Igwe Ezeoba Alex Nwokedi, the Uthopo na Eze Achalla, Anambra State, is a man of many parts. He was Press Secretary to Head of State during the General Olusegun Obasanjo military regime and also served in the same capacity during the early days of Alhaji Shehu Shagari administration. He was pioneer Public Relations Manager of Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, ECN, and General Manager, Public Affairs, NNPC. The former Chairman, Eastern Nigeria Council of Traditional Rulers, in this interview, speaks on the state of the nation, the last elections and the Igbo position. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the polls? Particularly, how do you see the incoming President Muhammadu Buhari?
Buhari is a straight forward man. He is very disciplined and has, as his pivot, the fight against bribery and corruption. So, I think in this direction, our Lord has brought him to be utilised to fight bribery and corruption in Nigeria. As Catholics, we have two prayers. One is against bribery and corruption and the second is for our Lord to help Nigeria out of distress it is presently.
Some people who never wanted Buhari to win the presidential election but who have just managed to come to terms with the reality of his victory are saying with the people surrounding him, he won’t go a long way to meet Nigerians expectations. Do you agree?
With somebody like Chief John Oyegun and more other people who are very highly reliable working with him either as party leaders or people that will work with him as government officials, to a great extent, I will say that the claim that Buhari won’t go far is weak. There are also others like Prince Tony Momoh a journalist and a former Minister of Information.
Chief Oyegun, like Tony Momoh and others that I know around him as of now, is naturally intelligent, academically brilliant and has been tested and, put right on the ground, his integrity has never been challenged. And as Chairman of All Progressives Congress, with him behind or around Buhari, if they listen to him, he will assist to provide a formidable administrative team, which will enable him to succeed in his struggle against bribery and corruption in Nigeria. All I am pleading is that, everything we do must have a human face.
You said Buhari’s emergence was answer to the prayers of Nigerians. What should be the starting point for Buhari given your experience as a public relations and journalism expert deeply-rooted in presidential spokesmanship. How does his Press Secretasry make a good President of him?
In the first place, like I said about Reuben Abati in the past, a presidential spokesman is his intelligence officer. He collects information from the public for the President and makes the public to read the President’s mind on public issues through the media. So, he really requires a very good public relations crew to expose his inner thought and also help his media unit to collect information from the people.
For example, when I was with my boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo, I think I have spoken to you about House of Geneva? Press personalities came there to speak their minds about government and, from there, I knew the minds of people, I knew how to relate it to my boss and how to handle situations.
So, the new President, Buhari, must get a public relations crew/press crew that will help him to study the minds of the people, advise him on what to do and ensure that his inner thoughts are properly interpreted to the people. There is no issue of his PR or media people trying to publicise themselves. The person they are projecting is the President, not themselves.


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