An industrialist and chieftain of All Progressive Congress in Abia state, Chief Ndukwe Ikoh tells Chinedu Eze that Abia state has remained underdeveloped because of bad leadership. Ikoh who was in the House of Representatives in 2015, believes greed and lack of accountability have put the state in dire straits
There have been protests against police brutality in Nigeria and these protests have been spearheaded by young people who are calling for total reforms of the force. What is your impression on how these issues have been handled?
I must begin by declaring my unalloyed solidarity with the Nigerian youths on the matter and manner of this protest.
The people have completely lost fate and hope in almost all the structures and essence of governance in this country hence the spontaneous solidarity in this protest with police brutality and inhumane treatment to clearly innocent citizens as the opium pushing this civil revolt.
The reaction is another case of failed opportunity to provide responsive leadership and it is a shame to say the least. I also agree with his critics on his speed in approach to quenching a burning fire.
What kind of reforms would you like to see in the police force?
Nigeria as a whole needs foundational restructuring and everyone knows about this and has said it time and time again, including my humble self.
It is an impossible task to restructure or attempt to carry out any meaningful structural changes in the Nigerian police force without first and foremost overhauling and changing our entire structure of governance.
Remember the function of the police (which is to secure life and property, maintain law and order and enforce law). The force derives its power to function from other arms of government. So the fountain of authority must be sanitized before you can think of a new police.
It’s common sense.
Given that insecurity, among which is banditry, kidnaping and terrorism are on the increase in the north without any solution, even with Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) then in place, why do you think Northern governors oppose the disbandment of SARS?
Everyone is not happy with the modus operandi of especially the now defunct SARS arm of the Nigerian police force. They were brutal, extra judicial, inhumane and corrupt in their conduct, which is the reason we are where we are today.
Northern governors opposed the disbandment? Well they know why but the Nigerian youths support the disbandment and that is more important to me and for all.
Maybe with SARS they were doing better with the insecurity situation in the north and if that is the case then, SARS should remain in the north.
Again, all must note that the system of policing in the south, especially Southeast and Southsouth is very different from what obtains in the northern Nigeria.
For instance, driving or traveling through the roads in the Southeast and Southsouth, you will find out the difference very clearly.
Here, Police and SARS position themselves in spaced distances of not more than 100 meters apart doing the innocuous business of extortion from motorists and travellers alike in full broad daylight sometimes with a lot of inhumane treatment.
That doesn’t happen in the North. We are saying that we cannot continue with this disparity in the system of things. It is not political; it is not ethnical or tribal. It is called equity, justice and fairness.
So many Nigerians believe that SWAT is going to be just the same thing as SARS with only the name change. Do you share the popular believe that the IGP was too hasty in replacing the dissolved SARS with Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT)?
No matter the color or name change, what works in any system is good operational methodology. Training, paradigm alignment, motivation and institutional ethics will strive with good authority. We need to overhaul our institutions to meet the present secular needs. That is restructuring.
It pains me when I think about Aba and the way it is neglected by succeeding governments in the state. Do you think that Aba’s problem of bad roads, poor waste management is intractable; or do you think poor leadership is responsible for the chronic neglect of that city, which can multiply revenue for the state?
Abia state and the city, Aba have remained largely a state and, of course, a city passing as bad example for a place that is devoid of good governance and that is due to malfeasance of the people in power.
We have been very unlucky to have people in government who went in as poor people but became billionaires while in power and these include themselves, family and friends.
Naturally, corrupt and greedy minds don’t have space to think anything good for others. That has been the bane of Abia, especially since around 2009.
Given the opportunity to lead Abia state, what do you think you can do to make the state economically viable and make Umuahia a true metropolis?
I will surely do something greatly different if I have the opportunity to correct the mess in Abia. Corruption will be driven far and governance and government must be done as a business. Our revenue base shall be expanded and of course we shall have a better GDP. As a technocrat, my self and other skilled and experienced Abians shall work together to bring in a performance that will make Abia envy of other states in the federation.
Abia State economy, development and mode of governance shall be the best in Africa.
Is Igbo Presidency in 2023 a feasible project?
Let us watch and pray. All things are possible to them who believe and work!
The #ENDSARS protests turned violent, hijacked by hoodlums in several cities. What would should the protesting, despondent youths have done differently?
Certainly the protest would have lost steam and focus at some stage. I know that and the government knows that too. Hijack will come, the area boys, politicians, all manner of people who are not original. But I also believe that the message is long gone and has reached its destination. I congratulate the organizers and initiators for doing what the NLC, the TUC, organized labour, the pulpit warriors, could not do. And it was done so perfectly.
It has come as a rude reminder to the people in authority that you can never undermine the will of the people perpetually. Humanity must always react at some point even from nowhere. The organizers must also understand the right time to halt. It is important as well.
Abia is one of the states with serious infrastructural deficit. Are you satisfied with the government’s response to it, particularly road infrastructure?
In Abia there is no governance in terms of building and or maintaining infrastructure, especially when you see what happens in other Southeast states.
But if one speaks out or gives dispassionate council to them, their hirelings will come insulting but we cannot stop saying it frankly. Does Abia have infrastructural master plan for the cities and state? I doubt if anything like that exists. What is the economic plans, health care goals, etc. The government is like one without vision, rudderless but with a mission to enrich self and family.
People in government in Abia are on looting spree even at the expense of pensioners’ wages and workers salary.
Therefore the state suffers.
Insecurity is everyday skyrocketing, how would you rate performance of Buhari in this regard?
Buhari is difficult to assess even at this point. He who has conscience and could speak the truth will tell you that many things are not working. Not the way some of us in APC and die-hard followers of PMB would have wanted it. However we shall continue to pray for the best for our nation.
How will you settle the disagreement between Geometric Power that has almost completed the provision of electricity to Aba and Enugu Electric so that the city, known for its creative industries will enjoy uninterrupted electricity?
I don’t know the context of the issues in the agreement but one of the biggest demands of a leadership is to resolve any dispute such that all parties in the dispute are happy. It will be our core hallmark especially when it concerns the progress and well being of our state and her people.