Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Conversation About Politics and Nigeria’s Economic Crisis

Ejikeme Alozie-Nwagboso is a USA trained Accountant/Finance Analyst and CEO of Cedar Innovation. A rising political star in Ukwa Federal Constituency of Abia state. A 2015 Ukwa Federal House of Representatives contestant under United Democratic Party UDP. He tweets via @enwagboso

What pushed you into politics at a young age to even contest for a Federal congressional seat?
Simply, leadership failure at all levels. Today, when politics is mentioned, first thing that comes to mind is:“politics is a dirty game”.
But, is it really a bad game? I don’t think so. The people we’ve allowed to play the game are the bad people. Not politics itself. Nigeria needs educated youths to join politics. I believe the youth can work wonders in leading the country to new heights. If the future of our country is the youth of today, why won’t we partake in it? I think this is self-explanatory. The youths of today are too innovative to be ignored in politics. I’ve always propagated politics that involves youths. The youths need to wake up for good.
On my Federal constituency, I contested because I needed to live up to my belief that the young should participate in politics. Various communities in Ukwa land have unique ideals and values, as well as a culture and life of our own. Unfortunately, today these communities are in trouble economically. Issues facing the communities are vast and numerous; more specifically, they’re dealing with a unique problem – Lack of leadership. Leadership, without argument, is the catalyst through which positive changes can occur. If economic and community development is to occur, it will be the responsibility of our leaders to make it happen. For us to develop we need to emphasize on Leadership, Change, and Dedication. Ukwa is one of the most important fabrics of Abia state. We contribute so much to the Government of Abia state and that of Nigeria. There is no reason why our leaders will be mute while our revered land gets abandoned. The moral decay as a result of neglect by our leaders is unspeakable. I have spoken to many people from various communities and their answers are the same. It tells me now is the time for innovative leadership in Ukwa and Nigeria at large.
What is your reaction to the state of the economy in the country?
It is in a bad shape, no questions. The government acknowledges this fact. The private firms are laying off workers, the currency is in bad shape compared to major western currencies, the oil price is still crashing and inconsistent, and at times, misunderstood economic policies of the current administration have worsened the situation.
We need to restore first, the faith of the people in the administration. This administration needs to carry them along in everything that they’re doing. So far, it doesn’t seem so. We have to fix Nigeria again. The leaders need to re-establish communication with the people and provide the people with direction – thereby providing the needed link between effective governance and development. We should have leaders who motivate the people to develop social capital, increase individuals’ well-being, and sustain the country's unique cultures and a variety of other responsibilities. This is the complex side of being leaders. This will enable shared emotional connections, sense of belonging and fulfillment of needs.
Second, we need to restore and sustain full employment in the country and maintain financial sustainability. We have to vigorously pursue reducing our trade deficits; work towards providing quality education in the country; work towards provision of quality healthcare. We can’t be robbing the future of the country and denying the nation its destiny. We won’t survive that way. We need to start allocating our resources to those economic activities that would help us compete most effectively globally. We should be looking at it two faced – How do we restore what we have lost, and what do we provide for the world to consume that no other country can? We have to start stimulating aggregate demand at home and increasing productivity for the world’s consumption. We need disciplined and serious leaders to emerge in the country. Also, like I mentioned earlier, we need to start investing in healthcare and education. We will never have a competitive economy if we fail to produce highly educated citizens. There is no beating around it. We need this for global competitiveness. We need to start funding heavily medical research. We need to start showing bite, not bark. For instance, in the wake of oil price fall, it is not too wise to invest billions in the Lake Chad oil search. We can invest this money into Medical research, or even with helping rebuild the North East infrastructures, towards cleaning up the South South region etc.
Can you comment on the Budget from your Accounting expertise perspective?
You know what – Let me be frank. I haven’t truly studied the budget. However I’ve seen bits of it online via the Social Media. And, judging from what I’ve seen so far, it’s not good at all. I’ve seen repetitions of projects, over inflated projects’ costs etc. These areas should be addressed as soon as possible by the government. I also hope the National Assembly does its part effectively.. The worrisome part to me is: N1.2bn reportedly was paid to a consultant to prepare that budget. If correct, this will be quite a disservice to the people of the country, and a bad dent on this administration.
What can you say about President Buhari's anti-corruption fight?
Corruption has robbed us of development. It is regrettable that we are in this situation today. I certainly support any kind of war on corruption. However, we must fight it based on the rule of law.  Corruption can be minimized over time. I am not sure you can cure it. Even the developed nations still battle it today. Let the courts have the final say on who is corrupt or not. The fight must cut across all political parties. Corruption is everywhere – in the private sector, civil service, elected officials and appointees. Political corruption is the worse. Majority of the politicians today owe their celebrity status to corruption. No question about this. We have to design and implement the system to fight this scourge. We have to develop internal comprehensive ethical standards and procedures based on global best practices. We need to provide the relevant agencies with the right tools, trainings and support to do their jobs very well.
The Supreme Court judgment on Abia Gubernatorial election declared Gov. Ikpeazu as the actual winner of the election. What’s your reaction to that?
I cannot debate against or for the highest court in the land. I am no lawyer, and will not start talking what I have no idea about. But, I must say this: Congratulations to Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. He must understand that he still has a job to do – governing Abians rightly. From pictures and news we are seeing online, I can say he’s on the right track. I wish him the absolute best and warn him to be careful with sycophants. The praise singers are usually the ones who mislead our leaders. Governor Ikpeazu should now device and pursue new and innovative policies towards delivering good governance to the Abia people. On the same note, I will also congratulate Dr. Alex Otti for putting up a gallant fight. He has cultivated a huge following, and he now must look up to the future. He should start looking at supporting us, the younger fellas come 2019 and beyond. Last, I wish to also congratulate the Supreme Court. The learned Justices have discharged their duty hitch free.
Will you be contesting come 2019, and under what party, or will you be doing so under UDP?
Yes, I will contest for the House of Representatives by the grace of God in 2019.It isn’t an easy thing to do especially when you haven’t as much money as the older rich people. The PDP, APGA and APC from my constituency have reached out to me to decamp and contest under their political parties, but one must study events extremely well. The likelihood that I will decamp though is very slim. I can win under my current party if the people buy into my ideas and support me. It is no rocket science.
I read one of your articles and you indicated you will declare for the post of the president in 2023. Are you serious about that?
(Laughs) You see our lives have tens of conflicting impulses taking us to different directions. We want everything, and eventually get nowhere. I love pursuing my dreams and in the course of doing so, I try as much as possible to ignore all distractions.  If you have small ambitions they will get overpowered. I aim higher all the time. If it isn’t top priority it can get done very optimally much later. To answer your question – Yes.We have to start showing courage in challenging the status quo.
Why not Abia State Governor?
Which one of them doesn’t require work? I have to be prepared to serve my people at every level of leadership. I certainly do not run away from such responsibilities. But, we will get past 2019 first. In fullness of time, everything will come to pass.
Thank you Hon. Ejikeme Alozie-Nwagboso for granting us this interview. We wish you the best.
My pleasure. Any time.




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