1. Nigeria just celebrated 18 years of democratic rule last month, Are we better off?
I strongly believe that we are better off. It is true we have our challenges either from actions and inactions of some of our politicians in different guises, but one cannot take away the progress we have made from our democracy. I believe that the worst democracies are better than the best military rule. In Nigeria today, the sense of freedom and the consciousness of our people that they have the right to make inputs in the government they instituted makes the difference. If a leader who is of executive arm of government becomes autocratic in democracy, there are other arms of government that will readily stand up to check the excesses of such leadership. In democracy, the media is of great importance to also check the excesses of the government through its whistle blowing functions, public opinion instruments and agenda setting. The judiciary and the legislature also have their roles to play to ensure a human-face driven administrations. Of course, people are at liberty to produce the balance sheet of any administration. And most importantly, the people are the sovereign because of four year periodic election where they either re-elect or vote-out any administration they think has done well or do the otherwise. All we need to do is to educate our people and let them know their rights. These are the roles of the civil society groups, the media and even the orientation agencies.
Putting the present administration on the scale, I would submit that it has done well despite the daunting challenges of insecurity especially that of dreaded Boko haram insurgence, which its activities have been cut down to the barest minimum.
2. Nigerians are still crying over hardship they face everyday due to the continual rise in prices of commodities and other household items, what is your take on this?
I am sure you meant to refer to the experience of Nigerians over the experience of economic downturn. I would say the indices are there to show that Nigeria is on the path of recovery. Our economic and financial managing institutions have risen to the occasion. We are happy with their effort so far though it may not be an adoptable long term intervention. However, it has brought a lot of transparency with the curbing of the sharp practices from some quarters. From my personal experience, we must commend them. This has effectively checked artificial scarcity and over pricing of foreign currencies in exchange of Naira. Our people took the advantage of imperfect market structures because of lack of policies to check the excesses of the cabals in the exchange market who are technically defrauding innocent Nigerians.
Again, our problem with eternal rising of commodity prices is self inflicting because of greed and gang up of the sellers to exploit the final consumers. To the best of my knowledge, the South East zone where I come from, our businessmen are guilty of these practices. It is surprising that where government has done so much to ensure that there is perfect market pricing as it concerns essential commodities but these practices have continued unabated. In Imo State, except Mega Stations of Nigeria National Petroleum Company, most of the independent markers are busy exploiting the people. We as a government had to put a check on them. Till date, most of our independent marketers are selling fuel at N150 while their counterparts still sell at N145. Do we also blame Buhari Government on this? The answer is no. We have a situation where rice is sold at between N15, 000 and N18, 000 but here in the South East, we get at between N19,000 and N23,000. There are some of the self inflicted hardship from the people against their people. There are many other examples like that. Meanwhile, we are aware that with sound policies of the Federal Republic of Nigerian and its constituent units, Nigeria has witnessed bumper harvest in agriculture and there is food in the country but our people will choose to buy and hoard for the purposes of causing artificial scarcity. These are the problems that must be tackled to save the down trodden from being drowned. Meanwhile, we are beginning to witness fall in prices of commodities. 12. 5 kg cylinder of gas that used to be sold over N6000 is now less than N4000. I believe that others will come. The delay might be because of old stock.
3. As the Deputy Governor of Imo State and a Founding member of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s political family, how would you assess the performance of your Government, which clocked 6 last May 29, 2017?
This question has given me the opportunity to reel out the score card of the government I am part of. It is usually difficult to do so but, a times, it is also important that we tell our stories for the records in as much as the evidences of the things being talked about are on ground. We have done well in the area of capacity building through our free and qualitative education policy. It is all about sacrifice. My boss forfeited his security vote just as I did too to ensure that this noble policy sailed through. For six years running, education has remained free. His Excellency has ensured that our schools are most conducive for learning. This is the reason most of the schools in Imo State are undergoing renovation to give them a facelift. More so, my Governor in a bid to accommodate the ever rising number of enrollment, we built 305 one storey six classroom block in each of the 305 electoral ward in Imo State.
