Barrister Chuks Nwachukwu, presidential aspirant on the platform of All Grassroots Alliance (AGA) spoke with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI and JOY ANIGBOGU on the readiness of his party to give 80 percent appointments to youths, rid the nation of corruption and restructure the nation at the local government levels among other topical issues. Excerpts:
Do you think that your party has what it takes to upstage the candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC)?
AGA worked very hard to get registered. They relied on ordinary people, collecting N100 from them to get the money for registration. That was the right spirit. If we continue in that spirit, we will upstage the candidates of APC and PDP. These parties that you think are big are not really parties, but were floated by a few ‘money bags’. Their members have no commitment to the parties. They do not pay membership dues. They do not raise money for party programmes. They wait to be given money. The ‘money bags’ sponsor them. The ‘money bags’ would need to distribute money to them to come for political rallies. Those are not parties. AGA is one of the first political parties in this country which rely on the sponsorship of the ordinary members.
For the politician, he is a businessman. He has paid for your votes. He feels he owes you nothing. That is why I want to change everything. I want to build everything for Nigerians. You will only be a shareholder in Nigeria if you do not put a price on your shares. If you contribute for the party, then you have bought yourself a stake in the country. When your party comes in power, it means you are a stakeholder because it was your money that brought someone into Aso Rock.
You have not held any political office aside being a CDA chairman. Why don’t want you to start from the state level?
I would even prefer to be a CDA chairman to being a local government chairman because as long as you are paid to do what you are doing and you have the paraphernalia of office, I do not consider you a sincere public officer. I consider you a predatory because Nigeria system is a very predatory system. That is the reason I have shunned that process.
I am an architect. I am a designer. When I say architect, I mean social architect. I feel that Nigeria needs reformation, a redesign. It is not a process that you can do at the state level. Look at all the people who made that mistake in getting themselves involved in the state. They have all become part of the mess. You cannot go through that way without becoming part of the mess because the structure is bigger than you. It will weigh down on you. It will actually corrupt you. At a point, you will become a traitor of your own vision. Look at the salaries the senators are collecting. I cannot have a conscience to live with that.
When people make that suggestion, I simply tell them that I cannot be part of that mess. That process is very inimical to the development of a nation. The advantage that I have is that I am fresh and I am not part of the mess. When you talk about experience, I am saying that experience of governance of Nigeria is failure. Why should I be interested in having an experience in producing failure?
Nigeria is a near failed state. So, everything you have been doing has only brought failure to the country. So, why should I be interested in that kind of experience? I have tried to get into state government what I saw nauseated me. When I have policies I want to sell to state governors, what you get at that level is completely nauseating. When something will cost N1, they will tell you to make it N10.
Do you think that will not happen at the Presidency level?
I am going to be the person. I am going to be the one to set the ground rules. That is why I want to go there because I cannot entrust anyone to run my projects. I have approached the Presidency. I have drawn programmes for them. I have written them. They did nothing. It seems the country is going from bad to worse and I cannot keep watching.
You have a society that is so entrenched in some of these things you are talking about. What is your level of mobilisation giving your party’s inexperience that makes you think you can achieve your aspiration?
I tell you that the people that you are calling mobilised, we are more mobilised than they are? They have to bribe the people to attend their rallies. We have volunteers who believe in the new vision. It is person-to-person. We are all involved in this.
I did this thing before in the university. I had come out as a dark horse in an election in the university where there were established contestants who had done ground work for about a year before I joined the race. I instituted my campaign methodology, meeting person-to-person. First, I discussed the issues and then I allowed you to understand the issues, that the game that you were about to play was your life. At that point, loyalty was changed. I was able to win the election at landslide.
It is the same thing that I am going to do again. I am educating the people and allow them to realise that Nigeria is about to implode. If you leave Nigeria as it is, give Nigeria 10 to 15 years Nigeria will implode. We have too many problems. You are using 60 percent of your income to service debt and you are still borrowing more because you want to cover the eyes of the people to the real situation.
Consider the subsidy issue, N1.4 trillion. In fact, they are now paying N2.4billion every day as subsidy. So, whatever you make from the sale of crude oil, you are losing it again through subsidy payment. My government will try to block these holes when we get elected. It means that oil price is going to move from 200 to 220 per litre in other to block the loopholes. Remember that salaries are remaining at N18,000 minimum wage now. They are going to try to increase salaries just to satisfy their agitation. When they keep printing money, the value of our naira will keep coming down. All these symptoms of herdsmen-farmers’ clashes are signs of a nation that cannot hold itself together.
One of the major issues we have now is the farmers/ herders’ clashes. Look at what happened in Plateau State recently, how would you address this if you become Nigeria’s President?
This herders/farmers’ clashes are made up by the present political system. There is something that Nigerians have not realised. In 1983, Buhari was Nigeria’s Head of State and there was to be an election to the post of Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary General. The top contender was Peter Onu of Nigeria. I think he was Assistant Secretary General at that point. Buhari brought up this Fulani man from Niger, campaigned for him, voted for the man and he beat the Nigerian. Buhari fought a diplomatic war against Nigeria then. What stops Buhari from fighting an armed war against Nigeria now as Nigeria’s Commander-In-Chief?
