Mr. Tony Alika is an American based professional Engineer, businessman, motivational speaker and philanthropist who has made an indelible mark towards the growth of Ika nation, especially in Ika South. In this explosive and no holds barred personality of the week interview, the fire brand grassroot politician passionately x-rays the state of politics in Ika South, while giving a scorecard of the various political leaders in Ika land and advocates the need for a change in status-quo and youths involvement in politics
IT’S A PLEASURE MEETING YOUR SIR, COULD YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
I am Mr. Tony Alika. I was born into the family of Chief & Mrs. Alika of Aliokpu Community in Agbor, Delta State. I am the second child in the family of five children, all boys. I had my Primary education at Odili Primary School, Agbor and Secondary education at St. Charles College, Abavo. Thereafter, I proceeded to the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) where I studied Chemical Engineering. I was to study medicine but, my father’s meager salary as a teacher was not enough to sponsor it. This was around 1993. Besides that, my elder brother, Paul was in the University of Benin at that time while my younger brother also gained admission to read Mechanical Engineering at the University. At first, my father wanted all of us to drop out of school except my elder brother but as smart children we told him no and went ahead with our studies at the University. The only way I was affected was that I did not read medicine again; I opted for Chemical Engineering so that my parents would be able to pay my school fees. Today, I am not only a Chemical Engineer but also a member of Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers and American Society of Chemical Engineers too. During my National Youth Service Corps, I served in Exxon Mobil at Subo, in Eket, Akwa-Ibom State. I was later retained by the company as a Facility Engineer. The white man I served under advised me to go for my post graduate programme abroad that I was an intelligent young man. I yielded his advice and travelled to the United States of America for my postgraduate programme in December 2002, where I earned a Masters degree in International Business at American Intercontinental University. While in America, I worked with the U.S. Bank and Farmers Insurance before establishing my own insurance agency called Alika Insurance Agency. After that, I opened Alika Financial Services. I am a financial adviser. I worked with the Internal Revenue of the United States. All through my life, I have been in the financial sector.
HOW WAS IT GROWING UP IN AGBOR?
Growing up in Agbor was great. During my time, we never knew anything about nursery school. I and my siblings attended Otakara. Our Otakara teacher then was known as “Man-Busy”. I am a confirmed area boy. We used to swim in the river, played in the rain naked. There was no borehole; water board in Agbor was the only source where we got drinking water. At least, we were sure of water twice in a week. Then, my family house was situated at 44 Osegi Street, Agbor. My grandfather, late Mr. Uweh Alika had the first or second upstairs in Agbor. My friends then were; Henry Mariere, Skele Elema, Henry Ugbeje, Nelson Ugbeje, Jude Ogbekile, Jude Uwadia, Faith Mafiele, Tony Alpha, popularly known as Tony Bone, Mamba Agboifo, Cosby Agboifo, Precious Ekpa and the current President of Eworor Youth Association, Mr. Celestine Aziken. He is my junior brother. Dokita Best was our adviser and father at that time. He may be weak now but then, he was a very strong man. He punished us any time we erred even in the midst of our parents. Today, I appreciate everybody who was there for me. I greatly appreciate my parents who continued at that time to force me to read my books. Then, I thought they were punishing me, it was when I became an adult I realized that they did very well for me and my siblings. The good virtues they imparted in us are what have kept us going. I also appreciate one of my school teachers at St. Charles College, Mr. Osamor and my Sunday school teacher at Word Action Team during my early age in Agbor. They both contributed to making me who I am today. At the moment, I am a motivational speaker and speech writer. I don’t charge for my services, I do it as a service to humanity. Recently, I did a speech for IPOB group in the South East. I am happy and grateful to God that I am contributing positively to humanity and development.
HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU FIRST LANDED IN AMERICA?
It was great. I never thought of traveling were it not for the advice of Mr. Wiggins, my boss at Exxon Mobil. When I got to America I discovered that I must fend for myself in order to survive. I did some manual jobs before I was able to establish myself in the country. I did not face any racial discrimination; I utilized every opportunity that came my way.
WHY DID YOU NOT CONTINUE WITH CHEMICAL ENGINEERING IN YOUR POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMME IN AMERICA?
There is a popular saying that “man proposes God disposes.” Every effort I made to continue in engineering did not work out but that of other disciplines worked out very well. God knows best.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PARENTS?
