Arodiogbu: Possible Alliance Between Atiku and Obi, Not a Threat to Tinubu

National Vice Chairman, South-east, of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Ijeomah Arodiogbu in this interview speaks on a number of issues concerning the nation, the South-east region and his party, the APC. He said if the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party decide to enter into an alliance ahead of the 2027 poll, it will not be a threat to the second term ambition of President Bola Tinubu. David-Chyddy Eleke brings excerpts

What is your assessment of the current political landscape in the Southeast region, and how does the APC plan to maintain its members in the zone and even win more states?

You see, NdiIgbo are an enlightened people, we are politically sophisticated and our republican nature makes us politically conscious naturally. Coupled with our entrepreneurial drive and business savvy nature, it is okay to say that the landscape is indeed competitive. Today we have three or four political parties that are dominant in the region, this is different from other regions where we have one or two political parties dominating such regions, compare this with the South-east where we have four.

So, you can see that the political landscape is competitive and that is why it is important to note that what now counts to our people is good governance and accountability which our party, the All Progressives Congress in the South-east has emphasized and if you check the APC administrations in Imo and Ebonyi States you would see a perfect demonstration of such and that is how we are not only going to maintain our stronghold but we also intend to win more states by 2025 and 2027. 

Like I said earlier, we in the South-east APC understanding the competitive nature of the politics in the region have resorted to ideas that will enhance governance and the quality of life of our people. We are also engaging with the people, stakeholders, traditional rulers, clerics, academia, business gurus, traders, etc. 

We as true democrats are talking with these people, we do not just come only when it is election period, we have departed from such antics, we are seriously engaging these people and convincing them with facts that the All Progressives Congress is indeed the ideal party for NdiIgbo. If you recall we recently organized a colloquium in Nnewi where we discussed issues pertaining to this question, this shows that we are taking the voting public seriously and we will continue to engage them. 

We are also showcasing our achievements, look at the developmental strides in Imo and Ebonyi, look at the performance of our legislators in the National Assembly, we use this to tell people why we need to support the ruling party so that we as a region could benefit more from it. There are other strategies in the cooler but I will not disclose them, we will deploy them soon.

There have been cries of marginalization in the south east, starting from when PDP was in power at the centre, to this period where your party is in charge. Do you think the APC is truly neglecting the South-east region in terms of federal appointments and infrastructural development?

This is hilarious, as journalists how do you feel comfortable with such jaundiced assertions? You have answers to such question, look at the motley of projects carried out by the past APC administration in the region, the former ruling party, the PDP played politics with infrastructure in the region, despite the support the region gave to its fold. 

Now, the APC comes to power and carries out these projects, finishing them in record time, this is despite the poor level of support our people gave to it in the past, thankfully they have begun to see the light and yet the APC is still carrying out projects within the region. 

The insecurity in the South-east has persisted, and one can say it is crippling the zone. Is APC in the South-east worried about this, and what plans are you and your leaders in the zone making to address it, especially as it has to do with secessionists?

We are not taking it lightly, we are seriously disturbed as a party and feel the pains of the people. We understand that there are pockets of grievances within the region, however we do not support the pattern some of these persons have taken; the resort to criminality and what have you. However we understand these challenges and we are engaging daily with the stakeholders within the region, we are optimistic about these approaches and hopefully, we will restore peace back to the region. Some of what we are doing in that regard is not something we can begin to disclose in the media now, but you will see the fruit soon.

Are leaders of your party in the South-east thinking along the line of helping to integrate the zone in the party’s national agenda, and how does it plan to promote regional development?

As a fair party, as a party which sees every Nigerian as equal no matter where you come from, be it South-east, South-west, North-west or North-central, North-east or South-south, we see each and every Nigerian as one. So the agenda that the party has for the South-east is what is needed for the South-west. That is why the National Chairman considers the zone important to the party’s future, that is the reason why President Tinubu has approved a plan for the party’s penetration into the region. 

The South-east is important to the party as the Igbo are an important part of the Nigerian tripod and we thus need to take our place within the APC. The region is important and the APC at the national level is keen on ensuring that we register much more political victories in the region.

