By Chris Onuoha
Hon. Tony Nwulu is one of the emerging political leaders in Nigeria and a governorship aspirant in Imo State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
He proved his mettle as an astute politician when he broke ethnic cleavages prevalent in Nigerian politics to win Isolo/Oshodi Federal House of Representatives seat in Lagos State. A native of Eziudo in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA, Nwulu, 39, recently announced his intention to govern Imo State.
In this interview, he bared his views on his governorship ambition, his plans for Imo State and other issues of importance.
Why do you want to become Imo State Governor and what do you think that this present government has done wrong, that gives you great conviction you can do better?
I have carefully taken my time to study the situation in Imo State. And I have come to realize that some of the problems affecting the State are not insurmountable. These are man- made problems that can be solved. Problems that arose out of poorly thought out policies of the present government. The situation in Imo State at the moment is pathetic.
It is unacceptable. Governance is not all about knocking down people’s houses and demolishing markets thus inflicting pain on them. A government that inflicts pain and tears the people is not a people’s friendly government.
Nothing seems to be working in Imo State despite the alleged trillions of naira that have come into the State since Okorocha became Governor. I understand that the Okorocha government have received more money from the Federation Account than the Udenwa and Ohakim administrations yet what we have seen in Imo State is abject poverty, pain and misery for the people.
I wonder why Imolites should be hungry in the face of plenty. It is a pathetic situation that since this government came on board, it has been pain and misery for the people and this is what I want to correct. Is it not shameful and inhuman that pensioners in the State, our aged fathers and mothers are tossed like a coin by the State Government simply because they want their pensions be paid to them?
Look at the so called urban renewal programme. It has no human face. Most of the projects embarked on by this government are substandard. Flood has become a regular occurrence whenever it rains in Owerri.
This tells you that there is a distortion in the master plan of the city because this government never followed the master plan before embarking on what it called Urban Renewal. He may have opened up access roads but what are the quality of the roads and these projects? Who are the contractors handling these projects? There is no Due Process in this government.
Is not strange that Imo State has no Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General? Are we in a banana republic? How can a Commissioner be appointed without going through screening by the Imo State House of Assembly because she is a sister to the Governor? These are some of the things that make Imo State a laughing stock. And I can go on and on narrating them here. Many times I wonder where got it so wrong.
In the face of these shortcomings of the present government, what do you think you can do to change the situation?
A lot can be done. Ideas rule the world and there are a lot of ideas that can turn the State around. That is why I branded my campaign outfit ‘Mezie Imo.’ Mezie Imo as the name implies is to make Imo State good for the benefit of all. We have a comprehensive programme aimed at restoring the years the locust has eaten.
There is a development plan we have conceptualized to change Imo State. You cannot talk of governance without placing emphasis on how to develop the State. We have done sector by sector analysis of the challenges facing Imo State and we at Mezie Imo have come up with practical and realizable solutions contained in the Development Plan.
From Agriculture to the Health sector, to human capacity development which is seriously lacking in the State, to infrastructure and many others we have a plan and soon I shall unveil them for the people to see. Already I have assembled the best brains available that will aid our efforts to get it right. I have interacted with a vast segment of Imolites, those who have excelled in various fields of human endeavour who have so much to offer but completely shut out because there is no window of opportunity for them to do so.
When I become Governor, Imo State’s best, both at home and in Diaspora will come in and repackage our State from the mess Okorocha has plunged it into. We should also have in mind that it is not going to be easy because the rot and level of decadence in the State is so much.
But like I said, I have come to repair Imo State and the people will be marveled by the time we correct this mess and place Imo State on the path of prosperity.
Hope is not lost yet and I remain confident that our dear State shall be salvaged from the clutches of despondency. We will approach the State House of Assembly with a Bill for the establishment of three Zonal Development Commissions for each of the three geo political zones in the State.
This will encourage the three zones to develop at a rapid pace. We want Imo State to quickly join the queue of the fastest developing States in the federation. We will open up the economy which has been public service driven for many years.
We will redirect the economy- make it private sector driven by attracting private investors. And for you to have investors there must be security, steady power supply and all that. We will go into partnership to have an Independent Power Plant to compliment what we get from the National Grid to boost electricity in the State. We have arable land.
