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Honourable Chibudum Nwuche was the former deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives who was also a staunch member of the People’s Democratic Party. Since his departure from the House,he’s been engrossed in business and the legal profession. In this interview with Sunday Sun , he reflects on his experience in the PDP and his new found love for the APC as well as voiced some words of advice for supporters of feuding Governor Nyesom Wike and the Minister of Transport Mr Rotimi Amaechi as well as commented on other matters.

Greetings Honorable, it’s been long we heard from you. What’s been happening in the political front?

Well, I have been around minding my business and legal practice and studying the political terrain and networking with like minds in the interest of the unity and prosperity of our dear country.

Why is the South South underdeveloped in spite of the huge resources she has received since 1999 from 13% derivation? Perhaps some of those at the helm of affairs did not get their priorities right and may not have had clear and focused agenda for the development of the region. They may also not have applied the revenues judiciously and may have frittered some of the monies away. That’s not to say that some have not done reasonably well given the constraints of the difficult terrain and the challenges of our political system and the demand of maintaining peace and seeking re-election for such leaders and their myriads of supporters. The biggest challenge however is that of vision. Leaders must be imbued with vision; open to new ideas, surrounded by thinkers and consultative by nature. They must also be well prepared for the office and governance and must have spent some time on their manifesto before contesting elections. If you come into an office with a clear vision and plans for your people, you will hit the ground running as there is a lot to do in every sector. From human capital development, youth and women empowerment; development of critical infrastructure from roads, jetties, power, water, rural development and agricultural and aqua culture. You will find that the billions from FAAC will not be sufficient talk less of siphoning any monies. You must also love your people and have empathy for them and then you will not be able to be corrupt. In contrast when a man without vision or plans is elected into office and is given billions, he becomes corrupt not because he is wicked or evil, but because the money is too much as he really had no plans on how to deploy it. As the saying goes, the people perish for lack of vision.

South South or Niger Delta leaders must consciously begin a leadership recruitment process that enables our brightest to represent us from the level of counselors, local government chairmen, state assembly members, National Assembly members, ministers, governors etc. This is the only way to ensure rapid development of the region as the governors need to be complemented by other layers of government to achieve success.

What’s your assessment of the APC government at the center so far? How do you view the controversies surrounding the president’s health?

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is doing well in laying a solid foundation for the future of our country. They are investing in critical infrastructure including roads, power etc. Agriculture is being given its pride of place and will eventually engage millions of Nigerians and make us self sufficient and a net exporter of foodstuff. They are also diversifying the economy away from oil and fighting corruption. Nigerians must keep providing the government the needed support to actualize its vision for Nigeria as governance is a collective process and must necessarily involve all those that are interested in contributing. People should feel free to offer constructive suggestions on how to improve on the service delivery of government and how to make their policies more effective.

The president is a human being and is susceptible to indisposition and ill health once in a while just like every body else including myself. There is really no big deal and Nigerians should always pray for their leaders and especially the president who is working hard to stabilize the country and usher in prosperity. The work of governance is continuing smoothly as the Vice President is also assisting along with the other the arms of government.

We heard there have been attempts to silence you politically by certain interests who are worried by your profile and unblemished record of service to the country?

I guess you could say that but God will not allow them succeed. What brings about economic development in a democratic polity is the plurality of views and the involvement of people of various persuasions. Where certain interests want to be the only ones that are allowed to have a say by blackmailing others, it leads to a constriction of the political space and ultimately stunts political and economic growth. No tree, no matter how big, can make a forest. Politics is a game of numbers and where you exclude those with the largest public following you will not go far in a free and fair electoral process.

Also the electorate is much more exposed and wiser and will insist on voting and making their votes count. Politicians should learn to allow a thousand flowers bloom in the words of Mao Tse Tung. Politicians who limit the menu of participants in the democratic process are not democrats and are not good for the system. Some politicians physically eliminate opponents; frame them with false allegations to dent their profiles; target their business and deny them patronage to impoverish them and make them unable to service their political participation.This is what I call negative politics and it�s the reason for Nigeria�s economic under development and the increasing poverty amongst the masses. This model of politics produces and encourages godfatherism, nepotism, cronyism and mediocrity. It limits the choices available to the electorate and doesn�t allow for the participation of our best minds in politics and governance. It also doesn�t allow for progressive idealism as those with ideas are seen as threats. Britain is making progress, because their polity enables their best minds to participate in the process of governance to create opportunities and prosperity for the masses.

I have been silent not because of any blackmails but because I am studying the political terrain and tending to my business, whilst also giving those elected and appointed space to guide and lead us aright. Nobody can deny me participation in our polity; it�s my constitutional and inalienable right and I am the political leader of my people.

But these people have been coming up with many allegations and even threatening your life like the incidence of the armed robbery/assassination attempt in your office.are these threats coming from some leaders of the APC as your supporters have alleged?

