Dr. Chukwuma Nwaonicha was born into the famous Nwaonicha family of Alihame, Agbor, Ika South of Delta State, Nigeria. He earned a Diploma in Industrial Chemistry from State Industrial Institute, Perugia, Italy and BS and MS in Chemistry from Prairie View A & M University, Prairie View, Texas, USA. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Howard University, Washington DC, USA, MS in Management of Technology from University of Minnesota, St. Paul – Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA and Mini MSDD in Software Design and Development in Computer Science from University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He is a result oriented, dedicated and disciplined individual with excellent track records, work ethics and interpersonal skills. Dr. Chukwuma Nwaonicha is a community leader and Chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State. In this interview he granted newsmen at his residence in Agbor during the week, the elder statesman spoke among other issues why the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa should be re-elected in 2019.
Ahead of 2019 general elections, Nigeria’s political space is heating up; what is your advice to politicians?
Thank you. I must first appreciate Nigerians for the various roles they are playing towards the growth of our democracy. Over the years, our people have become enlightened politically; this feat is contributing immensely towards the overall good of our country. Our continued participation in every Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC exercise and election is an indication that we are all prepared to build a better Nigeria. So, as the 2019 general elections draw near, I advise politicians to thread cautiously and avoid anything that will heat up the polity. For those contesting for elective offices, they know that everyone cannot win at the same time and that election is not a do or die affair. Although the door is open for aspirants for all positions but they should not promise what you can not deliver. Unfortunately, some of the aspirants have started making promises, including somewhat impossible ones. That is common in Nigerian democracy. They have started making claims of incomparability (beyond comparison; matchless or unequaled), using the superlative (excellent) epitaphs to hypnotize citizens, publicize their heart desires and convince the electorate of their supremacy over others.
Given the high number of aspirants jostling for various electoral positions, what module of party primaries would you suggest?
I suggest free and fair primaries. PDP is a party that promotes justice; hence, I strongly believe that it will give all her aspirants a level playing ground. Anybody who is qualified can seek for an elective office. It is not out of place when we see many people jostling for various political positions. It is good for our democracy if the situation is effectively managed. PDP has passed through this experience several times and no doubt, it will be able to conduct free and fair primaries for all her aspirants when the time comes. I know for sure that PDP cannot afford to lose any elective position to another political party by picking wrong and non-marketable candidates at the primary.
What is your take on the disturbing trend of defections across party divides?
It’s not a bad one. When you are in a political party that lacks vision, justice and internal democracy you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that it has nothing to offer you. People are coming to PDP from opposition because they know that the party is for progressives who believe in a better Nigeria. Many of All Progressives Congress, APC members who were hitherto PDP members are now back to the party (PDP). They are welcome; we look forward to seeing more defectors before next year’s general elections. We welcome other individuals or group of individuals to join our party PDP, as the PDP umbrella is large enough to accommodate everyone. You’re welcome. Those leaving PDP for APC, particularly in Delta State are doing that out of frustration, greed and selfish interest. Politically, they are going nowhere. In order words, they are better off in PDP than in APC. As the saying goes: “Penny wise and Pound foolish”! In another instant, the former Governor (Dr.) Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan decamping to APC could lead to the cobra effect for him and his associates, and the cobra effect occurs when an attempted solution to ones problem actually makes the problem worse. It will surely happen to Uduaghan and his cohorts. As noted by Deltans and Delta political class, the Delta State Governorship race is for quality politicians and not for politicians that are thugs or seasonal that have no political structure in twenty-five local government areas of Delta State even in their wards and Local Governments.
As a key proponent of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s re-election, do you foresee any challenge from the opposition?
No. As far as I am concerned, there is no opposition in Delta State. If there is any I am yet to know. Delta is a PDP State and it will remain so. Deltans are pleased with the excellent performance of our amiable governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, so, they will vote massively for his re-election come 2019. I am therefore using this opportunity to call on the self acclaimed opposition leaders in the state to join hands with Governor Okowa to build a better Delta State. Above all, they should support his re-election next year because the boat of success is around the corner and it’s ready to depart. Join the boat before it is too late; as the saying goes ‘those who have ears let them hear’.
As an elder and PDP chieftain, what is your assessment of Okowa’s administration in the past three years?
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has performed excellently well and beyond expectations. He is a good leader who listens to the voice of his people. In only three years in office and with the huge financial challenge his administration suffered at inception, Governor Okowa has achieved what most Nigerian past governors failed to achieve in eight years. The governor has recorded huge success in all sectors of the economy. The biggest joy of Deltans is that Okowa’s achievements are spread across the twenty-five local government areas in the state. Today, the governor is called, ‘The Road Master’ because of his landmark achievements in road construction. Okowa, in his wisdom, has taken governance to the rural and riverine communities connecting them to the urban centers through the construction of intra and inter-community roads. The same thing is applicable in other sectors. In the area of political appointments, he has ensured that virtually every community in the state has representation in his administration, thereby giving everybody a sense of belonging. Kudos to the Governor.
I urge Deltans to continue to support the governor to enable him do more for us in the coming years. I am using this opportunity to call on Deltans to remain supportive of the Okowa’s administration and also, ensure that he continues in office as governor after May 29, 2019. A second term in office for Okowa is for a better Delta State. The governor will achieve more for all of us in his second term in office. I also appeal to all registered voters in the State who have not collected their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to ensure they do so, as it is their weapon to vote for Okowa for a second time in office in 2019.
In your constituency, in your estimation, could you say that Ika South has been effectively represented at the state legislature?
Yes. The incumbent, Hon Festus Chukwuyem Okoh (Chuky Dandy) has not done poorly since his assumption of office. Initially, he may have made one or two mistakes, nobody is above mistakes but, in my assessment, Hon. Okoh has done well as a lawmaker. He is close to his constituents and he is always happy to identify with them. He should keep on with the good work. In my opinion, Chuky Dandy deserves a second tenure for the good representation of Ika South in the State House of Assembly. If given the PDP ticket (PDP Flag Bearer), which I strongly believe he will get, he will surely get my unflinching support for his re-election come 2019.
What is your advice to prospective delegates to the forthcoming party primaries in relations to the disturbing issue of vote buying?
They should vote their conscience and vote for those they know that are qualified, credible and prepared to serve their interests (interest of the masses) very well. They should not mortgage their future by voting for the wrong persons.