Mr. Okey Ezeh, the Chief Executive Officer of a Lagos-based firm and a charity organisation, Okechukwu Theodore Ezeh Foundation, is gearing up for the Imo governorship in 2015. In this interview with Maduabuchi Ubani, he spoke on his quest to govern Imo State, philanthropy and many more. Excerpts:
You have been in the private sector and now venturing into politics. What has been your antecedent?
I have been a professional in the banking industry. I worked with City Bank for 15 years rising to senior management. I am an entrepreneur, the CEO of a company called SERVICOM LTD based in Victoria Island. We are a management consultant firm and I have vast interest in so many things. I like to call myself a humanitarian because the society we live in is one that when you are great in it at some point you have to look for a way to give back. I think it was Pope John Paul that said “nobody is rich that has nothing to receive and nobody is poor that he has nothing to give.”
Why go into politics at this time?
So my mission is simple. I think things can be done differently and think the time has come for a thorough breed professional who has record of personal achievement, professional pedigree with antecedence you are quantified to lay claims to run a good government. And what else, if you look around the world, young people are in charge. We don’t have to go far on that one. If you look at some of the states that have made progress in Nigeria under the current dispensation, these are states with someone with a bit of professional pedigree in charge. They are people who are conversant with global best practices in governance.
Governor Rochas Okorocha is serving his first term in the office. He has not declared that he would seek a second term but there are possibilities he would. What are the things he is doing now that you will do differently?
Let me start by saying that the issue should not even be whether Rochas Okorocha is talking about a second term. And why do I say this? It is because it is high time we started taking people by their words in Nigeria. Politics shouldn’t just be about experience. All over the world, in countries that are serious, leaders should be accountable for what they say and do. When Rochas came into government or before he came into office, one of the first things he said was that he was stooping to become the governor of Imo State. As a matter of fact, he said he ought to be the president of Nigeria, that he came second to the late Yar’adua during the primaries and that he already thought he was above that level. He said he was on a rescue mission. We all know what a rescue mission is, we know the most famous rescue mission in the world.
We know where it was done and it wasn’t in Europe after the World War II. Rescue missions are supposed to be short-lived. In Uganda, it lasted 90 minutes. In Imo, it is three years and counting. So, he shouldn’t be talking about a rescue mission and be talking about a second term.
So, what is your plan for Imo?
If we were to get power in Imo State by the grace of God come May 29, we would go back to our agrarian roots. We have lots of young people who are looking for jobs; we are going to bring back the farm settlements in Imo State like in the east during the Micheal Okpara days. Agro based industrialisation that is our plan for Imo State. Imo has young, vibrant and educated workforce. All we need to do is to harness this workforce and polish it and channel them to that sector. We will provide opportunities for young people.
The thing that most people neglect is that it is not rocket science to come about development. Even if you do have some revolutionary ideas, you can actually get your results by doing the basic things. I can tell that if you have many people – people who have conscience – such people if you give them governance, we can actually make progress. They may not be rocket scientists, because vast majority of our resources are not used to serve the people.
They are used for white elephant projects. Let’s cut out the politics, let’ go down to the art of business like empowering people and also having the resources work for the people using the best talents to re-engineer things. If we start with those basics, we would have gotten to 50 per cent of our destination.