From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Benedict Onyewuenyi  is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and presently the national chairman of PDP Rebrand Imo.

In this interview with Sunday Sun he bared his mind on the current economic situation in the country and how to resolve it.

He also commended Governor Hope Uzodimma on his recent appointment of other party members into his cabinet and also urged him to keep his promise of conducting local government election in the state. Excerpt:

As a chieftain of the PDP, how do you see the present economic situation in the country?

The country and its citizenry have passed a lot since the coming of the present administration, we have witnssed a lot in the prices of commodities, insecurity, the economy is rubished by non-production of any goods and services, and Nigrians have withdrawn a lot from agriculture, because people are afraid of being kidnapped from their farms and that’s why things are not working properly in terms of production, agriculture is going down in the country, there is no where people are seen in the farms again because of the fear of being kidnapped, things have fallen apart and it needs a rijig, that calls for people in the House of Assembly to advocate for economic revamp just like we are hearing of the Oronsaye’s Report, let there be a think tank besides those ones he has called before to delibrate on it and see how things will begin to work again, for now the system and economy is bad and Nigrians are suffering .

Talking about the Oronsaye’s Report, do you think it can work for Nigeria?

Yes, I believe if it’s going to be implemented as reported it’s going to work, inasmuch as some of us have not gone through most of the reports, we believe it’s going to be beneficial to Nigrians, if President Tinubu implements the report. I can see a greener Nigeria, I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I can see all these lots of loopholes on stealing would be closed, I can see  lot of parastatals  being merged, I can see dollar rates to naira stabilising. Our problem I can say is that we dont export and that’s a very big problem.

This situation we have found ourselves in, who do we actually blame?

Honestly, from the onset, should I say the former President Buhari handed over even if they said it’s an umpire, INEC, to President Bola Tinubu, it was not done properly. Tinubu has a fair economic team, but they turned out to be doing things for themselves, we have witnessed all the businessmen coming from the West hyjacking the economy, everything is lopsided, the North is crying, so I blame the people that gave us to Tinubu to handle the affairs of Nigeria without thinking of how to handle  it. If Tinubu is ready to put things back in shape we would give him kudos, but I think more hard times are expected in Nigeria.

Do you think if your party had been in power, it would have done better than this?

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Yes, when PDP was in power, we have handled a lot of critical issues, we stabilised the economy, we increased the power sector, we increased the megawatts that’s been produced then when we were in government. PDP closed all loopholes used in syphoning funds, this ease of getting money was not there at all, during our tenure we made sure professionals manned the various ministries. But when you’re looking at it’s this person’s turn or that party’s turn, you may not be able to field the right people for the right jobs, if not for now that the president is trying to get advice from some good people, and I have noticed that he is trying to make an all-inclusive government, which is good, just like I see some governors making some certain policies to make their administration improve, out of the present hunger and starvation that we are now, everybody is trying to improve and I pray God that it will be better in time to come.

You just pre-empted my next question, what do you think the state governors should do to help in revamping our economy?

Every state has got the opportunity aside getting revenue from the Federal Government, like I noticed that about 24 states cannot do without the revenue from the Federal Government, it’s unfair that most of them are relying on the government at the centre without generating their own revenue especially in the North, some states were producing groundnut and all of a sudden we don’t hear of it any longer, we are calling on the government to look into all the states especially those that have mineral deposits and other natural rsources so that they can go back to the drawing board to see what they would be producing that will be in competition with other states order than milking money from businessmen who have come into their states to do little businesses  and thereby causing high cost of living, this days we should not be looking at the Federal Government whether they’re doing well or not, we should be looking at the states, like Abia State governor is doing well, he’s opening the eyes of the other governors, the Enugu State governor is doing well, other state governors should take a cue from that and see how they can revamp the economy of their states.

Alright, irrespective of your party, you’ve mentioned some governors doing well, how about your own state governor, would you say that of him?

Earlier before now, in his first tenure, I just rated Uzodimma as not doing well,  we noticed  lot of things in the state, banditary, kidnapping; well I will not blame him, it’s not easy just entering your first tenure and encountering such massive problems, but I have also noticed that during his second tenure a lot of things are being normlised, he has tried to make sure that the security system is working again, but he should still look at the corrupt police, civil defence and other security agencies tormenting the people of the state. The Commissioner of Police should look into this.

Now, to commend Uzodimma, some infrastructure is coming back to life, some of the massive roads he has constructed from Owerri to Okigwe, Orlu to Owerri, even Mbaise-Umuahia road, but he has to hasten up to do more, these are the things that give kudos to a government, I think I can say Hope Uzodimma is doing well, we just learnt recently he constituted his cabinet with some politicians who are not from his party, I wish he would not look at his own interest alone, but the general interest of the people of the state, and see how he can assemble a team that will give him a good name after he might have left office. Some of us are even eager to give advice in areas that are not working in Imo State. We heard he has signed a pact for a hydro power in the state, it’s a good thing, I wish also he would be able to listen to good advise from other people. We have also noticed that these agitators have calmed down in the state, this is also kudos to him. Let him continue the good work, one day we shall pay him a visit to appreciate his efforts because all we need is good governance.

He has hinted on conducting local government election in the state, what advice do you have for him on this?

In every local government people know who are capable of handling them, let the people choose, let them be elected and not selected, all we need is for Imo State to work again, let it work under Hope, he said he’s the hope of Imolites, let’s see this in him.

Despite your party afilliation, if your call to serve in his government will you accept?

Not because I’m saying my mind about his achievements, but if I’m called in areas where my advice is needed why not. If I’m called to bring to an end problems in local governments why not, if I’m called to supervise in areas my expertise is needed, why not.