Our personality of the week is the Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Ika North East Local Government Area, a philanthropist who has the interest of his followers at heart, a man of honor and integrity, Hon. Engr. Isaac Chukwuma Iyadi.
In this interview with Judtih Atorough and Amos Chukwuekwu, Engineer Isaac Chukwuma Iyadi he spoke on issues of APC at Akumazi, expressed dissatisfaction with party leaders from national level down to State level. He disclosed his interest in politics and also spoke on the issues of coronavirus.
Can we meet you sir?
My name is Engr. Iyadi Emeke Isaac, popularly known as “Isaac great”. An indigene of Akumazi-Umuocha in Ika North East L.G.A of Delta State. A congress elected APC Chairman of Ward 7 in Ika North East L.G.A. I am a Christian and an ordained minister of God. I am married with children. Adventurous in nature, easy going type and a kind hearted man. I was born into a polygamous family of Late PA Michael Iyadi Nwokehe (a.k.a Ugbene) in Odugan Uzugbo quarters of Akumazi-Umuocha. My father was a polygamist with four wives and over 20 children. My mother was the 2nd wife and 1 am the 4th surviving child of my mother and the 7th of my father. My father was a great farmer. He died at a ripe age of 105 years. I was born in Akwukwu-Igbo and brought up in a ghetto called Otulu. Otulu is a town in the present day Aniocha South L.G.A of Delta State. At birth, I was regarded as a mysterious child because my mother carried me in her womb for about 30 months before giving birth to me. Infact, we were born twins but my twin brother could not survive.
Engr. Iyadi, can you tell us more about your upbringing and education?
As a mystery child, my upbringing was characterized with lots of challenges, especially health wise. I was a Dada, I wore cowries and small bell round my neck till I started secondary school. Like I said earlier, I grew up in Otulu. Otulu is a no man’s land. All the inhabitants of the land were strangers from different parts of the country. They were predominantly peasant farmers with few traders. We were brought up like people then, no social life or recreational activities. Education was not given any priority, especially a Girl-Child education. So, many of my age groups did not go to school. The few that went ended up with primary or secondary school education. The only few people that educated their children beyond secondary school level were my father, Mr. Akor Mechunye and Nwagbogwu Mordi. I was lucky to have a father who loved education. Though, he didn’t go to school, yet he treasured in education. He made sure that all his children went to school. He was one of the 1st persons to raise a university graduate in Akumazi-Umuocha.
The cost of educating us was the reason we lived virtually in the farm to generate enough money to pay our school fees. The only times spent outside the farm were the times we spent at school. We went to the farm even on Sundays. After my secondary education, I left for Kaduna and later moved to Lagos. There in Lagos, I stayed with my Elder brother, Mr. Ben Iyadi, and later enrolled to learn a trade of a fridge and air-conditioner technician.
While I was an apprentice, I enrolled for GCE, where I made my 6 credits including Mathematics and English Language. I later gained admission into University to study Civil Engineering. It was tough combining my education with apprenticeship but I was determined to do it. The training I received at Otulu also helped me. After my apprenticeship, I opened a workshop at Pedro and was still combining it with my education. After my University education, I worked with many companies before setting up my own business. I left SCOA PLC as a Maintenance Manager for Emm Services, where I resigned as a Director of projects to start my own business.
Today, by the grace of God, I hold Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and my PHD is in view. I am through with my thesis and I am working on my research.
In Lagos, I rented an apartment for youth from Otulu. I was going to Otulu to bring the youths to Lagos to expose them. We suffered in that town and I don’t want anybody especially the youth to go through what I went through. There was no helper, with very limited opportunities. We were ostracized from our people. At a time, I was feeding over 15 youths from Otulu. I helped them get something doing. I founded Otulu Progressive Union in Lagos. I have also authored so many books.
Engr. Iyadi, what led to your going into politics?
A lot of things led me into joining politics. Some of them are my desire to serve the masses, to correct the past mistakes and to stand for the interest of the people. Politics also gives one the opportunity to meet different calibers of people.
When did you become a politician?
I have been a politician right from my school days. When I was in the Lagos State University, I was the P.R.O. of Student Union Government (S.U.G). But I joined the conventional politics in 2001, contesting for the chairmanship position of Ika North East under UNPP in 2003. Though I quit active politics after losing the election
What made you return to politics?
I discovered that you cannot change a system unless you are in the system. Trophy is always won by the participant and not the spectator. Shortly after the January 2018 council election, a PDP Chieftain in Akumazi, boasted that they have succeeded in killing APC, in Akumazi. When I got home, I was so restless that I lost my sleep that night, asking myself, why should a national ruling party be dead in a community where am from? For that, I told myself that I need to go back to active politics.
