Chief Stanford Onyirimba, a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); one time Majority Leader, Imo State House of Assembly; a global player in the business world and now one of the aspirants to the post of the Chairman of the Imo State Chapter of the PDP, spoke with EVEREST EZIHE in Owerri on the PDP, APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Rochas Okorocha and the state of the nation. Excerpts:
Despite being a multi-mil­lionaire businessman what mo­tivated you into politics?
About 1999, probably due to my philanthropy and pa­triotism, my people in Ehime Mbano persuaded me into serv­ing them as the chairman of the council but due to my passion for quality and effective repre­sentations, I opted to run for the State House of Assembly which I won and till date my constituents uses me as a case study for qual­ity and effective representation. I revolutionized the state constitu­ency by attracting infrastructural developments. I really gave them my best and Imolites were proud of me; people looked up to me in the House on any critical issue.
How do you access the present House of Assembly with what happened during your days?
Honestly, I shed tears because today’s House of Assembly is a rubber stamp of the state gov­ernment. I feel so depressed seeing the robust House I was once part of, snowballing into a quasi-executive arm of the gov­ernment. In those days, we were highly respected by other arms of the government.
Besides, other Houses of As­semblies use to come to Imo state House of Assembly to learn what they considered as people-oriented legislative business. As the Floor Manager between 1999 – 2005 we where the best in the East of Niger. The House today is a shadow of itself in terms of quality representation and obligation to the populace. I am truly ashamed because they have lost focus. They have been pocketed by the executive arm of the government at the detri­ment of the masses.
As a chieftain of PDP, are you not worried with the legion of crisis your party has been neck deep into, both at the state and national levels?
Honestly, what we have now in terms of the tenets of PDP is quite distinct from what the party used to be between 1999 – 2007. There was no impunity; there was respect for internal de­mocracy. Then, what we have is a political party in which power belonged to the people. But to­day, what we have is ‘PDP!: pow­er - the power no longer belongs to the people. The power now belongs to the self-acclaimed political leaders, chieftains and money bags. This is the bane of PDP.
The Gospel truth is that the power has been removed from the people both at the state and at the national level. I am happy that the party is now being re­positioned, being re-engineered and being re-invigorated. The party has realized its mistakes and they are trying to bring the party back to the people who are the real owners and not to politi­cal money bags. Respect for in­ternal democracy and returning the party to the original owners that is the only way forward. The party was overwhelmed by her victory for 16 years and they mis­managed and abused the success, privilege and honour through im­punity.
It is an historical fact that All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and every other party making waves in Nigeria today, are all offshoot of the PDP. Once bitten twice shy, the party is un­dergoing transformation. Infact, the shortcomings of the present APC government should be a strength for PDP to be commit­ted in people-oriented policies and programmes.

Boy with Biafra Flag confronts Okorocha in Chattam house london
It is been discussed in certain political circle that you are eye­ing the Imo State Chairmanship of PDP in the forth-coming con­gress. How true is this?
Well, I am a committed party man. I have made enough sac­rifices for the upliftment of PDP both in Imo State and the na­tion at large. As it pleases God, the position is zoned to Okigwe Senatorial Zone. In Okigwe poli­tics, I am a principle stakeholder. I have the experiences; I have the pedigree to re-invent the party. Though there are pressures from certain quarters, but I am still consulting.
However, if by providence I am elected the state chairman of PDP, my first task would be the enthronement of internal democ­racy, ensuring discipline among members and strict adherence to the democratic ethos and prin­ciples.
The party needs a courageous man to salvage it from the vitri­olics of Governor Rochas Okoro­cha. The task is enormous but it is a responsibility I will love to em­barked upon as a strategic mea­sure and sacrifice to salvage hu­manity and the party. PDP needs overhauling and as a foundation member, I have the midas-touch to transform and rebuild the po­litical party.
If you have the privileged of meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, what fundamental is­sues are you most likely to discuss with him?
I will commend him for his war against corruption. I will ask him to make it a holistic affair rather than the perceived lopsided ap­proach. I will be courageous enough to tell him that most of his policies are anti-masses. He must do something to salvage the economy. Nigerians are suffering. His dividends of democracy to fellow Nigerians are illusionary.
It is time he addressed the petroleum sector properly. Ni­gerians wants positive transfor­mation in the power sector. The change Nigerians voted for is not what they are getting. The edu­cational sector is comatose and needs revival. The health sector is an apology and deserves military-like attention. Nigerian youths are roaming the streets; unem­ployment rate is frightening, gov­ernment should create enabling environment for improvement in socio-economic activities.
The President should stop jun­keting; the time to think out of the box is now. Yes, we are win­ning the war against the Boko Haram Islamic sect but, the over 200 innocent Chibok Second­ary School Girls abducted by the sect about two years now seem to have been forgotten. We voted for positive changes and we deserve nothing less.
You are also an elder states­man in Imo State can you give a candid analysis of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Rescue Mis­sion Administration for the past five years?
Sincerely speaking, Governor Okorocha re-defined gover­nance in terms of infrastructural development, nobody can take that away from him. But his administration lacks tact. The qualities of his works are poor and lack proper co-ordination.
He has no respect for political leaders. I am aggrieved with his free education policy because the educational rating of the state has nosedived into a piti­able situation. The civil servants are complaining of delay in pay­ment of their salaries as well as pay cuts. Pensioners are ag­grieved over backlog of unpaid pension. The State economy is in shambles. People are suffer­ing and crying.
The government concession policy is anti-masses. You can­not run an efficient and effective administration without due pro­cess. The administration lacks vision and purposeful gover­nance. The state is being run like a private enterprise. It is not yet uhuru, we deserve God’s mercy and intervention.
What message do you have for members of PDP, Imolites and Nigerians at Large?
For members of PDP, it is important to remind them that no political party thrives with­out discipline. This is the dawn of a new era and things must be done right. Respect for in­ternal democracy and zoning arrangement are the keys for rebuilding the party. PDP has optimal chances to regain pow­er in 2019, but they must put their house in order; they must shun bickering, wrangling, rift and rancor. They must be pa­triotic enough to accept their mistakes and their willingness to make sacrifices in the overall interest of the party.
For the Imolites, if there is no pains there will be no gains. We can now make comparative analysis and say which one is better. With a visionary leader, the state will regain its lost glory.
Nigerians are too docile, they should compel the President to work in tandem with their high expectations. Yes, there is global economic glut but the govern­ment and the masses must be on the same page in terms of diver­sification. We must look inwards to salvage the economy.


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