AN ELECTED OFFICE HOLDER THAT DOES NOT DELIVER TO THE PEOPLE WHAT IS RIGTHFULLY THEIRS IS WORSE THAN A BANDIT —-METU AUGUSTINE EJIKE
As aspirants for various elective offices commence consultations across party lines as 2023 general elections draw closer, The Prestige Blended Magazine Online recently, engaged Veteran Actor, Executive Movie Producer, Maritime Guru and Politician, Metu Augustine Ejike, in an exclusive interview, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (ARFFN) opens up on his readiness to contest for Federal House of Representatives, Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency, on the platform of the People’s Democratic party (PDP). He also speaks on the giant strides of the party in his Constituency, the INEC, the Igbo presidency and the present security situation in the Southeast.
Enjoy the excerpt !
THE PRESTIGE: Sir, you have in the past contested for the Federal House of Representatives Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency, under PDP, do you have plans to run for the same office for the second time ?
By the grace of God, yes. You used the right word, “the second time”. l am joining the race for the second time ; I want to represent Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives come 2023; it is no retreat, no surrender !
THE PRESTIGE: Sir, it is a fact that the Constituency is populated mainly by the Igbos, can you mention one or two people of Igbo extraction that have represented the Constituency in that capacity in the past ?
With due respect, l don’t want us to tribalize this issue of representation. Let me remind you that Lagos State is the Center of Excellence, it is cosmopolitan, I am being careful so that nobody misquotes me, indigeneship is a factor in Nigeria whether anybody likes it or not, so that’s why l said l want to be mindful of what l say. Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency is unique in its own way because in every political environment you have this ethnic demography just like in all settings where human beings inhabit and for the fact that everyone there is a human being; there must be an ethnic Nationality that dominates in that given area. I want to tell you without fear or equivocation that my party, the PDP, was brought to Amuwo Odofin by the Igbos in 1998, and today, we have opened the door so wide that almost everyone here is in PDP. I am saying this so that no one would read a different meaning in what l said, I didn’t say that Igbos own PDP but the promoters of PDP in Amuwo Odofin are mainly Igbos from 1998 when PDP was more like a pariah party in Lagos State, l am a founding member of PDP in Amuwo Odofin, l am a foundation member of PDP in Amuwo Odofin and to the glory of God PDP has been winning elections in Amuwo Odofin, PDP has been winning State elections in Amuwo Odofin. The “winning” is in quotes, it is one thing to hold State Government elections and another thing to release the right results but those of us that do go to monitor the collation of votes during elections know that we have always won in this area with very wide margins, we know that a lot of underhand practices characterise such elections; we also know that elections are always held on Saturdays and by Monday morning people have been sworn into offices, that is the way it goes. When l used the word “winning” in quotes I know why l put it that way and mark my words; most States also do the same thing.
THE PRESTIGE : Sir, the way politics goes in Nigeria today do you have any confidence in the electoral umpire, the INEC ?
State elections are different from federal elections. We have to separate the two but for me, l have great confidence in INEC though we can not isolate INEC from the society in which it operates. I am using Amuwo Odofin as an example, as a PDP member , l hold my head high, check the records, PDP has so won the heart of Amuwo Odofin that even other parties have given up on Amuwo Odofin. The current member of the Federal House of Representatives is a PDP member and this is his second tenure, Rt.Hon. Oghene Egor, that’s PDP for you, if you check the records of the elections in Amuwo Odofin, PDP wins from President to Senate to House of Representatives; l am stating the fact , if other PDP dominated areas do like Amuwo Odofin there is no way we won’t be in Abuja.
THE PRESTIGE : Sir, would you say that the acceptance of the party in Amuwo Odofin is because of the preponderance of a particular ethnicity?
The fact is that you can’t isolate that from the electoral victory of our party in Amuwo Odofin, we have so maximized our unity in PDP Amuwo Odofin but that doesn’t mean we do not disagree; we do, but the wonderful thing about it is that when we are done with internal conflicts of choosing our candidates and once the right persons emerge we collapse every interest into that of the party and it has been working for us. As an aspirant, you do all you have to do but once the party says “this is our candidate”, we move on with it. By the grace of God the gospel of unity has so permeated us that once an aspirant goes through the rigours of primaries and emerges as the party’s candidate we obediently move on with the party’s decision. We obey the party not individual. No matter how they try to sow seeds of discord or carry out their rigging strategies, the fact remains that the volume of votes the PDP always have in Amuwo Odofin completely overwhelmes those who try to manipulate the outcome because they wouldn’t know how to go about the alterations and manipulations and that has made them to wash their hands off Amuwo Odofin, go and check the records. l make bold to say that l am a proud member of that unity house; PDP Amuwo Odofin.
