Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Okey Muo-Aroh, has described as unfortunate the face-off between the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano and business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze.
He also frowned at the altercation between Prince Eze and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, urging the Igbo to appreciate the asset they have in Arthur Eze who he said is a builder of human capital. Exerpts:
Your state Anambra has been tensed for some time now following altercations between Governor Willie Obiano and a prominent son of the state, Prince Arthur Eze on one hand and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige and Eze in the other hand. There has been name calling and so on, how do you place what is happening?
Well, in the very first instance, I will like to say that the present tensed situation in Anambra State is unfortunate. Unfortunate in the sense that Anambra State should be in the news for reasons better than this type of thing. The so-called altercation between Prince Arthur Eze and the governor is to say the least a reflection of intolerance on the part of the governor. Arthur Eze is a prominent son of Anambra State and he is somebody I’ll like to describe as an icon. An icon in Igbo nation, an icon in Anambra State and an icon in Nigeria, I will get to that point. But why am I saying that it is intolerance, because the governor of Anambra State is somebody I will describe as a governor that entered the Government House as Nwa amuru na nma. You cannot describe the circumstances of Governor Obiano in office with the circumstances under which Chris Ngige became governor or under which Peter Obi became the governor of this state. Willie came into Anambra State as a governor when the apparatus of state is already on autopilot, when the issue of primary infrastructure vis-à-vis the roads and everything is already laid. Willie came in when the ship of the state is already on a smooth sail. Arrears of pensions have been paid, the civil servants were not owed and right there in the public domain a humongous amount of money was left in the treasury acknowledged by him as what the preceding administration has left. The issue that arose was that from 2014 when Willie assumed office, the last local government election was done in January 2014 or thereabout just before Willie came in. From then till now, the local governments are being run on a caretaker basis, making it impossible for the various local government administrations to really have any form of control over the funds allocated to the local governments. So, it was on the basis of this that Prince Arthur Eze now made the comment that the governor should tell us what he has done with the local government allocations. If I were the governor, I probably would have ignored Prince Arthur. Because you know if the governor or the people working with him, had not reacted and started calling names and all that this would not have snowballed into this kind of crisis. So, it was while this controversy was raging and you know that Arthur is somebody who likes to identify with the leadership at the centre. In doing what he is doing he believes rightly or wrongly that whoever is in control of the reins of power in Nigeria has a lot to do for the common man and that it will not serve him any useful purpose to join issues with government at the centre. So, you see him almost, always being very friendly with whoever occupies Aso Rock not necessarily because they support his business. Yes, Arthur has some oil interest in Nigeria, but I can tell you that most of his oil businesses now are offshore dealing with Angola, Ivory Coast and so many other African countries that have oil deposits. So you cannot really say that he is doing this thing because he wants Federal Government to give him further oil bloc. At the last check, Buhari’s administration has not given Arthur any allocation, but Arthur believes from my knowledge of him that he can help our people if he is friendly with the Federal Government. When Abacha was the Head of State, Arthur was instrumental in making some people military administrators, ministers, at least he told me himself that Abacha asked him to nominate ministers, Silas Iloh from Enugu State, Okeke from, I think Ebonyi and Lazarus Unogu from Imo State. And one of the things he told me he said that he has not related with Buhari on the issue of ministers or advisers because Buhari has not asked him to nominate people, but that he saw what he feels that Buhari has done in the issue of the 2nd Niger Bridge and then the Enugu airport and what have you, and he said if you thank a man for the little he has done he will do something bigger. It wouldn’t be anything for him to fly his aircraft from Enugu to Abuja to go and say thank you Mr. President, but if he is going their accompanied by some traditional rulers, knowing Buhari’s background as a Prince of Daura, that he has respect for the traditional institution. So, when Arthur invited some traditional rulers to go with him on thank-you visit to Buhari and then probably if need be ask Buhari to ask the governor, please let the people have the local government election so that the effect of the local government allocations could be felt by the people there. That is one of those things I said intolerance, because the governor or the administration felt that what Arthur was doing would have a negative impact on them, the government jumped into the fray and decided to suspend the traditional rulers, saying that they did not take permission. Why do we tell stupid and verifiable lies in this country? How many of the