The 2014 “Housing Man of the Year” and Chairman of the foremost Architectural firm, Novone Consult Limited, Arc Ezekiel Nya-Etok, is the National Chairman of Young Democratic Party (YDP), a political party that was deemed registered in May 2014. Ibom Telegraph had a brief interaction with him during the 2016 International Youth Day in Ikot Ekpene. Excerpts:
Do you see the Akwa Ibom youth as being fully harnessed to take up the challenges of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainability in 2030?
The Akwa Ibom youth are not fully harnessed to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainability as stipulated by the theme of this year’s International Youth Day celebration but I believe that they will start to think differently and laying emphasis on what is real, which has to do with responsible youth. And when I say responsible youth, I mean youth who understand the imperative of success and are able to build on it. Success is a law, you do not break it. This is the only way we can have youth that are successful and poverty eradicated by the 2030 target.
Do you think this youth are responsible enough to be entrusted with leadership?
You never can judge a man until you have given him the parameters. The first thing is to enlighten them, which is why I took time to talk to them about the essence of today and the challenges before them. We must continue to talk to them. There are a lot of responsible young men and women. We cannot just dismiss young people as being irresponsible or recalcitrant and all that. It is not right. We, the elders and the leaders, should come in and give them proper mentoring.
We have been terrible role models to our youth and we turn around to blame them. It is wrong. How did we come about the money we used in building big houses here and there? How can we account for those houses? What is our business and income level? So, we have taught the young people that you can be nothing and nobody and just get one office and steal all the money. That is why, as elders and leaders, as soon as we leave office we suddenly become irrelevant. It is wrong. Let us have responsible people who are doing well in life as role models to our young ones. For instance, look at all these our office holders, where is the office that they are running? When they leave office, how many of them have personal offices or businesses? What do they do?
Look at Ikot Ekpene, she has had so many people who have been Councilors, Local Government Council Chairmen, Commissioners and all that, how many of them run offices in this Ikot Ekpene or even in Uyo? So, as elders and leaders, how are we teaching the young people the spirit of enterprise? What we are teaching them is that for one to be successful, one must be a political office holder. And that is why I am here at the 2016 International Youth Day to talk to these youth and I tell you, I have never held any political office in my life. Anything you hear my name is strictly voluntary, where I am even paying instead of being paid. I have never been paid for anything. I practice my profession as an architect and a Real Estate consultant and God has blessed me. I consult for the Federal Government; Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and several State Governments and that is why I can account for all the money I have spent.
So, we need to have people who have something doing and not just office holders, because the moment they leave the office they become irrelevant. I have been where I am from the time of Obong Victor Attah, holding no office till date, and yet I am very relevant at the highest level, at the risk of sounding immodest. Today, I am the National Chairman of a political party, Young Democratic Party (YDP) but I did not come for politicking today. I came to interact with the young people.
Your party sounds synonymous to the youth. Do you see your party as a viable opposition to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) at the federal level and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the state?
Let me tell you this; Young Democratic Party is not an opposition party and we are not interested in playing opposition. We are interested in being a different platform that people can choose. Today, we are rated as the fastest growing political party in the history of Nigeria. We are reaching out to the young people and we are using them as our focus in the party. We want to make sure that we raise young men and women that are endowed; young men and women that will become men and women of honour, successful young Nigerians. Personally, my target is to raise a new crop of entrepreneurs, young men and women who will be able to raise and keep homes.
Where do you see YDP in 2019?
We are taking Akwa Ibom State in 2019. I do not know who will be the Governor, but I tell you Young Democratic Party is taking Akwa Ibom State in 2019. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is scattered from the top to the bottom and the All Progressive Congress (APC) is nonexistence. These two parties have scattered themselves. If you go to INEC, they will tell you that YDP is one party they have so much hope and confidence in. within seven months, we were able to field a candidate for the Edo State Governorship Election where other parties that have been in existence for the past 10 years could not. YDP was the ninth political party and INEC commended our primaries in high esteem by saying it was the most organized in the political history of Nigeria. And if we could do that, it means there is hope for the future of Nigeria.
YDP has come to as a credible alternative. We are not into politics of jamboree. We are reaching out to people and we are quietly taking over Akwa Ibom State, I can assure you that. Half of the people in APC and PDP who are not happy with the way things are done in their respective parties are always in my house on a daily basis and the day we will launch YDP in the state, everybody will know that something has hit them.