Senator Anthony Agbo represented Ebonyi North Federal Constituency at the 6th Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was appointed to committees on National Identity Card and Population, Housing, Federal Capital Territory and Drugs Narcotics Anti-Corruption.
During the last governorship election in Ebonyi State, Agbo was the Director-General, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He was a former Speaker, Commissioner of Finance, as well as Commissioner of Public Utilities. Agbo, who was reputed to be very active in plenary and committee work at the Red Chambers in this encounter with Sunday Sun, speaks on the ongoing xenophobic attack of Nigerians in South Africa and the worsening security challenge, calling for a security summit. He gave reason the Igbo deserve to be president in 2023, among other issues, including the RUGA project and the way forward for Nigeria.
What are your thoughts on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa?
It is one of the most terrible, unfortunate things that have happened in the African Continent in the recent times and I feel quite good with the responses the government gave when the matter escalated by boycotting the World Economic Forum on Africa holding in South Africa. I was also particularly happy with the address made by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, but I also feel that our government needs to come up stronger over this matter not just in the contest of improving Nigerians own diplomatic combative action against South Africa, but also in mobilizing other African countries against South Africa in this anomaly. We need to bring civilized thinking with other African countries into the head of South African leader because it is unimaginable the crudity of thinking of South African leaders who even voiced open support for this kind of medieval action in the 21st Century. To think that the South African authorities is giving some sort of active support is unimaginable. My worry is, how will the civilized world be looking at what is happening, watching Africans killing themselves this way. It’s very strange and the leaders over there, strangely enough, seem to be giving support to what is happening and that is shameful. In a civilized situation, if South Africans feel that foreigners, particularly Nigerians, are no more needed in their country or that some foreign nationals are engaged in some sinister activity that is not healthy for their nation, South Africa authorities should use the civilized approach. I don’t think South Africa is a third world country, they have sophisticated national security system that has to do with the conventional police, the secret police and the army, so if they feel that foreigners have overstayed their welcome in their country, the organised security system will have to round them up and deport them. You simply make use of your police on those that you think are…let’s say committing crime…you round them up and deport them, it is not difficult to get them for the police to round them up and put them in next available aircraft and deport them. These are the kind of things that are done in Europe, America, in all civilized nations. What is happening draws tears that this kind of thing should be happening in Africa in the 21st Century and particularly in South Africa whereby every African nation particularly Nigeria offered and sacrificed so much in their Apartheid years to ensure they were liberated. I wonder how the great Mandela will be feeling in his grave, indeed, I pity Africa that this kind of a thing will be happening in our continent, a nation that has all the apparatus of security and they can’t use it in a civilized manner to handle security situation in their country, but rather unleash their citizens in a medieval, crudest manner to attack people, kill them, burn them, loot their shops, etc. To me, the greatest victim is the President of South Africa, Ramaphosa, if he cares about his image because his image, the picture that this incident has created about him is going to last for a very long time. People may not be talking out about it, but wherever he goes anywhere in the world people who see him will only be looking at him as a crude leader, that is my worry and we shouldn’t have such impression about African leaders. This is a time whereby African leaders must rise against this challenge.
Let’s shift away from South Africa and know your view on the security challenge staring us in the face in Nigeria?
What is happening is worrisome and I do not think that there is anybody that is not worried. Everybody is worried about the security situation in the country. You know the security situation in Nigeria today is an extremely challenging situation, it’s no more issue of just Boko Haram, beyond terrorism, there is banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery etc, it’s something that calls for a national discussion. It’s no longer an issue that can just be left in the hands of the Nigeria police system alone, it requires people, egg-heads in the country to come together to proffer a lasting solution. I seriously advocate a security summit whereby the government needs to gather all the egg-heads in the country and involve them for them to bring out ideas which the police, the army, and other security agencies will be made to implement in other to tackle and arrest this degenerating situation. What we are facing is an extremely challenging situation and no one is safe.
What is your take on the RUGA project because most Nigerians are still apprehensive of it despite that it has been suspended?
I really don’t like reacting to such an issue. Do you know why?
I don’t react to such issues because I feel very bad when the leaders, the elite in our country will dwell on issues that divide the country. You see this country has been brought to a level where the country itself does not exist again, what exists is just the regions and the geo-political zones, the individuals and the interests. The country (Nigeria) itself, no longer exists. We have a country, which nobody on his own will want to die for and this is an unfortunate thing and everybody is guilty about it. People are no longer talking about how to build this nation, let me tell you, Nigeria is supposed to be the greatest country in the African Continent and the largest black nation in the world, but we have nothing to show today to the world, nothing of pride, yet we have the most wonderful human resources, as well as natural resources. It is sad that this country has divided so much that Nigeria itself has seized to exist, but individuals, states, geopolitical and regional interests are what seem to exist here and not the country.
Do you have regrets that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost power in 2015 because some critics say it won’t have been this bad under the PDP leadership?
How would you want me to prophesy that PDP would have been better than the APC? The truth is that this country has been destroyed over the years; all that are happening today are just symptoms of decades of bastardization of the nation. It is just that it has grown to a level that has gone out of hand, it’s not a one-day thing, it’s not an APC thing, and it’s not a President Buhari thing. The country has been under serious bastardization for years whereby everybody is struggling for personal and sectional interest, nobody is interested in Nigeria. The PDP may not have done any miracle or magic under this situation and circumstance, we must face things in their realistic perspective.
What do you think is the solution?
Let there be a security summit where we can discuss all that is happening together. All the egg-heads, security chiefs, we have that the matter in this country, highly knowledgeable people that know what should be done, we need to bring them together to discuss the way forward. If we are sincere to ourselves the solution is there for us to implement.
But don’t you think that the 2014 national confab has dwelt on all issues that should take this country to greater heights if implemented?
The national conference discussed everything about Nigeria, but we are talking of security now, let there be a security summit. We don’t have a security system we can be proud of in this country, everybody knows this truth.
2023 is around the corner…?
(Cuts in) I don’t think so; 2023 is not around the corner because this government just took off a few months ago…?
(Cuts in) But politically speaking 2023 is here with us as politicians, political parties and groups have all started strategizing for power either to shift or to remain in the North?
Well, it’s too early for me to speak on that now so you must permit me not to speak on that now, but by all ramifications, by all principles of fairness and morality and for the purpose of stability the Igbo, Southeast should be given a chance to take a slot of the leadership of this country.