By Ephraim Oseji & Destiny Eseaga
Mr. Umekwe Chukwunwike, National Coordinator, Grassroots Initiative for Good Governance, in this interview, bares his mind on the group’s activities and Delta State politics.
Why do you engage Nigerians on good governance?
First, we have to start from the grassroots because politics really starts from that level. People at the grassroots level account for the majority of voters in Nigeria. There is a clarion call to educate and engage them on the conscious pursuit of good governance and to emancipate them from the manipulation of the political class. Presently, Nigerians at the grassroots are not benefiting from the APC federal government; they need transformational change.
How do you intend to carry out this assignment considering the attitude of average Nigerians on how they are been governed?
We are talking to people at the ward and local government levels nationwide and the message is received well by the communities who, themselves, have seen reason why we should have political reform and good governance. We have representatives in some states across the federation, cutting across the six geo- political zones. Our activity is to educate the people on good governance and how to use their voter cards wisely. Let us face it, this is all about choice; good choice to vote out incompetence and non-performance while electing representatives who have the interest of the generality of the people. Our PVC awareness drive is going on at the grassroots and the education we are giving the people on the need to identify and vote out non-performing politicians has been encouraging.
There is the call on youths to take active part in politics. What is your group doing to support this call?
What we are experiencing at the moment in the country is nothing to write home about. We need young and talented Nigerians with the political will and dexterity to pilot the affairs of Nigeria. For instance, not less than 35 young Nigerians, including Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye, have declared to run against President Buhari in 2019; some are going for Senate and House of Representatives. In Kogi, young and upwardly mobile and resourceful banker, Victor Adoji, has declared to run for election in Kogi East. These men stand for transformational change in the politics of Nigeria. We are working to ensure that youths of this country participate in the political process.
Are you satisfied with the present set of politicians at all levels?
Not all the politicians in the country are bad. Some of them are serious-minded and know why they were elected to represent the people in government. Unfortunately, the unserious ones are in the majority. At the national level, the lawmakers are doing their best but at the same time I cannot say I am satisfied with the relationship between the executive and legislature. What we see is power play which is not good for our democracy especially at the grassroots. Take a look at what is happening all over the country. Imo is a battleground; the governor is at war with his deputy and others, not for the interest of the people but all because of succession. In Kogi, the war is between the governor and Senator Dino Melaye, which has thrown the entire state into a conflagration. The irony of it all is that the people involved are all members of the APC. These are the reasons we are calling for a speedy reform. We want the people at the grassroots to take active part in politics to decide their future and that of our children.
What are your views on the three senators from Delta in the National Assembly?
I am disappointed as a stakeholder and as a Nigerian. Generally, it is high time we mobilize to find credible replacements for them. Their performance has not been encouraging. One would have expected these National Assembly members, especially the senators, to meet and decide on issues in their states to be sponsored for action. But we have not seen any improvement on infrastructure, youth empowerment, education, industry, agriculture. The most challenging is Delta North.
Some groups in Delta North have been clamouring that Senator Peter Nwaoboshi should not seek re-election. Where does your group stand?
Presently we are not championing for anybody or aligning with any group. Peter Nwaoboshi is the incumbent and someone like Prince Ned Nwoko is being suggested as a possible candidate. In my view, Prince Ned is a gentleman, understands the terrain and qualified to move the senatorial zone forward. Nwaoboshi may not be doing badly but he needs to do more to win the people’s support in the forthcoming election since he has decided to contest again. Be that as it may, Nwoko is a man of the people. He has clout, the means and the will to move the senatorial district forward. Nwaoboshi is not accessible and not interacting adequately with his constituency. A senator should relate with his constituency on the core needs and aspirations in order to impact positively. A senator’s priority should be his constituency and his people. He will need to step up his game and reach out proactively to his constituency. He has not really convinced us on why he should be re-elected. Nwoko is approachable and can be a champion of the senatorial district; Nwoko can go in there in Abuja and fight for his district. Nwoko’s candidacy comes first.
How will you rate Senator Nwaoboshi Performance?
What we are saying is that the man has done well and there is room for him to step up his games and be the best between now and next general elections. For him to get the confidence and support of the people, he needs to attract real developments to his constituency and engage the people. That’s the reports we are getting from our field officers who are on ground.