By Joseph Erunke
As young as he is, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere’s name commands respect in some quarters. His activities are closely monitored by the security agencies, especially the police and the Department of State Services, DSS. He started brushes with the law right from the tale end of 2015 when his vociferous voice as President of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, was noted and considered too strong to be ignored by the federal authorities. His activities considered antithetical earned him invites as a guest of the dungeon of the DSS for three consecutive times. Many who knew about his travails in the hands of the security agency thought Ugochinyere would abandon his course of speaking openly what he considered as ills of the authorities. But they were wrong as he became more emboldened after his release. He later became a Special Adviser to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Students and Youth Matters in 2016,shortly after his tenure as NYCN. But on November 9,2017,the trained lawyer resigned his appointment when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered his Action Peoples Party, APP, as one of the political parties eligible to operate in the Nigeria’s democratic space.
The National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party, who incidentally is the party’s presidential aspirant in the 2019 general elections, said it was time for young, visionary and articulate Nigerians to take over the corridors of power with a view to returning Nigeria to what he referred to as “its lost glory.”
According to him, Nigeria is at the brink of total collapse under President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration. He says the president rather than fight corruption as promised in his campaign programme in 2015 presidential election, was comfortable wining and dining with alleged corrupt people.
“President Buhari and the APC have exhibited a total lack of capacity and knowledge to protect the lives of Nigerians in basically every state of the federation. We are now more divided as a country than even during the dark days of civil war. Our country is filled with rivers of blood flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, yet our government is not taking action. In just less than three months of 2018 alone, there were mass loss of lives in 34 out of our of 36 states and not one person has been brought to book. From rampaging killer herdsmen to recent cases of violent killings, ritual murders, kidnapping cases, increase in Boko Haram attacks, etc, more lives have been lost in Nigeria due to violence than in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Afghanistan.That was not the wish of Nigerians when they queued to vote for a president in 2015, “he said.
Ugochinyere dismissed the claim that the president was fighting corruption, saying instead, President Buhari was busy chasing members of opposition political parties who he believes, were threat to his 2019 re-election bid.
He alleged that some people close to the President have been implicated in cases of looting the nation’s treasury in the past.
“Persons of questionable characters are now encouraged to join his APC party and in most cases their corruption cases or investigation dies in town . Today, the Buhari-led APC government harbours good number of those who contributed in destroying Nigeria and same government will claim to be fighting corruption. Even those who are suspended following investigations are recalled from suspension. The return and reinstatement of fugitive Abdulrasheed Maina demanded that a report be put on his table before close on that date. Nigerians are asking: what has happened to that report by the Head of Service? It is somewhere gathering dust while Maina has been allowed safe passage out of the country and escorted by security aides, “he claimed.
The Imo born politician spoke further:” As I speak to you now, the political environment is being stifled, the electoral commission has not gone beyond mere rhetoric to say by their actions what they are going to do that will give us confidence that they are going to be truly neutral as we go for elections.
“The first thing you must understand in a democratic setting is that the history of free and fair elections, apart from the electoral umpire is the atmosphere of freedom which is something that is inherent in human being. As I speak to you now, you can see that the government is clamping down on people that have divergent views. If this situation continues, there will not be atmosphere for a free and fair election, it’s also going to show that ballot boxes are going to be carried, it’s also going to show that the electoral body is going to nullify elections where we are winning the incumbent.
“So, the atmosphere is being heated up and the most important thing is for Nigerians at this moment to stand up to demand that the rule of law and the principles of democratic governance are obeyed.
“Developments in the country are making us to be scared that the path to 2019 might be a path that will be filled with thugs, iron and gun boots.
He takes on INEC thus:”Political parties have not been briefed on the set of polling units they want to create.
“ “We are still waiting for the report of INEC’s investigation on the massive child vote in Kano. INEC promised to get to the roots of the matter to explain to us what happened. Now, how are we going to have confidence in them in the 2019 general elections if what we saw in Kano cannot be explained.