South East needs APC to be relevant at the centre – Nwokafor

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Dr. Amobi Nwokafor, Chartered Accountant, Chairman and CEO of Amobi&CO, a firm of Chartered Accountants and a PhD holder in Strategic Management from Babcock University, Ogun State, is a governorship aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming Anambra state gubernatorial election. In this interview with select journalists, he speaks about party politics, his ambition among other topics.

Why do you want to be the next governor of Anambra State?

There are so many things. I was a former President-general of Awka Development Union (ADUN), and you know that for you to effectively discharge the responsibilities of that office, you have to be very close to the masses. It was during my interaction with the masses that I realised that there is a lot of work to be done for the people, and that someone has to do that work.

As President-general, I realised that there is much to do to develop our education sector. Our young ones are dropping out of school due to poverty, lack of funds to sponsor them; there is high wave of cultism among the youths. Again, our people are suffering from various kinds of ailments that are easily curable. I also realised that most of our women who are petty traders are suffering just because of N20,000, N30,000, N40,000 or N50,000, just to start petty trading. So I realised that there are lots of gaps between the rich and the poor.

Having succeeded in implementing some of those things when I was President-general, for instance, the medical mission I initiated which was well executed, the scholarship scheme which is still running, the micro-credit loan scheme which I introduced for the women that needed just small, small money to do their businesses, I made up my mind to come out and seek the mandate of our people to serve as Governor to enable me transform the misfortunes of the vast majority of our people and develop our state.

I realised that if we have had a good man as Governor of Anambra State, a lot of miles would have been covered in terms of infrastructural development, in terms of food provision through a well defined agricultural development, in terms of provision of security, etc. When I looked at all these, I said the gap is just lack of good leadership; if you have a good leader, all these things will be solved. So I now made up my mind that having served my people well as President-general, and having known all these problems, I should come up as Governor and develop the state and change all these sad narratives.

Why the choice of APC platform instead of the incumbent All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which has been ruling the state since the past 16 years, more so that some people see the APGA as an indigenous political party in the state?

There are so many factors that made me to tick APC as the only credible party that an Igbo man should belong to. The original concept was for APGA to become an Igbo political party, meaning that all Igbo states should become APGA, but due to bad leadership, selfishness, and things like that, that concept was defeated. So, today APGA only exists in Anambra State and this means that there is a protest against APGA because they deviated from the original concept. So, the intended mission through APGA was not achieved. APGA has no Igbo agenda, and it does not command any national influence. So why should an Igbo man lock himself out of the politics of Nigeria when we had people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Alex Ekwueme from Anambra State? These people did not play local politics; they showed the direction that if we really want to belong to Nigeria, that we should play national politics, that is the only time that an Igbo man will become relevant. And the APC is the one at the centre.

Another reason is that out of all the political parties that are in Nigeria today, it is only APC that is attending to the Igbo needs. Look at our environment, all the federal roads are being worked upon by the APC. The so-much talked about Second Niger Bridge is today being constructed by the APC. By first quarter of next year, that bridge will be opened for use. Onitsha Inland River Port has just become operational under the APC. That river port was constructed several decades ago by the Second Republic administration of President Shehu Shagari. So, this is the kind of politics that I want to play. I don’t want to play mediocre politics, but the kind of politics that we were taught by our forefathers as exemplified by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Owelle of Onitsha); so that all of us will redefine our environment and change Nigeria.

In spite of these projects you have mentioned, many are still of the view that the current government has not been fair to the Igbo. They point at lack of non-appointments of Igbo persons into sensitive national positions like the Service Chiefs. What is your take on this?

This position is not true. APC is a party that is open to all Nigerians. We, rather, excluded ourselves from everybody by talking about APGA, which has only one state. And that is the party our people have flooded. So will they (APC) come to your house to beg you to come and join them before you know that you should join a national party? Yet you say that the Igbo are intelligent; that we have wisdom. Where is the wisdom, where you put all your eggs in one basket in a polity like Nigeria? Where, instead of being in a national table where dialogue takes place and decisions are taken, you decided to be on your own. Mind you, Anambra is one of the 36 states, and one-over- thirty-seven when you talk of Nigeria (because you will include the Federal Capital Territory). So what can you benefit when you excluded yourself from the mainstream politics of Nigeria? It is suicidal! That is why some people like us are coming out to tell our people “We cannot continue like that!”