Allegations remain mere allegations until they are proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, not on the pages of newspapers. These are the antics of failed politicians who do not have any grassroots following and that is why I often do not bother to respond. People underestimate Nigerians and the masses generally. They know all of us very well and know our backgrounds and know who can or cannot do what. Pastors and Imams do not suddenly become pimps or thieves overnight, there must have been a gradual and noticeable descent to such character over time. You can�t just wake because you have resources and investment in the media to dress people in borrowed robes and demonize them and expect Nigerians to just fall for such nonsense. Those who often shout loudest about corruption are often the most corrupt and have had much more opportunity of being so than most others. There are many seasoned officers in the law enforcement agencies who can see through these conspiracies after diligent investigations and know that they are politically motivated towards eliminating perceived opponents in preparation for 2019. They must not pervert our system and trusted agencies for their selfish interest of remaining in power and determining the fates of Nigerians without their consent. Any how if any allegations are indeed true it�s for the law courts to decide the issue of guilt and not the media. The role of the security agencies is to investigate and they cannot pronounce any body guilty or usurp the role of the judiciary. That is why it�s important that we have an independent Judiciary that will truly be the last hope of the common man and not be intimidated by any agency or organs of government. That is also why we must have an independent Legislature that will ensure the protection of the masses and the stability of our democracy.

If it�s allegations, I also have well founded allegations to make against these politicians and will bet that they can�t stand up to even a cursory enquiry. As for their arrangement of armed robbery and assassination attempts I have no fears as I know they will not succeed. They are not God. My only worry is the attempts to use state machinery to pervert critical organs of state. In their desperation to destroy me, they do lasting damage to our country and our democracy. I thank God that many members of our law enforcement are not available and will resist such abuse by these powerful interests. I have served Nigeria at the highest levels and did not use state machinery to destroy those I don�t like, people in authority must use power responsibly. You can�t say because you are a minister you will not allow your opponents or those you dislike from participating in economic activities in your ministry. That is morally and legally wrong. I am told that their intention is to keep me busy with different false allegations to different security agencies they will fund to persecute me with their ill-gotten wealth; taint my image, destroy my business and deny me of recognition and patronage. Such hatred, wickedness and pettiness is beyond comprehension and such people have no business in public service or governance. Nigerians can smell a conspiracy when they see one. They began with attempts to criminalise civil contracts of an NGO in which I am a trustee with a lot of sponsored negative publicity; they tried to link me with corrupting the National Assembly under Tambuwal and some incongruous story with Dame Patience Jonathan; they sent robbers/assassins to my office; possession of illegal firearms allegations etc. I wonder what they will plant or dredge up next in their desperation to incriminate me. But I have confidence in our security agencies.

Are these threats coming from some leaders of your political party, the APC, in Rivers State?

I am still investigating but I know one thing for sure and that is that they won�t succeed and they will fall into the pits they have dug for others, as my hands are clean and God will protect me and expose them and their collaborators.
Why did you leave the PDP? How are you faring in the APC and how do you view the ongoing political realignments? I left the PDP because of injustice, impunity and lack of internal party democracy which led to rigged primaries, imposition of candidates and alienation of the masses. I contested the senatorial primaries in 2011 with a lot of grass roots support and the powers that be denied me a ticket. Again, in the 2015 primaries, the powers that be also denied me the ticket in spite of the massive support I enjoyed. After these, I decided to stay out of politics for a while but our people refused and prevailed on me to lead them into the APC.I am in politics primarily for my people who are severely marginalized and under-represented in every national institution with high levels of youth unemployment and poverty.

I am a businessman and Legal Practitioner and have been very active in the private sector since 1991. I do not need to be in politics to meet my personal needs by the grace of God and that is why I am not desperate for power. I am in the APC to work with like minds to further the cause of bettering our country and so far so good.

Politicians will always discuss amongst themselves, assess the government in power and the mood of the electorate and see how they can key in either for personal or societal benefit. Most of the times, these talks of alignment and realignment come to nought, especially where the government closes out any gaps or observed lapses that may have been unpopular with the masses. These discussions are healthy for the polity as it keeps the government on its toes and makes it deliver on its promises to the masses. As to whether these discussions will lead to some major political realignment only time will tell.

What’s your advice to Rivers politicians especially in view of the hot exchanges between the supporters of Amaechi and Wike? My advice to Rivers people in general is to be our brothers’ keepers. We should not destroy and undermine each other just because of politics. Our people are already very backward, poor and mostly unemployed. We should come together and rebuild our state and create hope and opportunities for the younger generation who look up to us for leadership.

The situation where when a Rivers man heads a parastatal or is a minister, the parastatal or ministry becomes closed to some Rivers people until he or she leaves is most unfortunate. These situations make some Rivers people prefer to have other tribes head ministries so they can have access. This kind of behaviour is most unbecoming of any leader and is extremely petty and unprogressive. We will keep advising our leaders to change or otherwise we may be compelled to speak out in condemnation of their behaviour and expose them to Nigerians. True leaders must be large hearted and magnanimous and not carry grudges for ever. The supporters of both our sons must place the interest of the state above all else and not see each other as mortal enemies who must keep malice for ever. People should maintain friendships across party lines whilst still seeking to woo more voters to their own persuasion, as democracy is a game of numbers. Those who want to retire people they don�t like from politics, but the masses like, will be bitterly disappointed.