He has been in politics right from undergraduate days as a student of Agricultural Engineering at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Toughened on the turf working in the background as a grassroots man, this time Ndubuisi Ebiliekwe wants to take the gauntlet fight for youth visibility in Imo State politics. He wants to start as a member of the House of Assembly representing Ideato North constituency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
What do you do now for a living?
Since I left the University, I have been into business. I am into manufacturing and I trade on imported goods as well. I started with the manufacturing of bottled water, and I expanded into importation of drugs. I am the owner of June Industries and Company Limited and Koko Pharmaceuticals Limited.
How did your foray into politics start; is this a sudden move or have you been into politics silently over the years?
I have been into politics as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999, even as an undergraduate. When I left University in 2003, I tried to run for the Local Government Chairmanship Election in Anambra State but eventually there were no elections, so most of us went back to our various businesses. Today, I have come to Imo State politics and I am aspiring for Imo State House of Assembly.
How did you get involved in Anambra State politics? One would assume that since you came from Imo State, you would base your political ambitions in Imo State.
I was born and bred in Anambra State, precisely in Onitsha. Onitsha is a commercial metropolis where originally, there were no social boundaries based on indigenship. Everyone was linked by business interests and all were perceived as citizens and all participated equally in leadership of the area. But when Chris Ngige came into power, he introduced what he called the Anambra People’s Forum, by which he spread the attitude among Anambra Indigenes that ‘foreigners’ were no longer welcome to participate in the politics of Anambra State. So those of us who were not from Anambra State were left with no choice than to seek our true roots and that led us back to our states of origin.
If one may ask, what really is your mission in politics; what would you want to achieve when given an opportunity to lead by being elected into political office?
My passion is for the youth, the young people of our generation. I have seen what needs to be done to help the youth, I have seen how the youth’s enormous potentials can be turned into a great positive force in building the economy of this country, rather than allowing them to lay waste and become social nuisance as a result of lack of empowerment. I strongly believe in the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan because it is youth-driven and youth objectified. The time has come for Nigeria to think in futuristic terms, and our vehicle into the future is the youth; what we do with them determines the kind of future we will have here.
What is it in your background that makes you feel qualified to lead?
I have succeeded in areas where so many of my peers have failed. I have swam in waters where others could not take a dip! I succeeded in business as a manufacturer without anything but my God given dogged abilities. I am one of those who have tried and found out that persistence and consistency wins every battle in the end. I have never aimed low, and I have never hit as low as average in my targets. I veered into politics right from my undergraduate days in the University, when the preoccupation of every responsible student was graduation. As early as then, I saw the need for me to play a role in changing the scheme of things in society from the leadership level. I was a full member of PDP, I participated in ward and local government politics, and I still graduated with flying colours as an Engineer. And seeing that the society had no ready employment for me, I quickly created an enterprise for myself and grew it up to international level. I contested for leadership at the Local government Level in Onitsha but was not given the opportunity to play on a level ground. If things were not so, I would have proven that I have the ability to “rally men and materials to a unified objective”, like General Charles Montgomery would say, and that is my definition of leadership. I strongly believe that participatory politics is what will lead this country out of its political and economic quagmire. Until every man, every woman, every youth in this country comes out to vote for leaders whom they know will represent their interests, we will not move forward. But let’s hear your next question.
In Imo State currently, your party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is in opposition and you are from the same constituency as Rochas Okorocha, who is in the All Progressives Congress, APC. What gives you the confidence that you will be elected?
In Nigeria, if you understand our politics very well, the electorates vote individuals and not political parties. I know that my people know me and they will vote for me. Then again, if you have been following the political trends in Imo State for some time now, you will notice that the core political followership and structure at the grass roots and other levels, rests on the PDP. The leadership at the top may be allowed to come from another party. Just as I said earlier, Nigerians, when the need arises vote for the individual, not for the party. Finally, my constituency is not even being represented by APC. The incumbent member of the House of Assembly representing my constituency currently is an APGA party member. So it’s not about the political party, it’s about the man the electorate is looking at. I know that the PDP is still in control in Imo State. I have confidence that if I am given the opportunity at the primaries, we will make a victorious and positive difference in the lives of the people.
What have you done for the people in your constituency so far that gives you the confidence that they will vote for you?
I have on record over three thousand youth in my area that I have in my own little way, enabled to have a better footing in life by my economic empowerment efforts and also through sponsoring their education. I have been on ground for years; I am a true village man. My manufacturing business is sited in the village, and apart from enabling people to create their own enterprises, carving their own individual survival niches, I am also very strong in employment creation. I make bold to say that I have one hundred percent support of the people that I will represent them in the coming election. If PDP fails to choose me to represent my constituency in the forth coming election, the party may lose my constituency.
If one may ask, why did you choose PDP as a platform in the first place?
Except you cannot see, PDP is the standard setting party in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. In terms of ideology, the party believes in rallying the tremendous leadership potentials of this country under one umbrella and harnessing their resources towards the socio-economic engineering of this country for a higher per capita income and better standards of living for the people and for stronger impacts on the civilization of Africa and the world in General. I saw this as far back as 1999 and that was when I joined the party. The transformation agenda of President Good Luck Jonathan and the PDP governors and their achievements so far in that regards, lends stark evidence to this. PDP has made tremendous contributions towards the consolidation of Nigeria’s newfound democracy. In fact, without PDP and the people that constituted the party, Nigeria’s democratic process would have been impossible. There is also strong youth involvement in PDP, this is the only party in which young people are allowed to aspire to all positions and given the platform to make meaningful contributions. For me, PDP is just the party for every discerning Nigerian.
