Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju is the President South East South South Professionals of Nigeria. In this interview with Francis Moses he harps on the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the report of the 2014 National Conference and other topical issues. Excerpts:
Searching for talent for good leadership has been one of the biggest problems in Nigeria. What is your view on that and how do we tackle it?
I think Prof. Pat Utomi the founder of Center for Value in Leadership CVL is somebody who is very passionate about the young ones, because some of us almost see ourselves as a wasted generation and we don’t want the up and coming ones to go the same round and that is why he is so passionate about leadership issues and all the things that been doing here is to show the youths that there is a future, there is a hope, but they have to be grounded values, and off course that means somebody have to believe in hard work, honesty, integrity and then off course if I will say the rule of tongue “ do unto others as you want others to do unto you” . Believe me if you fellow that guide line you won’t miss your way.
You made mention of hard work, but there are people who work so hard in Nigeria today but couldn’t get to their wish. What is you view on that?
The point is that you don’t lose anything by doing the right thing. That is one problem I have with people, just do the right thing, if it doesn’t happen today it will happen tomorrow. If you do the wrong thing, it will never happen for you because when the wrong thing happen it will happen to you, just keep on doing the right thing. Just like Chief Earnest Shonekan said today, in life you don’t look for quick fixes, you don’t look for tomorrow now and you have it. I am an example of that. I didn’t just start overnight, when I was younger person working, during my holidays, I did what we might call internship, that is instead of going on vacation I will tell my company not to worry about my allowances. Meanwhile some of my colleagues will be telling to go to Europe or USA since my salary can pay the return trip. But when you know what you want in life you will achieve it, is not the issue of fun. I was a banker and I got attachment to a foreign bank, now few years later when Nigeria deregulating some of them didn’t know what was going on, some now remembered oh that young man who have been going on training, go and look for him. That is life especially when you focus on what you want and where you want to be.
Before 2015 general elections, Nigerians clamored for change and they have got it by electing a government on that philosophy. Do you see this administration bringing about that change people voted for?
I think President Muhammadu Buhari can’t afford to fail us, he has no choice, he has to succeed and one way he has to succeed is to see himself as somebody who Nigerians have given their trust to take them in a different direction from what used to obtain. If he embraces them, at least some of us who know or have an idea where Nigeria wants to go, we will go far, but if he is with this current fighting among politically strong men and women and so on, I will say his administration is dead on arrival, but we can’t just lose and we will be there to support him. But if he is to be effective, he should use between now and 2019 to put Nigeria on a different direction, we know he came with anti-corruption crusade and so on, but let him carry Nigerian along and give us a country that works, a country that reward hard work, a country that reward honesty and a country that is fundamentally structured to create wealth and not a country that shares wealth. The major problem we have in Nigeria is that people look at the desease without looking at the syndrome that attach to it. Nigeria is structured to share what they don’t have, ones you shape Nigeria to start creating wealth then all these idea of a governors having a state in their pockets will not arrive because all hands will be desk to create wealth, if you create it and people see it and they see that things are working, they will pay their tax. But now why would you pay tax when things are not working.?
Recently people advices President Buhari to continue with former President Goodluck Jonathan’s agenda, noting that one problem in Nigeria is lack of continuity in policy given that government is a continuum. What is your view on that?
I will say that former president Jonathan have some good roadmaps but off course the issue of implementation was a big challenge for him, what Buhari need to do is to remain focused and forget about people who are telling him this and that and move on. I think he should look into the National Conference let him run with it, so that by 2019 we will have what we will call Buhari’s constitution, which anchored on the National Conference.
But will the north that was so vehemently against most of the conference recommendation allow him to implement the report of the National Conference?
He is a Nigerian. I don’t know what you are talking about, as a Nigeria President that is the advice I have to give to him; to implement the report of the National Conference, and it is a gift Jonathan gave to him. National Conference is like a template but it is unfortunate that Jonathan didn’t implement it. So Buhari should take it serious with that reports, he is a lucky man to have been bequeathed that report, so let him run with it and come out with what would be Buhari’s constitution. We wouldn’t mind bailing out the governors who have been a bit frivolous. Everybody knows that by 2019 if you wants to run for an election you are running an election on a different template not the current template, because this current template we have will never work.