Beyond Education, Governor Okorocha embarked on urban renewal programme, which has led to the opening up, beautifying and expansion of most urban roads in the three senatorial zones of Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri. In the capital city of Owerri, we are doing eight lanes. This is the vision of a leader who prepares his people against tomorrow. In the area of Agriculture, we are doing quite a bit as youths are being trained for rice farming to key into Rice anchor borrowers fund so as to join hands in ensuring that we import only what we need and not what we can grow in our soil. Recently, our Governor, keeping to his promise, has empowered 3,050 women who are into petty trading and others with skills with N100, 000 each. This is to aid them in various businesses. Another 305 youths are also been empowered with N1 million each. They are to undergo training in special areas of interest. The government is committed to grooming them to becoming successful in their chosen vocations. We have also inaugurated mentors for these youths who will guide them until they are strong enough to be independent. This effort includes teaching and inculcating business principles, disciplines and other entrepreneurial and managerial skills to equip them to build strong businesses.
4. By July 4, 2017, you would have turned 53, How do you feel?
You guys are too much. You mean you have been keeping tab on my dates. I feel great because I am one of the greatest beneficiaries of God’s manifold grace. When I look back as a youngster with all the exploits and risks, I will ask myself, you did all these yet God preserved you. I love adventure. I like to see the world. This can explain the reason I travelled all the places without the knowledge of my Dad. I also believe that my father influenced me so much especially in the areas of enterprise, discipline, strength of character and independence. I travelled to the United States at a very young age, went through what I went through and in all these God saw me through. Guess what? I am one of the most experienced individuals in our world. It is The Lord’s doing. It can only be Him.
5. At 53, though we have read so much about you; your humility, sense of duty, commitment, peace loving and dispute resolution, managerial ability and all that, how did you come about all these qualities? Are they natural gifts or mere happenstance?
This is an aspect of me that is always subjected to academic exercise. The controversy of nature and nurture will always spring up in questions like this. What am I saying. I believe that the genetic issue will always have a role to play in our behavioral pattern and so does the environment we find ourselves. A certain philosopher once said that a man who is so sufficient that he can exist outside of a society is either a god or a beast. It was Aristotle who said this. This means that society is an interrelationship among us as social animals. It follows that we influence each other because it is those influences that make us better or worse behaved individuals. So, while I believe that some of our traits are innate, others are as a result of influences from parents, peer groups, school and other sources. Like I said earlier, my father influenced me. He was an itinerant father who travelled round the country in the course of his work and he would always take me along. This explains the reason I attended schools in both Lagos and Imo States. Meanwhile, most of my siblings were born in Port- Harcourt. having the privilege of always traveling with him gave room for me to be very close to him and learn so much from him. His sense of devotion played out in his love for his people and their development. It did not matter wherever he was, he could travel down from Lagos just to attend one village meeting or for one peace effort or the other. Sorry, that I had to take you a bit out of your expected summation of my life journey so far. I am only trying to establish the foundation and the background that make Prince Eze Madumere who he is. It was the consciousness that I had that made me believe I could travel at a very young age to the United States to further my education and I ended up at San Jacinto College, University of Houston,Texas, where I studied Business Administration with major in Global Management on scholarship from PepsiCo, a world leader in beverages, where I worked and rose to the position of Area Manager, Channels Development Department . I travelled to over 56 countries of the world with my team expanding the business interests and grooming the staff of the establishment. I was tough in decision making and this made the difference, which earned me so much respect. It also through the same means that we successfully expanded the KFC businesses in the Americas. Another thing is that I never lived without one personal business or the other. While working in United States, I owned men’s beauty chains with Barbers shop and range of beauty products for men. This aspect of me earned me the nick name, ‘Easy Money’ because I always had extra earnings from my businesses. The same thing with my exploits into aviation and commodity products. So far I thank God that at no time in my life did I not experience His grace. Unfortunately and Fortunately, it is even now that I appreciate Him much more.
6. How did you come in contact with Rochas Okorocha? Has he always been part of you even while in the United States and let’s know how an American technocrat and management consultant found his way into the murky waters of politics?
