DR Ezekiel Izuogu, a brilliant electrical engineer and inventor, designed and developed the Z-600, first African indigenous manufactured car.
The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) told Sunday Sun that he joined the party because of the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to stamp out corruption if voted into office, saying that looking back now, more job needs to be done to do away with the malaise.
Izuogu also made a case for an Igbo presidency in 2023 just as he expressed disappointment on how successive regimes in the country have treated technology with condescension. He also gave an insight into the governance in his state, Imo. Excerpts:
Let’s start from your state, Imo and the allegation that the governor, Emeka Ihedioha is witch-hunting his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha?
I think Ihedioha means well in my humble opinion, I think he wants to do well in Imo State and also think he needs the cooperation of the immediate past governor, Rochas Okorocha. Whether Rochas is in a position, oriented to give that cooperation, I cannot exactly say. If there were wrong things he did during his eight years and the present government wants to do a correction of that he should not take it as a fight. I was in the APC with Rochas for those eight years and he never confided in me the things he was doing. As a well-wisher, I met him some time and asked him why he was bringing his son-in-law to be the governor when he is a man on the seat. He said after all Mbakwe’s son ran for the governorship race. I told him but that was not during Mbakwe’s time, his son never came up to contest during his father’s time. I told him that if he thinks that his son-in-law is promising that he should allow him to wait for some time after he has left office then he can come on his own. If the boy is running now the meaning that will be read into it is that he wants to plant him in the state after his tenure. It also means you want him to defend his interest in some of the things he did as a governor. I told him clearly in Abuja, have a re-think on the issue. He told me he will give it a thought. That incident is one and a half years ago…what thought did he give to my advice, if not to mobilize resources to finance his election? You can see how all ended.
What is your take on xenophobic attacks in South Africa?
It is very unfortunate to see Nigerians being slaughtered by South Africans after the great role we played in salvaging them from the apartheid regime. Nigeria made a lot of sacrifices to save them during their time of great agony given the treatment they were subjected to, so it’s unfortunate that Nigeria should be paid back in this way. But also I must say that to an extent, it’s a reflection of the bad upbringing of some of our young stars, that many of our young stars are into drugs are not worth cheering. My information from South Africa is that they are very much into drugs in that country. They turn communities into drug-related areas. Many of them too are criminals and so when the police cannot cope with them the South African take the laws into their hands and now punishing them as it were. So, it is on both sides of the coin, but the South African government should be able to safeguard the safety of those whom they have admitted into their country, they have a duty to do that, they should have a police, an effective one that can act and rise to the challenge and maintain the peace. Then Nigeria leaders have to do something about their youths. Our youths should not be into drugs. There are lots of things our youth can do to make money instead of going into drugs. So, we have a duty to safeguard the interest of Nigeria by making sure that our youths are disciplined.
Do you think that youths joining the unemployment queue as they are may also be part of the reason the country is having unrest and security challenge?
True because those South Africans know what is happening in Nigeria that the security situation here is next to zero so they now think that Nigerians are rushing to South Africa to come and live a peaceful life and they are likely to bring in their insecurity into South Africa. So, it’s a double-barrel kind of thing, it’s unfortunate.
Looking at the security challenge that has continued to ravage the land, do you think the government is doing enough, particularly in its fight against Boko Haram?
The government is not doing enough, to be honest with you, I wish their efforts can improve and Nigerians I am sure will appreciate it because if there is good security in the country everybody enjoys it, but when there is insecurity it affects everybody, so I wish the government agencies can sit up and do something more realistic.
As a statesman that has seen it all concerning Nigeria and her trajectory, are there some issues that bother you aside from the security challenge?
What worries me most is the lack of industrialization in Nigeria. There is no industrialization in this country, countries that are doing it and doing it well are those that are industrialized, those that have trained their people into manufacturing. They manufacture their electronics, name it with their technology and export to other countries and earn from other countries. Those are the countries that are doing great exploits. Nigeria is not doing great. I am an engineer, auto engineer; I know how much encouragement I have received from Nigeria; it is very unfortunate and we have a large population that can be directed into manufacturing and into every sector to produce, but we are not doing it, most of the industries that existed have collapsed and there are no desirable efforts being made to revive them, we are not establishing new ones, we import virtually everything that we use, that is very unfortunate.
Can you link this failure to leadership or to any technical error?
Of course, there is no doubt about it that there is leadership failure that has been unable to drive the vision of a great country like ours.
Do you have any problem with the RUGA programme that the Federal Government has suspended?
My position on it is that President Buhari should ban it, it should not be suspended rather it should be banned. It should not be mentioned.
The Buhari I supported in 2015 did not talk about RUGA, he did not talk about Islamization as one of his agenda, and he never brought it to the All Progressives Congress table, so how can he bring it up now? It’s not good if we must be honest with ourselves.
