Barr. Kingsley Wenenda Wali is an APC top shot. He is also an astute mobiliser in Ikwerre area in Rivers State. He is known for his eloquence and assertiveness. He states positions and expresses reservations whenever and wherever he so deems, and he is fearless.
He is a blunt and highly intelligent fellow who cannot be caught unaware when being interviewed.
City People’s Port Harcourt Business Development Manager, BUNMI DUROJAIYE, spoke with him on the state of his party in the state. The insecurity in the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic among many other issues. Read excerpts.
Good morning the godfather
Good morning sister. What’s up?
The insecurity in the nation and the killing of security officers in Rivers and Imo States is becoming unbearable, who will protect us? What is your take on it and the way forward?
Yes, quite frankly, l think we have insecurity challenges, no doubt, about that, just as we have in other countries of the world. There is hardly any day that you don’t hear about people getting into a shopping mall or one school and killing people in large numbers in the United States (US), knife offences in the UK and other places.
But, you see. Society is alert to its responsibilities and everybody knows it is a problem facing the entire community. There is the will to jointly make an effort at resolving the issue, but the only problem I have with us here is that we always want to shift the blame to the other person.
We create situations that will lead to insecurity and then we begin to scream blue murder after the consequences of our actions manifest, but my worry is that it looks orchestrated to cause problems. But can we be that wicked to the extent of becoming the proverbial person who cuts the nose to spite the face in that type of situation?
This whole thing started shortly before the last elections when we had the Fulani herdsmen versus farmers and it happened in an area that l consider a buffer between North and South, which is the Christian Middle Belt area. The Fulani herdsmen in quote, were in a race to destroy Christians in the Middle Belt and we acted as if whatever problems Fulani herdsmen had with the farmers was novel that it was new as if it has not been there with us.
To me, it was an exaggeration of the happenings in the Middle Belt. I may be wrong.
Now, elections came and APC retains power especially in the Middle Belt. They lost one or two states and the Fulani herdsmen went down and we now have banditry, and the banditry began in the North West. I’m asking myself why is it that the problems have a geographical connotation in Nigeria?
The Fulani herdsmen and Farmers were in the Middle Belt, the herdsmen are in the North-West, then every robbery and kidnapping in the North-West were blamed on Fulani herdsmen and I’m asking myself, what happened to the criminals who are from Yoruba region? Are we now saying Fulani herdsmen have driven away all the criminal elements in the West and took over the enterprise?
And suddenly, criminality is now taking the garb of a region and a religion.
In summary, yes we have security challenges, is it just happening because of the inadequacy in the system? Or they are orchestrated, don’t forget that wrongly or rightly, many people felt Jonathan lost the elections because of the insecurity situation in the North-East. When Boko Haram was close to shutting down communities near Abuja or somebody felt that insecurity helped APC into office, insecurity might also be used to chase APC out of office.
I’m just thinking while you are here now and not that l have facts to that fact. I am just worried, not to rule out the fact that many things are happening in the society that will encourage criminality, for example the high rate of unemployment. They say an idle mind is the playground of the devil. Those who went to schools have no jobs, even those who didn’t go to school, but want menial jobs couldn’t find one. Technical hands and all of that.
The mechanic can’t get customers because people cannot afford to buy cars and build houses that could keep people busy. So you have an army of people who are ready for the devil. What is the government doing about this? We should stop seeing government from the federal level. What is the state government doing?
Not too long ago, Ekiti State Government went into partnership with foreign investors to start farming with imported cows. If Ekiti State could do that, what is stopping other states from emulating what is productive and could engage the people? Do you know how many people would be employed with what the Ekiti State government is trying to establish? Can’t they stop this idea of going to Abuja every month to go and collect tithes? Those are the area the government should look into.
Yes, if the federal government is not doing all it is supposed to be doing, l wouldn’t know because l am not a member of the federal executive council, but what will draw my conclusion is what l see from outside. What l see, to me, seems that people are not taking responsibilities and more importantly, everyone wants to take a portion of the pie and where no one is taking responsibility, there will be chaos. People should not be left to guessing on the issue of: “who is in charge of this country?”
We should know who is in charge of this country. Yes, l know that our President has challenges. Some conflicts which he has to manage because he is trying to walk a path, which is a bit difficult. He doesn’t want to be seen as a dictator, but he has to come out and bite at times. A strong president sends a strong message to the people. We are now in a society of anything goes. You talked about the hunter now being hunted. Many strange things are now happening. I’m sorry if l sound a bit insensitive, but l don’t intend to be.
If you don’t place a premium on your life, it is not my responsibility to do that. I’m a bit worried about the premium we placed on the lives of our security personnel especially, the Police. What kind of value do they place on their own lives? Those who were largely killed were killed because they were not at alert! If you go outside this country and you have seen where police mount barricade, you can’t even go there to ask for directions unless you see a regular policeman walking, but not Nigerian cops mounting a sentry. They order you to go back, but here you get to a checkpoint with 8 policemen. 6 of them are just sitting down, playing draft, eating or maybe 2 standing and checking particulars of motorists and 1 standing with a baton. If a criminal minded person shows up in that circumstances, the cops would be caught unaware.
