Mr. Chiwuike Uba is a governance expert, professional accountant and renowned economist.
He is also the founder of Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF); a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that has been sensitising Nigerians on asthma.
In this interview with PAUL OKAH, he bares his mind on the recent political developments in the country, the 2019 general elections, the activities of his NGO and others.
In the beginning ACUF is a child of necessity; an idea founded on the altar of pains.
The idea is to ensure that we stem the tide of increasing deaths and pains associated with asthma, allergy and other respiratory diseases.
Having lost my wife to death on July 4, 2016, from asthma crisis, I decided to have a platform to create asthma awareness; as well as provide support services to those suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases.
I had a very good foundation, because I have a good mother; who nurtured me and has continued to support me with her prayers and very wise counsel.
Having said that, it is important to acknowledge, in all sincerity and humility, that all the little successes and achievements I have made, so far, in ACUF and other ventures, were made possible by God; through my wife’s support.
If I did not have a wife like Amaka, I cannot say if I would have been able to be where I am today.
She was my pillar, truly charming and played the main role.
For all the years we were together, she was not only my wife, but also a very faithful and God-sent companion, reliable, confident, an indispensable helpmate and the pillar of my strength.
She prayed me into success.
I could be very unmanageable, but she was able to manage and love me in all my weaknesses.
I had a very peaceful home which encouraged and worked out all we were able to achieve together.
In all honesty, it has not been very easy for me since she died.
I married quite early as a young man, living in a “face, me, I face you” yard.
However, getting married to my wife provided stability and an enhanced focus, as doors opened for me.
I experienced unmerited favours and successes, because I got married as commanded by God.
Therefore, I encourage every man to love his wife, give her an opportunity and I can assure the person that he will surely flourish and prosper in all areas.
Even the Bible says that: “He who finds a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favour from the Lord.” I make bold to say that God’s word is sure.
It does not fail; it has never failed and would never fail.
ACUF not just about asthma The primary reason for the establishment of ACUF is to, first, create asthma awareness and secondly, provide support services to the family and those suffering from asthma.
This is carried out through research, education and training, policy analysis, dialogues and advocacy, networking and partnerships.
Nevertheless, ACUF, as part of its establishment objects, is involved in other programmes and activities outside asthma.
The Foundation’s programmes and activities are carried out under three Centres of Excellence, namely: the Centre for Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Conditions, the Centre for Leadership and Global Education and finally, the Centre for Youth, Innovation, and Sustainable Development.
You are already aware, as reported in the media, that ACUF organises a monthly Youth Development and Leadership Workshop Series.
So, in a nutshell, ACUF is much more than just asthma programmes.
Emotional intelligence workshop The Emotional Intelligence (EI) workshop held on Thursday, August 30, this year, in Enugu, was part of the Youth Development and Leadership Workshop Series (YouDaL) of ACUF, under the Foundation’s Centre for Leadership and Global Education.
There is no better time for the EI workshop than now.
This is because of the increasing poverty in Nigeria and its attendant negative effects on people’s relationship with one another.
The workshop enables people to be selfaware and also develop the relevant social skills for relationship management.
This will ultimately promote peace in families, workplaces, between and among tribes, religions and cultures.
The workshop was a success, especially with the attendance of two University professors, who served as inspiration for the young participants to work harder; in order to attain any position they may aspire in life.
In fact, people are still talking about the workshop and are looking forward to other trainings that will be held in the future.
Sensitising Nigerians politically ACUF is also very much involved in political sensitisation, to ensure good governance in the country.
Our involvement is aligned with our mission, which is to improve the quality of life of people and envision a society with better breathing, better living, and happier, united and prosperous people.
Recently, ACUF, in collaboration with Hope and You Foundation, organised a Dream Again Conference, and part of the issues discussed in that Conference is about youth’s active participation in political processes.
It is also very important to note that poor governance breeds poverty and decreased standard of living; hence, the need for our involvement.
It is disheartening to read the recent report released by Brookings Institution stating that about 42.3% of Nigeria’s population is living in extreme poverty, thereby making Nigeria the poorest country in the world.
This is also in addition to being the most polluted country in the world, in terms of environmental pollution.
Nigeria’s leadership woes While I agree with the popular belief that our politicians have failed us, we all have failed ourselves and the unborn generations.
Make no mistake about this.
People get the kind of politicians and governance they deserve.
Democracy, as we all know it, is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Whatever that is happening in our political and governance space is a function of the kind of governance and government the people want.
First, if we, as Nigerians, truly desire a change, we have the population and power to elect the kind of persons that would bring the kind of positive change we need.
However, due to our selfish desires and the quest for the NOW syndrome, we sell our birthright to the highest bidder.
If Nigerians truly want a change, they will get a change; but, for now, we are only pretending and crying wolf.
Citizens united will give us the change we need.
Buhari’s performance indices A quick assessment of President Buhari-led administration in the last three years indicates mixed performances.
My assessment is actually based on his campaign promises.
It will be inappropriate to assess the government’s performance on things it never promised to do.
The government promised to improve the security of lives and properties, restore Nigeria’s battered image through a fight against corruption and finally, reinvigorate and diversify the Nigerian economy.
As a country, in the first year of his administration, we witnessed improved security in the North east and other northern parts of the country.
However, the dreaded Boko Haram, which we were informed was technically defeated, going by the reduction in the frequency of bomb attacks and abductions in those areas, reinforced and recommenced abductions afterwards.
In addition, it is evident that security in Nigeria worsened in the last three years.
The rampant killings and “sacking” of communities by the alleged Fulani herdsmen has heightened the tension in the country.
