From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
Nze Ozichukwu Fidelis Chukwu is the former national vice chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He has always been known to be outspoken on critical issues.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he bared his mind on insecurity situation in his state, Imo, why the Igbo should be given the opportunity to rule the country in 2023 as well as his opinion about the feud between Rochas Okorocha, his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu and Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Sir, you were not at the Imo State Stakeholders meeting held recently, why?
If you mean physically, yes; but I was with them in spirit. I like such non-partisan gathering as it serves as a melting pot of our commonwealth. The briefing is necessary to help people have clear perspectives to make right choices.
Did you feel disappointed that Governor Uzodimma did not name the sponsors of insecurity in the state as promised?
No, not in the least. I rather felt greatly relieved that the governor allowed wise counsel to prevail. That’s collegial leadership. It is the duty of the police to investigate crimes and prosecute criminals. That singular act has saved Imo another cycle of crises.
How did you see the arrest of Uche Nwosu?
The public have reacted and the police have spoken. However, I was neither surprised nor alarmed. We live in denials. What actually happened, as sad as it seemed, has been in our character and in our history. We have become immune to shame because of anesthesisation of conscience.
But it has attracted nationwide condemnation?
Why not, but why now? Why this junk politics that we are yet to learn how to mitigate our emotions to let go non-desirables. The indices have been there long before now. You forgot that Assumpta Cathedral was aggressively invaded, the altar scandalously desecrated and the Church rudely violated. As you make your bed, so must you lie on it. We must avoid creating psuedo-selves to please anyone. It is not good to confuse excessive partisan instincts with religious sentiments.
Yesterday’s bandits are today’s protesters. Violence begets violence. We must, therefore, always try to do right things right. Growing up was fun, parenting cherished and kinship affinity memorable. We were one another’s keeper and security was the least of our challenges as most actions and reactions were predictable and anticipated. Today, there’re so much ambiguities and like I always say, a lot of conflicts and contradictions.
How do you see APC in Imo?
I don’t know and I don’t care. I worry about my party, the PDP, and the political governance in Imo because it affects everyone. I don’t want to be a passive online consumer, but an active and mindful imolite. You know we are emotional beings with a tendency to slack off.
This is particularly true of those who suffer mental damage due to politics and as a result subjected to deficiency disease. As you are aware, personality hunger for social approval deprives one of uniqueness and the ability to think for oneself. I do not want emotions to blur my thinking. People who tolerate that become narrow-minded and fail to see the big picture.
I don’t look at Imo from the prism of the PDP alone. Bearing in mind that I am the chairman of Board of Trustees of Association of Imo Town Unions while in Abuja I am the chairman of Imo State Elders Council. These are non-partisan groups. So boundaries management is crucial and critical. I always try not to allow sentiments to override political calculations.
I think that it is better to look for opportunities to unite people, to promote self expression and inspire people towards doing meaningful things. These are far better than sitting in silence and craving for more “me” time.
The last time you attended the Governor’s Consultations with local government stakeholders, some of your party members became quite apprehensive?
You know, as one lives, so do one thinks.
There are communication gaps. So, I don’t blame anyone. Imagine their trajectories.
Relying on old stereotypes and living with myths. They ignore the basic details of people, platform, process and parameters in their conjectures. I am in PDP not as a convention, but an act of conviction. Why not ask PDP governors to boycott National Council of States and National Economic Council meetings or the PDP members in the various legislatures to severe all forms of relationships and associations with others.
You don’t deepen democracy by boycotts. It’s counter-productive. Generally, politics is an act of role playing; fulfilling the “persona” which means “mask” in Latin. So, to be yourself is to many bad politics. We forget even as Christians that to be successful we must be light and let truth prevail. Think of Imo and Hope. He was with us in the PDP and suddenly became a devil when he decamped to APC. Baba decamped, Waziri decamped, Saraki decamped, Tambuwal decamped, T. A decamped, Okwute joined us and to become Deputy Speaker Omenkeahuruanyi (Emeka Ihedioha) voted against the PDP zoning formula. Onwa left after being Imo governor for eight years and later came back. Recently, Omenkeahuruanya is having a public romance with Owelle, Ugwumba and others. These are positive efforts towards reconciliation and possibly conversion/mobilisation. Hope decamped and who told you that like the others when conditions improve, that he will not return?
In political circles, people see you as unique, why is it so?
Politics is not the dialogue of the deaf. It’s the theatre of cultures and languages, though polyphonic. It’s not lethargic, but rather a movement. We are in politics not only for growth and development, but also the management of diversity and adversity. We try to understand what drives people, to enable us adapt and adjust. More so to learn how we can avoid and defend ourselves from toxic life-suckers who are best when it comes to traumatising others, hurt them, reduce them to non-persons and use them as stepping-stone for fractured career. I see things differently. Politics is a vocation not for the banal drama magnet, but the quiet pragmatist seeking what will fulfil and unify people, as well as fix things that are broken.
As a politician, I believe that life is a movement and in the journey, you must be conscious of your destination and focus on the compass, know your products and chose your vehicle no matter the time, turn and twists. It’s going to be inherently chaotic, but take control and not wait until it becomes boring and monotonous.
How optimistic are you that the likes of Rochas and his son-in-law will return to the PDP?
