Chief Kizzy Ajaelu (PHF) is the Accord Party candidate for Ihitte Uboma State Constituency for the Imo State House of Assembly in the 2019 elections. He was formerly the State Coordinator of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission RMAFC. He was Chairman, Federal Civil Service Club and Vice Chairman, Association of Heads of government’s establishment. He trained as a Development Economist, Cost Accountant, Administrator, and in Law. He is the national patron and Board of Trustee (BOT) Block Rosary Crusade of Nigeria. He is a Knight of St. Mulumba and President Laity Council of Nigeria, Assumpta Cathedral. Ajaelu is currently the President Elect, Rotary Club, Owerri North (Exclusive). In this interview with our Afam Echi, he notes that we are yet to begin to reap legislative fruits from our democracy and doubts the possibility of Igbo presidency in 2023. He further states that Chief Ikedi Ohakim is in a better stead to deliver Imo State. Enjoy the excerpts.
Congrats on your emergence as the ACCORD candidate for Ihitte Uboma State Constituency. How would you assess the primary elections generally, across board and do you think the outcome reflected democratic principles?
Well, I may not have details of the primaries conducted by other parties but through the Press reports and interactions it was obvious that some parties did not follow democratic principles in the exercise. This does not show we have matured well enough. I want to believe that the parties that did not follow the guidelines would have problems. This is because democracy allows for equitable participation for the process to bring out the best candidate and if somewhere along the lines the process is short-changed, you don’t expect it to turn up credible candidates. At the end of the day people might not go for candidates that emerged through faulty primaries.
What is your motivation for running for the house of assembly seat?
Without sounding immodest you will agree with me that we have not been reaping the real democratic fruits even in the legislative arm of government. A lot has been expected from those representing us, year after year each time we come to realize that people sent there do not actually perform the real representation. They go to the place and line up their pockets and the people suffer for it. So I am offering myself to go and make the difference, to show what it means to represent the people. I am going to carry my people along in all aspects of law making, carry their hearts desires into the house and then speak for them. Their interest we will ensure are captured in the budgets. I intend to work closely with the executive arm particularly with the chairman of the local government whom I will be interacting with frequently so that I can be up dated each minute to know what is expected on the ground and get it into the budget so that the dividends will trickle down to the people. Law making actually different from executive business but with close synergy it allows you get closer to the people and this synergy can at the end of the day transform into infrastructure etc.
Now what will you identify as the greatest challenge of your constituency and how would your representation help to fix it?
Like I said the previous legislators that represented my people have not worked closely with the people at the local government, which is the executive arm. I intend to close this gap by having regular town hall meetings and interactions with the people. Through this process we capture the interest of the people so that where there are issues they would be thrown up timely. Developments comewhen the consciousness to bring the infrastructures is embedded in the people. I will not only have a constituency office at the local government I intend to have cells in each of the Wards so that I can get timely information. Lack of timely information is what affects us. You know that information is power. When there is the required information there will be prompt presentation of issues and reactions. I am going to throw the weight of my experience down there for the service of my people.
Before you joined the Accord Party, in which party where you?
I have started with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). I had in mind that the APGA and based on what is happening in the country nationally especially on the issue of restructuring shared the same dream.We have the expectations that the Igbos should come under one umbrella so that we could pursue the restructuring agenda effectively. We had thought that APGA would be the vehicle to drive the agenda but down the line it became obvious that those at the helm of the party’s affairs have their own personal agenda. We are all here and saw that the primaries were nothing to write home about. The people were short-changed in the process, so I had to leave. I believe that my new platform of Accord Party will provide me the opportunity to serve my people.
What is it about Accord Party that propelled your interest as against other parties?
Now the issues surrounding all the parties are on the tabloid every day. The problem of APC is still on-going. They are neither here nor there. PDP of which I was a foundation member had its problem long originated from the Sherrif matter which polarised the party and it was so much that coming together would be a big problem. You can now see that the two Owerri candidates are at each other’s throat with the matter instituted in the court. I doubt if this will be amicably resolved. Like I said when the issues came up I decided to go to a party that is devoid of rancour. I can now concentrate and channel my energies towards what I have planned for my people. Accord is the number one on the ballot paper and it is a movement which is divine. It is now that I am in Accord that I realise that the hand of God is in the party. It is going to be the party that will produce the next governor of Imo State. Imo people voting Accord will bring about peace and harmony so that we can go about delivering the dividend of democracy to the people. The people of Imo State have really suffered under the present administration. There are a lot of issues. The administrative style is nothing to write home about. The current house of assembly has its own challenges what with the arbitrariness. I believe the Accord Party is the place to be and I enjoin all Imolites to get on board because it has come to bring peace, progress and development.
