Friday, 29 December 2017

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Nigeria ‘ll not be the same after 2019 –Chekwas Okorie

The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) and the current National Chairman and founder of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie, has said that neither the All Progressives Congress(APC) nor the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) can save the nation from her present state. In this interview with

, he assures that a third force would dislodge the two leading parties in 2019 general elections.
This year is gradually coming to an end. Looking at the state of the nation in Nigeria today, what are generally your reflections ahead of 2018?
Talking seriously, quite frankly and very honestly, Nigeria has never been in this type of deplorable condition since the civil war. This is the worst situation I have witnessed since the Nigerian civil war. I am in my 60s, so I have been around and have witnessed so many years in Nigeria. I am talking about from the time I began to know my right from the left, I can tell you that we have never had it this bad since the period of the civil war. I am sure that those from the other side of the country did not experience this kind of situation during the war but on our own side in the Eastern region, the situation was terrible. But apart from that time, it has never been as tough as it is in Nigeria today. And the tragedy of it is that the government of the day is not doing anything meaningful to address it. They are rather busy blaming the previous government for every of their failures. It is such a tragedy and until the Nigerian political leaders of which I am one(of course I would not exonerate myself) develop a third force for 2019, Nigeria is doomed because if we are left with the All Progressives Congress(APC) as the only options, the only alternative may be a national disintegration. I can tell you that from my vantage position as an elder statesman.

But what is the possibility of an effective third force with the capacity to dislodge the APC and the PDP in 2019? Considering particularly that President Buhari wants to come back, do you think that it is possible to develop such a third force within the time frame?
In fact, that President Buhari wants to come back makes the third force even more inevitable because it would become a tragedy if he ever comes back. I have never minced words in saying this. This is a man I have supported in the past but I must tell you that President Buhari is a very big disappointment in every aspect whether it is in the aspect of national unity, fairness and justice to all or even in efficient administration. The government is most lethargic. Since Buhari came, no budget has achieved 40 per cent implementation and his first term is coming to an end. A third force has become more inevitable for especially those of us who want this country to survive. And I as an Igbo man have more reason than any other person to want Nigeria to survive and I have my reasons. That is why a third force is inevitable. Let all Nigerians pray that it succeeds; meetings are going on and realignment of forces are going on and I can tell you that I am not outside of those meetings. We do believe that when the third force comes, it would be remarkably different from everything the PDP and APC that are two sides of the same coin stands for.
The third force that you are talking about, in what manner will it be; will it be a coalition of parties or a straightforward political party?
That is why I said it would be a realignment of political forces. That is how I described it and that is how it is now. If you come out as an independent candidate, you would make little or no impact; there must be followership; there must be some structure you are bringing to the table. Mostly, it would be political parties but whether it would come by way of alliance or by way of everyone collapsing into another, is not what I can predict now but very positive, pro-active and pragmatic meetings are going on. There are some independents who are interested and who are coming in but they are coming in with what they have in terms of knowledge, resourcefulness and so on. But at the end of the day, this game is a game of politics and there is no way you would play it without political parties whether they are coming together as one or a coalition. For instance, we had a coalition government in the First Republic and we also had a coalition government in the Second Republic.
This third force that you are talking about, to what extent are people buying into it? And is the third force going to be made up of the same old political horses or will there be a generational shift this time?

Eventually, everybody is a politician, one way or the other and if you are not, then you cannot play politics. But there is a somewhat generational shift in the sense that someone like me who is in my 60s now is about the oldest class in the group. The others are younger than us, so to a large extent, there is a generational shift. But between the APC and the PDP, it is mostly gerontocrats that we find there. It is because of the age bracket of those who are holding sway. Notwithstanding that there are some young men there but still they submit to the gerontocrats.
Where are you drawing your optimism that the third force would be able to upstage the ruling party and the main opposition party in 2019?
There are two ways the third force can change the equation. One way is to get Nigerians to understand why there is a need to understand the need for a complete change of regime democratically. That is one way you could have a new government. The second way that is as clear as daylight is that the National Assembly would no more be controlled by any one political party to the point of running roughshod over Nigerians. So, we would now have a more robust opposition that would be a constructive check on whichever government that would be in power then. So, whichever way you look at it, the country would not be the same again.
Then on the present administration, what is your take on the $1billion demand by the Federal Government on the Excess Crude account for the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents?


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