Nze Elvis Agukwe, former commissioner for information and Strategy, Imo State, is a firm supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan. A former national director in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he has been deeply involved in the campaign to re-elect Jonathan. In this interview with Daily independent, he speaks on what he considers political deviations Rochas Okorocha, and makes a case for Jonathan’s reelection.
Are you saying that Jonathan’s chances in the South-East are very bright?
If in 2011, President Jonathan secured 80 percent of the votes cast by the people of the South East, this time around, he will garner between 90 and 99 percent. The people have seen with their own eyes what the President has done in Igboland in the last three and half years. The traders from Aba and Onitsha now go to Enugu to board International flight to Dubai. Before Jonathan there was no international flight from any part of Igboland for 43years after the war. The people of the South East know of appointments given to Igbo citizens in Jonathan’s time. Have we been Chief of Army Staff before Jonathan?. Our roads are no longer death traps. He has restored our confidence in Nigeria. Which President would have given Ojukwu a state burial and still attend in person? Jonathan did that and he also honoured our illustrious son, Prof Chinua Achebe, by being present at his burial. Jonathan has given the Igbo a real sense of belonging and it will be difficult for any Igbo man or woman not to vote for Jonathan in 2015.
What about APC which claims it is making an inroad into Igboland?
Do you know what our visits to the hinterland have opened our eyes to? We are having almost a refugee problem in Igboland. People are returning from Maiduguri, from Mubi, from Kano, from Bauchi, and other Northern States because of the activities of Boko Haram. And do you know what they told us? That Boko Haram and APC are one and the same? They believe that sponsors and supporters of Boko Haram are in APC. They have not also forgotten that the leaders of APC are still the same people who threatened to make the country ungovernable if Jonathan won the 2011 elections. They also know that APC does not have the interest of Ndigbo at heart. That is why they rejected their most beloved son, Dr Chris Ngige, during the last governorship election in Anambra, because he joined the APC. So, the remnants of APC as represented by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State will soon receive the Fayemi treatment. We are happy that wise Igbo sons like Senator Annie Okonkwo are deserting the party. Very soon, APC will not be populated by any true son or daughter of Igboland.
But somebody like Governor Okorocha is highly popular and may have the capacity to ruin the chances of President Jonathan in 2015?
That is false. Governor Okorocha is not in the good books of Ndigbo because he has desecrated all the values the Igbo hold dear. He was elected under APGA, which is the symbol of Igbo strength. What did he do? He betrayed APGA and abandoned the party. He dethroned a whole Chairman of South-East traditional rulers, Eze Ilomuaya, and the next day, he went to Kano to bow to an Emir-elect. You know that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has publicly disowned Rochas and stripped him of all chieftainancy titles? He does not have respect for Igbo elders. He does not have respect for the Igbo intelligentsia. Rochas cannot represent the interest of Ndigbo. Currently he is at a crossroads. He is a drowning man. The message from Ekiti is already haunting him. Imo people cannot wait till 2015 to pay him back for the treachery and betrayals. Did you not hear how he was disgraced at late Justice Oputa’s funeral? He is an accidental governor on his way out.
Coming back to Jonathan’s chances in 2015, do you think he should make it with all this insecurity and fear in the land?
First of all, the insecurity we have today is purely politically motivated. Boko Haram is a tool by Jonathan’s opponents to cripple his government. It is a manifestation of their threats in 2011. But I am here today assuring you that whether insecurity or not, Jonathan will still be re-elected. Nigerians are looking beyond the terrorists and their sponsors. We shall overcome them. In spite of the insecurity with all the distractions, the President is still performing. Anybody who carries out an objective survey in Nigeria will tell you that Jonathan has done better than all his predecessors. For the first time, Nigeria’s economy has overtaken that of South Africa. In spite of the insecurity, Nigeria remains investors’ preferred destination in Africa. During the recently concluded world Economic Forum, it was agreed that the country’s economy is on the steady growth. Secondly, terrorism is a global phenomenon which is not restricted to Nigeria. Syria, Iraq, Israel, Sudan, Kenya and other countries plagued by terrorism still run their countries, conducting elections and catering for the welfare of the people. So, Nigeria cannot shut down because of terror. While the Federal Government and Nigerian troops are gallantly combating the terrorists, our democracy should also be growing. I am happy that Prof. Jega and INEC have assured us that the 2015 elections will be conducted across the country. So, we urge President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately declare publicly his intention to seek re-election. Now is the time. We know that every time that the nation makes any gain in governance, the terrorists will start bombing places to take the shine off government’s achievements. President Jonathan should ignore them and make Nigerians happy by seeking re-election.
But are you not worried over the negative perception of Jonathan’s government, both locally and internationally?
That is the handwork of a tiny cabal manipulating the media to achieve the pre-determined objective of tarnishing the image of government. They are people who populate the opposition APC, who lack the temperament to govern a complex nation like Nigeria. Such a warped perception is the product of elite conspiracy. It happened to President Obama and some had doubts about his re-election. But because he was working for the people, rebuilding the economy which the Republicans damaged in the first place, Obama’s re-election was with a wider margin. President Khatami of Iran had the same experience and he still triumphed. So, I am assuring you that President Jonathan will win in 2015 because the masses appreciate the transformation he has brought in the country.
What do you think of the Ekiti election which PDP surprisingly won with a large margin?
To me and many Nigerians, the Ekiti election is the beginning of a new order. It is also the beginning of the revolution we have embarked upon in the South East. Some notable chieftains of PDP in the South West like Kashamu Buruji and Olabode George went underground to challenge the impunity and hegemony of Obasanjo and his cohorts who thought that they will upstage President Goodluck Jonathan in the South West. So, the people of the South West demonstrated in Ekiti that they don’t believe in APC. They rejected the pseudo-democrats who have been operating in the South West, especially their emperor, Bola Tinubu. So APC lost 16/16 because we saw a people’s movement in Ekiti. I salute Kasamu Buruji, Bode George, and the lion himself, Ayo Fayose, for leading Ekiti people to victory. Remember that APC also lost in Ondo where it came a distant third. It also means that they will lose Osun.
Do you see what happened in Ekiti happening in the South-East?
Sure, sure. What happened in Ekiti will be a child’s play compared to what is going to happen in the South East. Those fake leaders without organic leadership will be politically wiped out. Our campaign is not political party-based. It involves Igbo globally, that is why we have concluded plans for the launch of the South-East Amalgamation for Jonathan/Sambo 2015 in Houston, Texas, this week. We intend to mobilize the Igbo globally. That is why we are urging our people to move to the grassroots and ensure that we capture the hearts of the people. In fact, the strategy of South-East Amalgamation for Goodluck Jonathan centres on grassroots appeal. We are however reaching out to other Igbo outside the hinterland through the media and social network. We are talking to Igbo establishments in Lagos, Abuja and America, for the South West, North and Diaspora respectively. We have functional offices and coordinators there. We want to use the 2015 elections to restore the confidence between the people of the South-East and South-South. We want to use the election to tell our enemies that they can no longer divide us. Today we have the South-South, South-East traditional rulers council and also that of the governors. We shall consolidate on that. So, we are working very hard to renew our ties and unity with the re-election of President Jonathan in 2015. President Jonathan has reinvented and re-branded the PDP for electoral victories through his transformation agenda.