Sir Temple Ogueri Onyeukwu, is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria, Member Nigerian Institute of Management (chartered), Member Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, also holds a Pass at the Junior Command and Staff College where he was the best student in oral presentations. He holds a post graduate Diploma in Theology from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy and a Master of Business Administration from University of Benin. The first officer in the history of the Nigerian Airforce to qualify as a chartered Accountant, he is currently a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He is the National leader Turning Point Youth Empowerment Initiative, a financial and management consultant, social crusader, Administrator, Politician and Philanthropist. An aspirant for the House of Representatives, Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency. He spoke to our correspondent in his office in Owerri on various National issues recently.
The celebration of 100years of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates to make the country called Nigeria. What is your take?
It is regrettable that those who hold the Unity of this country, the Ibos have always been sacrificed to keep the country one. The country has not blossomed. We have not progressed. You still have vestiges of tribal inclination even at the highest levels of political power. You have the northern governors forum that discuss and enforce issues beneficial to the north irrespective of how the nation is hurt. You have the southern governors forum that do similar things. You have the forum of law makers at the national assembly from the various regions. These are all strings pulling the country apart. The only bond holding the country together are the Ibos who live in every nook and cranny of Nigeria and the oil that lays the golden egg from which every region benefits. Is there any strong Institution that Nigeria can boast of in her 100years of existence? Celebrating 100years without the basics like light, water, good roads especially in the South East is with it.
What are the terms of agreement reached before the amalgamation was consummated?
It is only the British that has this in their possession. The British High Commissioner in Nigeria is requested to publish the terms of the amalgamation for the present generation of Nigerians to study and either subject it to a referendum or make amends for a more cohesive, justiceable, peaceful co-existence where applicable. However as the bible says, there is time for everything under the sun, whatever the terms of the amalgamation maybe it is my submission that it has outlived its welcome. It has expired and can honestly no longer be relevant in the present generation without our inputs. We must fashion out the mode of our collective coexistence and take responsibility for its failure or success. For example, if the Ibos will continue to be massacred anywhere in a country they are laboring daily to build into a great nation, the leadership can ask them to come home unless the government of the State and Federal guarantee their safety. If Lord Lugard and his cohorts had not decreed Nigeria into existence without consulting us, the various constituent parts would have been better of today.
This brings us to the issue of the national conference, just inaugurated by the president. What salient issues should they discuss and adopt for inclusion into the constitution?
On paper, Nigeria is described as a federation. Is there any aspect of the political, social and economic life of Nigeria that shows that Nigeria is a Federation? The military in its wisdom while in governance imposed the Unitary System of government on Nigeria. All resources belong to the central government which now uses feeding spoon to feed the states and the local governments most often in contravention of the provision of the constitution. The state governments are worse when you consider their relationship with the local governments. The state governments without exception financially strangulate and emasculate the local governments under them. The presidential system of government is good but must be adapted to suit the peculiarities of our environment. Consequently I will and have always advocated that Nigeria should adopt a two party system of government, make the six geopolitical zones part of the constitution. Adopt and practice a truly Federal System of Government where the zones will pay tax to the Federal, where the federal will have limited functions, such as control over the Armed Forces, immigration, customs, external affairs, federal police, and such other that will qualify to be in its exclusive list. There must be state police, under the states, financial autonomy for local governments. Where revenue must be shared by the federal which is wrong in a federal system, then it must be on the basis of equality of the six zones only.
Let the zones go back and redistribute to their states. Derivation must be raised to a minimum of 25%. The presidency must be rotational between the northern region, western region, Eastern region and the Midwestern region. These are the regions that were recognized in the first republic. The governorship must rotate between the three senatorial zones that make up a state. The tenure of the governor, the president and the local government chairman must be one term of six years. The election to the local government should be conducted by INEC on zonal basis. The members of the House of representative should be reduced to a maximum of six members per state and three for the Federal capital.
With this proposal, when do you think the single tenure should start, from where and why?