Name one state in the country that Anambra State is better than –just one state in the whole federation that Anambra State that is being ruled by APGA is better than. Anambra State is 30 years this year. What can you point at that over the 30 years Anambra State has been able to achieve in terms of governance? There is nothing.

Do you know that 30 years after Anambra State Government House is still at the premises of a construction company? The thing applies to the Governor’s Lodge. The Government House, Awka, you go today is the premises of a construction company that constructed Onitsha –Enugu Expressway.

 

How confident are you that APC will be able to gather enough votes to give it victory in the coming governorship election in the state?

I am very, very confident because in every election we have conducted in this state, APC has been coming second. Go and check your records, and you will see that APC has always come second. So it is a mad propaganda that Igbo doesn’t like APC. It is not true, especially here in Anambra State. In any case, the direction is that the Igbo should be in APC now so that they will get their own fair share, and every Igbo man understands that. That is why the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, joined APC. So, as at today APC is having two states in the South East. And Anambra State is going to be the third one, because everybody is seeing the signs of the time. And the signs of the time are showing that the Igbo should join the ruling party, that you lose nothing by joining the ruling party, that you will lose everything by playing the politics of exclusion, which is what we are doing now.

There are about seven of you seeking the APC ticket to contest the governorship election in Anambra State. What are your chances of securing the ticket?

Let me, first of all, correct an impression. As at today, we are about 11, not seven. And at the level of profile, a lot of them can do the work. But why I know that I am ahead of all of them is that hunger in me to serve, and the understanding of the needs of the grassroots, because I have had direct contact with the masses. I understand what they need, I understand their worries, I understand their lack of faith (in governance), I understand that somebody has to come at this time to change the sad narrative of our people, somebody has to come and make sure that there is food security; somebody has to come and ensure that there is regular supply of energy; somebody has to come and unbundle a lot of energy that are in our people. There are a lot of things that have to be done. And if you look at some of them that are coming out to contest, some of them are so rich that they can’t even stand the smell of a woman that is selling fish, or who is frying akara. So they are very unsuitable for the kind of leadership we are professing; the kind of leadership we are professing is the kind of leadership that will be very close to the people, and is prepared to attend to the needs of the people, and ensure that this time around we get it right; to ask ourselves the way Anambra State is going today where will they be in the next five years, in the next ten years? So, somebody that is strategically trained, and, have such kind of strategic mindset should at this time of our development be in the driving seat, otherwise, either the ship or car will wreck.

 

You said you are relying on the support of the masses to emerge as a candidate of the APC. Have you put the influence of godfathers who often impose candidates in elections into consideration?

This is the beauty of APC. You earlier asked the reason I joined APC. You know, APC is the only party that does not impose anybody as candidate. At least, it has not happened in Anambra State up till the last election. And I don’t think it will start this time around. There will be level playing ground for us. A visibly transparent primary election is envisaged. And that is why people like me are having hope that I am going to make it because I hope that with APC’s internal democracy I know that I will emerge candidate of the party.

Some leaders of opposition parties have expressed reservations over the utterances attributed to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to the effect that APC would mobilise “known and unknown forces” to make sure it wins the coming governorship election in the state. What is your take on the Governor’s statement?

He is a Governor, so he understands properly what is required to win an election. Like I noted earlier, the ruling party in Anambra State is APGA, and it is only in Anambra State that you have an APGA government. But there is an APC government in Imo State, and there is an APC government in Ebonyi State. So what he is talking about is harnessing both human and other resources available in the two states, and you have members of APC in Anambra State. So who is APGA, with that level of determination, to withstand APC in that governorship election?

But what are the “known and unknown forces” you think that he might have been referring to?

