Awka-Etiti, Anambra State born industrialist, Chief IKB Igboanugo, hardly grants a press interview, but in this interaction, he shares his views on a number of burning issues in Nigeria. Excerpts:
As an entrepreneur, how has it been and what policies of the Federal Government have dealt a negative blow on your operations in business?
We are into importation, exportation and general contracts. Importers are going through hell in the hands of Customs; to clear one container now in Lagos is hellish. It is the same when you are exporting; some policies recently put in place by the government have created hitches here and there before final shipment is done. For instance, we just exported 5 containers of IKB soap, and it took us more than 6 weeks before the containers were shipped and this is a business that should take less than 2 weeks once the consignment is ready to go. Also the exchange rate is a killer. Many businesses are down on account of this. As a contractor, the major challenge is getting one’s payment after the completion of projects. It is hellish nowadays.
What will be your recommendations to Government?
The government should look into the Customs’ operations and urge them to correct the complicated system that is in place today. Vehicle duties have been slashed but they are still charging the former high duties. In fact, government needs to sit up to attend to all the bottlenecks in the system.
As an Anambra indigene, what kind of Governor do you propose for the state ahead of the guber polls this year?
I have two aspirants in mind: Muoghalu and Uche Ekwunife. Any of them who gets the nomination of their parties will earn my colossal moral and financial support.
Anambra has been ruled by both PDP and APGA since 1999, could you compare the two parties and how they have treated the state in terms of delivering governance?
PDP and APGA have done well in Anambra. From Ngige to Peter Obi and now Obiano, they have tried in delivering infrastructure, providing security and other developmental projects. Three of them tried and will get my thumbs up. Now there is an airport in Anambra, which is another outrageous development in the state. It will make some positive impacts in the state
People believe that APGA should consolidate and become the political voice of the Igbo just like NCNC and NPP. Why has this not happened in your opinion?
APGA is now only in Anambra; it may not survive this coming election; and this will fizzle it out. In politics and democracy there is nothing like consolidation. Yorubas and Hausas or Fulanis don’t have any tribal or special political party, so why should the Igbos?
What do you think Igbos should do as every region begins to prepare for elections in 2023? Do you think the clamour for Igbo Presidency is justified?
It must be Igbo presidency or all Igbos will boycott the 2023 election. Next year 2022, I will champion and finance an Igbo group to begin the aggressive agitation of total boycott of Igbo participation in 2023 election if the political parties do not position Igbo man as their presidential candidates.
Other regions believe the Igbos are too divided to form a common front to constitute a political force for the presidential race, what is your impression about this?
Lots of things are bound to happen as we get closer to 2023. All Igbos must work hard to support our agitation of boycotting 2023 election if no Igbo man is positioned as presidential candidate.
Can you assess the state of infrastructure in Igbo land today and what will you tell the Governors, Senators and Members of the House from the region about this?
Infrastructures and developments are going on with this APC government at the Federal level; then at the level of the states, they are trying too. I believe that before the end of 2022 Onitsha-Enugu and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways should be in place as well as the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Have you ever considered running for an elective office?
I tried once but couldn’t meet up because it was hijacked from me without my consent and mutual agreement.
What is your view of IPOB and their activities in Nigeria?
IPOB is good and their aggressive approach is helping the Igbos. It is making the Nigerian government to sit up and recognise Igbos, because without Igbos in Nigeria, the country will find life very difficult and boring.
What advice will you give to the Igbos in the face of growing insecurity, provocation and marginalization in Nigeria?
That is the advantage of the existence of IPOB, they are bringing the issue of marginalization to the fore. On insecurity, that has now become a toothache for the entire nation.
How is your soap brand, IKB doing in the market?
We are back in full swing. We were just distracted by COVID-19 and its attendant lock down, but now we are coming up for final and ultimate stabilisation.
(Interview: Ngozi Emedolibe; Photos: IKB Igboanugo)