From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Southeast, Dr Ijeomah Arodiogbu, is currently irked by the aspersions cast on the party by the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) and other parties regarding the hardship experienced by the people in the country.

In this interview with Sunday Sun, he accused the opposition party of being the genesis of the situation.

He also expressed his views on other sundry national issues.

What’s the best thing that has happened to your party, the APC?

Oh, a lot, a whole lot, Nigerians despite the challenges that this country has recently faced, Nigerians understand that the party means well for them and this has seen the party win a majority of the by-elections recently held in the country. But to the question, I think the party is becoming more of a political party than it used to be. This is a testament to the leadership of our national leader being President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the hands on leadership style of Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje. Certain elements such as party discipline, cohesion, consensus and a reward system for party members have taken the front burner unlike what we experienced in recent past, we have a president that appreciates the party leadership and regularly confers with it on national issues, this is the essence of party democracy. So, the advent of the President Tinubu’s leadership and that of Alhaji Ganduje has been the best thing so far.

What’s your advice to those clamouring for the division of the country?

I cannot say that the reasons for those clamouring for our division aren’t in existence, I am an Igbo man, the signs are there, the reasons are there, but you will see the same in every cranny of Nigeria, it’s there in the Yoruba populated domain, the same in the Middle Belt region, if you look at areas in Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, you see flashes of such there, it’s there in Kaduna, it’s there in Taraba. What we should, however, understand is that secession may not be the key to solving such a problem, rather Nigerians need to appreciate these problems and find how best to solve them as a united nation. There are those who think restructuring will help reduce such clamours, the question they have forgotten to ask is what manner of restructuring? Shall we return to regions? Should states remain? Should LGAs be semi-autonomous? What level of control should either the regions or states have over these LGs? You can see the myriad of questions drawn from the simple question of restructuring, however, I much believe that we must sit down and talk about our unity and our future.

PDP has been blaming APC for the current hardship in the country, do you think the party is right in its opinion?

Related News

How can they be right?  This is a party that was in power for near 16 years and yet it couldn’t ensure that one refinery out of the four refineries was working even at sub-optimal levels. This is a party that failed in terms of security that by 2015, Boko Haram controlled the size of Belgium in terms of territory controlled by the terrorist group. How much arms did it procure for the Armed Forces and what commitments did it as a party make to their basic welfare?  This is a party that failed to harness the windfalls of 2011-2014, a party that depreciated our foreign reserves and failed to save for Nigeria’s rainy day? Truth be told, the nation’s lingering problems are rooted in the PDP’s 16 years of mismanagement of our commonwealth.

That  reminds me, LP has also accused APC of plotting to make the country a one party state, can you react to their allegation?

You see, the fact that democracy affords everyone an opportunity to voice his or her own opinion does not mean we should entertain cynicism. The All Progressives Congress, APC, as a party has employed the most democratic of postures in this multi-party democracy of ours? This was not possible when the PDP was in power, or have we forgotten so quickly, the concept of “Garrison Democracy” when governors were impeached at the whims of the sitting president? Did you see that during the Buhari years? The same Labour Party talking should be reminded that in 2013, Peter Obi denied Labour Party the Nnewi Local Government seat and appointed a sole administrator in Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, despite the party’s victory at that election, now the same Obi  is now painted as a flawless democrat. What Labour Party failed to understand is that in a multi-party democracy there is need for avid competition amongst the parties, now if in such avid competition you cannot square it out with the other party owing to the fact that maybe your ideology isn’t as superior as the other or that your structures are poor and non-existent, how then can you wake up and accuse the party that has bested you in terms of organisation, structure and it’s appeal to the grassroots and stakeholders all over the country and not a section that it wants a one party state? What would they have said then under the Obasanjo regime, where opposition party crises were sponsored by the ruling administration then?

President Bola Tinubu has ordered the release of 42 tons of grains to cushion the effect of the economic harship experienced in the country, how do you see this move by the president?

It justifies the reasons millions.of Nigerians voted him in as president, it also shows that the president is indeed symphatetic to the plight of the average Nigerian. What we have is a listening president who’s administration is committed to solving the myriad of problems presently faced by the common man. With this and also the release of 60 million metric tons of rice, I am sure that these prices will abate and such staples would be within the reach of the common man. However, President Tinubu should not stop there, I believe that there is need for the administration to review its incentive policies to cover all sectors connected to agriculture. Also his administration should encourage huge investments in the sector whether it be  in secondary agricultural production or from value-adding processes at the secondary agricultural chain level. This is where I call for the extension of such tax incentives to secondary agricultural industries. You must also appreciate the fact that the president had last year declared a state of emergency on food security, this gesture will definitely be followed with numerous others.

If you have your way in advising Peter Obi and Atiku, who appear to be the most critics of the Federal Government, what will you tell them?

What every other patriotic Nigerian has been telling them and that is that elections are over and for the next three and half years, every Nigerian must come together to move this country forward. God has today destined that Bola Ahmed Tinubu will govern Nigeria for the next few years, thus Atiku and Obi should stop fighting God and join hands with the ruling administration to move Nigeria forward. They are great Nigerians, but then they must learn from other great Nigerians such as Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe who despite their opposition to former President Shehu Shagari’s administration continued to attend Council of State meetings. Nigerians are saying elections are over, what matters now is for the administration of statecraft.

There have been calls by a member of the APC, Chief Osita Okechukwu on the Progressives Governors Forum to remove the governor of Imo State and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southeast, Governor Hope Uzodimma as its leader, what’s your take on such a call?

I think it’s disrespectful and smacks of indiscipline for a party member with little or no meaningful contribution to the party to openly disparage leaders in such manner. Yes, this is a democracy and disagreements are bound to happen, but such disagreements should be in things that would strengthen the party, suggestions that can grow the party and make it the darling of the people of the Southeast Region and not this pull him down syndrome and so such comments based on what transpired in Edo State APC primaries are akin to the barking of a rabid dog. Okay, tell me what wrong did Governor Hope commit? In a situation where a sitting governor and chairman of a duly constituted primaries committee declared results and the PA to an official of the party who was named as the returning officer was declaring his own results which should be given prominence? Even in the recently held primaries,.was it the returning officer that declared results? Was it not the Governor of Cross River that did so? Have you not heard complaints from two other aspirants , does that mean that the governor of Cross River mismanaged the primaries and thus should be impeached or sanctioned in the childish manner recommended by the likes of Okechukwu? He even faulted Governor Uzodimma for what transpired in Anambra APC in 2021, but we all know that Governor Uzodimma was never near the collation centre for that primaries so why blame him? What has been Okechukwu’s contributions to this party? Let’s put it side by side with Governor Uzodimma’s input and I am sure we will all see that Okechukwu is driven by envy of Governor Uzodimma’s political standing in Nigeria.