Hon. John Iwuala is the Imo State Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In this interview with Nigerian Newsguide, the Party Boss accused the federal government of sponsoring and also benefiting from the tensed security situation plaguing the nation for some time now.
He attributed the inability of the government in power to secure jobs for the youths as the main reason for the insecurity.
He also accused past governors of Imo State of being insensitive to the plights of the people, arguing that if they had been sensitive enough, there would have been a lot of industries, factories and job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Hon. John Chibuzo Iwuala, State Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA, Imo State
In Nigeria today, the center is not holding, there is blood-letting, there is mal administration, there is a stampede, there is everything evil one can imagine, how did we get to where we are today considering the fact that we have a democratically elected President.
First, we need to think of how we started, we need to think of where the rain started to beat us. This journey to this doom Nigeria is facing now started from somewhere. Am among the people that believe that we started the journey from the constitution of Nigeria which was a scam, a fraud and a lie against the people of Nigeria. This is a constitution made by the Northern military oligarchy that sat down, drafted the constitution and imposed it on Nigerians. And if you go through the constitution, you will see that the constitution centered everything around the presidency, you will also see that the constitution is a contravention of the principles of the federal system of government. It’s also a contravention of the principles of separation of powers where the President appoints the chief Judge.
Now, in the principle of separation of powers, rule of law, the judiciary acts as a watchdog on both the legislature and the executive. But, where the constitution has empowered the executive to appoint the head of the judiciary, how do you think that the judiciary can still act independently? Today, the judiciary is begging the executive for judicial autonomy. Are you not aware? Instead of the executive and legislature to be afraid of the judiciary, the constitution has pushed the judiciary to look beggarly. Our problem started from a fraudulent constitution that we have which has also empowered the politicians, those that have seen themselves at the corridors of power. The constitution has empowered them to mess up the masses. The constitution has made it cumbersome for the masses to checkmate the activities of the ruling class. So that’s all I can say, I believe that our problem started from the constitution and metamorphosed to the political class.
Fraud in the constitution is an issue, is there not a way out of this precarious situation, is the insecurity we are seeing today product of the fraud in the constitution?
Yes, I believe, when you talk about the fraud in the constitution – the insecurity we are seeing today. As the political class have decided to give them names according to their geo-political area where they are coming from. Those from the North, have the herdsmen, bandits and boko haram, the south have the unknown gunmen and the ESN and the hoodlums in the West. Now we ask ourselves, like you said, how did we get here? You saw what the security operatives are doing, illegal arrest, and the people they termed yahoo boys and this gave rise to ENDSARS protests. If we, as a nation have a good leadership, that ENDSARS protest would have served as an eye opener, it was a signal to the country, that ENDSARS could have been a forum where the government could have secured the whole country. You know that the government set up commissions of inquiry, what have been the outcome? How many policemen have been arrested or prosecuted? How many families have been compensated. If this kind of things were done, I don’t think that what is happening now will happen.
The youths were also agitating for proper and better welfare packages and enhancement of police packages. It is known that Nigerian police is poorly paid. They are poorly funded and poorly equipped and by the time the government starts to take the welfare of the police serious, the police will work effectively. If you see a policeman today with a clean uniform, it is his personal money. If you see a policeman with a very clean booth, it is his personal money not the government.
Though I thank some of the state governors that have been trying to equip the police with operational vehicles and all that but what we are talking about is investigative policing. Our governments are not aiding and equipping the police and other security agencies properly. Look at what is happening in the military, where the herdsmen and the Boko Haram have more sophisticated equipment than the country’s army.
Also, the inability of the government in power to secure jobs for the youths adds to the insecurity. You cannot say unknown gunmen. Unknown gunmen we know them, these are the people that are graduates, people that labored to study and there is no job. These are the people that their parents were tagged ghost workers. These are the people the government failed to pay their parents pension and gratuities – these are the unknown gunmen. You don’t fight security with bow and arrow, you fight security with dialogue, creation of job opportunities.
On 30th of last month, Anambra state officially inaugurated their International Cargo Airport and record has it that Anambra state did not borrow one naira to build that airport. And also, record has it that 85% of materials used in building that airport were produced in Aba, Abia State. Now, some States like Imo has been borrowing 200 billions, owing a lot of banks without any laudable, visible projects. In Imo here, we heard about the Clean and Green, we heard about Imo Airline, we heard about Royal Oak Refinery. Where are they? These were elephant projects that were only online which one cannot see. So, if our government has been sensitive to the hues and cries of our people, you will see that a lot of industries will be attracted, a lot of factories will be built, there will be creation of job opportunities.