The man was talking about God. Do you know the forces of God?. The man was referring to God, simply defined. The known forces are all the APC-controlled states in Nigeria that will come to bear on a state that is badly ruled by one particular party. They will join forces in Anambra State, being supported by God. How else do you look at it? And if I may ask, what are the unknown forces by your own definition? The unknown force is that of the Most High God. That with God, all things are possible. That’s what the Governor was saying.

What picture of Anambra State should people expect if you eventually become Governor?

Have you heard about Heaven on earth? Something like that because we are going to touch every segment of the state economy and infrastructural development. Look at the Capital Territory. Can you define the Capital Territory of Anambra State after thirty years? It is a shame! If I become the Governor, Anambra State Capital Territory will be beautified so that you can come to the state to rest by the kind of work we are going to do.

Nnewi is already the industrial hub of Anambra State; Onitsha is already the commercial city; then you now have a well defined Capital Territory. Food, as you know, is a basic need of any human being. When you don’t eat, naturally, over time, you die. So we will look at the Omambala and Ogbaru areas for agriculture. Then we will look at the other areas of the state. It is a very simple thing for somebody that understands the way to develop an economy and a state.

Do you think APC will still win if it fails to give you the guber ticket?

If APC fails to give me the ticket, whoever that wins the ticket will be supported by me, because I believe in national politics. And I believe in joining APC at the national level because I believe that joining APC is the only way our interest will be protected at the national level. So we will mobilise to support whoever emerges as the candidate of APC, even though l believe that it is going to be me.

What is your take on the issue of zoning arrangement for the governorship which favours the Anambra South Senatorial zone?

When I look at the principle of zoning as being canvassed by certain people, I laugh at them because Igbo people do not do things like that.

In any case, Anambra State, has been unfortunately ruled by one party since the past 16 years. And it is this same party that is canvassing for zoning. As far as I am concerned, zoning is just an advance way of rigging an election because the party’s best may not be in that particular zone the ruling party is canvassing for. So, if a party that has not ruled Anambra before should follow them, that party is already defeated because it will not have the opportunity of presenting the best to match whoever they have prepared. So, that is, to me, rigging in advance.

But that is by the way. Let us look at the principles of that zoning. If we are to adopt zoning, it should be the turn of the Capital City, which is Awka. If there should be any zoning at all, it should be the turn of the Awka Capital City and an Awka man should become the one to be favoured to be Governor because he is the only person that will see the entire state as one because Awka, having been taken to be the capital of the state, now belongs to everybody, including non-indigenes of the state. It does not belong to the Awka indigenous people alone. So, it is owned by all. So it is only the person who hails from Awka that will see every person from the state as one.Unlike what is happening now where if you become the state governor, you can take the state capital and put it in your town, and develop the area to the detriment of other parts of the state. So, that is my first argument that it has to be zoned to the Awka Capital City if there must be zoning.

Again, another argument against zoning is that there is no zone in the state that is marginalised as at today in terms of having not produced the governor. If you look at Anambra North Senatorial zone, you will remember that Ukpabi Asika, who was a former Administrator of East Central State, hailed from there, and the incumbent Governor Obiano is also from there. So Anambra North is not marginalised. They have gotten their fair share. If you go to Anambra South Senatorial district, it has gotten its fair share through Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, and Dame Virgy Etiaba. And you can even name Senator Andy Uba for about seventeen days as Governor.

So now that it has gone round all the zones, what stops them from agitating that this particular one should go to the Awka Capital City?

Another thing about this zoning is that, you know that I am an Igbo man. If I become Governor today, I will still remain Dr. Amobi Nwokafor from Awka, Anambra State. I will not change my name to Tunde Bakare, neither will I change it to Murtala Mohammed. And we have all joined various political parties. PDP has had it in Anambra State, APGA is equally having it. So if you are talking about zoning again, you can equally think about zoning using party as basis for zoning, and it should be the turn of APC, after all, we are all Igbo. Why should we be marginalised because we are members of the APC? It is mere injustice. All of us cannot be members of APGA, or PDP, so you should tilt the zoning formula towards APC if there must be zoning.

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