Prince Richard Ozobu, is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as one of the leading lights of Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization. In this interview with MIKE UBANI, he advises Igbos to embrace en masse the mainstream political party so as to enjoy the full benefits of democracy dividends. He says the allegation that the anti-graft war is one-sided is unfounded. EXCERPTS
Do you agree with those who accuse President Buhari of fighting a one-sided war against corruption?
Where is the evidence that the anti-graft wa is one-sided? If you have any information regarding anybody who has committed financial crimes, then write a petition to the EFCC; and if the EFCC fails to act on your petition, perhaps, you can conclude that there are sacred cows as far as the war against corruption is concerned.
In specific terms, the EFCC is alleged to be waging war especially against members of the opposition Peoplea��s Democratic Party (PDP). How do you react to this allegation?
Have you forgotten that the PDP was in power for 16 years, and if that is the case, those who participated in PDP government must give an account of their stewardship. Have you not heard how some PDP leaders shared public money among themselves? The PDP must realize that responsibility demands accountability. The 16 years that the PDP ruled the country was the period that the country earned huge amount of money from oil revenue. Tell me, what did the PDP government do with that humongous amount of money? Those in government merely put the money in their private pockets. For instance, I know of some people in Igboland who served as local government chairmen then, and who were as poor as Church rat before coming to office, but who before they left office, had built multi-million naira hotels in Abuja and elsewhere. We know of governors who were wretched before taking up office, but who today are multi-billionaires; owing choice property here and there. So, why should EFCC not investigate and prosecute such people?
Another argument is that the names of some of the alleged treasury looters who defected from PDP to APC were missing in the treasury looters list recently released by the Federal Government. Is that fair?
The list you are talking about is not yet comprehensive. You should wait until the federal government releases a comprehensive list of treasury looters, and you will find the names of some former PDP members who crossed over to APC in that comprehensive list. Dona��t forget that we have a former governor of Enugu state who crossed over from PDP to APC, but whose property has been confiscated by the EFCC, and who also has been asked to report to the agency either weekly or monthly. So, ita��s not true that the war against corruption is limited to PDP members. The PDP is using that as propaganda to come back to power in 2019.
What is wrong in PDP regaining power at the centre in 2019?
The PDP didna��t do well in the 16 years that it controlled power at the federal level. I was a former member of the PDP, and because I criticized most of the things they were doing at the time, I was labeled an enemy of the party. There was brazen looting of public funds during the PDP era, and do you want such a party to come back four years after it was swept out of power? The money the PDP looted should have been used to provide physical infrastructure and also create employment for our teeming unemployed youths. President Buhari should be encouraged to fight corruption, and return the economy on the path of development and growth instead of accusing him of fighting a one-sided war against corruption. We are talking about many PDP members who own properties in Europe and America, and all over the world, and when their names are mentioned, somebody will accuse the government of fighting a one-sided war against corruption because the accused is from your state.
What are the chances of APC retaining power in 2019?
Of course, President Buhari will retain power in 2019. He will win in the North, no matter what anybody thinks about him. The North will vote for him because I see him as the only man who will restore peace in the North-East which has been devastated by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. He will also win in the North-Central and North-West, again it doesna��t matter what propaganda the PDP is dishing out to the electorate. President Buhari will also win in the South-West because of the Bola Tinubu factor, and other factors that may not be known to me and you.
Will President Buhari also win in the South-East?
Let me start by saying that the total number of votes cast for Buhari, the APC Presidential candidate in 2015 was less than one hundred and seventy thousand. But he still won former President Jonathan of the PDP with over two million votes. All I am telling our people, Igbos, is that they should learn their lesson, and play politics the way it was played during the era of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and late Dr. Michael Okpara, both of the defunct NCNC. We should be able to join the mainstream politics which was what Zik and Okpara did during their time. Our people should make the right alliances that will benefit our children. What we are saying is that the South-East votes should be part of the majority of votes that will return President Buhari to power in 2019. We gave our votes to the PDP, and for 16 years that the PDP was in power, the South-East remained a wasteland. But today, under the APC administration, the Enugu-Port Harcourt road, the Enugu-Onitsha road, and the Second Niger Bridge have been given a pride of place under President Buhari. Above all, the quest for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 would be realized under the APC platform. What that means is that after Buhari, the next APC presidential candidate will be Igbo. We gave PDP tremendous support for those 16 years, yet the party failed us. The billions of naira the PDP administration said was earmarked for the development of Igboland, was never spent here.
Where did the money go to?
The money went into private pockets. And you know that under President Buhari, it wona��t be easy for anybody to steal the money meant for the development of the South-East or anywhere else in the country. Igbos should, therefore, vote massively for him in 2019, so that wea��ll not only be part of the decision-making body, but also benefit substantially from the administrationa��s development programme.
Are you saying your representatives at the National Assembly also failed during the PDP era in terms of provision of constituency projects?
Unfortunately, we sent people to the National Assembly to represent our interests, but they came back flaunting their wealth, including exotic cars. Many of them went to the villages and bought up almost every available empty land there. And they did the same thing in the urban areas. Is that what going to the National Assembly is all about? I want the National Assembly to publish all those constituency projects they said were approved for each community in the South-East. Why were those projects not executed? For instance, In Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu state, where I come from, we were supposed to have about 45 boreholes as wells as roads as constituency projects, but if you go there today, you wona��t see any of those projects. Where did the money approved for these projects go to? As President-General of Eziagu Peoplea��s Assembly, I summoned the Senator representing Enugu West and member of the State House of Assembly, representing Eziagu, and member of the House of Representatives, representing Udi/Eziagu Federal Constituency to come and tell us what they were doing at the National Assembly, but not one of them responded to the invitation.