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Alex Mbata is the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the Imo State University. He believes that the greatest challenge facing Nigeria is the dearth of \ focused leadership and cautions that it is time for people to ask questions on the caliber of people who aspire to lead them. In this interview, he spoke on various issues including his lack of sympathy for the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB).

Alex Mbata is the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the Imo State University. He believes that the greatest challenge facing Nigeria is the dearth of \ focused leadership and cautions that it is time for people to ask questions on the caliber of people who aspire to lead them. In this interview, he spoke on various issues including his lack of sympathy for the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB).

Currently, Nigeria is passing through a very trying time. The economy is bad. There are discordant tunes coming from all parts of the country. Looking at all these, what comes to your mind?
Personally, I have hope in this country. I have hope in the nation called Nigeria but our leaders need to be focused. They need to realize that we have only one country called Nigeria and we need to make the country better. If you look at what is happening, you would be worried. The, youths are graduating everyday and there are no jobs for them and no hope for them. We need to build this nation. But I still have hope that one day, God would have mercy on this nation and give us a leader that is focused and one that would realize what it takes to build a nation. Nigeria I believe would get it right one day but when, I do not know.
In other societies, people consciously work toward getting the kind of leader they want unlike the case of Nigeria where all manner of people get into leadership positions. What is wrong with us?
Sometimes I go to my Bible and it tells me that a man cannot build a house without knowing the cost of the house. A nation like Nigeria lacks focused leadership and: the people also lack focus. It has affected every sector of the society but we should not lose hope; we have got to a point where we should begin to ask questions. How come you are a councilor, local government chairman and even a primary school teacher and you are driving a Prado jeep? If I am in a position to decide what happens in Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be established in all the states of this nation. For instance, the system should be such that if you are invited to be a commissioner, you should be given a form by the EFCC.
They should serve these forms to all the public officers arid before you are appointed or elected, you have to fill the form. We must know what you have before you assume that position of leadership or public office. This is a country where somebody who initially had no known means of livelihood, after being a minister, suddenly becomes a billionaire and after going to the National Assembly, he becomes a rich man.
My concern is that nobody asks questions in this country and this is why the country is not moving forward. Everybody is saying that he is tired of the country but is that what would solve the problem? We need people to begin to ask questions. There are so many questions that should be asked. How come that after being a commissioner or Local Government chairman, you are a billionaire? We know you and how come you just finished being a House of Representatives member and you are a billionaire and so on. That is why people are doing a lot of things to win elections. We should reduce and narrow this aspect in the society, where you are going to the parliament for the purpose of law, you are not going there to loot and share the budget of the nation.
You want to be governor because you are prepared for it and you know that there are laws you must obey to be in that position. We have all travelled. We see governors of states in the United States. Go and Google Mcain and look at the last man, Ben
Sanders that man is only worth $450,000 and you know how many years he has been in the Senate. After spending over two decades in the Senate, he is just worth about $450,000. Can we say that of any Nigerian Senator or governor? We should see Nigeria as an institution and we have to build it. You break the law and you face the music. People are killing themselves to get to the National Assembly. They believe they have constituency projects to oversee. They have for instance N2biDion for their constituency projects and they appoint contractors and manage the funds. For that reason alone, everybody wants to be there. Is that how a country grows.
I have said it to anybody that I love President Muhammadu Buhari because I do not see him as a man that is greedy. I have not seen any house that you can point at that belongs to Buhari. But other leaders, you can point at properties and even universities that belong to them. You cannot point at even a primary school that Buhari built as his private business. He has been a Head of State before and even a minister of Petroleum. We need to join hands to better this nation. I am bothered over the future of our children.
But in your analysis of the situation, how in your view do we get the right leader?   
Do not ask me that question because we all know the fake leaders and we also know the right ones. The problem is that people are poof and the so-called leaders now use the same money they looted from^ the people to buy our conscience. We keep recycling the same people from governors to the Senate to the Ministers and it keeps going on. Even if you want to be hi power for ever, tell us what you have achieved. Nobody comes with such a record and tell you that while I was a minister, Senate President, governor and so on that I achieved this for my people. We just hear what they would do; nobody has come to tell you what they have done. What they are going to do would never come to pass. And because of the poverty in the land, people just join their bandwagon and worship and praise them. We do not need those kind of leaders anymore; the people are suffering.
