- Dr. Chukwuemeka Okwuonu is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia. He is a medical practitioner and former chairman of the defunct Obioma Ngwa Local Government Area. He served as a running mate to Chief Ikechi Emenike, a factional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2011 governorship election in Abia State. In this interview, he dwelt on sundry issues bordering the country.
Several solutions have been proffered as measures to resolve the current economic recession. What other measure do you think can be applied to resolve it?
Part of the solution is for Nigerians to adjust their spending pattern. The times call for strict adjustment on how we spend our resources. Nigerians should prioritise their spending. Besides,there should be intensive value reorientation .Our orientation on the patronage of our local products is faulty. This reorientation should start from our governments. The ‘Change Begins With Me Campaign’ should be given the required and government should lead the way for the masses to follow.
What I mean by the government leading the way is that various levels government reversing the crave for importing foreign products to patronising locally- manufactured goods. What stops governments from reviving the local car assembly plants to assume the capacity to assemble vehicles to meet our local consumption. At the first instance, the products may not be of the required standard or quality, but with continuous patronage, they ( the local car plants) will definitely improve and get to a point that will churn out products of high quality.
This is how a country improves economically. We cannot continue to remain a consuming economy . We should improve and think of exporting because an importing economy is a consuming and dependent economy. We can depart from being a consumption by boosting our local production. Over-dependence on importation is responsible for the weakness of the naira. A lot of things need to be restructured in this country.
Do you think we have the capacity in terms of manpower?
Why not? We have over- qualified manpower. Our local engineers and technologists should be encouraged and afforded the enabling environment to boost our local production capacity. We have the manpower. The only thing is for us to task the ingenuity of our local engineers and technologists by affording them the enabling environment .This will go along way in reducing capital flight. Industrial areas should be established with 24 hours electricity supply.
What is your take on the vexed issue of sale of public assets?
We don’t have any need to sell our public assets rather improving them to function at optimum capacity. He stressed that sabotage is part of the problem why our refineries are not functioning at optimum capacity. I don’t think it is proper to sell those assets rather we should look inward and see how we can improve them and reduce corruption. Those manning these assets should demonstrate high-level patriotism.
How do you assess the fight against corruption?
My answer to this is short and simple: When the fight against corruption is concentrated at the high places only, we would lose focus on corruption at the low places. The fight against corruption should be extended to the low places- the cleaner and gardener in public establishments who seek gratifications for performing his duties should be sanctioned. That forms part of the corruption we are talking about. But more strategic to this fight is our ability to re- orientate our value system. This will go a long way in reducing corruption in our system. The fight against corruption should be holistic and not targeted at the high places alone.
How optimistic are you the APC would retain power in 2019?
I’m very optimistic. APC has brighter prospects of retaining power in 2019. I’m also optimistic that most of the policies would take a good shape before then. Besides, the economy will generally improve before then.