Why I want to govern Enugu State –Agu, APC guber aspirant

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From Jude Chinedu, Enugu

Chief Chris Agu is a former staff of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).

He recently declared interest to contest the 2023 governorship of Enugu State under the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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Chief Agu who is a former Director of Amnesty International is widely travelled, having spent over 30 years in different states in Northern Nigeria.

In this interview, Agu promised to restore the glorious past of the state as envisioned by its founding fathers. Excerpt:

What inspired you into taking this bold step?

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The situation we found ourselves in Enugu State inspired me. As a student of history, I strongly believe that history will hold us responsible when we are in a position to act or counter any negative project or mission of any administrator in the state or even our locality and you keep quiet and allow evil to continue to thrive.  You know when good men keep quiet, evil will continue to thrive. Again the mission and philosophy of our founding fathers; those that fought for the creation of Enugu State has been bastardized by the government. Our people are in pains. Retirees are suffering, teachers are not paid their minimum wage. Last time they came to my office, I was still with Radio Nigeria then before I put in paper of voluntary retirement some months ago. They came to me there and told me that they wanted to go on strike to agitate for a better wage, but the government used court to stop them. That they don’t know what to do. So these are part of what inspired me. If people like us watch all these things happening in Enugu State without coming out to change the situation, it may get to a stage where it may get out of hand and there will be insecurity that may not be controlled here. Our youths are roaming about. Nobody is thinking of how to revitalize some of the industries that have closed down for a long time. About eight industries in the state that are capable of taking the state to greater heights. Nobody is thinking of all these things. Nobody is thinking of agriculture. I will not go into details now.  Look at Ebonyi State. They adopted this philosophy because Ebonyi was part of us before. Look at the level of road construction that the state governor is carrying out. You can now close your eyes and drive through Ebonyi. I toured all the local governments in Ebonyi and I was shocked. I said God should bless the governor of Ebonyi State. I have told the press whether it is not the same amount of money that Enugu State is receiving that Ebonyi State is receiving. Why is Ebonyi State developing more than Enugu in terms of infrastructure? Enugu is battling with one flyover. The advert for the flyover is more than the cost that the Ebonyi State government is using in constructing one flyover. They have over 20 flyovers in Ebonyi State. I counted them. Are we to fold our hands and watch?  Do you know how many people in Ebonyi State that the government has been sending abroad on scholarships to go and study? How many people in Enugu are benefiting from scholarship? But this is why C.C. Onoh and other people fought for the creation of Enugu State. So, all these things are bastardized and we can’t keep on watching the vultures and the hawks destroying the state, so, I have to join APC in order to fight and liberate our people from this bondage and restore the lost glory of Enugu State.

What are those things you will do differently if you are given the chance to lead Enugu State?

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You know the retirees are suffering. They paid gratuities last in Enugu State sometime in 2016 or thereabout. And now in Enugu State, people have been coming to complain to me that if you retire from the civil service in the state, if you want your gratuity to be paid; it is 70 per cent to the government and you take 30 per cent. After 35 years of meritorious service; are we going to keep on watching?  Some people that are sick that have no one to help them accept to take 30 per cent and then the people that facilitate the payment will take 70 per cent. That is the situation in Enugu State as I speak to you now. And the pension is not even paid as at when due. In a year, you receive your pension, maybe, three times and there is no upward review of pension. Those that retired 20 years ago, it is still the same amount that they receive. It’s not so. The prices of things are going up every day and yet our people are paying from their nose. You also have all these harsh revenue systems. You see Keke NAPEP operators paying from their noses. You see bus operators and all these people paying huge amounts to the state government. There is no water in Enugu State. Part of what I will do differently is that there must be water in Enugu State. We are not in a dry zone. This is not Sahel region. Even in the Sahel regions, there is water. I was a teacher in Dutsima Local Government Area in Katsina State. Dutsima Secondary School in those days, around 1984.  As at that time, you get water everywhere. The compound I was living in, there was water and water is still there. Light was there, everything you can think of, you found there. But here in Enugu, there is no water in the metropolis. There is no water within the local government areas. There is no local government secretariat where you will go today that you will find water and you have a government that has been in power for close to eight years now. 