How strong is the party in the state and what is its spread like?
What makes a party strong you will agree with me is the quality of persons in the party including the quality of the candidates they have on board. People can identify those calling the shots and can vouch for them. You may wish to know that His Excellency Ikedi Ohakim is running under Accord Party as its governorship candidate and his records are there. When you look through and consider those clamouring for the position you will know that he has an edge. I believe that the people are going to welcome Accord and the quality of candidates that we have is something to be very proud of. We have politicians with excellent track records, that we can identify what they have done, they are tested and trusted. They are there to turn the tables in our favour.
What contributions in the past have you made either in your communities or anywhere in terms of services or developments that people can look at to justify your aspiration?
Yes. My people know me and I know them. I have taken positions of responsibilities in my local government.I have worked with the church in my local government. At a point I was the Parish Council Chairman of my Church, Mater Dolorosa. I was able to transform it most times committing my personal resources into the venture. By extension as the mother parish we have taken evangelism to salvage the church structures and buildings. My six years as Council chairman there have exposed me to the people over what I am able to do and my people were marvelled. So I have delivered on the opportunities that have been given to me. As a civil servant I worked with the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission and I have worked closely while in the office to improve the fortunes of the local government, to see that their allocations were drastically increased and that attracted some improvements in the revenue base of the LGA to engage in other developmental activities. So singly I have been able to do that. I am a Knight of the Church and my Sub-Council is located in IhitteUboma and every other month we crisscross the churches there making our donations there for the needs of the churches. There is no single church in IhitteUboma that will say that Ajaegbu has not made any impact to help them achieve one thing or another. On interpersonal relationships, I have maintained good personal relationship with all the political elites at IhitteUboma, being one of them. I have helped to select candidates in the past, funding and supporting them one way or another. I have been part of the Town Unions before they were abolished and I contributed my bit positively. I am a house hold name so to say and I am not limited to any section of human life or activities.
Now you are aspiring to be a legislator. How would you assess the performance of the current legislators?
I think one gives in relation to his or her ability. They have tried given their capacity but from my own view point a lot needs to be done. A situation where they don’t monitor the budget but allow unbudgeted items to be carried out by the executives shows lack of fiscal prudence. They are supposed to carry out their oversight functions and use the budget to ensure that the executives are whipped into line but they have failed to do this. That is why the governor could embark on any project not captured in the budget and there is nobody to ask questions. The budget is made and it becomes a guide but we see it is not respected. From that view point they have not done well. It leaves a lot to be desired and it is one of the reasons that informed my decision to run to help streamline things for the progress and growth of the state.
Who do you look as your role model in politics?
As a legislator I put myself around the image of Chief Mike Ahamba when he was there in the house. He was outspoken. His performance still rings bell. Having watched him as young man then I admired him and if I have a choice I will like to be moulded after him. He spoke out, challenged the then ruling government and corrected some ills. If I am voted in I would like to be very vocal on issues because I will not like to compromise really.
Can you comment on the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha? How has he fared?
He breathes down! This is one area that I will really not like to go into.
Why not, as a citizen of the state you should comment.
It is very obvious that their style and manner of government leaves very much to be desired. I will say that I come from the background of the church which is Catholic. We are not so pleased about the style and manner of the government.
You mean the Catholic Church as an institution?
Yes. I am a strong Catholic member, a Knight of the Church at the 4th degree level in KSM. At this level I will not like to compromise or be seen to compromise. At this level and height in the society people are looking up to me to say the truth and stand by what is real and just. I wouldn’t say that we are happy with the manner of running the government. There must be checks and balances. You must carry along all the arms of government so that you can deliver the dividends of democracy. It is almost an autocratic government where no other arm gets involved in what is happening. And they do as they like without deliberating on policies anymore. Look at the quality of infrastructure; they are already collapsing in our presence. Penny wise they say is pound foolish. He should spend the money and get things done properly once and for all. Look at the roads that collapsed in a matter of months after completion. The next government will still come and spend money again over and over on a particular project. If these things are done through due process we get the companies to bid and guarantee their performance. Once that is completed he faces other things. With limited resources there I need to plan and achieve well. Once you run a government without planning things will be neither here nor there. We are happy the government is coming to an end so that it can afford Imo people the opportunity to do the proper thing. With all these people brandishing tickets Imo people should go for tried and tested. That is why I decided to team up with Ohakim in Accord party to give Imo that dividend of democracy which they need.
In other words you are saying that Imo people should give Ohakim another chance?
