By Martins I. AKuma
Prince M. O. Agu is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Enugu State and one man who is not afraid to say his mind on any issue. In this interview, he spoke on some contemporary issues in the polity.
What do you think of the economic situation in the country and the way out?
First of all, I must put the record straight, that the economic woes we found ourselves in is not the making of President Buhari nor of this regime. It is a result of the worldwide crash of the crude oil price from about $100 dollars a barrel to a lowly $33.00 dollars within a space of about six to eight months, which coincided with the transition period up to date.
Nigeria being a country that depends mainly on oil for her national income was and is still faced with a hard situation of using its depleted receipt to finance our heavy dependence on foreign goods. You do not need a professor of economics to predict the outcome. Having given this background to the nation’s problem, I must commend the President on the bold and positive steps he promptly took. First, CBN’s selective issuing of foreign exchange for select but necessary goods. Secondly, the vigorous and steady steps aimed at diversifying the economy by encouraging local production of food especially rice to reduce huge amount of foreign exchange deployed in its importation and other luxury goods. It is worthy of note that the ban on importation of rice proved very successful as it has stimulated local production and very soon, we shall be looking forward to food sufficiency if we remain committed to this goal. Therefore, the way out is to remain focused on these policies, and I call on Nigerians to tarry a while and give their support to these noble steps. And at the same time, I make a solemn appeal to our brothers to pray for full recovery of our President.
From your perspective, is this government of President Buhari winning the war against corruption?
Without fear of being controverted, I must say that this is the first time I have seen any government in Nigeria taking a serious look at corruption and applying its self, resources and energy in fighting this self-inflicted scourge. In the first instance, the person of President Buhari invokes fear, as he is well known for his zero tolerance for anything pertaining to corruption. He has not only talked about corruption, but he has walked the talk.
What is your take on the agitation for the State of Biafra?
I have refused to be drawn into it, not out of fear or lack of what to say, but because the issue is before a court of superior jurisdiction. You know that it is not right engaging in commentaries over matters that are before the court as that is subjudice. But I must tell you that I was at Uzoakoli, perceived as one of the hottest war zones during the war, and I can tell about the war more than Nnamdi Kanu. From the tone of your answers in this interview, are you planning to jump boat by joining the APC?
That is not the issue yet. We must learn to differentiate issues. There is a world of difference between governance and platform, though sometimes, it appears to be separated by a thin line. That I belong to P.D.P and operate from that platform, does not take away the fact that I should commend a good performance in governance irrespective of who is concerned. Even in opposition, we must be mature, so as to be taken serious when you criticize. I believe in constructive criticism as opposition.
How do you assess Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration?
You know that he is my brother, we come from the same zone. It is a little unfair to ask me to assess him, but without fear of contradiction or what any person may feel, I will climb to the rooftop to shout that he is doing excellently well. His belief in due process in taking decisions and implementing them is next to none.
His development strategies are sound, paying of workers’ salaries and pension to pensioners even in this era of lean resources marks him out as being meticulous and frugal in handling the state resources. He is doing excellently well to the extent that I can say that he could have done more if it were in the era of boom. I call on his appointees to rally round him to ensure that there is no black spot in his regime, as it is not possible for him to be everywhere. His performance can be seen from the numerous messages he received on his birthday both on air and by print.
What do you have to say on marginalization of the Igbos in Nigeria?
You are touching on a raw nerve because I am a full-blooded Igbo man and believe in the cause of the Igbo nation. My view is that the Igbo are not marginalised. In what way are we marginalized? The Igbo are the cynosure of all eyes in Nigeria. When el-Rufai, the current governor of Kaduna State was Minister of F.C.T, he said that the Igbo own about 60 per cent – 70 per cent of the investments in Abuja. In Lagos, we are either first or second in terms of economic power. Mention any part of Nigeria where you will not find the Igbo man pulling his weight. If you mean in politics, I will go straight and tell you that our representatives are busy merchandising with our slots and lining their pockets to the detriment of the average Igbo man. It is a self- inflicted wound, which will be taken care of soon as our people are beginning to realize the truth. Have you ever heard that the Igbo or South East caucus in the Senate and House of Representatives has come together to make a demand on the presidency as it concerns our people.
It is because of this lack of synergy and consensus among our political leaders, coupled with drive for personal enrichment that people from outside our political clime penetrate us up to the point of trying to set political agenda for us. The recent case of former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo flying the kite of possible Igbo Presidency in 2019 should bother us. He was simply diverting attention of Nigerians that his brother, Prof. Osibanjo has mounted the saddle as acting President, subtly anticipating that President Buhari may not come back. This in turn was a way of pitching the North against the South East Zone. Incidentally, all that calculation has come to nothing.
Another one like that is the flimsy and uncoordinated write-up by Femi Fani-Kayode on the Daily Sun of March 14, 2017. In his write up, he tried to no avail to classify the great Igbo nation as one of the minority components of Nigeria as a country, under the pretext of railing at the northern hegemony. He painted the Igbo as clueless, weaklings and politically naïve, while he eulogized his Yoruba tribe as the super power that withstood the wiles of the North. I expect to see what he has to say in respect of the declaration of Minister for internal affairs, Gen. Dambazau, that the Federal Government will prosecute the perpetrators of Ife killings, and Ango Abdulahi’s outburst that the North has had enough of its people being killed in other parts of the country with impunity, warning that it would not be tolerated if it has any ethnic or political coloration.