A prominent Imo native living in Lagos State, Prince Nixon Okwara has cautioned the Imo State governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha not to be in a hurry to impress the people of the state.
According to him, rather than trying to play to the gallery like his predecessor did and got his fingers burnt, Ihedioha should focus on rebuilding the institutions, which Okorocha destroyed.
In this interview, he also spoke on the fate of the Igbo after losing out in the key positions in the 9th National Assembly as well as on the conspiracy of silence by Igbo leaders with regard to developments in the nation`s political space. Excerpts:
How do you think that Ihedioha can differ from Okorocha in the administration of Imo State?
Governor Emeka Ihedioha and former Governor Rochas Okorocha are two very different kind of people. If we talk of life style, Ihedioha is as far away from Okorocha as Cape Town is to Cairo. While Ihdioha comes across as the serious type, an epicurean to be precise, Okorocha is a hedonist. So, there is no way they can run the same style of administration. But because there is an in-built demon in government that corrupts sound minds, I want to caution Governor Ihedioha to try to be himself in office. One of the things that ruined former Governor Okorocha was playing to the gallery and seeing government as a jamboree instead of a very serious business. So, Ihedioha should forget about style and focus on substance. All the institutions that sustain government like the civil service, judiciary, education and the rest were bastardized by the government that he has succeeded because rather than building governance around institutions, Okorocha built it around himself. He made himself King Ahab of Imo State. The world that we are in is a farm and it is what we sow that we reap. So, Ihedioha should rebuild the institutions, inspire hope and confidence in systems and then allow them to run his government.
After strengthening the institutions, what else do you advise him to do?
To be honest, I don’t really envy Governor Ihedioha at this point in history because he inherited a state in minus, a state that has been completely vandalized, a state that is nothing but a scrap. If Imo State is on sale today, no wise businessman would want to bid, let alone buying it. Nevertheless, I want him to review Imo State land policy. A lot of landed property were taken from people by force by the immediate past administration. Therefore, a lot of revocation needs to be one. I also want him to conduct local government election as soon as possible to enable the third tier of government which was also vandalized by the last administration to start running effectively. Furthermore, I want him to look for foreign agencies with bias in disaster management to partner with the state because right now, Imo State as a whole has been ravaged by erosion; Ideato South, Nwangene and other areas are now no-go areas because they have been completely cut off by erosion.
What do you have to say about how Southeast losing out in the 9th National Assembly?
What I want to say is that APC has got it wrong again in the Southeast. It has become crystal clear that the leadership of the party doesn’t understand the component of the Igbo. In 2015, President Buhari dug the party`s grave in the Southeast with his absurd 97 and five per cent comment. But with what happened in the 9th National Assembly, the party has been completely buried in the Southeast. As I said earlier, the leaders of APC don’t understand how an average Igbo man thinks. The Igbo share the same philosophy with biblical Samson, which is out of the strong comes honey. The Igbo man is a survivalist. He thrives in adversity. The Igbo are at their element when they are challenged. What happened in the 2015 general election in Lagos State is a practical example. So, the leaders of APC are very bad students of history. They did not learn anything from the civil war. No individual or group can intimidate the Igbo into doing his or their bidding. What the loss in the National Assembly means is that if there are still people who have genuine sympathy for the party, they would withdrew it in the next election. So, come 2023 general election, APC will perform far below their performance in 2015 and 2019 in the Southeast. The wisest thing that the party would have done would have been to give the Igbo benefit of doubt by ceding some positions to the Southeast. Igbo people have conscience. If APC had done that, there would have been moral burden on the Igbo. There would have been something like, you people did not vote for us, but we have ceded these positions to you .That is the only way to capture the Igbo man. Anything other than that is a waste of time.
Some Igbo leaders have kept studied silence in the face of the current national development, why?
Well, the reason some of them are not talking could be because they are observing good table manners, that is, don’t talk while eating, so that you would not be choked. But according to Albert Einstein, the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them and do nothing Their conspiracy of silence today in view of glaring cases of injustices being meted against the Igbo nation, if it did not haunt them, it will haunt their children and even grandchildren. During the build up to the 2019 general election, I had expected them to take a bold stand on the Igbo interest in the country, but they did not, apart from Chief Chukwuemeka Ezife who will always say it as it is without minding whose ox is gored. He is my role model because of his courage and outspokenness. Sometimes, I wonder how any living Igbo can fit into his shoes. That is why every day, I pray that God will keep him alive so that he will continue to mentor some of us who look up to him for guidance.