My mum is the best mother in the world. She is quiet but when she gets pissed off, she blows hot. She loves peace and always wants to see her children succeed. For my dad, he is a disciplinarian and a lovely father too. They are both retired teachers today. My mum is from Oza-Nogogo but a U.S citizen, my father from Aliokpu is also a U.S. citizen. I love to appreciate them and love taking care of them.
WHY DID YOU JOIN PARTISAN POLITICS?
There is a belief I have, that God created and brought me to Ika South local government especially for salvation. For that, every day, I always have a dream about my local government which is lately Balkanized by political factions. Unfortunately, those causing these factions are the ones who are not really contributing to the development of the local government. For example, someone like Pa John Nwagimeje, who is using the Otu Umunne group to intimidate other PDP members in the South. He is a father to me and a native of my village, Aliokpu, so, I must tell him the truth. I don’t feel comfortable with that arrangement that is why I will never attend the Otu Umunne meeting. People should learn how to embrace others rather than chasing them away as if they are nothing. Unfortunately, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa is not even behaving the way Nwagimeje is doing with Otu Umunne. The governor wants people why Nwagimeje do not. Our Ika South politicians should look beyond Nwagimeje and Otu Umunne and give their full support to Governor Okowa. There are so many lies being spread by the likes of Nwagimeje about me. He told his Otu Umunne members that Cairo Ojougboh gave me money to form Otu Onyehunnwene Omarian. To set the record straight, since 2011, I have not set my eyes on Cairo Ojougboh. I wonder what Nwagimeje is talking about. I am very happy that the group (Onyehunwene Omarian) is not up to three months old but has up to 3,000 members drawn from the Federal wards in Ika South. We are PDP members who have said that enough is enough of gossiping in Ika South, we want the best for our local government and if there is any way of settling Cairo and Okowa, we will not hesitate to do that. Nobody is feeding me but, I think it will be wise and nice to support Okowa for second tenure come 2019. I don’t want anyone to see Cairo as a bad man or anyone forming a group as a bad person. We are all working for the governor. Without mincing words, I am one of the closest persons to the governor but I don’t go to see him and gossip others. We have people like Jude Onyia, Peter Idion, Chuks Emuebie, Abiola in Ward 7 and other positive thinking people who are using their resources to better the lives of the people. On my part, I have assisted many of our youths to travel abroad. At a time, I gave N1million each to about twenty youths to travel abroad. I have given away vehicles, opened businesses for more than fifty people as well as empowered many youths from Ika South. I have trained more than fifty graduates in Ika land. It is very bad for someone like Nwagimeje who has nobody to go and be telling lies on people. Nwagimeje is my father but the truth must be told. The fact is that his action is not in any way helping the governor; he should retrace his steps and welcome us as his children.
IN 2011, YOU RAN FOR THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY SEAT IN IKA SOUTH CONSTITUENCY UNDER ACTION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA (ACN). WHY DID YOU CONTEST ON THAT PLATFORM?
I contested because I wanted to contribute more to the development of our local government and state in general. I chose ACN because I did not want anyone to stop me. Then I had no money, but I wanted to prove a point to our youths to go for anything they desire to achieve in life. If they fail, let their conscience tell them that they have tried instead of chickening out when the heat is on. We should continue to strive for success and stop gossiping about others. My case against people like Nwagimeje is that they are dividing our people, separating brothers and sisters. Otu Umunne is a deceitful group led by Nwagimeje in Ika South. Okowa is preaching fairness, equity and justice while Nwagimeje is using Otu Umunne to divide and destroy our people. I was not happy that I did not win that election in 2011 but, I was happy that I was able to prove a point. I have no regret running the election. God blessed me in multiple folds after the election. However, I want to make it clear here that Cairo is not my leader, Nwagimeje is not my leader, Okowa is my mentor. I supported him in 2015 and I will still support him in 2019. I will make sure that he wins his re-election. But I want to make sure that Otu Umunne dies in Ika South, it is a fraudulent group. As far as I am concerned, we have only one political pressure group in Ika South, Onyehunwene Omarian, it is a group for all interested persons in Ika South. We don’t have anybody and we don’t have oppressors; we are all leaders. I am also a founding father of Eworor Youth Association. I will advise people to join groups like Onyehunwene and Eworor Youths rather than joining Otu Umunne where people are not allowed to air their views.