I made a lot of consultations. I met one Mr. Cletus a very active member of APC. I discussed with him and asked him to assemble 5 active members of APC for me to address them. He told me that considering what happened during the just concluded council election, nobody in the community may honour any APC meeting again. They may stone anybody convening any APC meeting again in the community. I persuaded him to, and he hesitantly did. He wanted the meeting to be held in my place, but I told him I would prefer a neutral ground. The meeting was finally held at one Mr. Isioma Nweke’s residence with about 7 people in attendance. I was deliberately late to the meeting.
On arrival, I noticed some excitement and ray of hope in them. As a onetime youth president and Local Government Area election candidate, they believed in me. Reading their faces, I addressed them with a very low and soft voice and I was able to achieve my objectives.
Next, I constituted a Reconciliation Committee to go round the town. We started meeting on weekly basis rotating the venue from one Quarter to another. I started registering new members. Within a space of 2-3 months, I was able to bring back about 80% of the aggrieved members and registered over 500 new members.
Thereafter, I moved to Owere-Olubor and Ekwoma and did the same thing. Then I never had any intention of becoming the ward chairman until in one of the meetings, when one of our leaders, Chief Ike Ehiedu visited and gave us N10, 000 to support the movement. We spent about N7, 000 on entertainment that very day. The next meeting, I brought the remaining N3, 000, that won their hearts to me. They said, this has never happened in the history of politics in Akumazi. To them, if it were the past leaders, the money would have disappeared. Based on this, one Bright Ihechukwude moved the motion that I should become their chairman, and others unanimously supported him and adopted the motion. That was how I was installed as the Ward 7 APC Chairman. During the congress, they returned me as their Chairman unopposed. Because of my exploits and efforts, commitment and diligence, people in my community, even the PDP members and non partisans call me either chair (Abbreviation of chairman) or APC. My real name seemed to have been forgotten by many.
Apart from being Chairman of Ward 7, do you hold any other position at the State or Local Government?
No, I hold no other position, but I am well known in the whole Local Government Area and State as the chairman of ward 7. I have also functioned in all the committees set up in the Local Government as the Secretary to the committee and I have performed creditably well too. At State level, I have also attended most of the State meetings and made my marks there, too. Those that had worked with me will always want to work with me continuously.
Engr. Iyadi, you are just a Ward Chairman but your popularity is known in almost all the Wards in the Local Government Area, what is the secret?
First, I give God all the glory like I said earlier, I have contested for the Chairmanship position of the Local Government Area, So I have structures in all the wards. Secondly, most of the ward Chairmen or executives today, in all tendencies are either my former Councilors or in my campaign team. Another reason is transparency and genuine love for APC. I have also carried my transformation agenda to the Local Government Area.
I have also functioned very actively in all the committees set up in the Local Government Area. I don’t discriminate or segregate along tendencies or factions in the party. I accepted all leaders, irrespective of their tendency as my leader. I believe APC is a big family.
Engr. Iyadi, what do you mean by your transformation agenda?
Before now, the mindset of most members of opposition party was to gather people, and trade with them during elections. They don’t believe they can win election. But I have come to change that mindset of the people. The 1st step towards winning an election is to believe that it is possible. Whatever the mind can conceive, it is capable of delivering it. If you see winning, you can win. Even in the Ward Chairmen Forum, I have so reformed it in such a way that we are now one strong and united team. The bond among the ward chairmen is so strong that people started insinuating that we took oath.
What is your interest in politics?
My interest in politics is to serve and build people. The funny thing is that most people believed politics is all about collecting and sharing money. To me, politics gives one opportunity to serve. For instance, when I was made the chairman of my ward, I discovered that most of my party members don’t even have Bank account. I negotiated with Fidelity Bank to open a zero account for them. As if I knew there was going to be today. With this, they have been able to access most of the empowerments going on in the party and in the country today. Today, I can beat my chest and say I have helped over 15 people in my ward to register and secured Covid-19 Loan. I have also helped about 20 people to apply for N-Power, I have helped over 50 members of APC in my ward to open Bank account and have their BVN.
Many people believed that politics is a dirty game. What do you have to say about that?
Politics is not a dirty game. It is the people playing it that are dirty. As you make your bed, so you shall lay on it. As for me, I will never put my hand in any dirty thing in the name of politics. My late father Pa Ugbene, was a disciplinarian and he was known for honesty. He was respected every where he lived. His children including me inherited that virtue from him. One thing I have noticed in life is that honesty pays, even the most corrupt person wants to work with an honest man.
The demand for honest people is higher than the supply.
Engr. Iyadi, do you think APC have leaders in Ika North East?
Hmm! what a danger will you lead me into with this question? Laugh………! My credibility stands on such slippery ground that one of the two bad ways you must concede me, either my conscience will continue to fight me or some people will rise against me after my answers. However, I choose to stand with my conscience. We don’t have a national leader in Ika North East. This is the reason why the faction (Tendency) struggle is more severe in Ika North East than anywhere else in the state. Ika North East APC has turn to a shopping ground for the Delta central political gladiators.
