By Dotun Ibiwoye
Jerry Ogbonna was director of research and development in the Defence Headquarters, DHQ and founder of the now rested Falcon Airlines. He has now joined the political fray with his eyes on the Abia North Senatorial District seat being occupied by Senator Uche Chukwumerije.
Four years ago, Ogbonna sought the seat in the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP but lost. He has now moved over to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, the platform he wishes to use for another bid for the seat. In this interview, he bares his mind on the security issues plaguing the country and why he wants to go to the Senate among other issues. Excerpts:
WHAT makes you qualified for the office you seek?
I know the country like the back of my
hand, I have served Nigeria for 30 years of my life, as a military officer. I have travelled all over the world; I know how other nations work. I know what is sustaining other countries. We have here, a group of legislators who are keen about how to line their pockets and that is why the country is static. Our legislators are interested in the number of contracts awarded, we need to leave self matters and get things right.
In 2011, I ran for the Senate, under PDP but unfortunately the PDP primaries were never straight forward, somehow, we were all edged out. The party had pre-decided who they were going to give the tickets to. PDP gave tickets to Senator Uche Chukwumerije and the incumbent Governor who newly came in from APGA and PPA, at that time. One of the arrangements they had was to give the ticket to them, not minding whether we worked hard for the party or not. The 2015 election is around the corner, I am warming up to replace our distinguished Senator, Chukwumerije, who defeated us in 2011 primaries.
Why are you contesting under APGA?
I can’t be sure if PDP primaries will be in conformity with real democratic process.
I have decided to run with a coalition of other parties in Abia North. APGA will be the leading party and others would join in the fight to upstage the dominant party. It is because I am sure that I can’t get the ticket from PDP through free and fair election. That’s a problem staring our nation in the face. People should be nominated through free and fair elections. If we could get away from that Nigeria’s democracy will begin to work.
Given your experience, can’t you contribute to the nation in other ways’other than politics?
When I was in the military, I was once the director of research and development in the DHQ we designed a module that Snake Island dockyard should produce ferries for the Nigerian Navy. We made a proposal for the steel company in Kaduna to make a prototype for an Armoured Personnel Carrier.
These are the two main elements for combat. We proposed that a go- ahead should be given to these bodies to start producing armaments locally. That would reduce the money thrown outside the country indiscriminately. The police go as far as Malaysia to import boats, when Snake Island dockyard has the capacity to build it. Abacha was the head of state at that time.
Why do we have military men dying to come back to power in Nigeria?
We have this urge because if you looked at every sector of the country, the most patriotic people are military men. They have committed their lives to this country. This happens in most parts of the world.
You have the secretary of state in the US, an ex-colonel. The last minister of defence in US was an ex colonel. Go to the UK, you see them everywhere. If you don’t have them, and you have purely civilian attitude, it won’t work. Most of them want to contribute.
For me, all I have in my life, education, training has been through the military and Nigeria by extension. I have this undying urge to give back to my society. It looks healthier when we have both civilians and military in a country. That’s why we have a stable Senate at the moment, even though they err sometimes too. When the civilians manned the Senate they produced five senators at a stretch from the South-East.
If you look at the people in the race who want to succeed the governor now, anyone of them at one point or the other had sought the support of the governor – either they were working together with the governor. And they did that conscious of the fact that the governor has the right to support anybody he wants.
His vote is a strong vote because of the advantages of his position but unfortunately, it is God that enthrones. And God is a very jealous God. At whatever position, anybody takes at the end, God will enthrone.