PEOPLE CALL YOU ‘ONWA’, HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
The Obis of Otolokpo and Ute-Ogbeje visited one day to thank me for my good works for the youths and promised to give me titles. One of them suggested ‘Omemma’ titles. Also, the Obi of Mbiri, my father, calls me Onwa, the same title was given to me by the late Igwe Nnaji of Abakpa Nike, Enugu State. The late Nnaji called me Onwa of Ika. I was a humanitarian while at the University. I fought for the good and welfare of my fellow students. I was a Student Union Government leader, President of Kegites Club, President of Rotaract Club, President of Ika Students’ Association, President of Delta State Students’ Union and head of Neo Black Movement of Africa in Enugu. Since my birth, I have been a leader and an activist. I speak Igbo language fluently. I am not afraid to die; my number one priority at the moment is how to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of Ika South. I am very much prepared for my people and local government to move forward. I support every effort towards human development. This is why I am a friend to Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader who wants a better welfare for his Igbo people. I respect him and the good ideology he has towards the emancipation of this people from political slavery. That is the same thing we want to do in Ika South, indulging in activities that will benefit our people and not just an individual. I want to be used as a medium to better the lives of our youths. If I am given N5million today by Governor Okowa as gift, I will not accept, I will advice that the money be channeled into the areas that will benefit our youths. We should look inward and chart ways through we can better our people. It is on this I commend Okowa and people like Hon. (Mrs.) Cordilia Anyangwu who has helped in no small measure to employ our people. As first member, SUBEB, Hon. Cordilia Anyangwu helped many of our youths to get government employment. It is unfortunate that the Chairman of SUBEB in the state, Hon. Sunny Ogwu has not really done as much. He was my school teacher and I am yet to meet with him to know the extent he has done for our people. I salute youths like Mr. Hope Emioma who has been assisting our youths. The other day, some persons from Agbor were stranded in Lagos, Hope Emioma helped them out with his money. I can die for people like Hope Emioma because he is a selfless person. I am ready to work for him any time he indicates interest to run for any election in Ika South. We will kick against any imposition by any deceitful group or persons in our local government. People should stop parading themselves as leaders, gossiping others. Okowa did well for his people; hence, he was elected a governor. If we want him to succeed, we should stop oppressing others politically. Those who claim to be political leaders in Ika South like Nwagimeje are the ones destroying our local government. If we love ourselves, local government and our future, we should stop following deceitful and oppressive leaders who truly do not mean well for anybody even the governor. If I have a group of youths with a population of 3,726 in the first three months, I think I am the new political leader in Ika South. People should queue behind me for I am not going to disappoint them.
YOU APPEAR CALM AND GENTLE, WHAT DRIVES YOU?
My strength is the desire to liberate my people from poverty. I want to be the only beggar in Ika South as long my people have food. I want to be only unemployed person in Ika South. I want our people to see me as their savior who has come to liberate them.
ARE YOU NOT AFRAID THAT YOU ARE RUNNING A RISK WITH YOUR LIFE?
I am beyond human threat. I don’t threaten people and I don’t think there is anyone who can threaten me. I am out to better the lives of our people. I fear no threat from anyone. I am focused, bold and determined in getting what I want for our people which is peace and progress.
2019 IS FAST APPROACHING, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS?
Thank God you asked that question. For governorship, I am supporting Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. Apart from Okowa, nobody has indicated interest in other elective positions in Ika South. However, I am asking our people to beg Hope Emioma to contest for Ika South Council Chairmanship election.
DO YOU HAVE INTENTION FOR 2019?
If it is the wish of Ika South people for me to represent them in government, I will give it a trial but if otherwise, to God be the glory. I will support particularly those persons I know have contributed greatly to the growth and development of our people. A person like Sebastine Okoh is one of the best appointee in Okowa’s government. Hilary Ibegbulem who has been exceptional in his support for our people will have my support in 2019. Hilary Ibegbulem has been awesome. Other political appointees are trying too but Hilary is exceptional.
ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY?
Yes. I am a PDP member for now, because if the nonsense I perceive now through Nwagimeje and his cohorts continues, I will leave but I will still support Okowa in 2019.
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF ELECTED POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS IN IKA SOUTH?
