Buhari Must Integrate South-East In His Government – Nto | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Must Integrate South-East In His Government – Nto

Posted: May 25, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Abia State Commissioner for Finance and World Bank Consultant, Dr Phillip Ntoh, in this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, talks about the legacies of outgoing governor, Theodore Orji, as well as his expectations from president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts…



What are some of the things Abia State government under Governor Theodore Orji is leaving behind as it winds up?

So far so good, it will be a joyful exit because the Ochendo government has fulfilled promises made. This is a government that is leaving behind peace, justice, equity and fair play. You can see that before, the Ukwa Ngwa bloc was complaining of marginalisation, and this government said no, that they are part of the state; that they cannot be a stranger in their own land. Abia North and Central have taken their share, and it is now the turn of the Abia South zone to take their own shot. You can see how some enemies of progress were kicking, but today the people in the state are happy that justice has prevailed. Aside the happiness and peace fully established, the legacy projects of this government, doted round the entire state, speak volumes. Examining the legacy projects will tell you that Governor Theodore Orji is a great achiever, one with great vision. There is no sector that was neglected, although there were priority areas. You can see the kind of wicked opposition that was mustered against the governor, but none prevailed because the governor was on the part of truth and he stood his ground, and today the people knew that he meant well and they are happy. The government is also leaving behind financial stability. Abia today is a state that is financially stable. This is a very important legacy project of the state. Some other states went to the bond market, but Abia never went to any money market to borrow money or to sell bond. All that we did was to service loans which we inherited from past administration. So we are leaving behind a stable government, a state without any godfatherism. If you know Ochendo, you will know that immediately he hands over, it’s over for him, unless you invite him for any advice. Of course he will be fully engaged in Abuja as a senator, unlike some godfathers with nothing to do unless with state treasury. When Governor Orji came on board, he inherited so much that in the first one month, you see a situation that the banks were coming for renegotiation of loans. The in-coming governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, will not face such mess, as he is starting from a very sound footing. What he only needs to do is to hit the ground running because he is inheriting a very stable state, one that is financially stable. We are leaving behind people that are happy. It is the reason you see everybody celebrating him.

Do you think the in-coming governor has what it takes to sustain the Ochendo legacy projects?

Yes, Ikpeazu can sustain the legacy of the Ochendo administration. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that he will do well. The government like you know is a continuum. His government will not be like the one Ochendo inherited where the transition was not smooth. But what we will have now is a very smooth transition, it’s just for him to continue to concretise on what is on the ground. Abians made the right choice by voting for him. The first thing is that he is highly educated, a doctorate degree holder even at age 24, so he must bring his wealth of experience to bear. He must be able to formulate the right policies that will continue to move Abia to the next level. We are starting another era and it is an era that must be able to put things on the ground that will be able to move the state to the next stage.

The major opposition in the state, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), said it will challenge the result of the governorship election at the tribunal. Do you have any problem with that?

I think it is one of the attributes of politics in under-developed countries. The only person that did something that is western is President Goodluck Jonathan that congratulated his opponent (Muhammadu Buhari) even before the election result was finally declared. So I will call on other Nigerian politicians to emulate him. What he did shows statesmanship, it shows the love he has for his country. It shows the love you have for the place you want to govern. It mustn’t be you. If the people choose your opponent, why not support the person, key into his own programmes and policies and assist him to develop the society? The society is not about you; it’s about the generality of the people. I am not surprised, but one is confident that the tribunal will do its work. There is no doubt that Ikpeazu will win anytime, anywhere. He is equally loved by the people.

What are your views on the political calculation playing out in the South-East?

I don’t think we need to worry about that. In Igbo land, we have some of the best brains in the world. It’s only a government destined to fail that will do without the Igbo, given their vast human resources across the globe. They are among the best in most organisations where they find themselves. No serious government will say because the Igbo voted for PDP, they will not be into the political mainstream of the country. You cannot diminish people like Charles Soludo or Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. How can you ignore even somebody like me, because I voted for the PDP? And we have thousands of celebrated thoroughbred professionals living in different parts of the world. Ndigbo have the best of brains you can boast of; so nobody can edge them out if that government wants to succeed. If Buhari wants to flourish, he must be able to integrate everybody into his administration. Let him forget about party politics, we are through with it. He should now think of how to develop the country and move it to the next level. Poverty does not know religion or ethnic group. Electricity, good road network, security and employment do not know who is in APC or PDP; it’s for everybody. If the economy is good, it’s for everybody. So we should put politics aside now and concentrate on development. What we should be thinking now is how to move the country forward in all aspect of human endeavour.

Do you think the PDP can bounce back and play vibrant opposition?          

It depends on what APC is able to do. You know I am not a partisan politician; I am a technocrat. I don’t believe in partisan politics, I believe in what you can offer. If APC is not able to perform, meet up with the expectation of the people and provide the change they promised Nigerians the people will reject them and PDP will cash on it and bounce back. Everything is based on whether APC is able to provide the alternative and if PDP will restrategise. It is not all about opposition but ability to satisfy the interest of Nigerians.