In politics or any relationship for that matter it has been aptly demonstrated that infatuation is grossly disruptive if not totally and completely destructive. Ordinarily, having any or both (Owelle and Ugwumba) would be a great temptation. Today, their reputations precede their presence and impacts on their aspirations. Owelle is a politician of great intensity and unpredictable reflexes. A genius of sorts, driven by “only God Knows”; he has traversed all the major political parties/landscapes in Nigeria. He was among the first set of govenorship aspirants in Imo State in 1999. You may not have known that Pa Solomon Lar who was the then chairman of the PDP in Nigeria had wanted Owelle to be the first PDP governor of Imo State, but providence dictated otherwise. In fact, he sent Engr Barnabas Gemade to do precisely that. Unknown to him Engr Gemade was a man of very great moral principles and was not ready to compromise it under any threat, for any filthy lucre or seductive glamour. He followed his conscience and allowed the will of the people, the Supreme judgement. It was under direct primaries; transparent and flawless. By the firm resolve of the people and will of God, Achike Udenwa with his impeccable credentials and physical dynamism emerged as the PDP govenorship candidate for Imo State. He went on to win at the polls. Pa Solomon Lar, may his revolutionary and pioneering soul rest in perfect peace of God Almighty, went ahead and directed that Owelle should be the PDP candidate for Orlu zone. He ran against the ANPP charismatic and enigmatic Arthur Nzeribe. To every discerning member of the PDP, the party lost Orlu before the Senatorial election was held. Owelle had the script and the power of the tongue, but Arthur, a man of mega fortune, Ogbuagu, Oshiji, Damanze Oyimba was firmly on ground and had the minds of the people. Consequently, Arthur, the man with the magic wand, won. Owelle and Ogbuagu swop political parties and Owelle joined the ANPP. He ran for the ANPP presidential nomination in 2003, but lost. He returned to the PDP and became President Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs. Owelle is a politician of no mean ambition. In 2005, he founded the Action Alliance (AA) party and was intent on being its presidential candidate in 2007, and in September 2007 ran for the PDP chairmanship. The convention was manipulated as well as the state primaries, the consequences on the Southeast was fatal and remained so till date. In July 2009, Owelle left the PDP for APGA and in 2011 through unusual collaborations and most controversial circumstances, Owelle emerged as the governor of Imo State and achieved the same “miracle” in 2015. At this time not as an APGA candidate, but as APC flagbearer. Owelle, the man of swags, left APGA with a faction of the party joined the crack team that founded the APC on 2nd March, 2013. Recall that Owelle boasted that he is richer than Imo State. He is estimated to be worth over $1.5 billion. He was President of Nigeria Red Cross, Chairman Board of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and you know his records with these agencies. Politicians hardly forget and are not known to forget. You will recall how Zik’s reminiscences of his encounters with Akinloye of the NPN affected his emergence as NPN presidential candidate in 1979, even after he had been assured of the support of all from the North. He finally made Jim and De Sam governors and unwittingly unmade himself the president of Nigeria of Igbo extraction. It was a fatal error of judgment. Do not forget the sad revelations by the Journalists Hangout on Friday 30th August, 2019, on TVC News, anchored by Jones Usen; that His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, through the then Imo State Secretary to Government, Hon Uche Onyeaguocha, ordered the arrest of Owelle for assaulting Hon Jasper Ndubuaku, chairman Imo State Recovery of Government Property in Spibat Estate. Again, on Sunday 21st February, 2021, Owelle was again arrested for his invasion of Akachi Estate, Owerri. Owelle is the personification of AA which he founded in 2005 and has not failed to use it at will to further his political ambition as expectedly happened in 2019 in the case of Ugwumba Nwosu, his son-in-law. I have to go this length to make you realise the possible conflicts and contradictions that may likely emerge in future with capacity for explosions of unimaginable proportion in the PDP in the event there’s a disagreement of the gladiators or critical stakeholders and core PDP or AA fundamentalists. All these have to be factored into any move regarding your question.
Pius Anyim has indicated interest to run for president likewise Governor Dave Umahi, both of them Igbo men, and it’s likely others from the zone may join the race, is this a good omen for Ndigbo especially as they clamour for the presidency in 2023?
Very often I make reference to the Rules of Chaos by Steven Vichenzey where he said that when so many things are taken for granted, it is next to impossible to perceive the truth… It is what you expect that you see, the unexpected is left unnoticed. For quite sometime people have been asking about who from the Southeast zone is willing, ready and able. The Southeast got alarmed by the mesmeriation of the nation. I am very glad that voices are coming out from people like Governors Zulum and El-Rufai, that though rotation is not in the APC Constitution yet they believe that it should not just be treated as a convention but a covenant. Prof George Obiozor has severally condemned the deliberate exclusion of the Southeast in the rotation of the presidency as “selective morality”. He has continued saying that a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction is politically justifiable and morally defensible. It is in quest for a just, fair, right political environment that you now see the emergence of some of our best and brightest offering themselves to serve as president of Nigeria in 2023. It’s not the place nor the intention of the Southeast to impose any aspirant as the candidate of any of the parties, but they encourage all to come out and let the respective parties chose from among them.
What the people are saying is that the North having served as president for the last eight years, the presidency should rotate to Southern Nigeria. This will clear the fear and allegations of domination, marginalization and enslavement.