Prince Nixon Okwara Commends Gov Uzodimma On Achievement, Charges Leaders On security
Prince Nixon Okwara is a household name in administration, leadership, entrepreneurship, security practice, and in politics. In this interview with ONYEKACHI EZE of Trumpeta Newspaper, he literarily touched every aspect of the present day Nigeria, and Imo State in particular.
Trumpeta: Introduction sir
Okwara: My name is Prince Nixon Okwara, I’m from Isiekenesi Ancient Kingdom of Ideato South LGA, Imo State, Nigeria. I’m the CEO Onix Group.
Trumpeta: Can you x-ray Imo State of today in terms of insecurity and governance?
Okwara: As a matter of fact, globally, the world is challenged by a different kind of insecurity, Imo not specially out of the global trend, but the difference between what happens in Imo and partially all other places is, like in part of America and all that, you find out that other national citizens are terrorizing America, you find out that Russia is fighting Ukraine, but the different part in Imo State is that when citizens of the country take up and are against its country, not even America can survive it. That is the peculiarity with Imo State. Apart from that, the governor is trying his best. I could see massive Road infrastructure and a very quality work being done. If the past administration did something like this, I think the governor would have few challenges on Road infrastructure. So, it’s something I think will last for decades. He is doing his best, though this is not the best time for a contractor in Imo State, so those things could be one of the inhibiting factors, maybe he could have done more.
I feel that while he is trying his best, everybody should join the forces with him on this issue of insecurity because we can’t politicize it. It’s everybody’s business. Uhhhhm, there is this saying that if you see something, say something. This goes beyond just seeing and saying. This is a vision of adding something, we all need to. I have had several of stakeholders meetings, I don’t think much has been achieved out of that stakeholders meeting because when security situations are being discussed possibly at the Local Government levels on insecurity, it should not be a party affair. It should be cut across all political parties, all stakeholders, those who have the actual control of the grassroot, they are the people the youths listen to, they are there, that’s what I think.
Trumpeta: Do you actually think the insecurity in the State is politically motivated? And, how easy is it to converge all political leaders across board for a summit?
Okwara: Is not about thinking so, obviously, what Nigeria is going through generally on insecurity is a political situation, same with Imo State. So, if the governor says the insecurity is political, he is not wrong. Let’s take it like this, there were some people agitating, and there is insecurity for people to revolt against the State, but one thing is that the issue here is not about the children crying, the issue should be, why are they crying? Because what I see about IPOB and all other agitators in different areas is that the youths are crying. So instead of beating a child, after beating him to cry or making him cry by starving him food, you are going ahead to beat him. It is important you just find out why he is crying first, maybe something is biting him under his feet, inside his clothes, inside his head, and, problem identified is half solved. By the time we determine in all sincerity, we do summit, why are these people crying, we would have set a space or standard for solving the insecurity issues.
But the thing there is , we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. By not being sincere about what the actual situation is Imo State, yes politicians can now take the leverage on that, build your own criminal gangs to perpetuate some kind of self or personal agenda, but it doesn’t stop the fact that there was a point people started agitation. What are they agitating about? Have the leaders who are now fighting and trying to say all sorts of things done enough? That is the question. There was a point the people occupy the space. The criminality now have divided into so many factions, but it could have been nipped in the board. There was a point the State leaders of Igboland had an opportunity to form an aggression and defend their aggression from the bandits who were killing everybody in the South East, and this created a particular acceptance of some sect of people because they were the only people who came to defend the people, and you now created the sympathy they now enjoy among the people.
Now, the criminals are leveraging on this with some bad politicians to unleash mayhem, all different kinds of terror and criminality on the people. So I think the best thing is still going back to the basis; identify where we got it wrong. There was a summit the South East leaders had in Enugu, that summit was supposed to had pronounced ehhhhh, maybe Ebubeagu or whatever. At that point Amotekun was pronounced just one or two weeks apart, but they rose from that meeting and failed to pronounce a security system that could come and checkmate those invasion of those bandits in South Eastern lands. And some people came out from nowhere and capitalize on that to win the souls of those people that were here to protect you, and they accepted them. Now, the point there is, that can you kill the idea that these people are the village grassroot at a point in time who were defended by some people? It’s impossible. So it has gotten to a stage, and as at that time those who were talking from different media were continuously saying that when the carrot-and-stick approach should be meted out at this point in time, and should be more carrot than stick, but, I think a lot of things went wrong, all the same, we can still get it right. Getting it right means that we have to get those who these young men trust and see how we can extend some olive branch, and discus the state of Imo beacuse the destructions now, the killings are uncalled for. It is bleeding.
Trumpeta: Sir, do you think the 2023 elections would hold in Imo State following the security situations on ground?
Okwara: Why we understand that some of these things are more political, look at what happened in Anambra State. Two days to the election, the insecurity reduced over to 70% and there was an election. So what are you expecting with these same people who are feeding some of the criminal elements to be causing insecurity when they want to be reelected. They will still talk to their attack dogs to retreat. So there is nothing I see there. The election will hold.
