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The senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Enugu North Senatorial District, Simon Ejike Eze, in this interview with Kingsley Nwezeh, while outlining his plans for his people if elected and the need to rout the monolithic Peoples Democratic Party in Enugu State also expressed optimism that the presidential flag bearer of his party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will trounce his opponents in the February, 2023 poll.
You are the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Enugu North Senatorial District. What is it that is propelling you to go into this race? What have you seen in Enugu North that is not being done right?
Well, my desire is to serve. Service is the key issue for me. Not that others have not served but I believe I could make a difference, that with my experience in the civil service, I could offer a lot more to my people making sure that my people get what they call dividends of democracy. That’s one. Two, I believe that I can, because people say that politics is for people who are rough, who are not educated, I don’t believe in that. Politics is not a dirty game, it is service to the people.
Politics is bringing development to your people. I believe that with my experience in the foreign service and in retirement, I still have a lot to offer. That is why I am venturing into politics.
I joined APC early 2021 and I have looked critically into what is happening in my constiuency. First, there is what I call one party system in Enugu State where PDP from the inception of this democratic experiment has maintained power all through the chains of governance, local, state and federal government.
For instance, all our legislators, all the senators, reps, have all been PDP and I think it’s not healthy for a democratic society like ours.
There should be opposition to help those in government to carry our their responsibilities.
I also don’t like the issue that you must be annointed by somebody. A godfather, who will say go, you don’t go and then it makes nonsense of democracy, government of the people by the people and for the people.
When everything you do is dependent on a godfather, If they like your face they will say you should go for an elective office whether you can do the job or not.
These are areas we must begin to interrogate ourselves, interrogate our leaders, it is no longer where one man says you should go or not and when he says you should go, he will make sure that you win.
This phenomenon of money politics is also another aspect. If you don’t have deep pockets or a war chest, you can’t vie for any political position. Merit is relegated to the background.
So these are the issues that I looked at and I feel that we must begin to think about how do we change this scenario?
You know, another narrative.
We should have people who don’t even have much money but have ideas, ideas rule the world. So, bring in ideas that can ensure democracy dividends and the greatest happiness for the greatest number of our people in every aspect of life, the more the merrier for our people.
If you bring more democracy dividends, it will impact more on society and that’s why I’m offering myself for service I believe, I should be in a position to do so, having worked for the federal government for 33 years and having seen the world.
I am conversant with what happens in Abuja, here in government establishments, in paramilitary establishments, in all departments or agencies of government and how do we get our people into these areas? How do we make sure that whatever is being offered by any government that is like the central bank, the loans they give, how do we make sure that it gets to our own people, the small scale farmers, the small scale industrialists, and all of others? So these are the things I believe that with me in the senate, I will be able to leverage on my contacts and help our people more
What are you bringing to the table? What do you hope to change?
My main interest is in human capital development, employment for the youth even appointments for our people because I have looked around except during the era of Prof Osita Ogbu, who was a special adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nsukka Senatorial zone has not produced a minister since the inception of democratic rule in 1999.
The issue is key to me. I have assisted a number of people secure employment in the civil service. If I am elected a senator, I will have more capacity to go all out to get employment for my people.
I am an ardent lover of my people. Any Nsukka man I see seeking for anything, I always offered the little assistance I could. This I have done in the past years and I will continue to do it.
I cannot be a legislator and be alienated from my people. I don’t know how I can alienate my people, who have elected me to represent them. I will work tirelessly to make sure that even as we have federal character commission, to make sure that we get our own share of appointments.
We need to question that, we need to seek out that. That will help us to ensure that our people are out of the unemployment market.
Take for instance the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria since 1960 that the university was established in our land, in the land of our forefathers and we have not produced a vice chancellor, who is an Nsukka indigene.
I believe that it is something that we can focus more attention on so that in the next dispensation, an Nsukka professor can become a vice chancellor. We have many professors of Nsukka origin, many of them who are qualified to be Vice Chancellor. They should be facilitated to be there. There is pride he will exhibit while in office because he will say this is my home, I will do my best.