Look at the brief six months that Yemi Osinbajo was the Acting President. Did you see this kind of thing happening? Immediately there is someone else, this problem will fizzle out. It is the protection that they are getting from the high quarters that makes them so bold to do what they are doing. We will have the normal clashes we used to have. Herdsmen/farmers’ clashes used to be normal because somehow cattle will stray to farm and cause damage and that could result in conflict.
These AK 47 wielding men will disappear immediately there is a change of guard. They are here because they feel they have a patron who is protecting them to kill Nigerians. They are not killing only Christians. They also kill Nigerian Fulani, Fulani farmers, even Fulani cattle herders, the Bororos. That is why those ones started running down South. The Bororos carry daggers and sticks and not AK 47.
The major political parties have zoned their Presidential tickets to the North. What is your perspective on that?
I have told you before that these political parties are not representatives of Nigerians. Because people like us were not in the race, that was why they followed the definitions given to them by the people that were on ground. People are looking for a competent person. They don’t care where he comes from.
I am an Igbo man. I am not coming to say this is the turn of Igbo people. I am coming here as a Nigerian. I am not asking Nigerians to accept me as an Igbo person. I am asking you to accept because I am a Nigerian and I have the solution to your problems. I am bold and fearless. I have got the brains. I design things. I can tell you problems and I would analyse and give solutions because a lot of people out there are already part of the system. They do not have the boldness.
Nigeria is back to the 1930s and 1940s. We are fighting another war of independence. When we fought the first war, it was done by the youths. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo were young men. They fought the British and got independence. Again, we are fighting war to deliver ourselves from internal colonialism by the forces that we have allowed by our nonchalant attitude to overtake the system and make us their slaves.
One issue that will shape the 2019 election is the issue of restructuring. What is your perspective about the restructuring of the country?
When I said that we need mental, political, social and economic liberation, social liberation, I have this philosophical way of putting things. We are operating a predatory structure. This thing was put together to leverage some people to profit from the system at the expense of other people. Babangida put this structure together in those days of settlement so that when somebody made some noise, Babangida would create one little avenue for him to draw them closer and be part of the cake sharing.
Cake sharing starts at the centre. The state did not exist to care for the people. Nigeria exists only for some to explode. It is just a means for some people to get rich. Nigeria does not exist for Nigerians. Nigeria is a contraction for a few people to exploit other people. That is the political structure. Babangida created local governments just as avenue for some people to get a share of federal allocation.
There was no formula for the creation of local governments. Jigawa and Kebbi have more local governments than the whole of South East put together. Local government levels are the base of corruption. The state also is not viable. The only purpose of the State is to share federal allocation. The Permanent Secretary is no longer a civil servant, but a politician and his first loyalty is to the political order. When we had the regions, we also had problems of marginalisation. Some ethnic groups felt marginalised within the regions.
We never participated in the creation of Nigeria. Some people drew a map and called it Nigeria and they drew administrative regions and now that we are Nigerians, let us now agree on how we are going to restructure ourselves for our own governance. Whatever structure that we will rely on, I would want responsibility for development to rest at local level. It also means that at that level they have sufficient means of raising revenue. Whatever resources that they have should be kept within their control and manage, not for themselves, but for the rest of Nigeria.
Our Northern brothers who their elite have made them look like people who are parasitic. I know that the North is far wealthier in natural resources than the South. But, oil is so easy to extract and make a lot of money. The elite in the North eased themselves into oil that when you talk about restructuring, they feel you want to deprive them.
In my perspective, I am not thinking of region. But, any group of people who feels that they can take care of themselves can be given the right to do so. If they are 3,000 people that you can be identified by language, culture etcetera, they can be on their own.
How would you get the structures to achieve all these considering that the election is around the corner?
We are seeking platforms to talk to Nigerians and we have the social media. We are engaging Nigerians. I am addressing the youths. I don’t have business with the old people. The Nigeria that I am building is not for them. Only a handful of them can understand what I am saying. I am addressing the young people. The old people are the ones who have mountain of challenges. The problem they have caused is enough for me to leverage on. They brought the country down.
Wole Soyinka called the generation, a wasted generation. We don’t need to keep the wasted generation around us. When we revalued our economy, the value came from young people, from Nollywood and entertainment. The old people have not been producing anything, but the young people. I am giving the young people 80 percent of all appointments. Those from 44 to 55 years will get 15 percent, while five percent will go to the good old ones. I am connecting to the hearts of Nigerians.
You said that you are hoping to get your campaigns sponsored by Nigerians. How can this will be feasible?
I am making people realise the need. If I get N1,000 from one million people every month, that will amount to N1 billion. I want to let people know how it would be easy to unseat the present system. You don’t have to be a ‘money bag’ to get there. If you fail to do that, you make yourself a slave of the existing political order. If you fail to invest, you have failed to acquire value. If they had paid for your votes, their policies will not favour you. If you have acquired value through your contributions to the election, do you think that they will kill you just because you have killed their cows the way they are doing? No, they will not, because, you are a stakeholder.