Trumpeta: Do you have any political ambition?
Okwara: Yes I have an ambition. My number one ambition is Imo State, my number two is Imo State, and my number three ambition is Imo State. So my ambition is Imo State, Imo State, Imo State. As you can see, anything that can bring this State better than Mbakwe left it is my ambition.
Trumpeta: (cuts in) But you have rated Governor Hope Uzodimma high on infrastructure, what about his general performance so far?
Okwara: As a matter of fact, he has shown political doggedness to withstand all the political landmines from the man that wasted our 8 years ago in Imo State. So that particular man who is Owelle Rochas Okorocha is very grounded in a lot of political ambushing, both active, proactive, legally and otherwise. He (Uzodimma) has shown enough sagacity to have overcome that. It is not easy. During the days of Ohakim, he would barely could perform beacuse of legal tussles, but this one, the Governor irrespective of many challenges coming from, even inside his party which is APC and the PDP has been able to live above all, and in the midst of insecurity, he is doing his best. Also, I have seen some policies that are functional though I am expecting more, like the implementation of the Imo State Geographic Information System, that’s a good one. I have seen some other policies on rural Roads, the Development Centers which is a form of taking leadership to the grassroot. One aspect I still see again is, let it not also be like that of Rochas who is ready to create 20 offices without even supporting or financing them.
But the area I’m looking at is ummmmh, the governor should look in the way of Internally Generated Revenue. No State can survive without this feeding-bottle leadership system from Abuja. Imo State has the capacity of generating a lot of Internal Revenue for its own development, and also, when you see sincerity, the people will be ready to contribute. They did it to Imo State Airport, that attitude of the Imolites have not left them, the fact is that they have not found reason to bring the little money they have out to support the present government. So, I think that the governor should get his Revenue officers to go to the drawing board and find out many ways like what I noticed in Owerri, waste collection in Owerri Municipal for instance should not be coming up in the budget, waste is a big business, so the governor should find a way to tap into the business angle of the waste so it can reduce the pressure on the meager income that they receive from Abuja. Some of those things that could be self funding he should look towards that.
Also, the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Lands, I don’t see the reason why government should be paying the Ministry’s salaries. They should bring up development agencies under Lands or anyone that is directly to the governor that will make acquisition of land and administration of land to be sustaining the salaries and the bills of such ministries. Land is as expensive and big as the oil wells, crude oil and the rest of them. So, if these things are in the hands of the governors, there should be, I wrote something before on land administration in Imo State, the governor should look for a way of unboggling this system so that they will be self funding. So that they will reduce this one we are having everyday, civil servants who have not been to the Ministry for once in a year clamouring for salary because they are doing nothing. But at the moment that these things have some independent agencies, running some of them and making profit income yearly to the government, you find out that nobody will want to employ somebody who is not making any economic impact when you come to the organization.
Then finally, I feel there should be a policy on environmental health, especially the public health. If you go round the public places, even hotels with big buildings, their public toilets are in big mess, go to big supermarkets, with big names, their public toilets too are in a mess, and you see, penalties or consequences for certain inactions which have to come as punishment either by payment and rest of them are income that have to come to the government. But, I just see that people who bear the brunt of all policies are the masses, and which is the wrong way to go. The giants which are the most producers of the waste like the banks, the corporate entities having a fill day, and when you look at that situation, you just find out that while big names could commit crimes and get away means there is a high rate of corruption. So, the governor should put his flash, is not just coming to catch an okada or driver that flouted the law of traffic, and when you see, the big people are flying it. So what I’m trying to say in essence is that the policy should stand on its own and produce a webcam that will catch anybody, especially when it comes to the environment. Those big players in the industry who contribute and generate these waste, they are making profit. They should build the waste disposal into their running expenses, while the government in turn gets income from that. First thing government should do now is look a way how to reduce reoccurring expenditure from the government project thing.
Trumpeta: Are you a partisan politician?
Okwara: I am a strong member of the All Progressives Congress, APC. As a matter of fact, both here and in Lagos.
Trumpeta: What are APC chances in the forthcoming polls?
Okwara: I will be sincere with you, without saying much, 2023 will not just be about party. That is, I’m a party man, we will always go by what the party decides, yes, but I know very well that, you can see some sectors clamouring for South East president, some are clamouring for Igbo president, some are scheming that okay let this particular party go to the North, these are part of the factors that will determine which party wins. Also, the choice of candidate, who the person is, is important this time. We have seen some level of this electronic voting system which will reduce malpractice. So if people are smart enough, this is the time for citizens to go and get their PVC and change the narrative, at least a lot of people will come to Leadership from different platform. You know, I don’t want to use party as an example now, some will come from the road, some by air, some will come by sea, some will come by okada and others. What I am saying is that a lot of vehicle will bring people, and all of them will meet at the Leadership center. That is what I see for 2023.
Trumpeta: It’s a pleasure having you on this interview session, sir.
Okwara: You are welcome.