Mr.  Iboro Otu, Akwa Ibom State governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party tells Nseobong Okon-Ekong that he strongly believes the present crop of politicians in the country are only driven by naked selfishness with an intent to have their way by any means necessary

Why do you think members of the public allow themselves to be used by politicians to cause mayhem?

I don’t think any right thinking person, who has a job, food to eat and a future, would allow themselves to be so cheaply used in causing mayhem. I strongly believe these paid hands are hungry and  jobless miscreants – ironically stymied by same politicians – whose only avenue of making money is by presenting themselves as tools and agents of destruction.
Again this takes us to why I strongly believe gainful employment and economic progress aren’t adequately supported in Akwa Ibom state because certain people in certain quarters believe when youths are kept unemployed and hungry, they’ll do any bidding of theirs. Such myopic and self-destructive pattern have existed over the years. Our present crop of politicians, sadly, have weaponised poverty. They have designed a formula where our youths believe when you do the bidding of politicians, you stand a chance of getting political relevance. This is how most of the present crop of political leaders rose. This is also why you notice they are bereft of ideas and can’t even make one correct sentence. This issue has been the bedrock of our problem. Events unfolding now are early signs of the chickens coming home to roost. This is why people like us are rising up, because if we don’t, we will lose our state. I mean, look at what is happening presently in the state house of assembly? Imagine how our governors both past and present are exchanging dirty words in the open. This isn’t supposed to be!
We need to take back our state and develop our communities. Our women and mothers are dying as a result of lack of access to adequate childbirth services. Our healthcare sector is in a coma, so is our educational sector and the rest of the sectors that are supposed to provide gainful employment for our people. We are supposed to be preparing ourselves for the future, not bickering about our aging past. Our present crop of selfish politicians don’t cut it. We are taking back our state from these actors.

If politicians love the people, why do they mastermind destruction of lives and property?

Our politicians don’t love our people. They love themselves and use our people to achieve their aims. And even at that, I strongly doubt they love themselves at all when I look at the actions they stand behind. No one has monopoly over violence. History can tell us events that start big wars and even the Arab spring were not tectonic events but little impunity taken too far. This is why I often ask, do these politicians know what they are doing when they take hungry people and arm them? Many local governments are ungovernable and inaccessible to both our state government and security services, how did this come about? Where did these guys get the weapons? These are serious questions that need to be addressed.
Our present crop of politicians only care about their pockets. They only care about their bank accounts. They only care about their greed. They don’t care about anybody, everyone else is dispensable.
My candidacy is geared towards putting this to an end. Akwa Ibom indigenes deserve better. What we are doing today is work towards ending this modern day slavery of our people, where the collective purse of our state in controlled by a cultic few who have been sharing state dividends among themselves while the rest of the state go hungry. Enough of the working monkey and chopping baboon.

We are beginning to see states like Akwa Ibom that were once generally acknowledged as peaceful, showing signs of becoming a flash point in the 2019 elections, what is responsible for this?

These are signs of chickens coming home to roost.  This stage was set many years ago when a government came to power and setup up a reward system where political thugs and minions were rewarded with power. The thugs bred more thugs and upcoming youths saw thuggery as a way to political relevance and prosperity, and thus were negatively inspired.  What happened afterwards was a proliferation of pitiable scenes where young people would gather every morning from Monday to Sunday in parlors and joints, waiting for political godfathers to stop by so they could sing praises and get raises. Nothing has destroyed the fabric of our society and demoralised the spirit of hardworking men and women in this state than these events. Every other thing crystallised from this. When educational excellence and innovation aren’t rewarded. When research and development, commerce and industry aren’t supported, when godfatherism supersedes competence, what do you expect? That government abandoned hardwork and rewarded praise singers and political jobbers.
Pockets of discontents in several areas as we see today – in and outside of government – are now consolidating into core fronts and exhibiting themselves in ways we see today. Bottomline; thugs aligning to take power by all means necessary.
Unless people like us succeed with our stepping in to offer a viable alternative, the 2019 elections in Akwa Ibom state may likely see the prophesied ‘War in Warsaw’ because the two ruling parties have readied for the electioneering war. Through their myopic prism of graft and impunity, they see power as a zero sum game where winner takes all. Violence and intimidation has always been their modus operandi. Fortunately or unfortunately, ‘Hitler’ has moved camp, as such, the forces are equal and opposite.  I must warn them on both sides of the aisle,  Akwa Ibom is too big for them. Akwa Ibom will outlive them. A lot of politicians like them have come and gone and so will they. They are on the wrong side of history and posterity will judge them. Warsaw is a great city today.  I have seen many great men and women in world history – Abraham Lincoln included – who only had one house address. Akwa Ibom will be great again.

