By Dotun Ibiwoye
The President of Ohaji Improvement Union Incorporated, Lagos State, Mr. Ndukwe Ikoh, has recently been in the news on account of his formation of the Mezie Obodo, an interventionist organisation with interests in the South East. In this interview, he spoke on the organisation’s roles in upholding democracy, security challenges and other issues in the country. Excerpts:
IS it not possible for a politicians to hijack your organisation and use it for their own interest?
It is possible, and we have considered the possibility. We have put at the core of the leadership of Mezi Obodo men and women who are gainfully employed and cannot be easily swayed. Those in the group are not political jobbers. I concede that some people, no matter how much they already have, could still sell out, but we want to think that majority of the membership of the group is not like that.
Our organisation, Mezie Obodo is not a political movement. It means ‘be good to the community’. It is non-partisan and non-religious. It involves everybody. The intention of the group is to bring about development to the people. That is to say that it is a social mobilisation group. We respond to distress calls and try to provide assistance.
We want to reduce the cost of electioneering in the state. If we succeed in the state, we have the intention to make it a national ideal – that is to say we want to make it possible for credible persons to run for elective positions without spending much. In some states you have 2000 polling units, and even as much as 4000 in others; you can imagine how much it would cost to pay polling agents in so many polling units in just one day if you’re contesting for the governorship seat.
If you are going to have two agents in every polling unit, this translates to eight thousand agents. If you’re paying each agent N2000, you can imagine the cost. But if we have volunteers who are willing to sacrifice their time and do the work for the sake of enthroning good governance, you can imagine how much would be saved. So, this is one of the things Mezi Obodo is doing. It is a social mobilisation group.
What’s your comment on the state of the nation?
Two words, in my opinion, would describe the state of the nation today: confusion and crisis. Confusion in the sense that you’re not sure what would happen the very next day; you wake up one day and find something different from what you’d expected. The crisis concerns the security challenges the nation is presently grappling with. Boko Haram has happened, and now it has assumed international dimensions and attracted global consciousness.
Kidnapping is still very much there even though other crimes have dwarfed the attention on kidnapping. High level corruption has subsisted and is on the rise. That is the state of the nation today. Despite the scenario I have just painted, I still have hopes in the country’s ability to pull through; if not for anything else, but for the fact that we still have democracy here.