Like I said in Anambra on 30th, when I was asked if Imo state is cursed with bad leadership, I told them Imo state is not cursed, that the problem we have is that, most of the people who have been at the helm of affairs in the state, even in Nigeria, fail to plan and when one fails to plan, he plans to fail. So, there is need for a pragmatic intercourse that can give birth to a public weapon which can be used to fight the public abject poverty. The you in you makes you what you are. I don’t believe in Agbim must be head of state but I believe to first, check the state of his head. Before you make one head of state, first of all examine the state of his head. The problem we have is that those at the helm of affairs are all running in a negative lane. So the problem is the government, it’s the government that created insecurity we are having. I also believe that it is the government that is funding insecurity. And I believe also that the government is benefitting from the insecurity, if the government quotes me wrong, then let the government do what is needful.
I look at it that the ruling class are planning to perpetuate themselves in office beyond 2023. I see a 2023 where the ruling class through the National Assembly will pass a law that elections of 2023 will be suspended and the government should continue pending when the security situation in the country will be settled. This is how, in so many African countries, somebody became President for thirty something years, and people who think that this thing will lead to civil war, it’s a lie, what its leading to is anarchy, for us to be in a state of lawlessness. Because the current insecurity now is not from one source and there is no central command, so it cannot degenerate into civil war, the unknown gunmen, their own leadership is scattered, the ESN said they cannot kill their fellow brothers. I don’t believe that they are violent, the kidnappers are working on their own, same with the armed robbers, so articulate all this, you will see that it cannot degenerate into a civil war.
The ideology we have here in the East is different from what Amotekun people have and Amotekun leader will not allow Nnamdi Kanu have control over him. When you go to the North, the Boko Haram have their own leadership, the Miyetti Allah have their own, the herdsmen have their own, the bandits have their own. So in this situation, it is even easy for the federal government to take absolute control of the whole thing.
Now why I said that it is federal government that is sponsoring the insecurity is because they have made criminality and banditry lucrative. When you see bandits, instead of finding a way to arrest them, disarm them, neutralize them, you negotiate with them and find them money. So, the business is lucrative now. Even here in the South South, when they kidnap expatriates, they demand for ransom. Southeast learnt their own and started kidnapping the big men. The North, when they started their own. They carry luxury and hold over 100 people to ransom, then calculate 5M or 3M into 100 persons.
Gumi was telling federal government to pay 100Million. So, the question is this? Why is it that South south started their own through militancy, Yar’adua came and gave them amnesty. Most of them are still receiving money and some trained abroad, in other words, crime has made them millionaires. The North started their own with Boko Haram, herdsmen, they are been given money to the extent that weapons were being diverted and given to them by the military. Some of them were given amnesty, recruited into the army, then you are asking the other part of the country not to start their own. If the government has not aided and abetted this crime, I don’t think it would have escalated. But it’s not too late, it is time for the ruling class to wear their thinking cap. This is not the time of politics. This is not the time Lai Mohammed will come and politicize everything, Imo State has always been having political enemies. There is no leader that does not have political enemies. There is no governor that doesn’t have political enemies. It has never gotten to this extent and I blame our governor, when he openly came on air and said he invited the military in Orlu. That is what escalated this insecurity. If he had gone to Obinze to harass the commander and ask questions why they were shooting our people, it would have been better and people would have applauded him for that. He should have cautioned them and asked them to go to Sambisa forest that is where we are having problem. Well, the bible said that when the gods want to kill a king, they will first make him mad.
Even on May Day, Imo people expected him to say something about those that died, he didn’t, there was no condolence message, even to atleast pay visit to one or two families that lost their loved ones, he didn’t do it. So that is why I said that the government is the one sponsoring banditry, killings, kidnappings which have been commercialized in Nigeria.
What of a situation where the FG says they want to negotiate with IPOB, ESN, is it a good approach?
It will be a good approach. IPOB is not into kidnapping, what IPOB is saying is that we don’t want herdsmen in our farms. We have been living with these herdsmen. We have been living with Fulani people peacefully, the problem is that the Fulanis want to implement what Uthman Dan Fodio told them that the entire Nigeria is a conquered territory, that they should go and destroy the infidels and take over their lands which they have started with RUGA settlement. And since it did not scale through the first and second reading in the National Assembly, they want to take it by force. Remember, the way they were living with us today is not the way they were living with us before. In those days, we used to see them with their cows, they don’t destroy, they don’t carry ak47, they don’t carry machine guns, most of them were Melgaards but today they are been dreaded because there have been an injected psyche, their psyche has changed, they are feeling that we are infidels and we have taking over their land and they must take over their land by fire by force.
Now is the time for the government to sit round the table and let this people know that what they are saying is not in the constitution of the country, that everybody is free to stay anywhere he/she wants. If Imo state is not your State, you stay here as a tenant or as a landlord if you can buy a land. If you want to rear your cow, you buy a land where you can rear your cow. By the way, in the North we have the Igbos that are farmers there, they bought the land, some have poultry, some have university, like the Grrenfield we are talking about, it is owned by an Igbo man from Anambra state.