To the talk of regional development, the APC is also concerned. Now we have passed the South East Development Commission bill in the Senate and I know that the present administration has slated a number of projects for the zone which can also help foster development. You will also notice that the administration is also focused on completing a number of projects started by the past administration, we are talking about roads, power and water projects, educational interventions, healthcare and what have you. The president is also in good terms with the governors from the region and is committed to fostering cooperation between the Federal Government and these states.  

Recently, Labour Party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 poll, Mr Peter Obi visited his People’s Democratic Party counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and there are rumours that they may be planning an alliance that will upstage the APC. Does that make your party jittery?  

No, we are not jittery, we will only be jittery if the APC were not performing as a party in power, we would be jittery if the reforms of President Tinubu is not directed at economic growth and development. If the administration was sleeping on matters of security and terrorism, then we would be jittery, but one year into his tenure as the seventh democratically elected president, Nigerians are beginning to see that this administration means business and like I have always said that in four years Nigerians will ask Tinubu to do another term because of the giant strides this administration will have attained at that time. So the Obi/Atiku plot is no threat. It is a bridge too far, and it is dead on arrival.

President Tinubu just marked one year in office, how would you describe his policies and administration within this period, especially as it impacts the Southeast region?

Excellent, fantastic policies. They may be challenging but we have seen a presidency that is responsive to these set of challenges as they arise. For example, look at the issue of fuel subsidy, there was no way the country could go on subsidizing petroleum products, while a few persons lined their pockets with such resources, which could have gone to other areas such as education, healthcare, infrastructure and security. 

We were getting to the point where our government could not finance payments and meet up its obligations and so we were heading towards what happened to Argentina, Greece and Zimbabwe? 

No reasonable leader would sit and fold his arms while such a threatening situation was likely to occur and cast the economy and the nation in the shadows, so what the president did was commendable and deserved the support of millions of Nigerians. 

Now, we can see a commitment to ensuring that the refineries are working and coupled with the emergence of private refineries, Nigeria would be able to produce fuel that is affordable and all this challenges would be a thing of the past. 

We have an administration that has respect for the rule of law and the rights of its citizens. We have a government that is responsive to issues bothering on corruption, we have an administration that is responsive to workers and the academia and even for poor students who can now access student loans to study, a first of its kind. We have loans and grants for businesses whether they are Nano, small and manufacturers. 

We have a government keen on improving the nation’s power conundrum, a government worried about our unemployment woes and putting up several policies to fix such. The Tinubu administration has been proactive in all these areas and so it is kudos to him and his team, we here are immensely proud of him. 

In all these, what do you think is President Tinubu’s greatest strength as a leader, and how has he demonstrated this in his policies and actions?

The first has been his boldness in tackling the nation’s problems. The approach to the numerous challenges he met at the inception of his administration has been bold and courageous as well as exemplary. 

Another of his strength has been in his ability to pick technocrats and place them strategically in his cabinet. Another great strength of his has been his pursuit of inclusivity in his administration, what I mean is that the president has always consulted on a number of issues before taking such decisions. 

He has not presented himself as an all knowing leader, he understands that a few heads are better than one, and lastly his demonstration of the fact that he runs a responsive government, one that is open to the yearnings of the public. Look at how he reversed the N8,000 palliatives for poor households, same with the recently introduced cyber security tax or levy following the outcry of Nigerians. These are his greatest strengths and we can see this as evidenced in the policies and the direction the country is presently taking.

The Tinubu administration is one year in office, do you honestly think the administration has lived up to it’s billing

The answer is yes and I will give you reasons. This administration has had to take some bold measures to ensure that we still have a nation running, to ensure that we can still meet the expectations of the people from an administration that promised to hit the ground running. 

President Tinubu had the choice of continuing to run a government on deficit or to rescue Nigeria from such a conundrum like situation. So I give it to him, his economic and foreign affairs policies are also brilliant and deserve all the support that our citizens can give.

Look at the level of crude oil production you can see that it has gone a notch higher, and so the country can earn more from such a resource in addition to the numerous investments that critical sector is attracting on a daily basis. Look at the power situation, one will agree that there is some improvement, look at what the Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology has been able to achieve, look at the achievements in security, which are too numerous to enumerate here. 

You will agree that we are indeed moving forward despite the gloomy outlook a few pessimists are presenting. Nigeria under President Tinubu is moving forward.

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