Prophet (Dr) Anene Nwachukwu of Rhema Deliverance Mission International has said that this is the time for political realignments, bridge building and agitation for president of Igbo extraction.
Nwachuckwu, who is also a socio-political commentator, enjoined the Igbo to throw in everything to produce the next president of Nigeria. He also spoke on the forthcoming elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra states, COVID-19, and other socio-political issues.
There have been musings on the presidency of Igbo extraction come 2023. How realizable is it?
Well, when one talks about realizing Igbo presidency, one should note that in Nigeria our Coat of Arms is “Unity and Progress.” Nigeria is a country that has fought civil war in the past as a result of ethnic, sectional, and tribal leadership. I believe we have learnt our lessons. In 1979, when Nigeria returned to a democratically elected government, General Olusegun Obasanjo, a military head of state from South handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a northerner who won the election under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He governed the country from 1979 to 1983 when another northerner and military head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari took over through coupe d’etat. From Buhari, we had General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a northerner who decided to change the baton in 1993 through an election adjudged the freest and most credible between Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Moshood Abiola of Social Democratic Party (SDP). Abiola was the acclaimed winner of the presidential election for the South, but he was not given the mandate. Because of agitations created by the annulment, Babangida in an interim government handed over to Ernest Shonekan in what he termed: “I’m stepping aside,” to pacify Yoruba nation whose mandate was unarguably stolen. From Shonekan, General Sani Abacha, another northerner took over by ousting Shonekan led interim government. He later died in mysterious circumstances. His death paved the way for another northerner, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, a military head of state who took over reigns of power. In benevolence he spent 11 months in office and decided to hand over to a Southerner, Rtd. General Olusegun Obasanjo in a democratically elected government. Obasanjo completed his full term of eight years and handed over to a northerner, Musa Yar’Adua, who won the election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As fate will have it, he died as a sitting president, and power returned to South-south in the person of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who served almost six years when another election that brought in President Buhari took place in 2015. He will complete his second term in 2023.
By that time, and in the spirit of justice, equity, and fairness, an Igbo president should emerge. This is realizable if Nigeria believes and practices true democracy where peace, love, and equity are allowed to reign. There is need to do away with discrimination, acrimony, sectionalism and tribalism, which have been the stock in trade in this administration. When Igbo are agitating that they are being marginalized; some people who are feeding fat from this administration will tell you it is a lie. They claim that President Buhari has done well for the Igbo. Yet the Enugu-Onitsha expressway has remained bad since this administration came into power. Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, which leads to Umuahia has not been done as well as the second Niger Bridge which presidential candidates seeking Southeast votes use as a campaign promise to win their votes. Contractors handling the project are no longer on the site. When Buhari was elected, there were jubilations everywhere. Everybody believed that with his election, Boko Haram activities will ease, and become a thing of the past. Some of the promises he made during his campaign included tackling the security situation in the country, war against corruption and agricultural revolution, but today Nigeria is worse than what it used to be. During the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, people did not die the way they are dying today. The rate of deaths in the country is at a higher level. Of the Service Chiefs and National Security advisers we have in the country, the majority of them are northerners. There is no Igbo man. Where is the place of the Igbo in the whole security architecture? Can we say we are still part of “One Nigeria?” Ceding presidency to the Southeast is imperative. We have qualified candidates, and men of honour who have not soiled their hands in the public till. Capable and qualified Igbo leaders should join the mainstream political parties and battle for their presidential tickets. If the government wants justice and equity as enshrined in the constitution, and in the spirit of Federal Character, the political parties should cede their presidential candidates to the Southeast for Igbo president.
You had last year said that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State would not make it to a second term. Do you still hold this opinion?
I must tell you that the politics in Ondo State is very pathetic. First, the government is enmeshed in crisis. I said last year that there would be crisis in the state which would contend with his coming back for a second term. The governor is my personal friend and I must state that the circumstances that brought him to power were God’s intervention. I don’t wish he doesn’t return for a second term, but with what is currently happening in the state, the chance of him returning to complete his two-term is very slim. I wish him the grace of God. He has not performed below expectation. He has done his best judging from what we see on the pages of newspapers, especially the construction of the flyover at Ore. Those of us who travel to the Southeast know that in Ore, there is usually a traffic gridlock. The governor has been able to construct a flyover bridge there; it is a straight drive to the East. And those travelling to Akure and Owo have their own lane. There is no more traffic gridlock on Ore Junction. With that, I think he has done well, and deserves a second term.
What is your take on the Edo State election in September?
With what is happening in Edo State between Adams Oshiomhole and the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki , I can assure you that Obaseki is going to return for a second term. We have to understand that no one is God. An individual misses it when he begins to play God. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was playing God and it cost him the chairmanship position of his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), and giving Obaseki unnecessary fight and nightmare has brought him down economically, politically and socially in the estimation of Edo indigenes and other Nigerians. When you look at the events that brought him to power as the chairman of APC, one expected him to humble himself. If he had any disagreement with his godson or compatriot, it should be ironed out with him, rather than allowing it to escalate. The handwriting has been there since two years ago:
Oshiomhole in a fight with a governor he helped win an election. The altercation was really unnecessary even though it has turned Obaseki a bride of Edo State politics. His decampment from APC to PDP, and under two weeks he got automatic ticket of the party as the standard bearer for the coming September 19 election, has put him at an advantage as a sitting governor. As for my fellow Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who contests under APC, you will agree with me that his chances of winning the gubernatorial election in Edo State are narrow. The powers that be, which brought him to APC to replace Obaseki are no longer there.