This may surprise you! Last Sunday, June 18 made it 24 years of my relationship with the present Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. It is almost coinciding with my birthday. You can understand that the man Rochas Okorocha and I have come a long way. We have seen it all together. I met him in the United States and he beckoned on me to come home and join hands with other well meaning citizens to contribute in nation building. True, My spirit immediately accepted that call and I answered it. My coming back to Nigeria was systematic. I always availed myself whenever there was a project especially political projects and would return after it. I was there when My leader, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State’s political journey began. The first breakthrough was his election to join others to represent our people at the Nigerian Constitutional Conference between 1994 and 1995 under the regime of Late General Sani Abacha.Ever since, we have been together in all the political exploits including his political appointments, contributions to the Nigerian Project, his shots at presidency till date. Even when we had our down moments, we sticked together. I am one man who never says die in what I believe in. If I believe in a course, I become loyal to it. When I believe in somebody, I will do like wise and will stop at nothing to ensure that such relationship is protected and is not compromised. I will be ready to even pay the ultimate sacrifice. Such relationships certainly will never experience problems from me. I am Rochas and I can stand anywhere to proclaim him and defend him. So, that is me.
7. People will say because you are loyal to him because he is your benefactor, do you have a contrary view?
I do not believe you because I met my leader and the present Governor of Imo State when he was nothing in Government. I appreciated his advise to me. He told me in the United State, ” I appreciate you have done well for yourself in America but it means nothing if you have not contributed your quota to build our communities, our State and the country at large.” He also said, ” you can never serve two masters at the same time. You cannot be in corporate America and also have the concentration to join forces with others in contributing to the development of our country. You must drop one.” For me he was the first person who would speak to me in such manner. I was not hungry by God’s grace but you could appreciate Rochas’ leadership instincts and reasoning. Like the apostles followed Christ, I followed. Again, I will prove you wrong because His Excellency, the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was neither a Governor nor the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when I joined him . So, you could see that the test of your hypothesis is null. Another person I believe in is my Father and I have always stood by him. Mind you when I say I follow you, it does not mean that I follow sheepishly. I always have a way of taking a stand on matters of importance. I believed in our course and I followed my Oga with enthusiasm, commitment with every sense of devotion. We failed in many of our exploits, I remained with my Oga even when others ran away with materials entrusted with them. I would always look at him and say, Your Excellency, what next? My relationship with Owelle Rochas Okorocha has always been like that of Father and son and like that of good brothers if you wish, like partners who have passionate interest backed with equity in an establishment. Another person I had such loyalty to was my first wife until the unfortunate mysterious incident that ingloriously made her take a walk. Because of my attachment to her, I suffered emotional problems that nearly destroyed me but God preserved me. Today, I hear that it was the devil. So, people like us are passionate in following and also even more passionate in leading.
8. Your Government is little over two years in office, 2018 is an election year while 2019 is around the corner, where do you go from here? Are you joining the Guber race in Imo?
I thought we agreed that 2019 Politics is overruled…
9. Your Excellency, it will be such a blunder if we fail to ask… We just want to know if you have interest in taking over the Seat of power of Imo State after your boss and by providence you are from the zone that is agitating more that it is their turn, may we know your take on this?
First and foremost, like I have always said, Governance and justifying the opportunity given to us are very paramount at the moment. Secondly, my job is to give our Governor the needed support to succeed. For those already declaring, it is their right to seek to vie for an office and I have no such right to stop them. This is democracy. One thing is sure, I am first an Imolite and by my training, I will live to defend that. The question whether I am running is an issue God will decide, and at the right time, you will surely know what the will of God is because power comes from God. If it is His will, and there is a will bounded with the will of the people, then we can talk. I think this is enough.
10. You just mentioned the emotional problem you had with your first, can we know about it?
Dem send you? My brother leave the matter as it is because I will never wish even my enemy what I have passed through in marriage but thank God I am made whole now. I am happily married and I have found love again. My Children are doing so well and I draw strength from them. You know leaders do not destroy people even those who have offended them. You may also recall that it was in the midst of all these that one lady I have never met in my life began to broadcast on the internet, calling me a homosexual. You can imagine? I lived in the United States for many years with my wife and children and nothing of such abomination was heard of me. A healthy man like me with all the good moral upbringing and all I had to do was to go after a fellow man. such an irritating and ungodly act. God forbid. Leadership is not easy. I had to stomach that nonsense. I even heard the Lady has begun again but unfortunately for her, if she does not change, she will die a shameful death. In one of the moments the Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Oko visited Imo State; as we were riding together, the girl in question called. I told the Primate about the caller, he said he would like to speak to her and I obliged him. lo and behold the lady called apologising, saying she did all she did to attract my attention and for me to help her. That’s a blackmail! She proved the blackmailer she is. I knew what the man of God said to her. All she wanted was help and the best approach to it is blackmail. Bible says we should forgive those that offended us that our sins may also be forgiven. It is also our burden to ensure that they learn and change for the better. I don’t join issues. People have said so much about me but God alone knows the heart of men and He alone do we owe our stewardship.