In one of your conversations, you said you joined the APC and supported Buhari because you believed in the corruption crusade that he promised to fight. Are you now satisfied with the corruption fight so far?
Yes, I supported Buhari because of his promise to fight corruption. I think some effort is being made on corruption, but it is not being well fought. There is no doubt that some effort is being made, but it has not been well fought the way it ought to be done for effectiveness. Buhari as a person I know is not corrupt, I can say that for him, but in terms of really wiping corruption out of Nigeria, it has not been done.
Some critics say the corruption fight is more of a witch-hunt exercise on the opposition. Do you share in such submission?
The opposition can say anything they like, that is part of politics.
Do you think the rotation of president from one zone to another will bring stability in the polity?
The presidency should go to the Southeast; there is no doubt about it. It is in the interest of all Nigerians that an Igbo man becomes the president. It is in the interest of everybody, the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, Itshekiris, Tivs, Nupes, etc, wherever you come from in Nigeria, it will do everyone good if Nigeria produces a qualified Igbo man as president. Don’t overlook one of the three major tribes in Nigeria because of leadership. Overlooking or undermining the Igbo may be taking too much, we should not try that.
But some say that the Igbo are not building the relevant bridges needed for the president of Igbo origin?
Yes, I believe that they should build bridges, but mind you when Obasanjo became the president of Nigeria how many bridges did he build?(laughs). Obasanjo did not control the Southwest yet he became president, so let’s not over-emphasize such things they cannot be a reason to jettison a people. Don’t jettison or disregard any group, every tribe in Nigeria is relevant to Nigeria’s existence. Every group is relevant, but some are predominantly relevant, so let us consider that on the basis of fairness and justice.
But there are some Northern elders still insisting that the presidency must remain in the North in 2023?
They don’t wish Nigeria well. All such people do not wish the country well, they are enemies of Nigeria. Tanko Yakassai is one of the leaders in the progressive movement and I respect him very highly, but I am disappointed by the type of things he is saying in recent times. Sometimes I begin to wonder whether it’s Tanko Yakassai that is saying all those things attributed to him. I want to meet him and discuss with him because I am so surprised by what he is saying these days. I thought that he was one of the progressive elements in Nigerian politics…how can he be saying all that he has been saying concerning the presidency remaining in the North in 2023? Same to all of them that are saying such things. I think they are people who don’t wish Nigeria well. They should stop saying that in the interest of Nigeria.
President Buhari promised that the new ministers will take the country to the next level. Do you see them as having such capacity?
Well, I believe that all things are possible, there are many of them that are doing well, I believe they will do their best, their best could be good for Nigeria, only God knows and that is my optimism about it.
How has the Federal Government encouraged you with your invention exploits?
They have not encouraged me at all. The government of military Head of State, the late Sani Abacha tried to encourage me by taking up the invention venture, but after he left subsequent governments have not done anything to encourage me, they have done nothing with it. Buhari’s government gave us N10 million about three years ago and I thanked them and I say the effort is appreciated, but it is too small for an invention as the one I did. I told the Nigerian press, the government is not encouraging science and technology and I don’t know why. That is why we are backward in so many things. In a country that does not have or appreciate science and technology, that cannot produce a car and they boasted that if anybody produces a car that they will encourage the person, then I went and produced a car all by myself, Abacha government initiative said they will give me N253 million grant. What has the Federal Government done? What has the Minister of the Science of Technology done about it? What has the Ministry of Industry done about it? What has the president of Nigeria done about it? That is how you know a country that is progressive because if they had taken my challenge, by now Nigeria would have been producing cars for the entire African countries and exporting it to the rest of the world. And if Nigeria is doing that, no country will be richer than Nigeria, but they just shove it aside, probably they may think that, oh this is Igbo man initiative. I don’t know, so it pains me…I don’t have the kind of money needed to mass-produce that car. I thank God I invented new energy for the whole world and I have produced a prototype of it and I have shoved aside the all-time law of conservation of energy and the international community has accepted it. I have been working on ways to provide the nation and the world with a clean, cheap and environment-friendly energy source. So, after 33 years of intense research, I came up with a new branch of physics known as Emagnetodynamics, the branch of physics that studies the conversion of the energy of static magnetic fields into work. Before now, “the conventional electric motor was built on the principle/law of Michael Faraday which states that Force is exerted on a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field.” The two laws of Emagnetodynamics state as follows: Force is exerted on a composite magnetic pole in the vicinity of an array of like poles, and this force is in the direction of the composite polarity similar to the array. Based on these two laws, I invented the Izuogu Machine, also called the self-sustaining Emagnetodynamics machine, a kind of electric motor that draws atomic energy from the nuclei of permanent magnets and, therefore, requires no input power to operate.