•Prof. LAWRENCE CHUKU, House Of Assembly Candidate
A two-term Deputy Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Council in Rivers State, Professor Lawrence Chuku, has declared that the state governor, Nyesom Wike, with all his antics can not stop the All Progressives Congress (APC) from winning all the election in the state, come 2023.
Professor Chuka made the declaration in an interview with City People’s Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, EMEKA AMAEFULA.
He said that APC, members were ever ready, strong and well prepared to attain victory for the party in Rivers State and by extension Nigeria. The Professor of Biochemistry had earlier served under the incumbent governor of Rivers State, Wike, when he was the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Council area.
He however, challenged the action in court and was reinstated towards on the 17th April, 2007 during the administration of Sir, Dr. Peter Odili, the Executive Governor, while the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly.
In 2007, he joined the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science of the University of Port Harcourt Rivers State Nigeria.
City People Magazine, Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, Emeka Amaefula +234(0)8111813069 was at his Woji community residence in Port Harcourt where he holds sway and at home with members of his constituency.
The All Progressives’ Congress (APC) member spoke on key issues about his winning the Rivers State House of Assembly election. He also spoke on lingering legal matters affecting his party and other opposition parties in Rivers State. Excerpts.
Tell us a little bit about Prof…?
I am Professor (Honourable) Lawrence Chuku. I am the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate for Rivers State House of Assembly, Obio/Akpor Constituency 1.
Before now what have you been doing in Politics?
Well, my lifestyle has been that of community service, academics and politics. Until recently, I was teaching at the University of Port Harcourt. In politics, I began actively by serving my Ward as the PRO of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the defunct Third Republic later became the Publicity/Organizing Secretary of NRC in Obio/Akpor LGA. I have held several local positions at my Council Area. I have also served as the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Obio/Akpor LGA. I served as a member of the Presidential Visitation Panel at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State, Member- Waziri Umaru Federal Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi, Chairman of Imo North Senatorial Screening Committee of my great party, APC. Today, I am a candidate for the House of Assembly of APC in the forthcoming general elections.
Before you became a candidate of the APC in Rivers State, what has been your antecedents such as in building the party from your constituency?
I am the Deputy Leader of APC in my Local Government. I am amongst the very notable leaders of APC in Rivers State. We built the structure from scratch with H E, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to what it is today. We are the foundation of the party. Its tenets, mission and vision reverberate through us. We have weathered the storm, turbulence and we are still ever strong in Rivers State. No man, not even the Governor of Rivers State can stop us. We are ever ready, strong and prepared attain victory for the APC in Rivers State and Nigeria.
Now that a Federal High Court in the Port Harcourt Judicial Division had ordered that your Party will not be on the ballot come 2023. How are you going to take up the battle?
Already, we have appealed that judgement. It can’t stand. People who were not members of our party as at when they went to court, claiming exclusion from congresses and primaries, cannot deny us our franchise as a party and our right to be on the ballot. All evidences were there in the court, but they were ignored- we understand, after all we are in Rivers State where wonders happen. But this time round, either through proxy or direct action, they won’t succeed. We have gone to appeal and I am very hopeful that the judgement would be quashed by the appellate court and all APC candidates will be on the ballot for 2023 elections. So, I am very optimistic because what happened in 2019 where a consent judgement was given is completely different from what is happening now because APC in Rivers State and at the national level are determined more than ever to win all its elections. Nobody can use the judiciary or the commonwealth of Rivers State to stop us. If they like, let them use Rivers tax payers’ money to do father Christmas in all the states of the federation, they will fail and APC will win. I will be on the ballot, we will be on the ballot and we will win.
What do you think should be the chances of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Rivers State, come 2023 Presidential election?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will win in Rivers State. We are politicians, we are here in Nigeria, we know those who have the interest of Nigeria at heart. We know those who have the capacity to lead Nigeria. We know the antecedents of all the leading presidential candidates of the different political parties. We know their effectiveness, capacity and pedigrees and, of course, none of them can even come a bit closer to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. BAT is a nationalist of the first order, a true unifier, a builder of men, economy and infrastructure, versatile and acceptable in all the nooks and crannies of this country. These were also the qualities we saw in our leader, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, before we gave him our tacit and total support during the presidential primary. With the primary gone, our loyalty, unalloyed and total commitment is now with our presidential candidate who is the best among all the candidates. So, in Rivers State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will win the presidential election, Architect Pastor Tonye Cole will win the governorship poll and so shall it be.
I am aware of certain politics of sentiments, biases and prejudices going on, but we have to face the reality- we are talking about Nigeria that comprises 36 states and FCT. Who is that man who can garner votes in Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Borno, Zamfara and Ekiti and not just his immediate region? It can only be a Uniting Factor like B.A.T. We need a national leader, not a sectional one.
