if possible, an enemy of the state, even when they are not. But I do not believe in such as it is not the right model of politics that should deliver good governance and societal development. It is also an abuse of their public offices and their positions and a disservice to the nation.
Those who are privileged to be appointed or elected into government should use their positions for the advancement of their people and society and not to witch-hunt their perceived enemies. This negative tendency retards the development of the country and creates resentment against government, when the goodwill of the masses is required for its sustenance. Nobody can stay in any position for ever even if you own the government and nobody can be God and determine the destiny of everybody else just because you have corruptly amassed trillions in your positions in government. They manipulate the media and engage gatekeepers in every media house to ensure nothing negative, even if true is published against them, whilst planting lies against their opponents. They are now effectively playing God, and He will soon show them that they cannot be God.
Were these people behind the raid in your office?
I don’t know but I leave them to God’s judgment. The coincidence of these events is uncanny and smacks clearly of orchestration by powerful people who are able to mobilise some sections of the media and also mount pressure on some members of the security agencies. I know that there are many members of the media who will always stand by the truth no matter the inducement and same for the security agencies.
I have said time without number that I have no political ambition at the moment beyond working with like minds for the betterment of our country, and to leave a fitting legacy for future generations. I have also said that I want to face my legal practice and do not desire any appointments in government. Those who plan too far ahead are trying to play God. Do they know if they will be here tomorrow? I am not dragging land or anything with anybody, so I do not know why anyone should consider me his enemy to the extent of these orchestrations. It is too much negative energy expended in pulling people down instead of growing and developing our country. You cannot shut everybody out of the political space just because you don’t like them for whatever reason, and taint them to achieve that purpose, and allow only those you like to participate in the political space, all in preparation for 2019, so you can be the only man standing. This is partly why the South- South region is underdeveloped in spite of its natural resources.
My detractors and their agents are getting desperate to frame me with anything they can either find in my office or residence, or maybe even plant in my office or residence by either coming as law enforcement agent or armed robbers. It is most unfortunate but I am sure by the grace of God they will not succeed and they will be exposed to Nigerians. I even heard that these people are pressuring some segments of the security agencies that they must keep me busy with anonymous petitions and they must search until they find an offence against me. They even plan to plant incriminating evidence against me all in a bid to frame me up but they will not succeed. I hope they can face up to a hundredth of the hostile scrutiny they have put me through and come out clean.
Why did you leave the PDP after ascending to the position of acting deputy national chairman of that party?
I was a foundation member of the PDP and worked tirelessly with other members to build the party since 1998. On the party’s platform, I ran for the House of Representatives and was later elected Deputy Speaker. If you recall, we had always complained about internal party democracy, hijack of the party structures by the Presidents at the Federal Level and the state governors at the state and local Government levels. The governors especially were guilty of imposition of candidates and the conduct of primaries that are not transparent, where only their preferred candidates won. This led to the exit of various members at different times and heralded the formation of new parties. I ran for the senate in 2011 when Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi was governor and the PDP primaries were rigged when I was on the way to victory. I ran again in 2015 after consulting President Goodluck Jonathan, Gov. Wike and other party leaders and the primaries were again manipulated to scheme me out. I was most disappointed especially after I had served as a deputy campaign coordinator for the Jonathan campaign in 2011 and as the party’s Deputy National Chairman at a challenging time in its history.
I felt that the party and the powers that be did not value my contributions and I would never be allowed to run for any office on account of my profile and my perception as being independent minded. I left the party to stay out of party politics for a while. But my people insisted that I should lead them into the APC. Many members of the 1999 National Assembly suffered similar faith and also left the PDP at various times before the 2015 elections, depending on their local circumstances , after we had earlier met and agreed on what to do about the injustice in the PDP. My people consulted with Amaechi who is the party leader and got his nod, and this was how I joined the APC. I don’t join parties to seek appointments as I am a parliamentarian by temperament and I prefer to run for elections to parliament, where all I need, all things being equal, is the support of the masses and not to grovel before any god father for appointments. With due modesty, I am very accepted by the masses and would win any free and fair elections in my area any day.
This is part of why some people are determined to tarnish my image and are using their media aides to insert my name in negative stories. I know these people and their antics, they will fail as Nigerians know those that have stolen their money and they will be further exposed in due time.
Since you joined the APC, you have been very vocal in supporting the government and the party. Could this be part of the reasons why you are being targeted?
It is very likely. I am a builder of institutions, be they businesses, political parties, social clubs etc. Wherever I am, I strive to add value, and do not focus on benefits as those will come naturally when you add value to a fair system.
I took this approach and have been supporting the APC in my state and the South- South and my persecution appears to have coincided with the peak of my support for the party in the south -south zone. Some persons, who do not understand my modus, thought I was seeking for attention by adding value. We were amongst those that built the PDP before it was hijacked by power mongers who eventually destroyed it. These same people have began to demonstrate the traits that led to the demise of that party, like impunity, persecution of perceived rivals/opponents, nepotism and cronyism, poor reward system etc
President Muhammadu Buhari has the mandate of Nigerians to govern us and it is incumbent on all Nigerians to give him the required support to succeed. Governance cannot be left to one man alone, it is a collective endeavour where leaders at various levels come together in support of the President, his government and his policies.
Corruption as you know had become endemic and needed to be fought to return our country back to the path of sanity and international respectability. As they say, when you fight corruption, it fights back. Therefore, I call on Nigerians across party lines, religion and tribe to join hands and pray for the President’s speedy recovery so that he can resume duties and reposition the country as he has rightly started. I urge Nigerians to be patient and rally behind President Buhari and give him the needed support and cooperation to restore this country back to track for the benefit of all of us.