Thank you very much. The northern region has ruled this country for 37 years, western region for 12 years Midwestern region 5years by 29 May 2015 and Eastern region for 6 months. Laws are not made to be retrospective. Consequently I submit that the single tenure starts from 2019. Anybody contesting election for any post in 2015 must have it at the back of his mind that in 2019 he will not be eligible for any elective post. This is now left for him to contest now or wait till 2019. The Eastern region should kick start the single term rotational presidency in 2019. If Nigeria believes in justice, equity, unity and has conscience, the eastern region must be given the opportunity to produce the president of Nigeria in 2019. The Ibos have continued to cement the Unity of this country with their blood.
What indicators show that the Ibos are marginalized and how can they be addressed?
The Ibo nation in Nigeria has been marginalized in all areas. The south East, otherwise the former Eastern region is the only region among the first three regions that make up Nigeria that has only five states the Northern region has nineteen states, the Western region has six states and the Midwestern region has six states. The Northern region has (413) Four hundred and thirteen local government areas, the Western region has (138) One hundred and thirty eight local governments, the Midwestern region has (123) One hundred and twenty three local government while the Eastern region has only (95)Ninety five local governments. Again the Northern region has (189) One hundred and eighty Nine federal constituencies, the Western region has (71) Seventy one, the Midwestern region has (55) fifty five while the Eastern region has (43) Forty three only. The Northern region has (57) Fifty seven senatorial zones, the Western region has (18) Eighteen, the Midwestern region has (18) Eighteen while the Eastern region has (15) Fifteen. With the operation of the unitary system, employment, revenue allocation, appointments to federal offices, ministerial, special advisers, capital projects are all based on the above data. A current case in point is the capital expenditure of the present federal government as shown in its midterm report, where it was reported that since 2011, the capital expenditure for the North central zone is about (N495bn) Four hundred and Ninety five Billion Naira, for the North West zone it is said to be in the region of (N297Bn) Two hundred and Ninety seven Billion Naira, while the North East is said to have benefited to the tune of (N114Bn) One hundred and fourteen Billion Naira making a total for the Northern region to be in the region of (N906Billion)Nine Hundred and six Billion Naira. The South West zone that is the Western region is said to have benefited to the tune of (N215Bn) Two hundred and fifteen Billion Naira in capital expenditure despite the fact that about 55% of the economy of Nigeria is domiciled in Lagos state. The Mid Western region is said to have benefited to the tune of (N212Bn) Two hundred and twelve Billion Naira in capital expenditure from the Federal government. This excludes the allocation to NDDC, the ministry of the Niger Delta which two bodies have the responsibility of developing the Niger Delta. Finally the South East that is the Eastern region is said to have benefited to the tune of (N74Bn) Seventy four Billion Naira. This is a classical example of marginalization and discrimination against the Ibos despite the fact that we constitute more than 60million out of Nigeria’s 170 million populations. Ibos in Lagos alone constitute about 40% of the population. When the Federal government since amalgamation exploit our resources and use same to develop other parts of the country, why should we not move in droves in search of means of livelihood to those other regions?
Where will the South East vote go in 2015? APGA, APC or PDP?
In the history of Nigeria politics, the southwest has always been the greatest beneficiaries of all governments. When they are not in government at the Federal level, they ensure they speak with one voice to get the best they can for the region. Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory, the Sarduana of Sokoto and Tafawa Balewa all of blessed memory laid the foundation for the development, integration and cohesion of their respective regions during the first republic while the Great Zik, the beacon of nationalism was busy preaching one Nigeria. In the run off to 2015 election, APGA has already adopted President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as its presidential candidate. The South East comprising, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo must unite under APGA. This is the only way we can have a strong voice at the centre that will benefit the generality of IBOS. The IBOS in APC and PDP are in the minority and cannot influence party decisions. Why don’t we unite under APGA in all elections apart from the presidential where the party has adopted the incumbent even before he formally declares to run for the post. A case in point is my constituency Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency, despite all the political heavy weights we have produced including a late Senate President, members board of trustees of the PDP, ministers; there is no single federal presence here that can employ 10 people. What is our political worth if we cannot influence the sighting of a Federal establishment in our constituency? Absolutely nothing. We are worthless.
The ground breaking ceremony for the 2nd Niger Bridge by Mr. President what does it portend?