Our people are hardworking and this is why I’m dumbfounded when I hear our people are hungry and living in misery. Agriculture will get top priority. We will run a small government to cut cost. Imo State is hugely blessed. What we need is the right approach to governance and every other thing will fall in place.
You are an advocate of youth leadership with your initiative “Not-too-young-to run.” Would you rather say, Governor Okorocha isn’t right by presenting his Son in-law to take over from him? And how do you asses Uche Nwosu as a contender?
I have nothing against him. It is his right to contest the way I am contesting as well. Uche Nwosu is above 40 and I’m 39 years old. In other words, I’m younger. Perhaps, I’m the youngest Governorship aspirant in Imo State.
This is good for our democracy and for our State. If Okorocha says anyone not above 50 should take over from him and that youths should be encouraged to participate in governance, then I am the right person to succeed him because I m a core youth. I have done a lot to encourage youth’s participation in governance.
I initiated the Not Too Young To Run Bill in the House of Representatives which is awaiting presidential assent. It is being practiced in some States of the federation. It is my idea. And because I and well-meaning youths in the country believe that gone are the day’s youths are used as agents for election rigging and snatching of ballot boxes. Last month, I led some youths to the presidential Villa Abuja where we called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Bill.
And I am hopeful that soon the President will give his assent. We cannot continue the way we are going. We have seen the emergence of a 45 year old as President of Poland. Last week, a 34 old lady was appointed a Minister in Botswana. So you can see the trend and Imo State must join the queue. For Okorocha to choose his in law to succeed him is not ideal. We are not running a monarchical system of government in Imo State.
This is not a family business and besides it is not Okorocha that will decide for the people of Imo State who takes over from him. It will be the decision of the people and I’m confident that the choice of the people will prevail. And I also believe Imo people have made up their mind on the type of Governor they want in 2019, certainly not an elongation of Okorocha’s tenure through the back door.
You are contesting a governorship position under PDP and your kinsman, Emeka Ihedioha has been there before you. Don’t you think it’s a plan to cut short his ambition, noticing how vibrant and youth-friendly you have become?
How? Why would I do that? He is my elder brother and I respect him. I’m in the race because I’m convinced that it’s time for our people to get the best of governance. He is also in the contest. I have no ill feelings against him and I know he has none against me.
But I believe I possess the Midas touch to transform Imo State. I have the magic wand to take Imo State to the next level having taking a critical look at the situation in the State and developed a roadmap to tackle the myriad problems affecting it.
Governor Okorocha commented that Zoning is dead in Imo State. What is your take on the agitation of Owerri zone producing the next governor in the State?
Owerri zone do have the right to renew their agitation for the Governorship of the State. The last time the zone produced the State Governor was in 1993. That was a long time ago and it is natural that the zone strongly put up a strong demand this time around. What we lack is co- ordination and the right approach to actualize this mission.
Owerri zone has been plagued by lack of political leadership for some time and it is seriously affecting the political advancement of the zone. This is the major problem affecting the political direction of the zone and it is very unfortunate. Zoning is an issue that has generated so much heat and debate in the State. It may not be ideal to some people but its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.
For now it suits the political situation in the State. For our peculiar political situation, we need it. We need it to temper frayed nerves.
This is why it is strange that Okorocha could contemplate returning the Governorship to Orlu zone through his son in law when other zones such as Owerri zone has not produced the State Governor since the return of democracy in the country in 1999.
However, we need the best to take over from Okorocha. The ruins are so much and there is so much work to be done to make Imo people happy again. Soon I will come up with a Shadow Government that will begin now to dissect the problems affecting the State and hopefully when we get elected, we will hit the ground running.
It will be interesting to know how you emerged as House of Reps member in a State dominated by the APC (Lagos State)
It is God’s handwork. There is nothing I do without putting God first. I believe with him on your side there is nothing that is impossible. Well, I was accepted by the people of Isolo/Oshodi to represent them. They knew my antecedents and understood that I’m credible and transparent and they voted for me. I won overwhelmingly.
I defeated three State Commissioners in their wards in addition to the State APC Chairman including the then incumbent House of Representative member in their wards too. I still maintain cordial relationship with them. I relate with people for what they are irrespective of political leanings. This tells you that I am a serious character. I do not discriminate.
I want the people of Imo State to assess the antecedents of those aspiring to govern them. I have proved myself to be credible and I think it’s time our people vote in a credible person like me as the next Governor of Imo State.