Sir Temple Ogueri Onyeukwu, a retired Airforce officer is the National leader of Turning Point Youth Empowerment Initiative; social and anti corruption crusaders. Fellow; the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Benin and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. A member of the Nigerian Institute of management (chartered), and an associate member of the chartered Institute of Taxation. He is also a member of the Institute of Management consultants of Nigeria. He spoke to our correspondent and other journalists on a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
Insecurity in the country and the Boko Haram Challenge:
The issue of Boko Haram and the declaration of war on the Nigerian state is worrisome. The dreaded Islamic sect outsmarts the security agents at will and recks havoc on their targets. Now I am worried because in the North, majority of the Christians are not indigenes but Ibos and other southerners with a handful of northerners. It appears that for every 10 Christians killed in these attacks, 7 are Ibos. Lorry loads of corpses have been arriving the East for some time now. Our governors have been preaching peace. Without any concrete step to stop the mayhem. Are they waiting for all of us to be killed before something will be done?
How do you think security can be restored in the affected states?
Every body has been shouting that Goodluck Jonathan should do something. That the man is weak and can not bite. The constitution makes the governor of the state the chief security officer. Where the governor cannot guarantee security in his state, he should resign because security of the citizens is one of the cardinal objectives of governance. Again one realizes that there are constitutional barriers militating against the governor from acting to his full capacity like the centralisation of the police command at the federal level. This is the time to make provisions for state police in the constitution with defined roles which must exclude involvement in elections.
In order to restore security in the affected states President Goodluck Jonathan must assume responsibility, declare state of emergency in these states, appoint military administrators, suspend the governors and the state houses of Assembly for the period of the state of Emergency. The National Assembly must support the actions of the president even retroactively. These are unusual times and require unconventional procedures to solve the problem. We are tired of the ritual of the government condemning the killing of innocent citizens inside their places of worship or their houses. If a relation of a top government official has been affected, they would have known how it pains.
How does this affect the Ibos as a nation?
I stand to be challenged, the Ibos are the only Nigerians who believe in the unity and indissolubility of this country. Despite their experience during the Biafran war when all their properties were forcefully seized, declared abandoned, and sold to the indigenes of the various regions where they were located, it is still these same Ibos that have moved to the remotest parts of the North and West and developed these areas. Boko Haram is essentially targeting Ibos so that they can take over the investments in the various states of the North after killing them .
Sometime ago, the MASSOB leader Uwazuruike called on Ibos to relocate their families home and go back and defend their businesses. What is your take on this?
Some Ibos heeded the call, brought back their wives and children and when they went back they were slaughtered like rams. Think about it, you must be alive to defend whatever property you have. It is true that most of these Ibos have no investments at home. Some of them have lived in the North since after the war. They speak the language, have homes but are still Christians. These are the targets. I call on all Ibos to leave the North and come back home because neither the state governments nor the federal government can guarantee their security.
What do you think is the next logical step to take?
It is better to leave apart in different countries and have peace and remain alive than to live together in a forced geographical fraudulent contraption called Nigeria only to be killed like an animal. Where are the Senior Advocates of Ibo extraction? They must put their heads together and apply to the United Nations to step in and peacefully dissolve this unholy union. Why do we pretend that Nigeria is one when we know from the depth of our hearts that the thing binding us together is only the crude oil from the south south and south east. The revenue from the oil of south east and south south has made Abuja the best oil city without an oil well.
You said Ibos are the targets, how do you mean?
Honest statistics has it that in all the states of Nigeria, after the indigenes, the Ibos are the next largest in population. The Ibo nation in Nigeria is conservatively over 60 million. The political side of Boko Haram is that in their ignorance, they claim the president is an infidel and cannot be president over them. Secondly, they appear to want to stop the president from seeking a second term. Thirdly they appear to be insisting that Ibos should not even dream of contesting the presidency after Goodluck Jonathan. The socio economic part of the Boko Haram struggle is that they want to drive away all Ibos from the North and take over their properties. It is trite to note that the Yoruba has been dominating the economy since after the Biafran war. The Hausa Fulani has likewise been dominating the governance at the federal level. The Ibos have depended on individual struggle for more than forty years now. Now you want them to loose all their investments in the North. This is criminal and unacceptable by all standards. The United Nations must step into this programmed genocide of Ibos now.
The Rochas Okorocha administration in Imo State?
