Dr Amobi Nwokafor, a Chartered Accountant 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 KINGSLEY MADAKI, he speaks on the positive impact of President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the Southeast, why the zone should embrace APC, his governorship ambition among others. Excerpt:
Why do you think that Southeast should embrace the ruling APC at this moment?
There are so many factors that made me 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 much talked about second Niger bridge is today being constructed by the APC. By the 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 the 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 at 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 exclude 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 old 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 mere 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 of 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.
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 realized 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 realized 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 a high wave of cultism among the youths. Again, our people are suffering from various kinds of ailments that are easily curable. I also realized 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 realized 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 to transform the misfortunes of the vast majority of our people and develop our state.
I realized 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 a 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.
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 for 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 advanced 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 of today in terms of having not produced the governor. If you look at the 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 the 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.
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.
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