Chief Azubuko Joel Udah, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has called on the Igbo to throw their weight behind the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, as the surest way for the zone to produce Nigeria’s President in 2023.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the former police chief, described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a party that lacks credibility.
What are your expectations for 2019 elections?
Present Muhammadu Buhari will win the presidential elections to complete his second four-year term, and to continue with the good works that he has been doing. We hope that in his second term a lot of dividends would come our way.
Talking about good works, some Nigerians are disenchanted with his government because of hardship in the country, and Nigeria is rated as the second poorest country in the world after India
That is perception. He is not even up to four years in the saddle and people are talking about disenchantment. He took over from a government that was involved in a very serious perfidy and deceit; there were lots of corruption all over the place; he came and started correcting the ills that had characterised the nation, especially, the endemic corruption. No mater what anybody may say, to a very large extent, corruption has been curtailed; for our politicians who are corrupt, the fear of Buhari is the beginning of wisdom.
He came in when oil price was down; at its lowest level ever, and most of the projects that the previous government embarked upon even when there was money were abandoned, but he has continued with those projects.
I don’t know who will do better than him in this dispensation.
Those clamouring for the return of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is it to come back and continue with the destruction of the economy and the country?
It is better to give the APC under Buhari a chance to continue fixing the country that has been in a bad shape under the PDP government.
Still talking about the state of the country, reputable international organisations, like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, say Nigeria has been worse in the last three years. Even Transparency International report says the country has gone down the ladder in the corruption index, as well as insecurity. How do you reconcile that?
I don’t know where those international organisations you mentioned got their information, but we know that this government has not been discriminatory in dealing with people who are corrupt. The APC government of Buhari came to curb the high threshold of corruption; it was a free for all corruption before he took over, and those kinds of things he is doing are not usually visible. This government does not cause the poverty you are talking about; we have had very poor governance before Buhari took over.
Talking about insecurity, you know that crime is an endemic thing, so there is no time you say that crime will not be there, but the complaint is when it is very high.
When you are talking about crime, let us start with terrorism- the Boko Haram, the herdsmen/farmers clashes, etc, and this government has tried its best in handling this insurgent group, Boko Haram. Guerrilla warfare is not an easy combat, but since this government came, it has dealt with the Islamic sect, what we are having is a kind of guerrilla warfare, they come and attack and run away; this will not last forever. If this government is given the chance to continue with the good works it will see to the end of Boko Haram sect.
For the past two months or more, the Fulani herdsmen and the farmers’ clashes have reduced considerably; there have been engagements, there have been reconciliations in those places that these things used to happen. In terms of security, once the government is determined to handle such situations, it would achieve success, and that is the way the APC government is going to solve the problems. Even when the party took over, there was also restiveness in the Niger Delta, where the people were committing a lot of economic atrocities that led to the creation of amnesty programme by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. So, each crisis that comes there must be a solution on how to curb it, and Boko Haram won’t be an exception.
It is said that Buhari knows that he is no longer as popular, which is the reason he doesn’t want to sign the Electoral Amendment bill, that will make election rigging difficult. Do you agree?
This is a high technical matter. On both sides, the voters have their arguments, which when you go through them, you know they have their points. This matter can be properly resolved. I learnt that the National Assembly is holding session on the best way to go about it.
Some people are insisting that it must be card reader or nothing because of what happened in 2015 election, where elections were said to have held in some local governments in Borno State, that Boko Haram had taken over and hoisted its flags. According to them, Buhari scored unimaginable figures there. As a security expert how can this happen, and who went there to conduct the elections?
This is very speculative. Even though Boko Haram had attacked those places, does it mean that people in various IDPs camps were disenfranchised?
You are talking as if the sect had taken over the whole of Borno and Yobe states. Those elections were conducted where human beings were. If you say, Borno and Yobe states, it was not only APC that was there, PDP was also there. If there was anything like that, it should have been challenged.
APC is beating its chest that it will win Abia governorship election, does the party have what it takes to do that given the claim that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has performed so well?
Which governor in Abia State has performed well, what has he done? The state remains the worst in this country in terms of development of infrastructure. You can’t go to any state and compare it with what we are seeing in Abia. Abia is in a sorry state; you go to Aba and you can’t pass anywhere, there are no roads, the commercial town every Easterner was proud of has decayed under Ikpeazu, and you say, he is working. The state has gone comatose and needs urgent rescue, and if the present government is allowed to continue, then the state will kiss the canvas. What is good about the government, is it the flyovers that have been built all over the place? The only passable roads in the state are those constructed by the federal government, nothing is going on in Abia, it is in shambles.
Igbo have been clamouring for the presidency, Buhari government has promised to handover to them in 2023, but the PDP has picked an Igbo as vice presidential candidate for 2019, which way should the Igbo follow?
We should follow the ruling party; there is no way we will isolate ourselves from the APC and expect that when they win and by 2023, we will be contending to be supported for the presidency. We have to rally round and put ourselves on the pedestal for presidency by voting for APC.
If we do that, there is no way those in the North and the West will not support the Igbo to be the president because other geopolitical zones have had their turns at the presidency.
Once our people show political sagacity by voting APC and not isolating ourselves, there is no doubt that even Buhari himself will be the one at the forefront for an Igbo person to take over from him. Right from the beginning when he contested, he chose an Igbo as his running mate, and the second time, he did the same. So, it is balderdash for anybody to say that he hates the Igbo.
What if the Igbo follow him and he doesn’t win?
If the Southeast follows him and he wins in the zone, is it in the Northwest, where he is a hero that he will lose; where will he lose in the Northwest, what about the Northeast? Let us do this analysis, we should be wise; Yoruba will say, Yoruba ronu, (think) and we should say, Ndigbo chenu echiche.
We should join the ruling party and not go about beating the bush, and be wandering in the political wilderness. We should join the winning party, the PDP was there and everybody rose and said, we needed a change and they kicked PDP out.
You were in PDP?
I was part of it, but I was a victim of chicanery and perfidy in the party. I have never seen such a thing; I was just a neophyte coming just after my retirement. Once beaten twice shy, the party I belong now, the APC, people are treated with respect and being treated with responsibility, and not for people to deceive you or try to undo you, that is what happened to me in PDP. I can’t be part of such chicanery and perfidy anymore.