If I were there as an academic, I will bend backwards to ensure that normalcy is restored because I went there too. I have been there recently and I have seen unfinished projects, dirty hostels, nothing fascinating again like when we were there in the 80s.
This government has offered a lot of palliative measures, from CBN, NSRIL, Bank of Industry and a lot of other departments of government and other support given small and medium scale enterprises.
A legislator can go all out to seek these things for the people. He should be able to liase with the executive arm to attract infrastructure, roads, health facilities, among others, to the people.
Are you concerned about the level of insecurity in Nigeria?
Every reasonable Nigerian is concerned about insecurity in Nigeria. Being an Igbo man from Enugu State, I am worried about the prevailing rate of attacks on our people by the herdsmen, the unknown gunmen, IPOB, ECN, nobody knows exactly who is doing what.
But I want to advise governors to use more of their security votes to look for intelligence. The nation is yet to agree on state police. I believe in state police. I am an ardent believer in state police. It is one of the things I will canvass when I get there to help the federal police and agencies in locating the criminals.
Do you think that with what is going on in the country that APC will retain the presidency?
Yes. We will win. Tinubu will win the election. I can tell you that for sure and I can give you the reason. Even with the muslim-muslim ticket, the wife is a Christian. The key thing is that she is there for Christians. Obasanjo built a chapel in Aso Rock, I have worshipped there several times. If we have a muslim-muslim ticket, what happens to the chapel? Even in Tinubu’s era, it’s not going to be idle, the wife will pastor the church.
So as a pastor in the villa. It’s going to have a lot of activities in the chapel.
I believe that with what we are doing in APC and with the problem in PDP, you know we agreed that the president should go South. What Atiku has done is going to cause a problem in PDP. I believe it is already causing a problem for them.
Once, there is a breakaway faction of those who believe in southern presidency will move and we are expecting them in APC. The implosion in PDP will amount to expansion in APC.
What is your message to your people in Enugu North about their PVC?
It has become imperative because there’s a revolution going on in Nigeria. People have always been reluctant to vote but I don’t think it’s going to be the same in 2023.
I also want to urge our people in Enugu North to get their PVC. Their PVC is their power to decide who their leaders will be especially in Enugu State where one party has been dominant, with your PVC, you can tell the government that is there now, you have not done well. I need a change.
That’s the only way we can do away with the monolithic PDP government in Enugu State.
Let’s look at your academic background
Thank you very much. I started my primary education shortly before the civil war and when the war started, we were pushed out of our places and could not continue till after three years. At the end of the war in 1970, I went back to primary school and subsequently, secondary school. I was at the new Obollo High School then later in Christ High School, Abor. I finished my secondary education in 1978 and then became an auxilary teacher which was in vogue then.
I gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1980 to read political science and in 1984 I graduated with a degree in political science and subsequently proceeded for national service in 1985.
After that, I started looking for jobs here and there. I was in Lagos from 1986 and luckily, I got employed in the Ministry of External Affairs. That was in 1987 and subsequently went for various trainings after which I began a career in foreign service which lasted for the next 33 years.
Where did your diplomatic career take you?
Like I said, I joined foreign service in 1987. I had my trainings from 1987 to 1989. In 1989, I was deployed and in 1991, I was asked to go to our embassy in Berlin, Germany.
I started my career as a diplomat in Berlin, Germany, in 1991. I was there till 1998. I was there for almost seven years and then I came back from Germany. I was at the headquarters from 1998 to 1999 when this present democratic era commenced.
I was seconded to work with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I worked with him from May 1999 to June 2007 after that I left for Ghana, the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Ghana. I stayed there for three years.
I wanted to go to Ghana to go and rest but I found out that there was much more work in Ghana than in the State House.
I complained and I was cross-posted to Cuba. If you know what Cuba meant to us, you don’t even see Nigerians in Havana, Cuba, you only see Nigerian students, about 30 Nigerian students and some missionaries.
In 2011, I was returned to Nigeria, to my head office. In 2012, I was assigned to work with Pius Anyim as a senior special assistant. Pius was then the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). I worked with him till 2013 when I returned to the headquarters.
In 2014, I left for another posting in Portugal. I was there till 2017 when I returned to the headquarters and retired in 2019.