11. Your Excellency, the issue that is gaining currency in the polity is the recent outburst of the Arewa Youths giving the Igbo three months to leave the North with the recurring call by IPOB and other groups for Sovereign State of Biafra, what is your take on this?
My Governor had already spoken on this and I cannot say otherwise. The hate campaigns must stop. Igbos are the most peaceful ethnic group in Nigeria and have suffered enough. Leaders of our country must come together to forge ahead by ensuring there is Justice, equity and Fair Play. Where any of these ingredients is missing, then we are not telling one another the truth. There must be some measure of consideration to other ethnic groups in the allocation of societal values. Suspicion is the bane of Nigerian State. Has anyone wondered why we have remained where we are? It is suspicion and fear of the unknown. I can only propose a true Federalism where people’s future are determined by them through traditional autonomy. If people are protected and given the needed legal backing with fierce enforcements devoid of nepotism and ethnocentricism, then we are good to go. Another issue is fiscal Federalism. Every part of this country has its areas of strength either in form of natural resources or other valuable resource. The earlier we define our concept of cooperative Federalism, the earlier we find the right compass to economic prosperity. These cashier economy only breeds laziness and lousiness in the polity. Our Political economy must be properly articulated to bring about innovation and creativity. What we have is a mercantile arrangement and unless this is managed, we will only continue in a rat race.
12. We read about your successful peace efforts and dispute resolutions, how did you achieve all these even some of the seeming irretrievable ones?
It is God of peace that bestows on us the wisdom to achieve peace and this gift can only come if you are a lover and believer of peace. Bible says, if it is possible, be at peace with all men. I love peace and God prepared me by exposing me to the best environment where conflict resolution is a priority in their corporate establishment. Remember I said I worked with a multinational firm, PepsiCo and rose to the position of an Area Manager. I was taken through the rudiments of crisis management and resolution. Left for me, I love to take proactive measure to nip whatever crisis or even a catastrophic event in the bud before its manifestation. But when it happens, we manage it. I had been involved in this aspect of life in various part of the world. First principle is your ability to maintain a credible posture. You must be sincere and honest. Then, you do not betray trust of the disputants and then follow a process that may be enduring. So, patience, perseverance and humility of spirit are all virtues of a peace maker. To the glory of God, I managed the crises in my home town. God also used me to advocate and resolve difficult disagreements in our oil producing communities. I have also been privileged to have been elected to handle sensitive matters that bothered on finances accruable to communities, I was able to manage their issues and today the people are happy. The same applicable to oil exploring firms and their host communities. We hardly hear about crises in Imo State. This is because our Governor chose to set the standards. The one that I am so happy about is the one of Irete inOwerri West and the Nigeria Bottling Company Plc. It was a thug of war reconciling them but today the people and beverage firm are complementing each other. One advise, if you are given such opportunity, never you compromise yourself whatever gratification that may come your way. Conflict and Crisis Managers are men of impeccable character with sacrificing spirit even while in excruciating pains.
13. So, how would you celebrate your 53rd Birthday?
I have a tradition since I turned 40. I usually prefer to give priority to the special people, by this I mean celebrating with the less privileged, the orphans and poorest of the poor. I will be doing the same thing. I will first of all thank the Most High God for His faithfulness, love and mercies upon me and my family. I will proceed to the Orphanage to celebrate with them and later to the Prisons if time permits. Of course, I will surely be happy to share this joy with my friends, my boys, the forgotten and other associates. For my children at the special home, they look forward to this special day and I will enjoin friends and well wishes to join me as we put smiles on the faces these special children. We must give them hope and assure them there is nothing the can’t achieve if only they are determined, hard working, prayerful and hopeful. I hope you guys will join in celebration.