Philanthropist, businessman, community leader, Chief Patrick Chidolue delves into the current sociopolitical and economic situation in the country and stresses the need for government to allow the private sector play more roles in the revival of the country. The Chairman of Chelsea Hotels Abuja, tells CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN that newly elected Ohaneze Ndigbo President General, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, is adequately prepared for the job.
On the recent Ohaneze Ndigbo election, Chidolue said, “My expectations are that Chief Nwodo is a square peg in square hole. He is quite qualified for that job, in the 22nd century, the Igbo’s need an advanced person in all spheres of human affairs to lead Igbo nation, especially now that the environment calls for it”
He describes the newly elected President General as a civilized politician, intelligent, a lawyer, organized and noble in all ramifications. His words: “He is also a bridge builder, and he cuts across the youth and the old. As a result, he is also somebody that has Igbo interest at heart. He and the executive are there to refocus the leadership of Igbo nation in such a way that we can move forward. Don’t forget there are various ethnic groups that make up Nigeria, each of them owe the well-being and survival of their people to the organizational and collective structure of the leadership. You have Arewa, Afenifere etc”
He admonishes Nwodo and his team to articulate the way forward for the Igbo nation: “Ohaneze Ndigbo as it is now with intelligent people, will articulate developmental strategies that will move us forward and make life better within the context of Nigeria, in the sense that they will re-engender development as it used to be before the war where most things can be manufactured within Nigeria and perhaps in Igbo land, thereby creating enough quality jobs for the people of Igbo extraction within their domain, notwithstanding the services and activities they have in Diaspora, within and outside Nigeria.”
Chidolue is hopeful that the socioeconomic crisis in the South-East will get adequate attention this time around. According to him, lack of quality leadership is among the various causes of unemployment and other vices facing the Igbo’s: “Nwodo’s coming is timely, for want of quality leadership, our people are grossly unemployed, now unfocused and craving a common front to approach political issues in Nigeria. And also to handle administrative issues of local governance.
“So his coming is timely. I appreciate and pledge my loyalty and support to the administration.”
On the challenges of economic and social development facing the Igbo’s, he said: “Development thrives in a peaceful atmosphere, the atmosphere is not conducive now, and there are a lot of misgivings in the polity about the tribal issues, the religious issues and administrative issues. So at this point in time Igbo nation need a very focused and dynamic leadership to foster collective progress and articulate the needs of Ndigbo.
“Igbo will only bow to superior reason. Nigeria has not benefited Igbo as it should. The structure of the country has weighed down the appetite of the Igbo man to excel. An Igbo man is an enigma, with energy. Prior to 1966, the Igbo’s where in charge of administration of the country, Nigeria was far ahead of the third world countries, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia and some other countries, that have now left us behind. The late Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew came to Nigeria in 1965 and solicited for our help in terms of development. Today, all these people have left us behind. Even Dubai came to Nigeria to seek for help. Our structure is weak, even the political environment continue to make it weaker. The Igbo man has not been allowed to show what he is made of, thereby exporting our potentials to the Diaspora, where they go and excel. The super computer was developed by an Igbo man, Philip Emeagwali, which is benefiting the America people right now.”
He further expresses desire for a country founded on equality of all. According to him, “Government should be for the well being and should be concerned with all irrespective of the ethnic group. Government should focus on creating enabling environment for the people. We are one country.”
He is vehemently against government’s involvement in most critical sectors of the country and supports the privatization policy, “Government should hands off business and only handles regulations, including building of roads. Major roads should be assigned to companies. Money budgeted should be put in the banks for private businesses to borrow and develop those infrastructure. If the yearly budget is released to the private sector, the country will advance very well. Look at what is happening in the communication sector; this again was handled by another Igbo man, Ernest Ndukwe.
“NITEL then was a waste pipe, draining the purse of the government, now with privatization of that sector; there is so much economic activity happening there, millions of people are gainfully doing one business or the other in the communication sector, not to mention the billions in tax accruing to the government.
“Let us privatize the refineries; Power is bigger than communication, the power sector privatization was not properly handled. The privatization should be revisited, you cannot develop without power. The ability of the Igbo man is being whittled down by an environment that cannot provide power or roads.”
He also in support of decentralization of government: “The government should be decentralized to allow for development of the various regions, how can a centralized police structure adequately cater for the entire country? In America, you have county police, city police etc. If a state governor cannot control the police in his state, how can he guarantee the security of his people?
Turning back to privatization of some sectors, he added, “It is a shame that after 60 years of oil exploration, we cannot refine oil. If it is given to private people, they will turn the place around, save foreign exchange being used to import petroleum products. Government is killing the potentials of people. If government can remove its hands from most of these sectors, we will be importing labour, because everybody will be adequately engaged.
“The ultimate benefit is that Nigeria would have been better than Britain, China and Singapore if government will stop holding people down economically. Government should support resource control, not fighting it.”