One year after, the level of youth unemployment in Imo state continue to soar. These are the same youths who fought for him to become governor. The rate of kidnapping is frightening largely due to this large army of unemployed youths. Rochas does not seem to follow procedures in most of the things he does. Governance is not about talking long English. It is about bettering the life of the citizens of Imo State. I do not know how many citizens their lives have been bettered by this administration. No government or police can successfully fight crime with a large army of unemployed but employable graduates. The government needs to streamline it’s projects in order for them to impact positively on the people. The government needs to tell the people of Imo state how much it has borrowed during its one year in office. Is it true that Imo State under Rochas has borrowed over 200billion Naira within one year? Imo people need to know.
How do we address the increasing rate of crime in the south east?
Firstly the various governments in the various states must start creating jobs that add value to their respective economics, secondly they must come together and plan an integrated economy for the south East so that their projects will complement each other. They must refocus the economies of the states and invest their seeming loot back into the state instead of building one house worth one billion Naira in Abuja or building a hotel in Dubai or London. Ndigbo will hold them responsible if they refuse to unite and chart a plan forward for the Ibo nation. They are governors now and Ibos are being massacred in all parts of the North. We do not need peace missions. We ask for justice in all aspects of our relationship with the rest of Nigerians. The mantle falls on the governors now and if they fail posterity will judge them harshly.
In one of your interviews you advocated that the federal government should remove all the subsidy on petrol and allow market forces to determine the price. What is your take on the happenings with the subsidy probe of the House of Representatives?
What you are seeing being revealed is only the icing on the cake. The peoples Democratic Party appear to be corruption incorporated. It is either they are looking for a third term or looting the nation with reckless abandon. The PDP has been in government at the federal level since, the return of Democracy 1999. Can you point to any concrete project that has added value to the lives of Nigerian? Is it the Ibori gate or Etheh gate, or Salisu Bahari gate or Bankole gate or Alamiesigha gate or Lawan Farouk gate or Lucky Igbinedion gate or $16Billion power project for which Elumelu was charged to court for allegedly compromising the probe or Hembe gate? PDP has scored over 90% in corruption and less than 10% in people oriented programme. Now they are busy looking for a fault from the president to indict him and extort money or impeach him. When you remove the entire subsidy from petroleum everybody will cut his coat according to his clothe. Those who are interested in the business should not be defrauding the rest of us. If you subsidise agriculture, that is more understandable than people sitting in the privacy and comfort of their houses, raising vouchers and claiming millions and billions of dollars of our collective heritage. You appoint people who have the oversight function to investigate the fraud, they only go there and collect their tithe from the thieves and end up having more than the original thieves because each thief contributes at least 10% for those who have the duty to bring them to book. Will you blame Jonathan for this?
Farouk Lawan, the man of “integrity” is the yardstick to measure the level of integrity in all of us without exception. He also appears a study in hypocrisy. The human rights activists and leaders are no exception. Can this country make any headway given its present configuration? I doubt. However the government at the centre must encourage with more vigour the establishment of refineries and possibly sell crude to those refining the products in Nigeria at rates that will encourage others to venture into establishing refineries. When private refineries come on stream, Pms, diesel and other petroleum products will sell for about N50 per litre
How do you assess the different political parties APGA, PDP, ANPP, ACN,Labour Pary ?
The history of these parties can be correlated with their impacts on their strong holds. APGA has its stronghold in the East with 2 states Anambra and Imo in its kitty. Unfortunately the Ibos are not good politicians. They are either businessmen or Nationalist who think Nigeria first before they think of the Ibo nation. This is exactly what the great Zik of Africa epitomized. He was busy thinking of Nigeria and Africa while his contemporaries were busy consolidating their hold on their respective regions. With the confusion raging in APGA one wonders how far it will go. Me thinks that all the states in the south east should embrace APGA so that the Ibo man will have a strong platform to bargain for national leadership.
The PDP can be described as People Defrauding People. It has shown over the years that the security and welfare of Nigerians is not its primary goal since they control the federal government. Now that they want to bid for oil blocks and gas pipelines, it is nunc dimitis for Nigeria.
The ACN has its strong hold in the west. AWOLOWO THE GREAT demonstrated that charity begins at home. He put the western region first in all he did, consolidated and developed it more than any other region. Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria, Alliance for Democracy are all fore runners of the ACN. Southwest zone has been the greatest beneficiary of the Nigerian state since the amalgamation of 1914, yet they have always been in opposition without compromising. Always insisting on Justice, Equity and Fairness at all levels of governance. The ACN has taken after that mode. The ANPP and Labour Party can be described as younger brothers of the PDP.
