By Kemi Yesufu
It is time for qualified Nigerians who see government as an opportunity to serve to step into the soap box and stop complaining from the sidelines. T
his much respected lawyer and businessman, Chidi Donald Amamgbo said during an interaction with a select group of journalists in Abuja.
Amamgbo, who has his sights on the Anambra South Senatorial seat opined that Nigerians with integrity and passion for improving the lot of the people should participate in the political process.
“I will be contesting for the Senate because I’m pissed off. Politicians can see our society is degenerating, but they are not doing anything to help the people. What exactly has a politician done for you or me after we have given them power?
“So it’s either you sit and complain, or you join the race and be the lone wolf. Hopefully you can build a coalition of people of like minds and thought. And if it (politics) becomes too frustrating, I go back to my business. We have to drop the idea that, year-in, year-out, we just complain how bad Nigeria is and when election time comes around we sit back and some insincere persons come with a bag of money, hands it out to people and rig their way into office. When someone rigs him/herself in, then litigations begin and go on for months”, he lamented.
“Look at what is happening with Anambra PDP, is this politics? It is not that they don’t know the right thing to do. They prefer to create chaos, so that they can be settled. The whole process of electing a leader in Nigeria has become an enterprise that you spend money on and get return-on-investment when you get into office. Look at Julius Nyerere, look at Shehu Shagari, these are politicians who served and lived the simple life after office. So, it’s not like we haven’t see politicians who were exemplary” he added.
The Abuja based investor didn’t mince words in advising voters on the kind of candidates they should support come 2023.
He said: “In Nigeria people grab power, but they have no agenda. They don’t have egalitarian views as to what they want to do with that power. Most times, they use power to enrich themselves. Why because, you know, a lot of Nigerians are lackadaisical, they don’t really pay attention to what their elected leaders are doing. They believe in the politics of ‘give me my own share’, as opposed to demanding for things that better society.
“A lot of people have sat on the sidelines, no matter their level of education. The question is: are you willing to do some of the things these politicians do? But it’s got to change. People who can change things cannot sit and watch generation after generation, become hostages to the ill-prepared politicians. There are good politicians in the land, there are good decent people who are in politics, but there are a lot of people who have no business in politics or being given power. Once you’re given power, you’re a statesman, you’re a leader. Society cannot elect an immoral person and expect good governance. Right now, we have maximum leaders as politicians”.
Reiterating the need for successful individuals with genuine commitment to contributing to the development of the country and the welfare of the people, Amamgbo, stressed that people with sincerity of purpose should stop complaining and take action.
He however said he will not be involved in do-or-die politics, saying persons with altruistic reasons for seeking leadership position need not be desperate.
“For me, politics is not do- or- die. I’m not prepared to eliminate anybody, so I can have power. What you should put on the table are your ideas”, he declared.
“Sometimes, we fight fire with fire. But what does that mean? It means you have to protect yourself at all times. If you are true to yourself, then you ask yourself ‘why do I want power’? Okay, I descended to your level to get the power. But after I get the power, I will now stand up, try to change things. I’ll use power I have been given to clean up the mess and effect change. This to me is the practical way.
“If you come from this utopic place and say, ‘Oh, I’m from Diaspora, they are paying N2000 to people to vote. I’m not going to do it’. The question you ask yourself is well, okay, I’ll pay N3000 now and get the ppower, after I get the power will I continue to sustain this? Or do I go on a mission to educate the people find a way to change the conversation? It is not going to happen with one person. Can you cut down a tree with one blow of the axe? Of course not, it takes several blows, consistent blows, if you hit it tree four times and then come back next year have to be consistent and applying the same pressure, then things will change”, Amamgbo further said.
Speaking on the Anambra governorship election, the lawyer cum businessman said the electorate in the state must get it right.
He said: “First of all, I’m expecting somebody who’s not a thief, somebody who is not there to steal money. If you decided you wanted to be the governor, or you’re willing to pony up N1 billion or N2 billion to run, we don’t owe you anything. That’s your charitable contribution to Anambra because you decided to use that money to contest to win. But it doesn’t mean after you win, the first thing you do is to collect your N2 billion.