What can be done to turn our youths away from violence?

Employment. Job security. Access to world-class education and healthcare. Our youths are like youths everywhere else in the world and I have travelled the world and seen things, I am yet to see any meaningfully progressive world economy that is not driven by its youths. When youths are at the forefront of research and innovation, commerce and community development amazing things happen.
When youths are not engaged by the system, they engage themselves. What is happening in Akwa Ibom state today is what is happening in any state or country without an adequate youth engagement strategy. Our present crop of politicians have totally rejected our men and women, young and old. They treat us as lazy youths but our youths are not lazy. Akwa Ibom state has the most creative young people in Nigeria if only they are properly engaged. Young people self destruct when not engaged as they are easily misled because then they have no responsibilities.
The reason I am running for office of governor of Akwa Ibom is to address these fundamental issues and many more. I strongly believe our youths lead in the areas of ICT and ICT is the new oil. My strategy is to create one million jobs for our youths by investing in areas including tech and its ecosystem; providing infrastructure and environment that will enable our entrepreneurs network and grow their businesses. Our youths will work in the educational sector, teaching our kids in all the villages and wards so we can meet up with the rest of the world. We have such arable land in Akwa Ibom state; our youths will work them when we provide the needed support to move our farmers from subsistence farming to cash cropping.
With 173km of coastline that cuts across six local government areas in Akwa Ibom state; this is our Florida. I will invest in this area, turning around the tourism potentials of Akwa Ibom state and positioning us a destination of choice in Africa. Soon we will also be known as the Hollywood of Africa because we will also be investing in film, game and entertainment production clusters. These are things we will be doing to create immediate employment for our youths and support innovation which will in turn move us up the ladder towards economic inclusiveness and collective prosperity.

Do you think there is sufficient sanction and/or punishment to deter potential trouble makers?

Who are the troublemakers and lawbreakers? Are they not the same people making the laws that are also breaking them? Look at the antics of our state legislators? Imagine our kids in nursery schools, primary, secondary and students unions were to emulate them, what kind of society will we be living in?
Everyone is law to his or herself; we are in a jungle! It’s survival of the fittest. Today APC will call for police commissioner removal because he is not favoring them, tomorrow Governor will make his own call. The narrow mindedness has come to a hilt. This has to end. Things have to change or we will cease to exist. People are dying needlessly as a result of this.
The police and all security agencies need more support both from government and citizens to perform as these are trying times in our state.
I want to use this medium to call upon our reasonable men and women where ever they may be; our traditional rulers and elites both at home and the diaspora, you only have one home, there can only be one Akwa Ibom State.
2019 presents to us an opportunity to re-write the wrongs, change course and start afresh with new ideas and new crop of leaders for our state. We must make our votes count by voting wisely.  We have the brawns and brains to rebuild our state together. Lets rise to the occasion, Together we can move Akwa Ibom forward.

What difference do you hope to make if elected governor of Akwa Ibom State?
What is presently happening in Akwa Ibom political sphere today is rather very unfortunate, both at the legislative and the executive level. It only goes to show the naked selfishness of our present crop of politicians whose only interest is themselves and having their way by any means necessary, this often leading to wanton destruction of property and people while also threatening the security of the state and destabilising the socio-economic ecosystem. One only has to wonder which foreign investor will come to invest in a state where two house of assembly speakers exist, where a sitting governor goes to say the security of the state is in a state of emergency. We don’t deserve this as a people. Across the aisle, leaders of the other popular party are promising ‘War in Warsaw’, and you  wonder, Warsaw on who? It’s an unfortunate rhetoric. This  state has been good to these people. Why do they want to destroy it? Things have to change. Responsible leaders globally are promising jobs for their citizens including access to qualitative and affordable healthcare services, providing great research centers and schools for their youths, providing platforms for business collaboration, networking for economic growth and prosperity for the next generation. This is what we want to see in Akwa Ibom. These are the kinds of things we want to hear, the kind of debates and strategies we put forward, not Warsaw and double assemblies.
Personally, I believe these guys have gone past their expiry date. It’s not about political party, it’s about development and prosperity and both leading parties in Akwa Ibom state have lost the plot. For our very survival, it is time we do away with them and start afresh with a more inclusive, efficient and effective government that will represent and protect the interests of the people. This is where we come in. This is why I picked up the ticket to run for governor.