A former Governor of Enugu State and one-time National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, in this interview with KENNETH OFOMA, takes a critical look at the state of the nation ranging from the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari by Igbo leaders over the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, the general insecurity and economic challenges facing the county, the crises in the leading political parties, the war against corruption among things, and submits that the release of Kanu and presidency of Igbo extraction in 2023 will kill separatist agitations in Nigeria
What is your premonition ahead of 2023 general elections in Nigeria given the current security and economic crisis and general state of affairs with the political parties in Nigeria?
The answer to that question is simple and straightforward. PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) is offering the country an alternative, genuine alternative, constructive alternative, sincere alternative, alternative with a difference and with experience. Nigeria was not this bad in the 16 years that PDP was in government.
We know the data in this country in 2015 when we lost power, we know the promises that the current government made to the people of Nigeria when they came into power and we know that they have not fulfilled one single promise. So that leaves our country with only one alternative and that is to vote massively for PDP to rescue Nigeria.
Is it about the party or the person the PDP will field and also the issue of zoning, where the person comes from?
Basically for now as a party (PDP), it’s unlikely to zone the presidency to any part of the country. It’s likely that they will ask all aspirants to vie and that won’t be the first time we are doing so.
When (former) President wanted to do a second term of his ticket with (late President) Umaru Yar’Adua, the party felt that he had a right under the Nigerian Constitution which was superior to the party constitution to seek a second term on the Yar’Adua-Jonathan ticket. Hence they allowed him to do so and at the same time opened the door wide for anybody who wanted to run to run.
We’re by the culture of the third world, Africa in particular, where the party in government most of the time does not play by the rules of the game, so we consider ourselves coming from a weak point and therefore, the only way we can win this election is one; to go with our best as may be been proven by the national convention to select the presidential candidate and if we take our best foot forward, and I know that the incoming national working committee has already started working very, very hard on a manifesto that will answer most of the problems in Nigeria today; with that covenant with the Nigerian people, we hope to rescue Nigeria.
Recently former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said that the Igbo will not mind kneeling down to beg the North to support the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023. And that comment has been attracting mixed reactions; some Igbos are saying that the Igbo will not beg for it, even a northern group was quoted to have said that even if the Igbo kneel down they won’t budge; what’s your take on that?
Nigeria owes the South East the presidency of Nigeria for so many reasons. Number one; if they zone the presidency of Nigeria to the South-East for majority parties in Nigeria that are likely to end up producing the president, they will one, reunite Nigeria with a president that comes from a tribe that believes in Nigeria’s unity and has sacrificed everything for the unity of this country.
Number two, as the most marginalized hurt people in this country, they will be stretching their hand of fellowship to the Igbo to end the civil war once and for all. Number three, they will be making a strong statement that if they have conceded to the Ibos who are the most traumatized and marginalised Nigerians, they want to bring to an end the agitations for the disintegration of this country.
Number four, they will be conceding the presidency of Nigeria to a tribe that is endowed with entrepreneurship at a time the economy of this country is on its knees. It’s those people that God has endowed with an entrepreneurial attitude that can rescue the economy of this country.
When some Igbo leaders now referred to by some people as ‘Igbo great’, led by the First Republic Aviation Minister, Mbazuluike Amechi visited President Muhammadu Buhari they requested for the release of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of IPOB, as a political solution. And the President said that although the request was heavy, he would consider it. Do you still think that this is a possibility and how do you think that his release will affect the political dynamics ahead of 2023?
A legal or violent crushing of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu will not end the agitation in the South- East for Biafra. There are many Nnamdi Kanus in the South-East.
The only thing that can end Biafran agitation is one; political solution, the federal government of Nigeria must listen to the case of the South-East and stretch out its hands to make amends.
Two, having done that you will find that our people will feel a sense of belonging to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and if you follow that up to the presidential candidate of Igbo extraction in the two major political parties, you will have had a political solution to Biafran agitation to the insurrection in the South East and to agitations for separation of any part of Nigeria from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
And that will include the pardon and release of Nnamdi Kanu?
That’s what I’m saying, that’s a political solution to Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB agitation. Sit down, what is the problem, what is their case, how can Nigeria resolve this matter on the table not with military force, not in the court of law but by dialogue.
Thursday was the world corruption day and many people believe corruption is the bane of Nigeria’s development and the reason for underdevelopment in Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular. Over the years several governments have talked about the anti-corruption war, given the endemic nature, the systemic nature of corruption, is it possible to fight and defeat corruption in Nigeria?
The only way you can defeat corruption in Nigeria is to create a robust economy. If you create a robust economy and people are earning a living wage, there will be no pressure on them to steal money to meet up their needs.
If you create a robust welfare state, where the government can guarantee education and health, and people are earning a living wage, it will reduce corruption by 50 percent.
And when you now go ahead to give mass housing, people have a roof over their head, they acquire good education, they acquire good health and you create jobs for them corruption will die a natural death. These are the fuel that’s igniting corruption and keeping the flame ablaze.