Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (retd. ), a former Chief of Army Staff, said he entered politics to contribute his quota as a former security chief to the country’s peace, security, and unity.
Ihejirika made the remarks during a press conference at his Ovim country home in Abia’s Isuikwuato Local Government Area.
He also cited the need for a platform “to make myself available for service both at the state and national levels” as a reason for his decision.
He claimed he did not join the All Progressives Congress “under duress” or to avoid a government investigation.
The former Army chief also addressed the country’s current state of insecurity.
“I left office at a time when Boko Haram was on the rise, and we did everything we could to stem the tide,” he explained.
He said he had taken advantage of available opportunities, such as the Ministry of Defence’s Annual COAS Conference, to offer advice on how the country’s security challenges could be overcome.
“I can say that the Armed Forces have made significant progress in combating the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
The APC-led Federal Government, according to Ihejirika, has laid a solid foundation for the country’s growth and development.
He spoke out against the fear that Nigerians will vote against the APC in 2023 as a result of the country’s numerous socio-economic problems since it took power.
It would be unfair to say, according to the former COAS, that the party has had no meaningful impact since forming the government in 2015.
Governance, he believes, is similar to a building block. After the foundation has been properly laid, it is now possible to construct on it.
“I am confident that the APC has made significant contributions to national development since assuming power.
“It is up to the next administration to build on the accomplishments of the current administration,” he said.
Ihejirika cited President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s achievements as road and railway infrastructure, as well as other development initiatives.
He also praised the federal government’s agricultural interventions, which he said were driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“However, there is room for improvement in all aspects of the country’s governance,” he said.
According to the former COAS, greater success against insecurity could be achieved if the government provided the necessary logistical support and incentives to security agencies.
He suggested that vigilance groups work with security agencies, and that citizens help by providing relevant and timely information about security breaches.
“Once these measures are in place, we can be confident that security will vastly improve,” he said.
Ihejirika went on to say that the recent wave of kidnappings in his local government’s Akara-Ovim-Uturu axis was “not a case of invasion against Isuikwuato,” also known as “the land of Generals.”
“Rather, it was a criminal attack carried out by kidnappers with the help of some locals to extort money from their victims,” he said.
Ihejrika commented on the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) agitation, saying that while peaceful agitations and protests are recognized around the world, such actions lose sympathy once they become violent.
He, on the other hand, urged the Federal Government, “as the father of all,” to approach the issue through dialogue, emphasizing the importance of achieving peace and unity in the country.
Ihejirika, who is rumored to be eyeing the governorship, has refused to confirm or deny such a bid.
“When we get to the bridge, we’ll know how to cross it,” he said.
He claimed that the Constitution does not allow for independent candidates and that it is up to political parties to choose who will be their flagbearers.
Concerning the zone that will produce the governor in 2023, Ihejirika was also noncommittal.
“The important thing is that when the parties select governorship candidates, fairness and competence should be taken into account,” he said.
“It is my hope that the country will reach a point where zoning is no longer an issue.” That’s when we know we’ve matured.
“In order for us to achieve good governance, the people of Abia must be focused.”
“Anyone who wants to be governor must be focused, visionary, and willing to spend sleepless nights tackling the state’s enormous developmental challenges.”
“The individual must be willing to make sacrifices.” Going to parties and being addressed as His Excellency isn’t just for fun.”
The APC leader hoped that the state’s leadership crisis would be resolved quickly so that the party could move forward.
The party is split into two factions, one led by Chief Donatus Nwankpa and the other by Dr Kingsley Ononogbu.