People and communities now live in perpetual fear.
People’s fears are made worse going by their perception of government’s inaction to deal with the menace.
We have also recorded many kidnappings and armed robberies all over the country within the last three years.
The unresolved killing of the members of IPOB and Shi’ites by the security personnel is also contributing to heightened insecurity in Nigeria.
President Buhari’s administration has so far provided the needed leadership to fight corruption.
Nigeria is gradually regaining her respect among the comity of nations.
To deepen the fight against corruption, it should be seen to be boundless.
Currently, most of the persons undergoing prosecution are from the opposition and it is casting doubt on the sincerity of the government.
Judgments from the courts must be respected by the government (executive), to avoid anarchy and to show that government does believe and adhere to the ‘rule of law.’ Nigerians should be allowed to air their views on national issues without the fear of being molested and or intimidated by the government’s security apparatus.
Whereas the government prides itself with the recovery of looted resources, there is need for more transparency and accountability.
Nigerians should be in the know of how much has been recovered, from whom and from which country (ies), and how the recovered funds are spent One area the government has not delivered is general economy.
There is a declining standard of living and life expectancy, increase in poverty level, non-competitive business environment and fiscal rascality (most especially at the sub-national level).
Our debt is on auto increase, pilling up debts for the unborn generation; without commensurate increase in productivity.
Personally, I am pained to note that, whereas the government promised to reduce the cost of governance, the reality on ground is different.
It is important for the government to understand that we need our best ‘hands’ to salvage the ‘drowning’ economy.
Party affiliations, ethnicity and voting patterns during the elections should not continue to be basis of making appointments.
In a lighter mood, when one fails a class, the natural thing to do will be to repeat the class.
If the above holds,then, it would be appropriate to state that President Buhari deserves a second shot at the presidency.
However, if the above theory is not applicable in this case, then, the obvious should happen.
Performance of APC-led government Painfully, the All Progressive Congress (APC), as a political party, has failed.
Members of the party have disappointed Nigerians, because they neither implemented their manifestos nor fulfilled their campaign promises.
Therefore, there is no evidence to show that the alleged “ills of PDP 16-years misrule” are being corrected.
Instead, what Nigerians have experienced is a declining standard of living; using all available statistics.
APC cried foul against fuel subsidy and promised to remove that as soon as they come into power.
As a strategy, the pump price was increased, yet government still pays out billions of naira as subsidy.
Nigerians witnessed depreciation of the Naira, declining energy generation and supply, increasing debt profile and deficit financing, widening youth unemployment with its attendant security implications, non-adherence to the rule of law among others, under the APC government.
Who knows, they are planning to correct whatever misrule they observed in the next four years, if and only if they win the next general elections.
In all honesty, APC has not lived to Nigerians’ expectations.
If they have, Nigerians won’t be calling for the change of the Change.
Presidential aspirants Nigerians should give somebody who has democratic credentials a chance to become the country’s president.
One who understands that Nigeria’s strength lies in our diversity and as such, allows Nigerians to exist under such an arrangement? The new president should be somebody who has been tested and has the ability to manage resources efficiently and effectively.
Somebody that is dynamic, young, healthy and focused.
A president that is open to new ideas, innovation and restructuring.
It must be a president who has vision and is able to communicate, transfer and have the people share in that vision; a president that has the capacity to remove the ‘we’ and ‘them’ divide; a president who is able to ensure security of lives and property; irrespective of who and what is involved.
A president that is able to take responsibility for every one of his actions.
That is the kind of President Nigerians need now: someone to unite Nigerians again.
Alleged marginalisation of South-east As I earlier stated, Nigeria does not need a sectional leader as a President.
In all honesty, part of the problems Nigerians and Nigeria is going through at the moment is because we have had leaders who see (saw) themselves as leaders of the North/South, Christians/Muslims; instead of the President of Nigeria.
With that mindset, some areas become totally marginalised: both in appointments and developments.
Projects are not being sited and implemented on the basis of costbenefit-analysis and economic viability, but only on the basis that “it must be for my people.” It is evident that, in doing so, Nigeria is deprived of the revenue that would have accrued to the government.
If only the federal government knows the quantum of wastage and lost revenue the continued marginalisation of the Southeast is causing the nation, the government would urgently repair all the roads in the South-east.
The proposed publishing of the list of over 60 federal government projects in South-east by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is not the solution.
The question should be: how many of the referenced projects have been implemented? Remember, “I get am before no be property.” It is incontrovertible that the South-east is marginalised in Nigeria.
Having said that, it is important for me to also state that the governors of the South-east are also marginalising their people.
What have they been able to achieve individually and collectively in the last 19 years, despite the huge resources accruing to the states? While we shout for marginalisation from the federal government, we also need to tell ourselves the home truth: most state governments in the South-east are performing below average.
As I noted earlier, Nigerians have the kind of government and governance they deserve.
Any day we truly desire a change, we will surely get the government and governance that we need.
ACUF’s expectations ACUF is poised to be a leading institution on asthma, allergy and respiratory conditions management in Nigeria; through evidence-based research, education and training, policy analysis and dialogue.
In 2018, we have a programme to establish- subject to availability of fundingat least twelve asthma crisis management centres: two in each geo-political zones of the country.
Nigerians should expect to see an organisation working to achieve its mission and vision.
Remember that ACUF envisions a society with better breathing, better living, and a happier, united and prosperous people.
We have a mission to improve the quality of life of people; especially, those with asthma, allergy and other respiratory diseases through research, education and training, networking and advocacy