Should we be talking about open grazing, that’s cattle ranching. Go to first world countries, you see, where they do ranching, the place will be fenced. So what these people are trying to do is to create a caliphate in every autonomous community. IPOB people are saying that, that is not what they want. So it is high time the government sat down, negotiate with them, look at the peculiar needs of the people. The federal government should be let known, if we operate through federalism, the states must have some autonomy.
The governors are agitating for state police but they don’t want autonomy to local governments. Federal government has agreed on judicial autonomy but the state governors have not agreed. So its high time we look at the the constitution, remove some feathers from the constitution, just like what happened in Anambra, about Peter Obi whether his tenure has elapsed or not. So there are many things that are missing in the constitution. Let us sit down and address them, we missed the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) that Jonathan did. That is where we would have gotten it right.
In Imo State, outside insecurity, is Governor Hope Uzodimma doing well, if you were in his shoes, could you have done better?
I don’t want to come from the perspective of an opposition. In road construction, the governor is trying. I have been able to go through some of the roads, they are all standard, we must tell the world the truth but one thing is that in payment of salaries, he is not performing, pension, zero, activities that unite Imo, zero. And also, Buhari is in his second tenure, from first tenure to now, he is still blaming his predecessors, and our governor is following in that step. Infact I want to use this opportunity to call on our governor, he should stop the blame game and focus on governance. Why not use good works to prove your opponents wrong. There are things, he is suppose to do that will prove his opponents wrong.I went to Isiala Mbano the other I saw work going on there, MCC work going on, some other areas.
I also want him to please extend this gesture to the local governments, the villages, the hinterlands, it is not good for every governor that comes, he will focus on Owerri metropolis, go to the villages. I will be happy if the governor will create a ring road, a bye pass where, lets say from Orji to Toronoto to Naze, to Nekede to Ihiagwa to Obinze down to Portharcourt, then from Orji you go round again, you will see that Owerri will be decongested. The governor should look into education, look into the taskforces and stop the business as usual of returns.
When we shout that ENTRACO is extorting the people, these were the amounts they were asked to pay every week. So they must do every odd job to recover that money and make gain. And again the governor should from henceforth, stop the executive lies, ab initio, he told us how much he has recovered, the IGR , he has increased it to 2B Naira, if you calculate it for one year, we know how many billions we are suppose to have now, then why is he trying to borrow, what has he done with those IGR talk less of Federal allocation. So we want him to guide his utterances and extend his good road network job to hinterlands.
By next year or in two years’ time, we will be talking about general election, how prepared is APGA as a party to take over the state, assuming if it is possible?
During the lockdown, APGA was the only party that did palliative for Imo people and even the Disables, they were all invited. We have also been able to embark on local government sensitization tour, we have done that of Owerri zone, we have done Okigwe zone, it is this insecurity that made us not to touch any local government in Orlu zone, and why we are doing this, we are also sensitizing our people based on local government election as promised by the government, we will not boycott that election, we will do it, you see we cannot solve a problem by running away from it, we will contest the election keenly and we will not allow them to rig, we will make sure that we bring in credible candidates at various levels to contest the election to get ourselves prepared for 2023 general election.
I am telling you as the Chairman, that APGA, is the party to beat come 2023, because APC we are talking, practically there is no party like APC in Imo State. APC is factionalized into three or four, when you talk of APC, are you talking about camp Hope, or Camp Rochas, or Camp Ararume or Camp Madumere. All these people are APC, and it is quite difficult for all of them to come together as one party unless they will come through ben johnson way again. These people there system is to bring double candidates. During the governorship election in 2019, they brought Uche Nwosu and Hope, before you know it Ben Johnson way came up, before you know it again, we got a supreme court governor. During the Okigwe Senatorial election, they brought four, later they reduced to two, before they reduced it to two, I went on air and say look at where this thing is about to end. And now it has manifested, what they are trying to do is to make sure that they gather votes. So, after primaries, you see that some aggrieved aspirants may pull out and join another party, but this time around they planned it in such a way that nobody will be aggrieved, everybody will pursue it to the end, and allow the court to decide.
Court will not be deciding in Imo state again instead we tell Ndimo to boycott the election. So, we must participate. APC as a party is sitting on a keg of gun powder and there will be an explosion very soon. Don’t be surprise in 2023, and if there will be an election, APC may not produce a candidate, they may not even conduct primaries. There will be series and chains of litigations that will stop them. Then, PDP is in life support machine. Remember that some aggrieved members of the party went to court and secured a court judgement that asked Ugwu not to parade himself as the Chairman of the party and sacked all his excos and that judgement was not appealed against and has not been set aside and the 90 days has elapsed. And you know that there is a cold war between Emeka Ihedioha and Sam Daddy. So, APGA is the only party now that has a clean bill of health.