Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
National Assembly member representing Aboh-Mbaise /Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives, Bede Eke, believes that the country needs a law to bar old people from contesting for offices. In this interview, the lawmaker, also bared his mind on the new administration in Imo State.
Recently, Nigeria marked 59 years independence. In your perspective, how has the country fared?
For me, the most important thing, even though we have not got it right as a nation, is that for 20 years now, we have been practising democracy. The worst democratic government is better than the best military government. And I think from there, we will get it right someday, even though some people are wondering when we will get it right, because 59 years is not 59 days.
We should understand that these 59 years, the military had a chunk of it. But when you look at what we are trying to do to reform our process, for me, I thought we were beginning to get it right during the time of Jega. From that point, his successor, could have done better. But from my own assessment, we went backwards.
We should get it right in our electoral laws, so that votes can count; when you are elected, you know that you are elected by your people.
I had thought the President should have signed the last electoral amendment. We did that amendment based on the flaws we saw in the 2015 election. And we did that amendment for us to have an improved electoral process. But three times, that amendment was turned down.
We expected that it would have been signed into law, so that we can give legal backing to the celebrated card reader. Because in the INEC guideline, they tell you that anything that does not conform with the card reader is null and void. But is that the position of the law?
We said if the intention of the card reader is to make sure that people’s vote count, then let us introduce it into the law. But somehow, it was always turned down by one reason or the other.
I am appealing to the President, if it (Electoral Law) comes up again, he should try and sign that law. That would be a stepping down.
If you are talking about infrastructure, I can tell you we have not done very well. The level of decay is alarming. If you come in, look at those critical projects that your predecessor started; not the types we have in Owerri.
For me, if there are critical projects that will benefit the masses, the government should build on it. It doesn’t matter the political party that started it.
Soon the National Assembly will be commencing another road to constitution amendment, what are those issues you will like addressed in the next constitution alteration?
People talk about devolution of power; maybe that will also help us if we succeed in reducing the power at the centre. If you look at security, which is paramount, it will be good, if we can have state police.
For instance, if you look at the commissioners (of police), if you are not from the ruling party, you give instructions, another instruction comes from above. What happens? People don’t consider the security of the people. They look at this governor, where is he coming from, is he from our party or he is from the opposition?
The law says the chief security officer of the state is the governor and you, as a governor, give some insecurity instructions, and it is not carried out because of one or two interests; that area, we should look at it. Yes, people are also afraid that when you give the governors this power, they will also abuse it. But let us also look at the protection of lives.
Two, today, we all celebrate the Not Too Young to Run bill. We should have the Too Old to Rule. Let’s see if we can get young vibrant men to lead this country. That is my personal opinion.
You can get a man advanced in age, on advisory capacity, based on his experience in life. But you cannot tell me that what a man in his fifties can do, a man in his eighties can do it. No. It is not possible. That also is an area I will be looking at – a Too Old To Run bill. It is not targeted at anybody. But we need to inject fresh blood into governance.
You talked about infrastructure decay and you are a member of the PDP that governed this country for 16 unbroken years, and the present All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration has repeatedly said that your party brought the country to this sorry state
Talking about infrastructural decay, people campaigned in 2015, a party came up to say that there are things that were wrong. They told us that they will do this, they will do that. I expect that if you want to take over an office, you should have studied how the place runs and what you are coming to do.
You told us that PDP messed up the country and that you were coming to change the normal ways of doing things. And we expected that change. We looked forward to it. You told us that there is this magic you can do. People voted for you, expecting that magic. And you are coming to tell us now, that you never knew the level of rot. The blame game should stop. If you are not capable of handling the mess, why come in.
What have they done that we should give them pass mark? People are crying. People are yearning for PDP to come back. What does it show? That means we are better than the present government.
You are from the South East and in recent time, the people have been clamouring for the zone to produce the President of the country in 2019. Do you believe that a President of Igbo extraction is what the zone needs?
For presidency, the Igbo wants it. We should be given an opportunity to rule this country. Talk about Nnamdi Azikiwe. Talk about Aguiyi Ironsi, apart from these two people we have not been given a chance. Are we not part of this country?
Now we talk about six geo-political zones. It used to be Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. The Hausa has been there. The Yoruba has taken a shot. What about the Igbo? We should be allowed to produce a president. Probably, an Igbo man may be the Messiah.
What is your take on the rising cases of insecurity across the country?
Everyday we talk about it in the chamber. We are even tired of doing that. In football, you have a coach, and what does he do? He is there to watch. If you are not doing well, he will change you.
The service chiefs why have they not changed them? People are yearning for a change. Since this thing has continued, why don’t you try other hands and see whether some how things will change. We are alarmed. Nowhere is safe. If this thing gets into Abuja, we are finished.
What is your assessment of the new government in Imo State?
There is a lot of hope as far as Imo is concerned, because of the man that is governor. Emeka Ihedioha has been tested and he is a trusted person.
I read on paper, people talked about Governor Ihedioha not doing anything within 100 days and I laughed. Emeka has revived so many sectors in Imo State within his first 100 days in office.
If you go to Imo now, there is due process. You cannot do any contract, without following the procurement act, unlike what happened in the last administration. The local government system is back to life.
Very soon, you will see what will happen in the education system -technical schools, primary schools, secondary schools. Look at our roads, he has awarded about 15 roads. We are not talking about roads you do that in the next few months they are all gone. Ihedioha has changed a lot of things in Imo State.
What did Rochas achieve for eight years? You built some roads for N4billion, N6 billion and within months these roads failed. And you are telling Imo people that it is because of the acidic rain. Who are you deceiving?
People who served in that government are crying, saying Emeka Ihedioha should face governance; he should stop harassing Rochas. Ihedioha is not harassing Rochas. The people are saying “come and tell us what you have done.” You have expended this amount of money, come and match it with what is on ground. A clear conscience fears no accusation.