Imo State governor and the chairman, All Progressive Peoples (APC) Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha had an interactive session with State House Press Corps where he stated that his Ekiti counterpart lacks the qualifications to ask the president to resign. He also spoke on some burning national issues. JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH was there for LEADERSHIP Friday.
On state of the Nation
As you are aware we are passing through a very difficult time in our nation and we have a lot of challenges – political, economic, social, cultural and what have you, I want to advise that this is what many great nations of the world have passed through before getting to their point of greatness and Nigeria will not be an exemption. We must see this time as a trying period for Nigeria and by the grace of God, we shall overcome. So this is the time to preach love, this is the time to love one another, this is the time to embrace one another, this is the time to preach peace especially in more of the things that unite us as a people and talk not at all about the things that will divide us.
And this calls to question the recent statement credited to Governor Fayose over the health of Mr. President. I want to advise that Fayose’s statement should not be regarded, it is baseless and there is no substance in that information. What he said is not right, it is uncalled for and that is simply heating up the polity.
In our culture and tradition, we do not play politics with people’s lives and anybody can be sick, anybody can be in the hospital and so, making such a categorical statement which is unfounded that Mr. President is on life support, is to the best of my knowledge, a statement of hate. That is a cheap talk and Nigerians should not regard it. What we should do right now is to pray for Mr. President, wish him well, anybody can be sick. Even as he is sick out there, many people have been sick in Nigeria, so, we should not politicise this and play politics with people’s lives and try to create hate and confusion in the system.
I think that has become Fasoye’s style of talk and Nigerians must never take those kinds of talk serious because is capable of creating confusion in the system.
Moreover, the country is stable, the acting president is doing a beautiful job, he is meeting up with the daily duties of Mr. President and so, there is no vacuum and no cause for alarm. We must, at this point, give every support to Mr. President and we are hoping that very soon, Mr. President will come back and join us. So that statement is a call for concern. I do not know if he is speaking from the point of view of being the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum or he is speaking as a person or as a governor. I do not understand but whatever it is, people must disregard his statement.
We are not in campaign any more. President Muhammadu Buhari suffered a lot of campaign when he was running for president. First, his health should be left only for God to decide, it is not for man to decide his fate. President Buhari came into power under unusual circumstances to defeat an incumbent president which is very uncommon in our checkered political history but did he did so and I believe that it is not the making of any man but the making of God. So, I believe his health is in the hands of God and nobody should play politics with it. This is my advise to Nigerians, let us focus on majors issues that concern us as a nation. On that note, I appeal that everyone should disregard that statement. Mr. President will soon be back to commence daily duties.
On secession threats and unity of the country
On the issue of unity struggle in our country and different comments and different opinions, people expressing their different opinions as regards Nigeria’s unity. Well, we have all agreed that Nigeria remains a united and indissoluble country. But we must never take this unity of Nigeria for granted. We are better off a bigger nation, we are better off as one nation. We are going through problems but these problems do not mean they cannot be surmounted. I salute all Nigerians who are urging for the unity of this country instead of all those who request for division. We cannot afford divide ourselves now, it will be an ill wind that will not blow any good.
So I support that, the governors’ forum supports that, the APC governors support the unity of this country. We have deliberated on it and we are all proud ourselves, none of us has spoken otherwise asking for division of this country, so Nigeria still remains united.
People say Mr. President is being treated with tax payers’ money which demands accountability and full disclosure of his health issues to Nigerians. Don’t you believe that is necessary?
Well, let me say to you that if there is an announcer that President Buhari today lacks money to treat himself abroad, believe me, more than 20 million Nigerians will contribute for his health. So this is neither here nor there. You must understand what he represents and who he is. President Buhari naturally does not lack funds, he has never owned funds himself but people support him if the need be, he lives for the people, he does not live for himself. Buhari must be seen as a great Nigerian who has made utmost sacrifices in many ramifications, you can see that from his family, you can see that from his children. He is not a man of wealth, neither does he discuss it. Anytime he needs money, I’m sure millions of Nigerians would contribute even if it is one kobo each. So, it is neither here nor there talking about using national resources, he is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we must honour our president, that office is not just because of him, that office belongs to all of us.
