“OKOWA IS PRUDENT, BEST HAND AT THIS CRITICAL SITUATION”
Mr Akamesike Manuel O’coney, is a popular London-based Deltan of the Anioma extraction. He is the founder and CEO of Anioma Voice Newsmagazine and Anioma Voice Facebook platform where opinions of Anioma people have been positively moulded.
In this interview with Patrick Mgbodo (Pointer Correspondent), Mr Akamesike spoke on the achievements of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration and the way forward for Delta North Senatorial District come 2019. Read on:
Can we meet you?
My name is Akamesike Manuel O’Coney, the founder and publisher, Anioma Voice News Magazine.
Can you tell us, briefly, how the business of media venture has fared?
Not bad! Anioma Voice News was not actually a business venture in the real sense of it. The concept was not for that but for some reasons now; it seems we are going towards that angle. Initially, it was just a platform I wanted to use to gather the whole Anioma people, using the social media to come together, mix, talk and exchange ideas as well as having a kind of direct link with our representatives in Government. That was the initial idea. So far so good, business has been fine but it is not yet a business venture for me.
How far have you been able to achieve your initial concept of the Anioma Voice News?
I would say it is not yet through, we are not there yet but at least it is working well because for now I know very well that there are a lot of politicians who will want to speak to me, using our media to talk to people and that was my initial thought because the whole concept started when I visited Nigeria and I realized that the problem between Anioma leaders and the people is just a question of mistrust based on the communication gap between them.
I wanted to build a bridge and a platform for both the politicians and the people to exchange ideas. Unfortunately, the politicians did not take it that way so I decided to go the other way by using it as a means for the people to speak out against the government and make them become responsive. From there, we are still going back to the form of communication between the two parties, which is what we are doing now.
From what you said, some Anioma indigenes have accused you of using the platform to antagonize them or stand against their political interests. What can you say about that?
I have not had any cause for that. I think it is mainly the people, the ‘O Yes boys’. I have not heard anybody directly telling me that, but I must also admit that at a time, I have heard somebody calling to tell me that a particular person wants me to tone down on my criticisms of the politicians from Anioma, but I have always told people that that is what I am out to do. I did not intend to hide anybody, what I do is to tell the world what most people like me know but for some reasons they do not just want to say it out. So, I am only just being obedient to say it out.
We have a sitting Governor as an Anioma indigene, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. You have stayed in Nigeria for some weeks now. How will you assess his Government?
He is not yet there, we are not there yet but I must confess that it is not also too bad. I have had the privilege of speaking with a whole lot of people within the Government and for some reasons, which is just the truth, you can only get information on what you want from those inside, every other person could be speculating.
Agreed that some may believe that those inside are not telling us the truth but except you have a superior fact, you need to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. Okowa’s Government is struggling financially, although of recent, things are beginning to improve because there is peace now in the Niger Delta.
If you look at what is coming to the state, could he have done much better?
Yes! Has he done badly? No. what I will say is that there is still room for improvement, it is not too bad. Hopefully like he told me, as the economy grows better, he will increase the pace of every other thing within the capital city and the state in general.
Considering the fact that Delta State is almost 28 years now, and to most Deltans, we are yet to achieve much. What kind of leadership will you recommend for the state now?
We need a prudent person because the economy of the country now is bad, so you need somebody who can mix all things together to get on. The most important thing is for the people to know what is right for them and what is wrong. If we continue to march towards one direction, the leadership will understand. The difference is that they believe that we are ignorant and they are capitalizing on the ignorance of the people, but when they begin to know that everybody is informed, it becomes a problem for them to keep telling us same lie over and over again.
Until we get to that point that we become good followers, we just have to keep managing what is there. There are no two ways to it because the idea might be there but if you do not know the game, they will frustrate you. That is just the truth.
Talking about Prudence, you have met Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. You have had a feel of his Government. Can you ascribe that character of prudence to him? Is he prudent?
Yes, very prudent. He is a very prudent man. I spent an hour with him and from all he said and the things he showed me, I will say that if I am not just being too ‘Aniomalistic’, I will say he is the best hand under this critical situation to have been the Governor of the state.
Some other persons may have a better idea or what they think is a better idea but seeing what they will find in this state, that could be enough to throw them off.
It is not just about people telling you that they can do this, they can do that, it is about managing what is going on in the state.