Let’s look at your opponent, the Rivers state PDP led Government since 7 and half years that they came to power in the state, how do you rate this administration?
You know, we have a government in Rivers State that is known for noisemaking. A government that doesn’t understand indices of human development. A government that thinks that by building overhead bridges across Aba road that it has satisfied the yearnings and aspirations of Rivers people. No, for a government to be rated high that government would have, at least, addressed the issues of security of lives and properties in the state. It should have invested in primary and secondary education, including Technical and Vocational Education. Then you talk about Primary Healthcare that ought to stand on five legs of greater accessibility, public participation, health promotion, scientific skills and technology and inter-sectorial cooperation. Only the Obio Health Centre managed by Shell Petroleum development Company, SPDC and Co. could be said to be functioning properly in the state. That is the reason the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital is always congested.
There are no real concerted efforts towards agriculture in the state- not to talk of mechanized farm settlements, at least, in each in the three senatorial districts in the state. Civil service and civil servants have been poorly treated. Retirees and pensioners treated as beggars. There’s no encouragement for the private sector and there’s no known plan for energy transition programmes. No human capacity development. Rivers State today is ranked very high among the states with a high rate of unemployment. So, if I am allowed to grade the government performance, I will give them 25 percent.
As you are canvassing votes for the Rivers State House of Assembly, what are your agenda?
You know a friend called me when he heard that I am running for a State Assembly seat and said: “Prof. are you not too big and overqualified for this position?”’ I told him that I do not think so, more so in a state where you have Assembly members that are seriously wanting in their duties. I reminded him that the independence of the Assembly will begin with the independence of members. I am an independent personality, full of capacity and efficiency. I am very mature and experienced. I have been tried, tested and my people trust me. I am dogged and fearless. I am not looking for any contract or kickback from any governor. So, I can stand tall to push for Healthcare, Education, Energy transition reforms. Mechanization of Agriculture in Rivers State must be taken seriously as well as Human Capacity Development and Employment generation. Budgets must be religiously followed with strict adherence to oversight functions. Technical and Vocational education have to be taken seriously. Training and retraining of teachers with zero tolerance in primary and secondary school infrastructural dilapidation. State Assemblies across the nation need people who can constructively challenge the governors. Why should State Assemblies deny themselves of their own autonomy? Quality Legislation, over sighting and proper representation come with quality education, competence, doggedness, fearlessness, resilience and very low appetite for primitive acquisition of what you call wealth. For me proper education and good health are adequate enough wealth one needs. We don’t need an assembly that is very docile or one that is only known in serving the whims and caprices of the governor. Otherwise, in Rivers State, how can you assess an assembly in 2015 that went against a Supreme Court judgement of October 25, 2007, giving recognition to someone who the Supreme Court had said in the eyes of the law, was never a governor. But after Eight (8) years of that ruling the State Assembly recognized him as governor, only for you to turn round seven years later (October, 2022), to derecognize the same man on the flimsy excuse that the facts were not available to them when the person was recognised. What an assembly? Wherein lies their character and integrity? Same legislator who moved the motion for the recognition in 2015 also moved the derocongnition motion, in 2022 just because the governor had a disagreement with the person over support for their presidential candidate. We need independent, matured and experienced people like me in the Rivers State House of Assembly, to stop the display of absolute powers that corrupts some governors absolutely. I have been impeached before, so I won’t be afraid of suspension or impeachment as I will always fight for my right.
I won’t elaborate more on what I will do as action will speak louder than words. I have confidence in Arc.
Pastor Tonye Cole. He is a complete democrat, an industrialist and a lover of his people. When he becomes the governor come 2023, together we will build a stronger Rivers State.
Now we have some of your members who per adventure have moved on to different political parties and are still claiming to be working for the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of Nigeria come 2023. So, how do you resolve this conflict?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a phenomenon. Whether you are a governor of Rivers State, or aspiring to be governor of Rivers State- no matter your political party, if you are interested in the presidency of Asiwaju, you are very much welcome. But please come on board with honesty and sincerity. For us in the APC under the able and dynamic leadership of H E, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, we are for Asiwaju, nobody can be more catholic and holier than the Pope. So, APC is Asiwaju and Asiwaju is APC. It is our intention to sweep it clean and at same time do it in Rivers State.
Give us a run-down of the schools you attended?
I attended Oro-Evo Primary School, Rumurolu, Woji
Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt. And I attended University of Port Harcourt.
What was your working life like?
I worked briefly as a Chemical Analyst Trainee with Neimith Pharmaceutical, Lagos (1998). I ran back to Port Harcourt for Local Government election.
I had earlier worked briefly in the HSE Departments of Craymond Nig. Ltd and Alcon Nig. Ltd- all in PH, Rivers State.
I also taught Chemistry and Biology at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Katsina State as a National Youth Service Corps member in 1991/92.