traditional rulers in Anambra State live in Anambra? So, those of them who live in Enugu, who live in Lagos and who live abroad, all of them have permission from governor to live where they are living? The traditional rulers we have in our place are not monarchs who are being fed by the people, they are full able bodied men who do their businesses, they go to Abuja to look for contracts, they go to Lagos, they go to everywhere. Is it that N20,000 stipend that government gives them that they will use to service their office and their families? So, for me, the traditional rulers going to Abuja with Arthur is as regular as anything because they go to Abuja all the time, they go to Enugu, Lagos and other places all the time. They are still in their prime doing business to fend for their families, so if a traditional ruler who regularly go to all these places because they are now going with Prince Arthur Eze to see the president, they now need permission, how ridiculous can one be?So, for me there is no basis for the entire crisis, it is something a temperate government will look at and ignore, by suspending the traditional rulers, you are stoking crisis, that is how I see it. Unfortunately, my former boss and brother, Chris Ngige because of his personal problem with his home community and his traditional ruler in that place now decided to jump into the fray and now asked the governor to sanction Arthur Eze. What type of nonsense arrangement is that? When Ngige was the governor did he put any ban on the traditional rulers not travelling? How many did he suspend as governor and how many were coming to us to take permission to go to where they were going even at a time when many of them openly were against his government? So, as far as I am concerned the whole tension is totally avoidable, I do not see any reason it should come up in the first place.
Do you think this has any link to the forthcoming governorship election in the state?
I do not think so and the reason I do not think it has something to do with the coming election is that the dramatic personae, Willie Obiano who is an outgoing governor, by the time we finish the election next year, by March of 2022, Willie is out of it. Prince Arthur Eze is not running for an election, has never run for election and will not run for election. Chris Ngige as a minister has done his own bit, he is not going to be running for election because unfortunately for him, the platform where he is serving now, the APC does not have attraction in Igbo land particularly in Anambra State. So, 2021 election has really little or nothing to do with the so-called tension except the individuals who are now working with these principal actors are now trying to use it to heighten the tension and create issues from where they will now be able to get some peanuts here and there, other than that I don’t see any correlation between the crisis and the coming election.
Some have said that Prince Arthur Eze should use his money to build factories and give the youths work, is it not good he looks into that?
When people talk out of ignorance sometimes you pardon them, sometimes you condemn them. Many of us profess Christ and we believe in God, if we sincerely believe in God that in creating each and every one of us endowed us with certain attributes and certain gifts, and designed for us our work part in creation, we will know that there are individuals who are created to build factories, to create large commercial enterprises where people are employed and they are doing work. In that mode in Igbo land you talk about Cletus Ibeto, Kuties Cables, Olisa Okeke and many others. People like Arthur Eze, if Arthur were to be certain person in law they will call him that Arthur is person sui generius, a very unique character who has designed and said my duty in life is to invest in human capital development, in individual capacities. If you stay with Arthur Eze on a given day, the number of human beings who are physically empowered with their proposals you will marvel. Then I am a politician I want to be a governor, Arthur Eze says, because I see you from your background, you are a good and honest man, I am going to invest in you. Go across the length and breadth of Nigeria and bring out human beings who Arthur has empowered to become legislators, governors, senators you will marvel. Do Arthur now go and build cement factory, Arthur is building human factory. Take for instance, how much money do you think that it costs Arthur in his effort to make Tony Nwoye governor of Anambra State and how much do you think they use to build factory? To run a governorship campaign you know how much it costs, how many factories it will build? But in his largeness of thought he believes that if he gives Anambra State a good governor who will do meaningful thing , who God has created to be honest to provide good governance, provide jobs and provide security, that is his own cut-out job to do in creation and that is why you see him trying to develop individuals, creating scholarship funds, creating entrepreneurship, so people should go and study him, that is why I told you that Arthur is an icon of Igbo nation because if you get close and see what Arthur try to do with human beings, how he tries to empower them to become their dream. Even Chris Ngige met Chris Uba in Arthur’s house. We have to appreciate what we have. Arthur is not a run on the mill capitalist, he’s not a profiteer, he is not in the business of making money to make profit, he is in the business of making money to help people. We are misusing Arthur, we are not using him well, if the Igbo nation understands the asset we have in Arthur, we can channel it.