To what then would you attribute the fact that Governor Rochas Okorocha came from another party and wrested power from PDP in Imo State?
Like I said earlier, Nigerians, when push comes to shove, will vote for the individual and not the party. At the point of Governor Rochas’ entry, PDP in Imo State mismanaged its successes. There were lots of miscalculations here and there, we took the people’s support for granted. Those mistakes have been made and learned from; the PDP in Imo State today and in Nigeria generally is poised for more purposeful and well informed decision making. There are no more chances for costly errors. Coming results will soon prove to all that we are not joking. And Rochas Okorocha that you speak of was a super star member of the PDP in the first place. It was in our party that he learned the ropes, before he sought the ticket of another party because PDP mistakenly denied him then. Since then he had moved from party to party seeking the proper accommodation to carry out his good visions. I make bold to say here that if he seeks to come back to PDP tomorrow, we will welcome him back as one of us. We are one big family here and we are one. We are looking for those who have the proper vision that will take this country to greater heights. We are not contesting it with anybody, PDP is the largest party in Africa and this time around, we are taking back all our states.
Talking about vision, if you are given the opportunity by being elected as a member of the House of Assembly, what do you have in mind for your constituency?
Having lived among my people and seen their hearts desires, you can be sure that I have a vast retinue of issues I would want to iron out when I get there. I do not think that this one page interview will accommodate all my vision if I am to start stating them. There are issues of health, education, employment and so many other issues bothering on the day to day lives of the people. But one thing that is burning in my heart is the fact that young people are not being properly represented in Nigeria’s politics today. We are shying away and leaving the older people to make our leadership decisions and this is affecting things. These people are not computer age compliant, they are drawing us back from coming to par with the speed of development elsewhere. It is my deep desire to make far reaching efforts to integrate the youth into our polity at all levels and all ramifications. Give the youth prominence and the chances to act as change agents in our polity; you will see Nigerians thinking like the rest of the world in terms of development, technologies and the economy. I intend to start that movement in my constituency.
Are there mistakes that the current administration has made that you would like to correct?
I am not seeking election into an executive office, I am only going to be a legislator. But if eventually I am given the opportunity to be a lawmaker, one of my cardinal objectives will be to push for legislature that will encourage the establishment of more industries to create jobs. The level of youth unemployment in Imo state is indeed a strong cause for concern for me. There are no industries in my constituency and what is youth empowerment without job creation? The few that used to be there have all broken and closed down. That is why I strongly concur with President Jonathan’s efforts in improving power generation. If that is achieved, the face of Industrialization in Nigeria, including my constituency, will change entirely.
The Rochas Okorocha administration is doing a lot in the area of education. But no one seems to be paying much attention to helping the youth to be self employed. Globally today, the paradigm shift is towards enabling young people to employ themselves, what are your thoughts in this direction?
I have already said that in my own little capacity, I have funded small businesses for thousands of young people in my area. One area that I have also seen a lot of potential is in encouraging the youth to go into agriculture. I believe that if a good approach is employed, such as setting up farm sheds which will teach them how to rear poultry and supply them with affordable inputs and also, like the American government did some years back, the government can buy what these young farmers produce and process it into packaged food in big factories. If young people know that there is a ready market for their produce and that there is profit to be made by going into agriculture, believe me, they will troop into agriculture and Imo state will become the food basket of Nigeria. I intend to start that experiment with my constituency.
2015 is sure to be a kind of turning point in Nigeria’s political history. PDP is making efforts to regain states that they have lost in previous elections, what assurances do you have that the PDP will regain Imo State next year?
If PDP can regain states in the South West, Imo State will be an easy job for us. APC, as far as Imo indigenes are concerned, is a funny party. We do not know the party. There are other parties that have been on ground but APC is not one of them. All the political structures in Imo state belongs to PDP and none of them have collapsed, none of them can collapse. No other party can defeat PDP in Imo State in 2015.
Since you joined politics in 1999, which people have you looked up to for encouragement and for motivation as role models?
My big cousin, Chief (Sir) Tony Ezenna, has been a great source of inspiration to me. He has been a very big PDP stakeholder in Imo State. I have known him since I was born and I have followed his political history. I know his great vision for Imo State PDP. He has never been faulted with any anti-party affairs; he has been a perfect party faithful, a good visionary and a great contributor for the stability of PDP in Imo State. With his presence in Imo State, it will be impossible for anyone to take away Imo State from PDP come 2015. Our Visionary state chairman, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie has repositioned the party in the state thirdly is Senator Hope Uzodinma, who is the distinguished Senator representing our senatorial zone. He has kept the structure of PDP intact in Orlu Zone. He has left giant strides in his wake and created a track record that will be hard to beat. His youth empowerment achievements are second to none and his contributions towards President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda are great; these are the people I look up to.
What do you advice members of your constituency to do during the next PDP primaries and in the coming general elections?
Give me an opportunity and if in four years you do not see my impact, opt for another person. Do not lose your focus on PDP; we will not let you down, never! And please make sure you vote for our great party PDP.