If they are alert, the level of damage will be minimal, even the criminals too don’t want to die. Why they succeed is because the cops they are going to meet are not always at alert. I pray the police would start placing a premium on their lives by paying less attention to taxi-cab drivers and their particulars. If there is a report of a missing 504 Peugeot car, they should be stopping only 504 salon and not every car that passes and asking for their particulars or searching for something that would force the drivers to part with something out of frustration. That is not their primary duty. Nobody has a right to stop me on the highway to ask for my particulars unless I’m driving in a kind of car that has been declared missing or I’m driving in a suspicious way. I have seen policeman giving balance when they negotiated with a driver who says he doesn’t have small denomination currency.
What kind of country is that? Why won’t we be insecure when those who supposed to protect us don’t want to protect themselves? Take, for instance, Rivers State where the governor, in his own judgment, declared a curfew because of the killings. What do you now see, the police now imposed a curfew on themselves, blocked every road leading to a police station, getting into that station and locking up.
Total anarchy in the system, I’m sure the governor must have heard of the cries of Rivers people even if policemen cannot come out and protect us, let them free the roads. They have no right to shut down our roads. That shows you the level of irresponsibility on the part of some of our security officers. I was passing through the G.R.A and l saw the Civil Defence Officers controlling traffic that is what you expect being on alert and protecting their office. Policemen went into their stations and locked themselves up and left us to our fate.
Someone joked the other day that it was even better you could drive without anyone harassing you. The government has to wake up to its responsibilities to enable an environment where people can get jobs and reduce number of idle hands that could easily be converted to criminals.
Does APC have a structure in Rivers State for 2023 and as a chieftain of APC can APC win in 2023?
I am a member of APC, why do people always say a chieftain? First and foremost, politics is dynamic. Today the PDP is in power and enjoying all the benefits of incumbency, so it is expected that they are going to dominate the space. Fortunately for us as a party, the PDP has not done much that they can hold on to power. To campaign, what you would see is a party trying to profile the other party. In terms of performance and service delivery, PDP has nothing to show to Rivers people.
What is left now is for the APC to put themselves together and try to have a political party that could win an election by creating a political machine that can win elections, that is not going to be a walk in the park but it’s not impossible either. All we need to do is to be able to accept the facts that a political party is not a cult society where every member is a Zombie.
The party is a gathering of people with different tendencies and different interests. What makes party ‘A’ different from party ‘B’ is how the leadership is able to marry the interests members to provide a canopy, an umbrella, a roof for everybody, giving everybody opportunity to ventilate his/her interest, but guiding them to understand that what is supreme is the interest that benefits the people. Nobody gets into politics for the heck of it. People get into politics to be able to acquire the power to render service. So, if that is a reason, you must do everything reasonable to ensure you get into power because if you don’t acquire power you cannot render services, so a political party is not a social club where people sit down and merry, drink and eat.
The word party doesn’t mean you sit down and groove, it is an organisation where you work very hard in a strategical way to have access to power to be able to get things done the way you feel is best for the society. Therefore, the challenge for APC is to be able to accept the fact that people have various reasons for being in politics and not demonise anybody for not agreeing with you.
We should agree to disagree with the disagreeable, which has always been the challenge, so to think that anybody who does not agree with you cannot work with you at the party level, simply means you don’t know what a political party means in the first place. In Rivers State, some people think it is an offence to have a faction. There is no political party that does not have a faction and why some hit the streets is because maybe the leadership was unable to manage internal crises. For God’s sake, we accept that if democracy must thrive, we must have a vibrant opposition to check those in power, so what do we have against internal opposition?
You can’t love opposition outside and hate opposition inside. What you need to do is to outsmart the opposition by performing better. You see, people are so lazy as to interpret opposition as disloyalty. For me, l look at the party and my principal responsibility is to be loyal to the ideals of the party. Those who represent those ideals and that is what we don’t do in APC. The PDP is in a worse mess than APC. The only thing keeping them going is that the person who is in power is dispensing favours to people. The leader of APC in Rivers State is Rotimi Amaechi which is not in doubt, but he doesn’t have the capacity to dispense the kind of favours the leader of PDP in Rivers State share to its members.
The leader of PDP in Rivers State is the governor and for God’s sake, he could dispense favours, Rotimi is just somebody’s aide. Wike on his own side, is in charge. He decides where he should do road. He decides whether he turns your house into a roundabout, but Rotimi has to go to the executive council to get an approval of the president before he does anything. So, his powers of cohesion are limited. I think he is doing wonderfully well. We, as a party, must try our best to institutionalise our strategic emblems and make it a part of party organisation, where people are recognised and rewarded for what they can do and not how much gossip they can trade.
In summary, the APC has a bright chance, whether you like it or not. In politics globally, you have leaders in APC Rivers State, come rain and come shine that you can never have in the PDP.
