Ambassador Prince Korieocha , is an African Peace Ambassador. He is also an Administrator, Researcher and Public Relations Consultant with Noah’s Ark, an international Non-Governmental Organisation, focusing on peaceful initiatives in African societies. In this interview with Anthony Awunor and Ebere Chibuzor, the peace ambassador says that the incoming government of General Mohammadu Buhari has the capacity to turn the country round, adding that the former military leader is now a changed man. Excerpts:
What can you say about the political situation in the country?
We thank God for what is happening today. A lot of people predicted doom in the country but we should be thankful that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took it upon himself to concede defeat and that is why we are having peace today in this country. Most African leaders don’t want to leave office even when they lose an election. Some have spent over 30 years and they don’t want to go. President Jonathan has made that history in Africa and first incumbent President to lose an election and yet concede defeat. He called the president elect before the result was announced just to congratulate him. I think it is a laudable democratic process.
Many people have aired their opinions on the possible outlook of Buhari’s administration. How do you see Buhari and his new team in terms of governance?
Buhari is a good man. Something came up few weeks ago and I was told that Buhari was the only Nigerian president that collects only 10 per cent of what was accrued to him monthly. If such assumption is investigated and we found out it is true, it’s tell you more things about who our president elect really is. He does not have a house in Abuja, except the one in Daura and Kaduna. I think there is no flamboyancy in such attitude and that makes him a good man that can offer good leadership.
What is your take on the expectations of Nigerians from APC as a political party?
The All Progressive Congress (APC) has been in opposition from 1999 till date. If you look at some of their governors, they have done well just like the PDP governors as well. I suggest we should give APC chance and time; we cannot start to rate them now but we just have to give them at least four years. At the appropriate time, we can then discuss the issue of performance. Coming from Imo State, what can you say about APC in the state? We thank God that what happened in Imo happened. I think if you look at it today, we don’t have any APC governor both in South South and South East . Okorocha’s emergence as a governor will hook the South-East to the national level. It will not be good for Imo to play opposition politics this time around. The last four years was not good in Imo. If Buhari works with Okorocha, Imo will see good governance. Such political arrangement will benefit Imo people. If you look at it, opposition does not always align with the ruling party. That is the general problem in Nigeria; it is party and the people but by right, Nigerian President is not supposed to be partisan. I am not saying President Jonathan was partisan but am saying that a PDP president and a PDP governor will work more effectively. Be that as it may, I will use this opportunity to congratulate the President- elect General Mohammadu Buhari and the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha for his re-election. I equally congratulate the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun for the victory of the party at all levels.
Coming from the opposition, what are the challenges you think the Buhari led government will face?
Definitely any government will have challenges. Nigeria is a big country and we have talents. My advice is that the incoming government should run an all-inclusive government. They should go beyond partisan politics in making critical appointment to certain organizations. Normally, if you work for a party, you need to be compensated but there are some positions that should be looked at beyond politics.
Buhari was a military Head of State, do you see him still wearing that toga of military leader even in this democratic dispensation?
Nigerian has outgrown certain things. The FOI bill will help the public to monitor the system of administration of any government in the country. When Buhari was the military head of state was a different era. You cannot use that period to compare Nigeria of today. He was working with degrees then but this time, the three tiers of government-the legislature, executive and the judiciary have to comein and am sure we are going to see a changed Buhari. Gone are the days when decrees were the order of the day.
Which areas do you think APC government should concentrate on?
The issue of power is critical to any economy. If we have power, it will trickle down on other sectors of the economy. Stable energy will definitely enhance security, education, manufacturing, health, agriculture, maritime, ICT, commerce and industry, SMEs amongst others. If we have power is Nigeria, then our problems are half solved. You and I know that Buhari is corrupt free leader. To get it right, corruption will be fought at standstill. I know Buhari will fight corruption appropriately. If Buhari is not corrupt, his followers will not be corrupt and Nigeria will be a better place.
What about the second Niger Bridge?
This issue concerning the second Niger bridge should be given an urgent attention by the APC led Federal Government comes may 29. With the construction of the bridge, it will make Ndigbo to know that they are part of Nigeria. Most of the federal roads in the eastern part of this country are in bad shape. It is very important that our president tries to give the necessary attention to matters that concerns all Nigerians. Apart from giving ndigbo a sense of belonging second Niger Bridge will quickly boost commerce within the area and therefore, create more employment opportunities for more Nigerians.
Any advice to the incoming government?
My advice is simple. You know that that in 2014, there was a national conference organized by the outgoing president. It will be very good if Buhari can look into some of those reports. South East needs an additional state to match up with other geopolitical zones in the country. He should know he is the president of Federal Republic of Nigeria and not APC. For Igbos who has been marginalized for many years to have a sense of belonging, they should be given an additional state.
What is the focus of your organization?
Noah’s Ark-International Peace project is for the improvement of friendship, Harmony and Cooperation between all the countries of the world. It works as a Peace Organization that promotes and encourages peace and harmony between social, ethnic, tribes, religion groups, societies in Nigeria. The international NGO has its headquarters in Israel. We believe that peace is an important tool of development in all societies and Peace cannot be achieved by force, but by understanding and cooperation. We do believe that one of the necessary steps to reunify everyone in an environment of harmony and peaceful co-existence is through peace-cooperation and development. The aims and objective of the organization is to bring peace to nations. It started as a result of youth restiveness in Niger Delta. The organization is from Israel and I was appointed the African Peace Ambassador 2006 to bring correspondence for them from Nigeria in respect of the issue of youth restiveness in the Niger delta. I think we have made appreciable progress on that.
As a Peace Ambassador, what can you say about the xenophobic attacks that broke out in South Africa recently?
It requires diplomacy. South African has so many investments in Nigeria and vice versa. Globally, it is visitors that develop economies. If it continues, it will affect South African economy. The fact is that there was a problem in South Africa. I think it was speared by some misguided youths. It is everywhere, youths who don’t have education, jobs or skills are vulnerable to all sorts of things. So their own is to create chaos so that they can be busy. There is need for the Nigerian government to investigate the details of the xenophobic attacks before taking any action. However, I don’t think President Jacob Zuma will tell his people to start killing Nigerians. So far, the South African president has equally taken steps to douse the tension which built up heavily few weeks ago and am sure the situation has been controlled effectively while peace and confidence is gradually returning. South African is a big economy and nothing should be done to undermine that.
He was working with decrees then but this time, the three tiers of government-the legislature, executive and the judiciary, have to come in and I am sure we are going to see a changed Buhari