The president did not mince words when he noted that the project has been lunched, and relunched by several past administrations. He equally promised that this project can no longer be delayed or politicized. The fact is that assuming all the states in the South east are under APGA we would have come together, build this bridge and collect tolls to repay the cost of the construction. The world over, there are certain facilities including roads and bridges where you pay toll to use. I appeal to Julius Berger to tell Nigerians and Ibos the truth about their commitment to commence construction and complete the project without resorting to excuses. The name of the construction Giant is at stake since the President has shifted the responsibility. The economic importance of this bridge is so enormous that we can no longer afford to delay the construction. We have begged enough for this bridge. The powers that be have kept on delaying it while constructing bridges across dry desert lands in Abuja. Many people have posited in several write-ups that one thing all Nigerians in authority easily reach consensus on is the subjugation, oppression, denial, suppression and resentment of anything IBO or that will benefit IBOS. Even our rights are denied us and enshrined in the constitution as law.
On Sanusi suspension as CBN governor
Sanusi was hired by the President to help in engineering policies that will aid economic growth and development. It is true that his appointment is tenured. Where an employee is working at cross purposes with his employer that means he is sabotaging the essence of his appointment. He has not been sacked. He is only suspended to pave way for unhindered investigation of allegations against him. What is the whole noise about?
Let us come home to Imo state. Your federal constituency. Mbaitoli/Ikeduru how is it fairing?
Since May 2011, Mbaitoli local government has received over (N3BN) three Billion Naira from the Federation Allocation Committee ditto Ikeduru also has received over N3bn. I challenge anybody to show me any project in Mbaitoli worth N100m or any project that can employ 10people; is there any such project in Ikeduru? Can anybody show MBAIKE people any constituency project that can help uplift the life of the people of MBAIKE? Mabike is on life support. It is in the emergency ward suffering from acute neglect and lack of development, lack of projects by the local and state governments, lack of constituency projects. Mbaitoli/Ikeduru is weeping, we are hurting? We have been denied and raped. Our collective resources and allocations are said to have been diverted to develop other parts of the state. We are part of Owerri capital development Authority yet those of us who work in Owerri rent houses in town because there are no access roads to our various villages. Mbaitoli/Ikeduru federal Constituency has the voting strength to decide the election of any governorship aspirants. We must use our votes wisely in the next election to enable us attract development after the election. Our allocation from the federation allocation committee alone will go a long way in developing our constituency. MBAIKE FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY IS HURTING.
What chances does APC have in the next election in Imo state?
The chances of APC in the next elections in Imo state appears very slim. The PDP has all the big names, but big names do not win elections. APC appears a stranger and you don’t entrust your future to a stranger whose leadership has demonstrated the capacity and willingness to abandon you on the high sea. The grassroot party in Imo state is APGA. APGA am certain will win the next elections in the state and enthrone grassroot development which the people are yearning for.
What is your take on the immigration recruitment tragedy?
The level of unemployment in the country has reached unprecedented height. It is said that more than 40% of the applicants are Ibos who have been discriminated against by the lopsidedness of the Federal structure. The local governments, the states and the federal government are not doing enough to create jobs to absorb the teaming graduates. A violent revolution triggered by unemployment may be in the offing. The various governments must arise to their responsibility. The two main important campaign issues in most democracies are the economy and security. Has the various governments at all levels faired well in these two issues?
President Goodluck Jonathan recently visited Imo State to receive some former PDP members who earlier left the party back to the PDP family. What is your take?
The APC administration in Imo State led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha gathered APC women from the 27 local government to the Dan Anyiam Stadium to sweep away the footprints of a sitting president after he left Imo State. This is to say the least a demonstration of the highest level of disrespect, political irresponsibility and rascality. APGA will use the same broom to sweep away this administration in the next election. Come to think about it, Fashola cannot condescend this low to disrespect a sitting president. Even Kwankwanso of Kano who is also of the APC will not treat the President with this degree of disrespect and levity.
What is the future of APGA in Imo State and in Nigeria?