All the people we are looking up to as our leaders are either fighting for Omo-Agege or Ogboru or Otega (all of them are from Delta Central) at the detriment of our party and people. The other category of leaders is what I call “local leaders”
Most of the people in this category are struggling to survive. Though, there are honest and sincere ones among them. The likes of Dada Ijeh, Iwende Nwaham, Ikpazu Alex and Hon. Kamanya, Sabastine Okoh and Chamberlain are there too, only that their leadership is not spread across the Local Government Area. They concentrate only on their wards. To me, leadership of a party is not determined by how old you are or how long you have been in the party, but how well you have helped the party to grow.
Engr. Iyadi, what is your advice to politicians?
They should have the fear of GOD. Elections are not do or die affair. Today you may lose and tomorrow you will win. Politicians should stop destroying our youths by buying guns for them. They should build them up and buy JAMB forms for them.
Sir, having contested for the Local Government Chairmanship position in the past, and with all your profiles, why did you choose to go for the position of a Ward Chairman?
Having been away from active politics for such a long time, I thought it wise to start from somewhere again. Another reason is that I want to secure my ward and get grass root support. Beside, a good servant must be ready to serve at any level. There is no position that is too low for a true servant.
Engr. Iyadi, what do you think might be the solution to corruption in Nigeria?
Corruption in Nigeria must be fought with Iron fist and not with convincing argument. Everybody in Nigeria must hate corruption. The musicians and the religious leaders must rise up against corruption, the same way they fought apartheid in South Africa.
What is your comment on covid-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 is real. The masses should continue to adhere to all the precautionary measures as recommended by the experts. Government should not relent their efforts in curbing the spread.
Engr. Iyadi, how do you view the crises of APC at the Federal, State and Local levels?
The first casualty at the federal level is the former APC national Chairman, Adams Oshiomole. I think everybody should learn from his fall. Anybody that refuses to learn from Odhiomale’s fall will surely go the same away. Oshiomole’s exit is a bad omen to the party. The new caretaker Committee Chairman Mr. Balla has been charged by the President to conduct extra ordinary congresses. I am convinced that APC will get it right this time around.
Then at the State level and local level, APC in Delta State is in deep crises. As I speak to you now, we have 3 factions. Just few days ago, another local government Chairman was inaugurated in Ika South. The same thing is happening in almost all the wards. One man will walk into a ward, appoints someone as a ward Chairman. I just hope that the extraordinary congress will be able to fix things right again.
As the APC Chairman in Ward 7, what have are your achievements?
I have achieved a lot as a Ward Chairman. First and most importantly, I have been able to change the people’s mindset from gathering people to make money during election to gathering people to contest and win elections. This was demonstrated in the last Presidential election in Akumazi where APC scored above 25% target given to us. Another remarkable achievement is transforming APC to a household party. All APC members in Ward 7 behave like one family irrespective of their faction. I have also helped more than 15 members of the party apply and secure COVID-19 loan. I helped more than 50 members open savings bank accounts. During Voters Registration, through me, more than 100 members got their Voters Cards, the ongoing N-Power, I have registered a lot of persons, trained others at CBN at Technical College Agbor, who are currently processing the loans to start their various businesses I, have paid hospital bills for a lot of members, the list is endless. All of these were made possible in courtesy of my Chairmanship.
What gives you joy?
There is nothing that gives me joy more than seeing people around me, giving to charity and sharing in their life challenges.
Engr. Iyadi, what would you like to be remembered for?
The number of people I have helped and established.
How do you relax?
Just like any Ghetto man, I relax with fresh Palm wine while listening to Reggae Music, especially Bob Marley.
What is your best food?
Pounded yam with Egusi soup. I can eat it 3 times a day.
What are your remarkable experiences?
One of my remarkable experiences was the day I got married. As a play boy back then, I never believed I could settle down that soon. Another remarkable day was the 18th of November, 2019, when I visited my leader late Chief Morka at the Central Hospital, Agbor. He held my hands and said “Chairmo (as he fondly calls me), I hand over to you as Moses handed over to Joshua, take my people to the promise land”. Immediately after his speech, he fell into unconsciousness and died the next day.
Engr. Iyadi, would you still like your personality changed if you were to re-incarnate?
No! I will still be Isaac Great
Who is your role model?
In the business line, my role model is Aliko Dangote. His idle moment is his creative moment. In politics, it is Bola Tinubu. He built people more than any other politician in Nigeria. In the secular world, it is Ehiedu Charles Aniagwu. He is so humble and does not discriminate; he is a giver and reformer.
Engr. Iyadi, with the crises in APC, do you think Ika North East Local Government will move forward?
One fact is that there is no political party that does not have internal crisis or the other. What we are experiencing in APC now is a passing phase. We will have those that have the interest of the party at heart. We will bounce back, better and stronger. We must get it right in this forth coming extra-ordinary congress.
Finally, what is your advice to the youths?
The youths should stop accepting guns from politicians. They should start demanding for Jamb registration fee.
BY JUDITH ATOROUGH AND AMOS CHUKWEKU