THE PRESTIGE : Sir, what would you say about the increasing disenchantment of a good number of Nigerian electorates, some of them are highly embittered by our political system to the extent that they don’t show any interest in taking part in the electoral processes, what’s your take on that Sir ?
I wouldn’t want to generalize like you are doing, yes l will agree there is a high level of disenchantment and apathy, even those who have their voter’s cards refuse to come out to cast their votes, that apathy is as a result of reoccurring disenchantment. But it is our collective responsibility to enlighten our people on the importance of making their votes count in elections. l find it disturbing when a country with 200 million population, in a presidential election, produces a president with less than 20million votes. Ok let’s say we have 150 million eligible voting population and 100 million are eligible to vote having their PVCs, and during the election proper we have only 25million Nigerians and not even 75 million cast their votes, for me it is quite worrisome, I can say it does not in anyway reflect the voting population. There is still that disenchantment, it would have been better to see 75 million Nigerians cast their votes than 25million. If we have 75million votes cast, we can gladly say it is a better reflection of the voting population. Indeed, we still have a lot of jobs to do. There is a saying that “evil thrives when the good ones stay away”, there must be a change of heart . Even if we are not getting it right for now; l must give it to INEC. We have seen where they tried to take it by force and INEC said “no, go for election”, and actually they stood to make sure the votes counted.
We have had instances of manipulations but in recent time the INEC would say “go and let the voters decide, l hope the electoral umpire improves on that principle. I am looking forward to hearing that in the next presidential election a candidate garnered 30-40 million votes but if it is a question of 13-15 million, we know that we are still where we are. Look at Lagos population; there has not been any election here that has seen one party got 15 million votes, so we have a lot of jobs to do. We need to convince people to vote, if by the grace of God l get the party’s ticket, l can assure you that if we have been recording15 thousand voters before, this time around we could be recording up to 25 thousand voters coming out to vote in the Federal House of Representatives election in Amuwo Odofin.
THE PRESTIGE : Having said that Sir, it then means we need serious sensitization which is the primary assignment of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), it is a task that should not be left for INEC and the media alone but it is quite unfortunate that the NOA is nowhere to be found in the present administration; so how then do we get the job done ?
You don’t send a child to buy salt and at the same time release the rain. When you ask the agency why they have not been carrying out their statutory functions no doubt they would have a lot to say, it might be that they don’t have the logistics to reach out, it might be true, it might not be true. Years back we had MAMSER, till date, the defunct agency still has unbroken performance record. Presently, l don’t know if NOA still exists, l doubt, no one feels its impact , honestly I can’t even say much about the Agency.
THE PRESTIGE : Presently there is this serious clamour for Igbo President; what do you have to say about it ?
On the issue of Igbo President let me quote Senator Anyim Pius Anyim,”it will be a burden of conscience if the president does not come from the Southeast come 2023″ and l will leave it at that. During Abiola saga there came up divers ethnic issues and after everything right decisions targeted at uniting the nation were taken. This time around calls for right decisions, you can’t be saying “no victor no vanquished” and we keep seeing continuous prejudice and marginalization. There is a saying in Igbo land “oke ruo m aka asi kegharia ya”, that’s the burden of conscience we are talking about. Jonathan is not an Igbo man and nobody can tell us that the Igbos have taken their turn, but in all, l still believe that we are Nigerians; that’s the most important thing.
THE PRESTIGE : What does it take a politician to endear himself to the people ?
I won’t tell you that it is either A, B or C, because political environments are not the same. But one thing l know is that l will never promise what l can not do, my coming out is to offer myself to serve my constituents. For anyone to go there to represent a people it means he got their mandate, if not, he would’nt have be there, and such person should bear in mind that he holds that position on trust, so, should be ready to deliver to them whatsoever that is allocated to them because it is their right. Every body can’t be there at the same time that is why the mandate was given to you to represent them, you were sent on an errand and failure to deliver to them what is rightfully theirs amounts to criminality, infact, any elected public office holder that fails to deliver to the people what righthfully belongs to them is worse than a bandit. So let’s always avoid promising what we can not do because we want to get people’s mandate. I feel irritated every time l see politician telling his constituents that he will empower them, l see it as being arrogant, you can only say that when the money is coming from your private pause, not money meant for the people.
THE PRESTIGE : What can you say about the present level of insecurity especially in the South East ?
It is likened to a man knocking on the door and goes behind to ask who is knocking? I will leave it at that. When they say “unknown gun men,” who introduced that parlance ? Who started using the word , have we questioned its origin ? Look at what is happening in the South East presently, have you sat down to imagine a situation where people are destroying themselves, was it like this a couple of years back ? Today we keep hearing the word “Banditry”, which has become a ministry today in Nigeria; in time past we had bandits that came to steal, destroy and flee, but today we have them dwelling in our midst and committing all sorts of atrocities. We are in a very sorry state, it is indeed worrisome .