Nkoro: It’s time to stop recycling old politicians at expense of youths
Mr. Joseph Ngozi Nkoro is the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Abia State. He hails from Abia South senatorial zone and is self-employed. In this interview with GORDI UDEAJAH, he said only youth leaders could take Nigeria where she should be.
Why are you contesting?
As a son of a civil servant and a teacher growing up in the 80s during the military era, I was very conscious of government. We enjoyed such social infrastructure as steady power supply, pipe borne water, a disciplined civil service, security and order, among others. However, despite all these, my parents, my teachers, and everybody else talked about democracy, which they said was the best form of government.
Thus, the idea of democracy as the best form of government was ingrained in my head, and I looked forward to the day Nigeria would be
democratic. In the mid 90’s, when the agitation for democracy and an end to military regimes started, the military, under General Abacha, came down hard on some pro-democracy crusaders. All this gave me the impression that democracy was worth fighting for.Fast-forward to 2002 in Abia State, after the advent of democracy in 1999, I have watched with dismay government’s failure, as well as experienced first-hand the sufferings of retirees and pensioners, of teachers and workers, of students and generally everybody in the middle and lower classes.
I have endured the drop in the standard of education, the subjugation and emasculation of the power and dignity of the traditional institution, the crass high handedness and brazen financial recklessness on the part of executives.I have witnessed a sustained retrogression in all spheres of activities in the state— an unprecedented capital flight from Abia State, occasioned by lack of security and the very deplorable state of our infrastructure, especially roads. It is unfortunate that public servants and leaders have been appropriating money meant for the masses.
We have witnessed politicians recycling to perpetuate themselves in power at the expense of future of youths. The office of the traditional heads, having been thoroughly eviscerated, can no longer speak out in the face of all these ills for fear of incurring government’s wrath.The people we elect now use hunger and hardship as tools of control.They keep the masses in perpetual lack; so that they are worshipped whenever they dole out crumbs to a people they have deliberately kept hungry.
Worst hit are the youths, who are supposed to be today’s leaders, but are too hungry and fighting to eat to consider asking why they are
hungry in the midst of plenty. To survive or be relevant, they make themselves available to politicians who use them as thugs and assassins.
All the above and more ignited a fire in me to put an end to bad leadership. I was motivated by a burning passion to correct all these wrongs. I am driven by empathy to end Abia people’s sufferings, to provide selfless and people oriented leadership, to return government to the people.I realised that every four years I gave our leaders to make good the wrongs in Abia, I got four years older. Four years of wasted resources,
underdevelopment and unemployment do a lot to a people and state.I decided to put an end to the vicious cycle of power rotation among
cronies and god-fatherism. I’m contesting for posterity. I cannot have my children witness Abia as it is today. It is the responsibility of youths as today’s leaders to defend and fight for the wellbeing of their (aged/ageing) parents and to protect the future of the born and unborn. That is what my candidacy stands for.
Also, as a 21st century, result oriented and technology savvy individual,I have a passion to liberate my people from 19th century darkness and lead them to the 21st century light, with its attendant infrastructural development, governance and leadership, economic-social-political advancement.
What are those things that are wrong in Abia you want to change?
There are so many things wrong in Abia I wish to change, but I will restrict myself to the foremost in my mind:The treatment of pensioners and retirees. This is the most mistreated group in the state. They are owed in arrears up to 14 months as at Dec 2018. Their gratuities have not been forthcoming since 2002. So, you ask yourself, how do these people survive?
Godfatherism and vested interests. This is the major problem in Abia State. Naturally, my candidacy will put an end to that.Mistreatment of traditional rulers and bastardisation of our tradition. The office of the Eze is a very exalted one in Igbo land. Today, however, that office has been bastardised by government in a bid to control the rulers.
Today, you have an Eze paying obeisance to a governor or government official, instead of the reverse. Now, you have an Eze who cannot address a governor or correct him, when he (governor) errs for fear of losing his staff of office.Now, we have Ezes who are partisan instead of being neutral. They favour the incumbent party for fear of incurring the governor’s wrath. Today, we have Ezes that are looking hungry, because of poor welfare package. Surely I shall end all these.
There is also the issue of filth and uncleanliness. Without fear of contradiction, Abia is one of the dirtiest states in Nigeria. I find the situation unacceptable. As a proactive visionary leader, I am in contact with foreign investors who will build for us a Waste to Wealth (WTW)) and Waste to Energy (WTE) plants. These plants will convert refuse hills to wealth and electricity, generate revenue for the state and give youths jobs, while keeping the state clean.
On the issue of degraded infrastructure, I shall put emphasis on road infrastructure, healthcare and educational system. These three remain the most disadvantaged sectors of our economy.
What is your assessment of Abia geo-politics?
The Abia geo-politics is interesting. In politics, every geo-political zone tends to fight for and retain power in its own interest, irrespective of the impact on other zones. So, we see a situation where the strongest survives; where one zone thrives while another atrophies.
To address this, some sort of power rotation scheme needs to be put in place. Actually, there is an unspoken scheme along that line being mooted in some quarters as the Abia State Charter of Equity. The charter suggests that Abia North geopolitical zone has ruled for eight years, as represented by Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. And with Abia Central having also ruled for eight years under Chief Theodore Orji, it is now the turn of Abia South to rule for another eight years, out of which Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is using four years.
Are you satisfied with INEC’s plans for the forthcoming elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been vested with the power to conduct a free and fair election in Nigeria. I believe the body has the ability to handle it.The only concern I have is the fact that the results will be moved manually from the polling units to INEC collation centres instead of being transmitted electronically. This would have ensured that the winner at the polls is the winner everywhere.
We have had several incidences of someone winning at the polls and INEC announcing someone else. This is what happens between the polling units and INEC collation centres while transferring results manually. Nigeria must upgrade this because we are in the 21st century.
What should the electorate expect from you as the elections approach?
I urge Abians to put our economic, social and political progress in perspective before they cast their vote. The Abia voter needs to
consider the cause or causes of hunger in the midst of plenty instead of considering his hunger before voting. Abia voters should not be afraid to collect money given to them by politicians, as it belongs to them. But they should never feel indebted or obligated to vote any politician that gives them money.
The whole world is tilting towards progress and development, which is demonstrated by voting young vibrant visionaries. France, Austria, Ethiopia and lately El Salvador’s 37-year-old Nayib Bukele are all examples of this trend. Nigeria should not be different. Abia State should not be different.
I am calling on all Abia youths to vote for me. To vote the Young Progressives Party for our future and progress. I am calling on all parents to vote for a young governor, because it is only a youth leader that can take care of the aged and the ageing.
What is your view of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB)?
The IPOB is fighting a cause, which has at heart interest of the people of the east and southeast, who fall under the region of Biafra during the Nigeria civil war era.Its agitations are in the face of marginalisation of this part, hence the call for restructuring or a referendum. This is understandable. My issue is with the No Election order. I believe this is not in the best interest of the east.Our major problem at the state level is the governors and leaders. If the governor is good, the state will develop rapidly, and the people will be happy. Therefore, it will be in the people’s interest to vote the right persons as governor and representatives.