APGA in Imo state is the people’s choice. It is the grassroot party and a way of life for Imolites. Onye ajuru aju anaghi aju onwe ya. Very soon you will witness mass exodus from both APC and PDP into APGA. APC in its desperation is said to be sponsoring some of their loyalists to infiltrate the ranks of APGA, pretend to be contesting election and destabilize the party. Millions of state fund is said to have been voted for this project. These are the same people that left APGA to APC where “Food is Ready”’ they are willing tools in the hands of their paymaster. They have waited patiently for us to finish rebuilding APGA. They are coming to execute their masters’ plans against the people of the state. The leadership of APGA must be wary of these group of Food is Ready politicians who do not believe in the process of building strong structures but worship money. Followers of APGA in Imo State are contented and faithful. They do not believe in money bags. They have the interest of the Ibo nation at heart. Accepting new entrants into the party solely for the purpose of contesting elections on APGA platform may infuriate the faithful. The leadership must not sacrifice our impending political victory for short term pecuniary benefits from impostors and saboteurs. Owelle Rochas Okorochas has used APGA, cruised to victory and dumped us. APGA must not allow this to happen at any level again. APGA is the body, soul and spirit of ndigbo. The exodus from PDP will be more massive in the days ahead especially now that they have realized that APGA is the answer to the problem of the Ibo nation. Many will fail their primaries and run to APGA for ticket at a fee. The leadership of APGA must not succumb to these Greek gifts. Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency is the strongest stronghold of APGA. No amount of bribery will deny us victory at all levels. MBAIKE will ensure with our voting strength the enthronement of APGA governor come 2015.
Daily Sun, April 2nd Page 10 reported the Imo State Governor as saying that Ojukwu would have joined APC if he was alive. How do you react to this?
Let me state it categorically without fear or favour that Ojukwu is first an Ibo man and a National hero both when alive or even in death. His primary purpose was to ensure that Igbo is not relegated to background. That is why he built APGA so that when the five states of the South East are in APGA they can hold their ground anywhere. There is no doubt that Ibos are in the minority in APC and PDP. Ojukwu, I know will not subscribe to relegating Ibos to the minority. He lived and died for Igbo cause. Let no body use his name in vain or blackmail the dead. He remains a hero dead or alive. Currently he is the spiritual leader of APGA. How can anybody in his right senses imagine Ojukwu in APC? ACN, the mother of APC was South West, based. Remember the issue of 20 pounds for every Ibo man after the civil war, remember the first time Ibos were deported in their own country? How many hospitals, schools etc did the leader of CPC General Buhari build in the South East while he headed the petroleum Trust Fund? How has ANPP benefited the Ibo race? APGA is the solution to the problem of the Ibo race and Ojukwu remain there even in spirit. OJUKWU IN APC? ROCHAS IS WRONG. Saying that Ojukwu would have joined the APC if he were alive is like saying that Arch Bishop Obinna will ever support evil. This is sacrilegious.
One citizen Samuelson accused the speaker of Imo Assembly of corruption and requested for an independent investigative panel to prove his allegations. What is your take on this?
Many radio commentators came out on hot FM on Tuesday 2nd April to defend the speaker because Samuelson said he had no confidence in the panel. First, the panel was set up by the accused; the speaker who is also still the speaker. How can you set up a panel to investigate you and expect reasonable men to take you serious or the accuser to have confidence in the panel? In sane clime, the speaker would have resigned first, then the Attorney General of the state would set up the investigative panel. For the speaker to be in office, set up an investigative panel to investigate himself and expect Ndi Imo to believe in the outcome of the panel is calling all Imolites fools. We are no fools. The panel should be disbanded and an independent panel by the Attorney General should be set up if the outcome will have any credibility.
Your vision for Mbaike Federal Constituency?
My vision for Mbaike is to be an industrial hub within the South East zone where most of the youths will be entrepreneurs.
My mission in the National Assembly is to be a creative and innovative representative networking and interfacing with the ministries, departments and agencies of the state and federal government and the national assembly to attract a revolution of industrialization and infrastructural development that will engender employment, poverty alleviation and economic growth for Mbaike and Imo State as a whole, while participating in the process of law making which is the primary purpose of my presence there.
Your parting words?
It is my resolve to do the best I can at all the times I can in all the places I can for all the people I can starting with the people of Mbaitoli/Ikeduru federal constituency to Imo state to Nigeria and to the entire world. ALMIGHTY GOD being my helper. Thank you.