There are some floating sams in between. The business people, the political entrepreneurs, looking for where the grass is greener and just jump over, then there is an army of undecided voters, who actually, make the difference. For example in Rivers State, I think the indigenous votes are fewer. Let me deal with 2 metropolia, OBIAPKOR and PHLGA.
The Rivers people in OBIAKOR and PHLGA cannot decide who wins, do you understand? You need to do things that will appeal to those undecided voters and that’s where APC will need to work harder, what to do to attract the undecided voters or voters who don’t have any traditional obligations to any party.
A Yoruba man who is in Obiakpor doesn’t care about Ikwerre candidate or Ogoni candidate. His concern is having what he came to Port Harcourt to do. How much is the present government affecting his/her life negatively or positively? That is what will form his decision when he comes in contact with the ballot paper. It is the same thing with the Igbo and Hausa/Fulani, the stranger elements in quote.
APC needs to organise itself and accept the fact that people are bound to disagree. Being in opposition, and being weakened, not having enough resources the way PDP does and now invest in human beings who could make things happen for them. Whether you like it or not, people do not like the PDP government, but you must give them a reason they have to abandon PDP.
Recently there were 5 top PDP members who defected to APC.
I don’t know what you mean by top PDP members…
Commissioners and stakeholders such as Dr Reason Onya and 4 others. He was sacked, I am sorry if l talk like this, but that is me.
But they have moved to APC.
Did they resign from Governor Wike’s cabinet?
What happens to them now?
They are APC members, they will add value one way or the other, what l don’t like is thinking that would make a lot of difference. What will make a lot of difference is an organization, not people jumping from one party to the other?
What is the guarantee that the people who jumped, would not jump out before the elections? l don’t take people who hop around serious. For example, one of the people is a staunch PDP member who wanted an appointment from APC and didn’t get it, what stops him from going back?
One of the officials of NDDC came to APC and was celebrated. He is gone back to PDP apparently he didn’t get what he wanted. I don’t take those decampees seriously, I am sorry, but that’s me. That’s who I am, I am not going to celebrate politically lazy people. I am not saying APC should not welcome those who want to defect, but we should not place too much premium on them. Let’s place a premium on the nation and recognise the dynamics and capabilities of those inside the party, not these journeymen.
What is your take on the third wave of COVID-19 and the vaccination?
One, I am not a Medical Doctor, I never thought about it because I am horrible with Mathematic, Physics and Chemistry, so l don’t know what influences medical decisions, but one thing I can say for certain is that God in His infinity wisdom understands us more than we understand ourselves.
I realise that if He does not find a way to defend His people as far as COVID-19 is concerned. We may wake up one morning and there will be no Nigerian alive because of the way we live. The closest to us is India in terms of numbers, so I’m surprised India is now hard hit.
It should be a lesson and we shouldn’t take things for granted and believe that it can’t happen to us. We are quick to always question certain things. There are people who believe that there is nothing like COVID. There are people who believe there is COVID, but sees it as a whiteman’s sickness. How do we treat these legions of people who don’t want to believe?
We were all praying for the vaccine, the vaccines have come and the health managers are literally begging Nigerians to come and take the vaccines. People are coming up with all sorts of conspiracy theories. I have done mine and can’t wait for the 19th of June to take my full dose, so that I can work around wherever l want to go.
Nigerians always say something will kill a man. It is that attitude that I am worried about. Is the government doing enough about public awareness? I am not too sure.
You know how our communities work, go to a community, go to the Baale, take him into the project, and make him understand this has to be done. Trust me in 48 hours the community will be vaccinated in his domain, not yet talking at the level of the Obas.
As for the Obis, though some don’t attach importance to such hierarchy, but some do. They should involve the traditional rulers. Everybody in the US has been vaccinated, but not everybody in Europe, but the day the government says without your vaccination card no school, no salary, everyone will. l think that is what the government has to do. If you are a civil servant, if you don’t show your card, there is no salary, it might not work because they are not being paid regularly. Maybe schools will help when you are asked to show your parents’ immunization cards.
Government should be proactive and not wait for the 3rd wave. What they do to urge us to go and register to vote, they should do same for Covid-19 immunisation. Let people show their immunisation cards at all levels to access all government facilities that is my take.
Congratulations on your appointment into the Board. Are you comfortable with that or are you still contesting in 2023?
Thank you, I am not contesting and I am not comfortable, but l have accepted it because it is for service, nobody will be harassing me for money. Everybody knows I can’t be a council member and be making money. I am at peace with that. It’s a clear case of service. I have already accepted it and thank God for Rotimi Amaechi for giving me the opportunity to serve my country at that level.
People should stop disturbing me to run for election, they should save their money, or they should bring the money let’s chop it. They won’t need to waste it because am not interested.
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Why I Usually Don’t Take Defectors Serious – APC Strongman, Barr. KINGSLEY WENENDA WALI was last modified: June 8th, 2021 by
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