The second thing is that I will make sure that all the arrears of pensioners are cleared. The rate at which these retirees are dying in Enugu State is alarming. This is because they can’t afford hospital bills. They can’t eat good food because their hope has been dashed. After 35 years one should expect that he has worked for something that will sustain him. Now, you still take care of your children that have no work.  After training them in the university, they come back and there is no work. Then it will force those parents to their early grave. But I want to advise anyone that has lost retirees to keep those documents. We are going to pay you people. We are going to offset those arrears. It is possible. In Anambra when Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju was governor, this situation was happening there. After the people of Anambra prayed and fasted, as people are already praying for me, Chris Ngige came on board, he cleared these arrears. In fact, it was a miracle. Before Ngige could realize it, Peter Obi entered and completed the task. That is why when the Federal Government was giving these rescue funds of over N3 billion Anambra did not collect because they had no arrears or backlog of workers’ gratuities and pensions. Enugu collected yet where is the evidence? There are many things I will do differently.  Another thing that I’m going to do for my party that has not been there is that they should establish what is called Presidential Liaison Officer. As a student of history and as a man that has followed political events in Nigeria, Shehu Shagari in his wisdom created the Presidential Liaison Officer.  I remember the late Chief Collins Obi was the one in charge of Imo State. I remember the late Ikenga Nnewi, Dr Dozie Ikedife was the one in charge of Old Anambra State. So, every Federal Government project was handled by these people and they made sure they protected the interest of the ruling party. But the APC government did not toe this line. Instead, they use the opposition, the PDP and any other state that belongs to APC and handed over money for projects. And these governors are not utilizing it. Even the Milken Hill here that was rehabilitated, I was part of the people that facilitated that Milken Hill should be tarred because I am from Enugu Ngwo. Then, the government of Enugu State constructed the road and the Federal Government paid them more than enough and today nobody is talking of who constructed the road. If you ask, they will tell you it is the Enugu State government but it is not true. It is a federal road and Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari paid the money to Enugu State government.  So, I will enlighten our people. Enlightenment is part of what I will do because no one is actually telling them what is going on, especially here and many others. In the area of agriculture, there will be practical farming. A palm tree system of two years. A palm tree you will plant and in two years, it will start bringing about 30 heads. And a litre of palm oil is more expensive than a litre of fuel. So, you can see diversification. And this palm tree is in the country already. The Enugu State government is not interested in agriculture. And again our people are not receiving grants. People in Enugu State are not receiving these various grants from the Federal Government but in the North, they are receiving them. Nobody knows what is happening, but when I come on board, our people will know that their son who had spent 30 years in Northern Nigeria has arrived in Enugu.

During your declaration, you talked of some evil people that have taken over the state. Who are they?

I didn’t say evil people, I said hawks and vultures. By their fruits you shall know them. When I mention hawks and vultures, you know them by their fruits. It’s a clique. It’s a cabal. They have many baptismal names. At times, they call themselves many names, parading as political families and they will tell you that their family will continue to govern Enugu State.  These are the hawks and the vultures. They know themselves. We don’t need to mention their names. They know they have been in government. Look at His Excellency, Sullivan Chime. He is not among the hawks or the vultures because after his tenure as governor, he did not further his ambition. He decided to act as a father. He has been playing an advisory role. So, when we make reference to the hawks, we mean those people that say they are born to rule. That they are born to oppress others. They say that without them, Enugu State will not rise. And that’s why all the civil societies and all the groups in Enugu State have come up now to know that these people are the real devil that is tormenting the state. And we are saying no. And these hawks, let me tell you, are in every political party. Don’t think it is Uhuru in all political parties. They are in every political party.  Their duty is to make sure they don’t allow people with ideas to govern Enugu State. They want to make sure that it is only those cabals that will be on top. And those cabals have joined all the political parties, but they don’t have any ideology.