The man is going through a lot, managing the economy and managing the people too. As you know, the state has been the backbone of the party and since they lost the centre now, almost every one of them who has been fetching their meals from Abuja is back to the state.
He has to accommodate them. The state has to accommodate them because they are the politicians and citizens. It is not easy but he is doing fairly well.
Recently your organization gave an award to Delta North Senatorial aspirant, Prince Ned Nwoko. What informed such award?
We have a ritual within the group of acknowledging and appreciating people within our Senatorial district who have proffered one form of service to the state or to the country. When the issue of the Paris fund came out, the impact it made in the country, that actually pushed me into looking deeper to know what it is all about and that was when we came to realize that there is somebody who, lucky enough, came from Anioma, who initiated this idea.
For that reason I initiated a meeting with him and when I got more details of what he did, I felt that he deserves a National Award because there are quite a number of people who have not even done that much but have been honoured by the Government. I said OK, if the Government is not going to award him, let me put him in line for Aniomas to see if he deserves an award because we did not just come up to say we are giving him an award. That was how the idea of recognizing and appreciating him and giving him the award came about.
We had to look around the whole Anioma and find Anioma people who are either within or outside the Government that have in one way or the other influenced the economy and there were three of them that we chose and put them in the poll and at the end of the day, Ned Nwoko was chosen as the best and that was how we gave him the award.
Who were the other two persons?
We had the Central Bank Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, whom we chose because of his service in a way that he handled the slide of the Naira and the economy. That was what we chose him for because at a point there was stabilization of the naira.
Again, we chose Dr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum, particularly for the fact that his Ministry, within this time, has been able to revive the refineries even though they might not have been at full service now, we thought that if those who were before him had taken that step or those coming after him will go that length, we are going to get our refineries working later on. Put together, we just had to put the three of them up for voting before Aniomas.
2019 is on focus. We have some Anioma indigenes running for various positions; Governor, Senators and other positions.
If you were asked to advice the Anioma people, would you suggest continuity or do you think there is need for change?
As for Governorship, I will still maintain my position which is clear. Having listened to the players, I conducted a lot of interview and everything is just about ‘trying your luck’. Nobody is coming with a confirmed map from God that this is what is going to happen if he becomes the Governor or whatever, so I feel that for that reason alone, it is better we support the man who is there for him to continue.
On the senatorial issue, I still think that Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, as much as he is doing well enough, if I were to say for the whole Anioma people, having had a discussion with him and other interested candidates in that position, should step down. I would have suggested that Ned Nwoko should be allowed to go.
From what I shared with him, he should be given the room to see if he can bring in those ideas to play for the benefit of Anioma people.
Generally, the Anioma people rarely believe in leadership.
What advice will you give to them?
Is it that they do not believe in leadership or they do not know the difference between leadership and followership? It takes a lot to become a leader but what you find in this part of the world is that you see some people that are made leaders even by those who are supposed to be their masters just because these persons are in possession of what they are all looking for. Like we say in our adage, ‘if you hold the yam and hold the knife, you will equally be the one to decide who will get a piece of the meal’, that is what is happening.
Not like they do not believe, but they do not just really know where the knife is, when a person becomes a leader and when he is not a leader, that is the only thing.
There is nothing to advice them, we just keep informing the people. There is too much poverty in Nigeria and it is difficult to teach a hungry man, you understand.
Finally, what is the program of Anioma Voice to continually galvanize the interest of Anioma people, politically and economically?
We keep doing what we are doing; we have been doing it for six years now so we have to keep doing it. The idea is to give a good percentage of Anioma people in the social media an idea of what is happening in the area about their leaders, and then they make the choice. Like I said before, it is very difficult but we will still get there. We will get there where people will read and be informed. Now, Nigerians read but they are not informed, they read because there is something before them to read.
In spite of the education, and every other thing, during election you find out that they are all going to dump their education and their knowledge and listen to one tout who is supposed to be a servant but they have turned him to a leader because he has the money and to tell them what to do, that is the situation. Outside that, we will keep doing what we are doing. When we hear something that is not favorable to Anioma through one of us, we talk about it, we give you the opportunity to express yourself but if you do not, we put you there and then give the people the opportunity to air their view, that is how we do it.
I want to take Anioma Voice to a new level this 2018/2019, we have set a lot of things in place some of which I also discussed with the Governor and I got his express approval about that and if I get things work out fine with the people we are putting together, there are a lot of things we want to do to ensure that our people are supported in one way or the other.