Today, we have got to a point in Nigeria where so many people no longer believe in the country. That feeling of patriotism seems to have gone among the larger percentage of the people. How do we bring that feeling back?
To get it back is to have a focused leadership. People use the agitation and songs of disintegration as a solution to their problems. Some people are now using it as a political weapon; because I am hungry, I can say anything. They say a hungry man is an angry man. If things are being done well, you would not have all these agitations. When you travel to Paris, nobody knows what part of Paris you are from. If things are done well here, you would not know who is an Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo man in this country. We are beginning to know where we come from because we know that we are not getting what we are supposed to get. Even as blacks, we can still separate ourselves because things are not being done right. People are talking about true federalism and I also agree with that system. People should be allowed to develop themselves. But the problem is that in Nigeria, everything no matter how laudable is used as a political weapon. We did not hear all these in 2015. We hear it only when the election is close and the oppositions feel that they are being marginalized. Nigerians can still sit down and agree on what they want I am of the opinion that we should remove state of origin from our passport Let us use only Nigeria as our identity. If we can do that, the country would be fantastic.
What is your take on the perception that a particular section of the country does not want restructuring because they are benefitting from the present structure?
Look at New York. Trump is from New York. Clinton is from New York But the issue here is that it is not where you come from that matter when things are working well. If you look at that, you would see that Americans are not bothered about where you come from. All they want is the right leadership. I am not interested in where anybody comes from provided such a person has the capacity to lead us. What we have here are greedy politicians. The poor is not even saying give me your money to share with you, they are simply saying give me the basic amenities, I believe that one day, God would give us a focused leader who can see tomorrow and plan for it A farmer that fails to plant cannot harvest. If Nigeria refuses to plant, they would not be able to harvest. Nigeria should learn to build infrastructure, Industries and embrace technology and that is the way Nigeria can move forward. If the country continues to dwell on the oil resources, we are doomed.
So many countries have started to project that by 2030, they would be going on electric cars. Ask yourself what would happen to our oil if by
2040, all the countries go on electric cars. By then, a barrel of oil would be $5. This country should begin to think and be proactive. If you do not have a journey, you cannot make a journey. Nigeria should create a journey. They can develop a template on how to move Nigeria forward. Let the template be there for succeeding leaders to adopt .They can add but should not remove anything. Let it be part of the constitution. But if we continue to recycle these policies, we cannot move forward. Every government would come and promise us light and you would not see light. Another election is coming again and they would promise you power and at the end, die situation would be the same.
You are from Imo and you are a major stakeholder there, what is your honest assessment of Governor Rochas Okorocha's administration?
He has done well. I am the pro-chancellor of the Imo State University and that is the only state governor that has given free education in all levels in the state. No other governor has done it. The president of Nigeria has not done it. I give him kudos for that. We have free education from the primary to the university. That is wonderful. As a result, some poor families who could not have afforded it now have graduates. For that singular act alone, I give him 100 per cent.
How do you feel about the perception that he is always anti-Igbo in his utterances?
When you are a leader and up there, people say all kinds of things about you including the ones you did not say. So, they can say anything against Okorocha because he is a leader. But there are people like us who are also his fans. We are telling him, 'carry go.' I am also aware that he is not interested in what people say about him; he believes hi what he can do to better the lives of the people. He believes in the masses and doing things that would improve their lives.
You are a pro-chancellor of a university and no country develops without taking its researches seriously. What is your assessment of Imo State University where you are the pro-chancellor?
Talking about the Imo State University, I will give kudos again to the state governor, Rochas Okorocha. With little or no resources, we are managing and the university is doing well. But you know the state of the nation's economy
It has not been easy but the governor is trying to ensure that it is one of the best in the country in all, aspects. Nigerian universities including the ones owned by the Federal Government need more than just infrastructure. But the problem is that the resources are not there. The situation is worse with the state universities. To do researches, you need a lot of money but most universities lack even the basic infrastructural development.
Many would argue that the worst problem facing our university graduates is that they come out not equipped for enterprise but only for white collar jobs.
Yes, you are correct but it is also because of the environment. If the environment is fertile, even the people would also be fertile. We have an environment of making quick money. Everybody is interested in making quick money.
Culled from DAILYSUN Newspaper.