It is very funny when people try to bring down the office of the president, thinking that they are bringing down Buhari. There are two different issue, there is presidency and there is the person of Buhari but when it has to do with Nigeria’s presidency, it concerns all of us.
So on that note I will say that is not an issue for discussion at all.
On the issue of tensions in the country, the Acting President has been holding consultations with all stakeholders but has left out Nnamdi Kanu who is a principal character in this whole episode. Would you advise him to consult with Nnamdi Kanu?
On Nnamdi Kanu, you must understand the position of a thing and what has created this hullabaloo. Nnamdi Kanu was a breakout of MOSSOP and he broke out of parent MOSSOP out of agitation.
Last time, I said that, it depends on how we define this whole thing that is taken out of context. Nnamdi Kanu, a young man seeking relevance, agitating for whatever he believes in, what he stands for must be treated separately from the entire Igbo nation. The question is does Nnamdi Kanu have the capacity to lead Igbos to war? Or lead me and the governors to war? So I will stand now and Nnamdi Kanu will tell me, stand up let’s go to war? So, sometimes we over dramatise issues just to make a big deal out of it and that has been the big challenge.
Like the gentleman that spoke for the Arewa youths, and these are not more than 17 young men speaking for millions of Arewa youths, it doesn’t make sense because if you ask any Arewa youth now if he is part of this, he will tell you no. We don’t have that wisdom of narrowing things to the perspective where they belong but we like to enlarge them to create the confusion that we all enjoy and the confusion, if not well taken care of, will consume Nigeria one day. And that is what some of us are trying to avoid.
So the issue of Nnamdi Kanu should be treated as a young man agitating and seeking for relevance, these are two different issues. And he can ride on the back of supposed Igbo marginalisation which has been said, is not right, and ride on those sentiments, pushing his agenda but that does not mean that the entire Igbos are speaking with him.
As your tenure winds down, what do you want to be remembered for?
A good governor that impacted positively on the lives of the people. I’m in this job, not for the profit of it but for the honour and glory of it. So I want to leave a legacy. I want Imo people to miss me and they will, definitely. Believe you me, they have not seen such developmental works before now and they will miss it. The only problem I have is that anybody that comes after me and does not perform will be stoned. Because you cannot come to Imo State now and say you want to abolish free education from primary to university, they will not accept. I have spoilt Imo people, believe me. You cannot come to Imo State and say you want to give them a single lane road when they are now used to eight-lane roads in the city, they won’t accept it. You cannot come there and tell the children to go to schools that the floors are not tiled, they will not accept because all the schools have been rebuilt. I have rebuilt 450 schools. You can no longer take them to those ramshackled hospitals, those shanties they called hospitals because I have built ultramodern 27 to 200 bed general hospitals. You can no longer tell them those stories. All the infrastructures are there. You cannot tell them that there are criminal activities anymore and that your hands are tied, they will not accept it because we know where we brought Imo from, from an unsafe place to a safe place right now. And you can no longer tell our workers to dress shabbily, they will not, they will want to dress in their suits and ties and white shirts. So Imo has changed believe me.
I stand to be challenged and corrected by anybody that what we have done in Imo State in this six years can be comparable to what any governor in that state, living or dead has done. And whether, if we put all of them together, they can match what we have done. Have you seen me sounding boisterous? That is the truth. But the point is I don’t make media noise, what is the most important is that people are benefiting and people are happy.
There is no area in human existence that we have not touched. I can only give credit to God almighty. There is just no area we have not touched and Owerri is now the fastest growing city outside Lagos and Abuja and I stand proud to say so. Ease of doing business is at the highest level. So, it is just passion and vision at play.