Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, a member of the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Governor Rochas Okorocha to change his mind and support the Imo State governorship candidate of the ruling party, Hope Uzodinma in the coming election. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he speaks on various issues.
About a month to the general elections, what are your projections based on the campaigns of the various political parties?
From what I can see, President Muhammadu Buhari is going to win this year’s election. He remains the best. This is a president who fights corruption. I think it is the first time we have a Nigerian leader who is out to fight corruption by all means. The man is also transparent. So, in this coming election, Buhari has a lot of advantages over his closest rivals. I think he will win the election and I totally support him. I call on my friends to support him as well.
What do you say to those who are saying that the APC is not campaigning like the PDP and with the same force it did in 2015?
That is not true. The vice president is doing well with his campaigns and the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole is doing well. He is going around the states of the federation. President Buhari is also doing well even though he is not moving very much but he is making progress. The individual members are also working very hard to ensure the re-election of the president. I am among those who are doing their work to ensure that President Buhari is returned. The truth is that Buhari has done well given the circumstances in which he has operated. The PDP set this country back for 16 years. We cannot forget that in a hurry. They cannot come and take over again just after four years they left office. The level of the PDP corruption was too much and it is not something you want to endure so soon after. The PDP should get back to power after at least 12 years.
Recently, the CJN was charged to court over non-declaration of his full assets and many are saying that coming very close to the general election, the move may have some political undertones. In fact, one of the conspiracy theories is that President Buhari wants to edge him out to ensure that he does not superintend over election petitions this year?
I say a capital NO. If the CJN is not guilty, he cannot be indicted. Whenever anybody is fighting corruption, he should be given a leeway. I believe and trust the CJN. If he is not guilty of anything, he cannot be arraigned but if there is something for which he needs to be arraigned, well, the law does not know anybody. What I am saying is that the moment you are elevated to a position, you are expected to be a role model and example to others. If some people are questioning the integrity of the CJN, it means they expect the CJN to shine forth as a bright man but if he did not declare his full assets, I do not know how I feel about it. He is supposed to be an epitome of justice and equity in any country. He is an example. So, if some people are questioning his integrity, this is an opportunity for him to reaffirm his integrity. His being charged to court is not politically motivated.
There is a contention out there that Buhari is playing double standards in his fight against corruption and people cite several examples to justify that. Don’t you agree?
The allegation against the Kano State governor, Ganduje for instance was substantiated by a video but you know in the days of modern electronics, video can be forged. You can even see a video of a man sleeping with a woman which in real sense never took place. So, we have to be extremely careful. If it was shown in a video, was it proven to be the truth? If you are making an allegation of crime, you have to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. If there is a reasonable doubt on the video, I am sorry because the President cannot go and hang the governor over an issue that has not been proven in order to show that he is impartial in the fight against corruption. I pity President Buhari because the nation is very corrupt.
One of the criticisms against Buhari is on the issue of nepotism and he just replaced the Inspector General of Police with another person from the North, don’t you think he is being very unfair to the South?
The immediate past IGP took over from somebody from Edo State and not from the North. The man from Edo State was there creditably for years and Idris Mohammed also did his best considering the circumstances under which he served. The new man, let us give him some time because this is an election period. Let us give him a chance and see how he will perform. As for Buhari’s method of appointment, there had been a long standing argument that his appointments are not balanced. President Buhari has just done four years, so let us see what he will do in his second term. My opinion is that Buhari deserves a second term and should be given that opportunity. He is transparently honest. Look at Aisha Buhari, she does not talk carelessly like the wife of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan. There is some stability about Buhari but even if you bring Jesus Christ to Nigeria, you will still see some people criticising him. I think we should give Buhari a second term; let him do it another four years so that we can pass the final judgement on him.
What is your take on the fears in some quarters that the coming elections may not be free and fair?
The PDP is very fond of saying that. The party is preparing the minds of the people for failure. They are saying the APC is about to rig the election and they are about to do this and that. What they are doing is to prepare the minds of the people so that when they fail, they will say the election was rigged. They are being too clever for my liking. This is a child from a free and fair election. Buhari has continued to sing and has sworn that the elections would be free and fair. When the president of a country like Buhari says that the election would be free and fair, we should take him seriously. People should learn to accept defeat when it is genuine. We should learn to congratulate the man who defeated them and not shouting rigging every time. They do not believe that election can be won without rigging in Nigeria. The PDP has continued to shout it will bring down the world if the election is rigged. They are threatening all of us. They are threatening that we must vote for them or else there will be trouble. The PDP should have a free mind.
In Imo State where you are a major stakeholder, are you comfortable with the fortunes of your party, APC ahead of the coming election?
I am saddened that the APC broke into two. Senator Hope Uzodinma won the primaries and I was hoping that all members of the party should support him and give him a chance. He should be supported to defeat the PDP and APGA in the state. I believe and pray that such an understanding could still prevail. I appeal to Governor Rochas Okorocha to think about it. The credit should go to Rochas if the APC wins the state. That is the truth of the matter. I appeal to Okorocha to think about it like a father and give support to Uzodinma so that he can win. If Uzodinma wins the election, it means Okorocha has won. In my humble opinion, that is the way it should be.
Many believe it will be unfair to Owerri zone if Okorocha hands over to another person from Orlu zone where he comes from. What is your position on that?
We have investigated and observed that Owerri people are solidly supporting Uzodinma to win the election. I discovered that those who went to court to demand that Uzodinma wins the APC governorship ticket are from Owerri and Okigwe. The current deputy governor of Imo State is an Owerri man and he supports Uzodinma totally. I will not mention names of all the people supporting Uzodinma. Uwajimogu from Okigwe supports Uzodinma totally. There are many others like that. I come from Orlu and if people from Okigwe and Orlu are supporting Uzodinma, I cannot be opposing him. So, if they are prepared to overlook that aspect, we should all accept that. For me, there is no difference among people in Igbo land. For Christ sake, let Uzodinma be the governor.
Governor Okorocha seems unstoppable in his determination to make his son in-law, Uche Nwosu the governor of Imo State? Do you think he will change his mind before the election?
Rochas Okorocha is still in APC and if you are still in APC, how can you be saying that another party should win the state instead of your party. It does not make any sense. Okorocha is my younger brother; we are from the same local government and I appeal to him to change his mind and support Uzodinma. As a member of the APC Board of Trustees and member of national caucus, an old politician and his elder brother, I am in a better position to advise him. Let him support Uzodinma. It will be more credible to him as a governor that he supported the man who won the governorship seat on the platform of the APC than supporting any other party. An incumbent has powers and he should use that to support Uzodinma, the candidate of his party. The candidate of the party is Uzodinma and not his son in-law who is still a younger man with opportunities in future to be whatever he aspires to be.