Let me start by saying that I met Cairo Ojougboh
first time in my life when I went to consult him in 2011. Outside that, I have no personal relationship with him. Before now I should have rated him low. But because Nwagimeje has lied to people that I collected money from Cairo to float my growth, I will be fair with him because of the lies. I will rate him fairly in representation of Ika people at the national assembly. For the SUBEB Chairman, Hon. Sunny Ogwu, I want him to take a nap and have a rethink for his people are not happy with him. I am not talking about his ability to help people because Ogwu is not feeding me but how to use his office to help our people. Governor Okowa gave Ogwu his office to better the lives of his people and not to help impoverish them. If Hon. Cordilia could do much for our people as first member of SUBEB, I wonder why Sunny Ogwu is dragging to help people. Ogwu can do better if he wishes to do so. For Hon. Fred Ofume, a personal friend, but I would not be sentimental. I will score Ofume zero over 100. I will explain why in subsequent interview. Chuky Dandy is my friend; I supported Hon. Isaac Ulebor for House of Assembly in 2015. If I want to be fair to Chuky Dandy, I will wait till he finishes his tenure before I will rate him. For the House of Representatives man, I will get facts first before I score him. However, if am a House of Assembly man, I will make public what I earn or get at the end of every month. However, I can rate Chuky Dandy 40 over 100 for now. In another interview, I will talk about my assessment of other political office holders from Ika South.
ARE YOU FINALLY BACK TO NIGERIA?
No. I want to be here at the moment to play vital political role on how to better the lives of our people. Presently, I have many assignments at hand including the co-ordination of Rainbow Network, a group which is saying no violence. I am the National President of the group. Ika South is blessed to have someone leading that group as President.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?
Watching and playing soccer, hanging out, drinking Hennessy. My most passionate hobby is helping people. I am not a diehard fan of any football club. I change my choice of clubs every year. This year I am supporting Manchester-City Football Club because of the likes of Aguero.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ABOUT LIFE?
Life should not be taken too serious. Do not be scared to venture into anything. Don’t be scared to die, fight a good cause. Life generally to me is not a bed of roses but at the same time, we should not take life too serious, we should learn to share and to give.
ARE YOU MARRIED?
Yes, I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Sonia Ugo Alika. Our marriage is blessed with four kids, two boys, and two girls. They are all in America.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO IKA YOUTHS?
I want to advise our youths to stop being a ladder to their destruction rather their own future. They should stop working as thugs to politicians to the detriment of their future. I know life is hard, I know our youths ought to be happy but if you are determined, you will make it in life. You should not allow your challenges to eat you up. Remain steadfast and strong, you will get there. A poor man is not a man that cannot feed; a poor man is that man that has no ideas. Life is hard but you should please do something good to help yourselves. I was born not to make it but because I was determined and with God’s grace upon me, I am succeeding. Our youths should not give up and they should not allow themselves to be used to the detriment of their future.
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF GOVERNOR IFEANYI OKOWA’S GOVERNMENT?
He is doing his best to develop the state. He met the state in a state of economic abysmal level. I will score him 50 over 100. He cannot perform magic but he is doing his best. He has to work harder, ignore so many things and do what will please the people. I want to use this opportunity to tell the contractor handling the work on the Orogodo River to be called to order because he did a bad work. Our people who are close to him should inform the governor about that shoddy job on the Orogodo River.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE IKA DELICACY?
Akpu and pepper soup spiced with bush meat, snail and smoked fish.
WHAT ARE YOUR WORSE AND BEST MOMENTS IN LIFE?
The days I don’t go to church and when I see people suffering and I am not able to do anything. I don’t have a specific church, I attend any church my spirit directs me on Sunday. However, I have three pastors in Nigeria I am particularly attached to. I give out my tithes as help to people. While my best moment was the day I married my wife in 2007. I met her in Agbor where I went to buy recharge card at Isedeh Street by Prof. Ebie. We played along and ended up as husband and wife.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER THING YOU HAVE TO SAY USING THIS OPPORTUNITY?
I want to thank you guys for the great work you are doing in Ika. By what you do you are supposed to be very rich but because you are following your conscience, you have remained steadfast and honest. I say kudos and keep on with the good work. Those that I have scored low should not take it personal because it is my own opinion. I have 3,726 youths who are members of Onyehunwene Omarian under my leadership, I am speaking their mind. I am not God to decide what should be and what should not be. In all, we should be humane and selfless in our approach to people. As for me, I am prepared to die for our good people of Ika South to be out of poverty.