So, he is on his own. Obaseki is going to enjoy sympathy votes based on the fact that Oshiomhole is playing God: anybody I like I impose on the people, and anybody I don’t like I remove, kind of show. So, categorically and emphatically, Obaseki will win the forthcoming election in Edo State.
In a few months the jostling for the replacement of Willie Obiano of Anambra State will become intense. Ahead of the 2021 election, what do you think is the fate of APGA as a political party?
Let me start by saying that Anambra State has been a hot spot when it comes to elections. Peter Obi performed creditably well as governor of the state. During elections; APGA was the bride of Anambra State
because of late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the leader of Igbo. When he passed away, he handed over the political baton to Peter Obi, who succeeded in handing it over to Willie Obiano, another APGA candidate and current governor of the state. But I have fears whether Obiano can raise another successor in APGA for Anambra State. As a prophet of God, I doubt it because if you look at the caliber and quality of candidates for the upcoming election in the state, you would see some successful businessmen and intellectuals who are contending to replace Obiano in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Anambra State election is always likened to one for billionaires, but one thing I know is that it will be difficult for Obiano to install a successor in Anambra State come 2021. We should know that people rate elected officers by their performance and disposition to those in the grassroots. In the first tenure of his administration, Obiano performed well and there were testaments to that, then comes his second term, he seems to be focusing more attention and committing resources to building Anambra Airport to the neglect of roads in rural areas. Construction of airport is good and beneficial, but while you are doing that, it is also wise to affect other sectors of the economy, which the state needs to move forward. If you look at the roads linking Anambra State to other communities, he did his part while Obi also did his, but Obiano concentrated more projects in the cities. There are local government chairmen who are doing nothing about the conditions of roads in rural areas. I don’t know whether it is their fault or that of the state government. I learnt some federal allocations for local government go to the states, but I don’t know if it is the same with Anambra State. I have confronted many of the local government chairmen about bad roads in the rural areas; they told me they were handicapped of funds, which means that their allocations were not going directly to them. In Anambra North, there is a major road from Awkuzu to Umunya, with a bridge called Nengo, in Ntege, the road from Awkuzu to Community Secondary School, Umunya into the town was built in 1981-1982 by Jim Nwobodo; today the roads are in decrepit condition. Obiano started it from Awkuzu in his first tenure and people were happy that the government had come to Anambra North. They thought Obiano would finish all the roads, but as we speak, the roads are death traps while the commissioner for works is busy in the airport site supervising the construction. We wait to see whether when the governor finishes building the airport, and we land, we will fly to our various villages. It is advisable Obiano looks into the rural areas especially roads linking other towns. They should be affected by governance instead of concentrating on the airport in Umuleri and abandoning other projects. Those who really vote are in the rural areas not in the cities. During elections, most elite sit back to watch television, some play football on the empty streets. Some of the elite are afraid of going to the polling booths for fear of being mobbed. It is the people in the rural areas that vote and also groan over bad roads. They charter vehicles to transport their agro products to the market. When the roads are bad, they get stocked in the mud.
Churches in Lagos State are still under lockdown. In Ogun, the state government made it public when churches were opened, but later reversed itself. What are your thoughts about politics of opening churches in Lagos and Ogun states?
When you look at what is happening in Lagos State, in fairness, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has done well in containing the spread of the pandemic in the state. In terms of population, the state is higher than others, and as a result cases of those who tested positive of the pandemic are higher than other states of the federation. Lagos is a multi-ethnic city; it is home to different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
As a governor who loves his state, he has told us to wait because if we open churches now, the cases might escalate beyond expectations.
All of us agreed with him, but the continuous locking down of churches is no longer palatable and acceptable. The governor should borrow a leaf from other states. Every other state in Nigeria has relaxed their lockdown on churches except Lagos State. So, we want Governor Sanwo-Olu to understand that some of us also have workers under our payroll.
Some churches have 500, 200 workers, while we have 100 we pay their salaries every month. And these people have families they take care of. He should not continue to lockdown churches. Worship centres are critical in the survival of à people. It is a place people receive succour, word of faith and eternal life, and their burdens are lifted.
Some people can feed well, but once they hear the word of God, it gives them life. Food can only make you feel good, but the word of God will make you live long and see better days. Through the word of God, people can receive miracles and testimonies. Some people are not after food, but the fruits of the womb. And if churches remain locked down, they would not have access to the man of God who prays for them for something to happen. They can’t do it on their own, and that is why we have churches where they can come and the man of God makes pronouncements and declaration upon their lives. I don’t think it is a good thing that in the past few months every other state in Nigeria has eased their lockdown of churches except Lagos State. I believe Ogun State takes after Lagos, but I don’t know whether Governor Dapo Abiodun was asked to do what he did. He declared worship centres open, less than 24 hours, and he revised himself. This is not à palatable development.