“That’s what I say I don’t want a thief as governor. And I’m not talking about a governor going to go into the treasury to collect money directly. We all know how it’s done. As governor, I’ll give you a contract and you give me kick-back. If I awarded a contract to you to build this table (points at table) for $1,000 I expect you to build it for $1,000, not that I give you a contract to build this table for $10,000 and then you return $9,000 to me because that’s how I recoup money. So, for me integrity is one thing the next governor must have.
“We need somebody who is really about the people, not somebody who is only about the politicians who supported him financially or otherwise. Integrity is important because if you have no integrity you are just going to be a thief. The second thing is: what is your vision? Vision is a word people throw around. Speaking of vision, you have to ask yourself where do you see Anambra in four years? What are the key things? You know, if every governor came into power and said, I will be known for one thing, and that’s the only thing I’m going to focus on, when you leave power, we will remember that one thing”.
Amangbo who witnessed the civil war as a child, losing uncles and even witnessing an early visit by the then Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, warned that unless the issues that cause dissatisfaction among Ndi Igbo are addressed, the calls for secession will remain a reoccurring decimal.
“The calls for session will always be there until Nigeria addresses certain issues. Today it will be Nnamdi Kanu, tomorrow it will be an Okafor, until we address the issues. The reason for the agitation is traceable to real or perceived marginalization. When Gen. Gowon came to Aba back in 1970/71 I was in primary school, we all carried the Nigerian flag, lined up on the streets. We sang a song welcoming Gowon, ending with a line that we are one.But are we one even today? The answer is no.
“A lot of things were said to make everybody feel good, but subsequent policies and governments made sure that you realised, that you are a conquered people. Until you change that perception, you will always have the agitation for secession. Now the solution is how do you fix it federalism? Let each state or region be autonomous and we all contribute to the center”, he opined.
Still speaking on the way forward, Amamgbo called for devolution of powers and a truly independent judiciary. According to him these should be priority areas for the National Assembly it carries yet another round of constitutional amendment.
He said: ”The key part of the constitution is the mode of governance. Are we practicing federalism? Or what we have is something like a mixture of unitary government and federalism? If we truly believe that what we have is federal government, then the key thing we must do is empower the constituting states to become not just independent, but fully independent economically and financially. You cannot have a situation where everything flows to the center, and then you hand out money to states monthly. If anything has to change then it is this sharing of money at the center.
“Let resources be controlled by the states and let everybody pay to the center for Defence and other issues that are handled by the federal government in a federal state. Every state in Nigeria must be a mini nation able to thrive on its own and not depend on the monies contributed to the center to survive. There are states in this country that have no business being called a state, but they were created for political reasons.
“Why would you go to River State, collect all the oil, sell it and bring the money to the center to distribute? After this, you turn around to give 3 percent as derivation. In the US which practices a functional federalism, you tax a state like Texas for its oil. It is from taxing states that the federal government funds defence and other ministries. You don’t just monopolise everything as a federal government and then decide who to get what favours from you. Secondly, our judiciary needs to be strengthened. We must make them an independent arm of government. You must make the judiciary a co -equal arm of government to the executive and the legislature. This is because until the judiciary can call the shots as the referee when there is a dispute, he who pays the Piper will detect the tune”.
Maintaining his forthright position on national issues, Amamgbo answered in the affirmative when asked if the presidency should return to the south based on the zoning arrangement introduced upon the return of democracy.
“There is the belief that if you zone the presidency to a region, then the benefits of governance will come to that region…the people of the region feel empowered, they feel the president from their place can bring that development to the region. They feel empowered because now their man or the woman is at the top. This is the irony of Nigerian politics.
“ Having said this, we live in Nigeria of today. We cannot have one region have monopoly of power. It has to be devolved. This is the reality of Nigeria until we get to that point in our in our national development, where it doesn’t matter where you come from. The reality today is that, if you live it the way it is, power will remain in one region. And that’s not fair to the rest of the regions. Ultimately, what you want is somebody who is a Nigerian, not somebody who is a novice, not somebody who is a South-East President or not somebody who is a South-West President.
“If you look at the history of all the other countries in the world, Presidents are known for what they have done for their country and not what they’re doing for their region. And as long as we play into this politics of geo-political zones, we will always be regional in our thinking in our actions, in our thoughts and the way we operate. But again, like I said, the reality today is that these are the cards we have on the table, so the south should produce the next president”.