Absolutely. Yes. That is what I am saying. They should give him a chance. He means well. He is not greedy. He follows due process. I am aware that this present administration is working hard to eradicate all his performances in terms of infrastructure but then he has quality, he has vision. Throughout his tenure he was paying salaries and pensions, but look at now what we have. Salaries are been cut and paid in percentages. This is something that is alien. A worker deserves his wages. With the so much amount of money that has come into the coffers of the state, what do we have? He destroyed the public service and enthroned lack of due process. Ohakim is the man.
Looking at the Charter of Equity do you think that it is fair to throw up Ohakim again when Owerri Zone are clamouring for a chance to have a bite?
The Charter of Equity may not have been written but it is written in our minds. At his stage of our democratic experiment, it is necessary so as to douse the tension but you see when Ohakim came in he was even hitting at it so that we don’t truncate it. He should have been allowed to complete his tenure so that he can hand over to an Owerri man but unfortunately the same Owerri Zone collaborated to deny him his second tenure and now they brought an Orlu man against the run of play. Look at how we are paying for it. I believe that voting Ohakim we will not only remedy that mistake but will ensure that that the charter of equity continues. Even, as you can see Owerri Zone is in confusion. But then they know where the problem started. This is an opportunity to correct it. Get Ohakim back to correct it and hand over to Owerri man. And with what is happening Ohakim is the only man that can help Imo State at this point in time because he is the man that handed over to this outgoing administration. He has his hand over report; he knows what is where before this mad acquisition and destruction of records. So Ohakim should come back for the interest of Imo State. He is the man who should open the books and ask questions, that I handed over this to you, so where is it? He is the man who can go through the inventories of Imo State and recover all the recoverable. No other candidate aspiring to be there has such records. They can only have that which Rochas may have handed over and which may have been doctored to suit him. Besides, none of them have been a governor before. So before they kick start, they would have spent time learning the ropes and that is not what we need now. We need to get back on track within the shortest possible time to rejig the economy of this state to make sure that people begin to do businesses again. Any new government now will take time to study the processes before talking about recovery and you can only recover that which you know. The man who knows in and out is Ohakim. Imo State should beg him to come to recover the state and he is statutorily allowed only to stay four years after which he will hand over to Owerri Zone.
Earlier you had accused Owerri Zone of sabotaging or collaborating to deny Ohakim his tenure. How did this happen?
Yes. The battle for the election was waged in Owerri. You remember in the re-run NgorOkpala and Mbaitoli instead of voting for Ohakim to continue voted for Okorocha and that was how it went off?
Do you foresee an Igbo Presidency in 2023?
As an Igbo man who would like us to have bite at the Presidency I would like to say yes that Igbo Presidency is possible. But to get there we would like to play the politics first. Then the question is: Are Igbos playing the politics that they need to do before coming to the national stage? Now with what is happening I doubt if it is realizable. Now if we vote the PDP, the man there will like to run for 8 years which is beyond 2023. So Igbos should begin to expect 2027 except there is a miracle or except the restructuring which is one of the main issues for 2019 occurs. We can also relying on the side lines depending on the pressure from IPOB anything is possible but relying on the current politics being played 2023 is not realistic.
Given other contestants from your constituency, how do you see your chances?
Without sounding immodest I think my chances are very very bright. I have been able to x-ray other candidates from other parties, PDP, APC, APGA, whether contestants will come from YPP or UPP etc, so far I don’t think that I have any issues if people will not be carried away by any sentiments. If the intention is to get the best man for the job I will have no problem. I think the leadership in Ihitte Uboma knows me in and out and they know that I am the man who carries the leadership and the people along. I intend to consult everybody irrespective of political leaning. I am going there not to represent Accord Party but the people of Ihitte Uboma and I intend to carry everybody along. I am eminently qualified and I have all it takes to give my people the desired representation. The outgoing legislator, Uche Eiogu has a Ph.d and it would require a man high up there in terms of academics, not persons with WAEC to sustain the tempo. A forward looking local government like Ihitte Uboma needs a man that is grounded, if you might know educationally I have four degrees and functioned as a professional administrator. This is about law making and I have degree in law. Experience wise, I pulled out of the Civil Service as a Director in the Federal Civil Service. I trained as a Cost Accountant and I am an Economist. I have also served the state and in the past 15 years, was involved in revenue generation. My representation will add quality to deliberations in the areas I have skills. Drawing from experience, in the past 7 years or so I have taken pains to analyze each year the budget of Imo State and that has given me an insight into what the government is doing.
What message do you have for your people and Imo in general?
My message to Ihitte Uboma people is that I am going to serve them and I will not fail them. They know me and I know them. I have traversed all the wards, the length and breadth of my constituency. I am not discriminatory in nature. I believe that I am the best man for the job and any vote for me is a vote in the right direction.