Personally it appears to me that what Nigeria needs to make political, social and economic progress is a two party system and a single tenure of 6years for all executive elective offices from Local Government chairman to President. Until this is done we shall continue to beat about the bush.
Rochas Okorocha is said to have concluded plans to relocate Imo State University to Ogboko his home village from the next academic session? What is your take on this?
What is happening in Imo state currently is best described as confusion incorporated. It is either we relegate the constitutionally created local government, abandon the local council development areas initiated by the previous administration and start a 4th tier of government which will most likely expose the traditional rulers to politics. Before the present administration, studies have been done on the best site for Imo State University and places chosen. However if the previous administrations lacked the political will to relocate it and Rochas is taking it to his village so be it.
The Northern states governors forum on the 17th of May 2012 after their meeting promised to end Boko Haram. Since then, the bombing has continued. How do you react to this?
The Northern states governors forum comprises the governors of Nasarawa state from the CPC, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara from the ANPP and the 15 remaining governors from the PDP. After their last meeting they issued a communiqué. Among the things they said is “We must also know that by 2015, we are going as a united constituent. There were times when we went as constitutionalist and federalist and some as regionalist; this time around, we must do everything possible within the time period to unite ourselves and to go as a united group. The interest of the people is paramount; we must understand that and we must also understand that political parties are platforms and it is the interest of our own people that should guide our actions, our interests and our activities.” You can be sure that if they are able to close ranks they can stop Boko Haram. They can also hold the nation to ransom. This is the more reason the south east zone must close ranks now and seek the interest of the people rather than individual selfish interests. The governor is the chief security officer of his state and as such the Northern states governors’ forum must stop Boko Haram forthwith.
How do you think the issue of corruption in Nigeria can be eradicated or reduced to the barest minimum?
Nigeria itself is a fraud. It is a fraudulent geographical contraption. We must discuss the terms of our continued living together or forces beyond our control will dismember the country. True federalism, a two party system irrespective of whose fundamental rights of freedom of association is breached, a one tenure of 6 years for all elective executive positions, local government chairmen, state governors and their deputies, president and his vice, separation of local government accounts from the state local government joint accounts, reduction of the members of the House of Representatives to 5 per state and two for the federal capital Territory. Creation of 2 additional states for the South East Zone. These must be included in the amendment of the constitution. These are premised on Justice.
What should the Ibos do now if attacked by Boko Haram?
We have been praying. Islam does not authorize violence against your neighbour neither does Christianity. The CAN has been calling for National prayers. While we pray Boko Haram seats back prepare their weapons of war and attack us. We have been pushed to the wall. If anyone is attacked again, even if it’s the pistle with which his wife pounds yam for him, he should use it to defend himself. We have prayed enough. GOD is also a consuming fire even though His nature is to show Mercy and Compassion always. Nigerians must arise and defend themselves. The 19 members of the Northern states governors forum must awaken to their responsibility as the chief security officers of their states unless they want to show the world that they are part and parcel of Boko Haram.
Rochas Okorocha recently dropped some of his commissioners and SAS after one year in office. What is your take on this?
Rochas appointed them. As far as he is concerned, they have not lived up to expectation. Consequently it’s an admission that in the first year of his administration, he was not satisfied with his achievements. That is part of the confusion in the state and that is why he had to sack those commissioners and SAS.
What is your parting word to the nation?
ACN must be ready to take over at the national level because PDP has failed the nation from 1999 to date. However ACN must field an Ibo man for the presidency in 2015. It is just, Equitable, fair and the general consensus. By 2015, the north would have been in control of power at the centre in this country for about 38 years, the south west for about 12years and the south south for about 5years while the south east that has the highest population of about 60 million people had only six months through General Aguiyi Ironsi. Finally, PDP must save this country from economic recession. It is worthy to note that the approving authority, the importers of fuel, the looters of the treasury through subsidy and other fraudulent claims, the investigators, the prosecutors seem to be all members of the PDP or their financiers or proxies of those in power. Where do we go from here? The security challenge has overwhelmed the government. When economic recession sets in not because of lack of resources but because of lack of proper management of resources and the kleptomaniac attitude of those in power then Nigeria would have graduated to and surpassed Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda.