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I hold the key to future prosperity and development of Anambra State — Obidigbo

By News Express on 30/06/2017

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 •Anambra governorship aspirant, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.
•Anambra governorship aspirant, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.

Dr Chike Obidigbo, is a governorship aspirant under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State. In this interview with Senior Correspondent, PAMELA EBOH, the businessman who said he was lured into politics by ex-governor Peter Obi, spoke on his reasons for abandoning the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), his programme and why he has chosen the APC, among other issues. Excerpt:

Despite your bitter experience at the last governorship election, what motivated you to come out to contest again?

I decided to enter into the governorship race of Anambra State again purely because I understand the present challenges of the state, and I have sufficient imagination to capture the designs for the future prosperity and development of Anambra. I possess the intellectual capacity to build, consolidate and expand existing foundations. In Anambra State, we urgently need an economic renaissance that would allow private sector operators and leaderships at all levels to contribute towards shaping the future of our economy. We must diversify, if we must create mass employment for our rising army of youths. This needed structural shift must be directed at agriculture, industrialisation, and the development of critical infrastructure, all planned and executed with certain single-mindedness.

Is it to say you dumped APGA for APC because of the betrayal you experienced?

No. You know what happened in the last election and the primaries. Before, I was not into polities, I was drafted into the race for governorship by the former governor, Peter Obi and he came from APGA. After that came all the endorsements from zones, groups, local government areas to the senatorial zones, from all kinds of leaders and groups in the state. All of them gave me the support I needed. At a point, it was very obvious that I was going to be the candidate of APGA in that election. Even Willie Obiano knew that I was going to be the candidate of the party. So after all that happened, it became an opportunity to look at the political terrain to study what the Igbo nation needs. So, after that study for almost one year, I became satisfied that for Anambra and the entire Igbo land to be part of the national discuss, we must key into the centre. APGA, like you know, is a one-party state, and decision-making in APGA is simple. In that process, they make a lot of mistakes. After what happened to me then, it gave me the opportunity to look at the terrain clearly. It is the outcome of those months and years of retrospection that I was made to understand that for Anambra to operate satisfactorily and provide for our people, you must key in to the centre. A national party has a broad think-tank base. When you are with a party at the centre with several other people, you are in the position to represent your people better. A party like the APC is one of them. When issues arise that have to do with getting the entire ethnic interests to brain-storm on a way forward for their people, the PDP would enter into a caucus meeting, the APC would hold its caucus meetings, then, what will APGA do? Maybe, look for the next beer parlour. In the best interest of Anambra State and other South-east states, they should align with the party at the centre; if not, we will continue to lose out. The Igbo, including Anambra people, must find a way to get proper representation; and that informed my choice of the APC. As I speak now, if you give me APGA ticket free of charge, I will not take it.

People are clamouring for change, what do you think should be done for Anambra State to chart a new cause?

The truth is that today, Anambra State is at a crossroads, and the real problem is that we lack clear vision to address our mounting challenges. If we take a look at the rising rate of graduate unemployment in a state richly endowed with abundant human and material resources. For instance, it is certain that so much more need to be done in a creative dimension to steer the good, enterprising people of Anambra State away from the quagmire. Indeed, we need a new leadership to drive the collective efforts of Anambra people to come up with solutions to our problems. We urgently need to deploy our energies in a positive direction. When we do that, it is possible to create new jobs on a massive scale out of the virgin economy. Anambra State would be well off when we can maximally explore and explain available resources for overall benefit of our people. I use this opportunity, therefore, to offer my service and to call on all responsible men and women with impeccable character to join hands in the rigorous pursuit of a socially acceptable and economically sustainable future. Interestingly, it is only together that we can make Anambra  - The Light of The Nation - shine again. There is no room for ineptitude or mediocrity. We must bear in mind that the change Anambra desires is to rebuild our society, with a view to renewing our endearing value system.

What is the central focus of your manifesto and do you believe it will give you an edge over other aspirants?

I have been around the business world and when it comes to the issue of job creation, I will rate myself the best over all the other aspirants for Anambra State governorship election. I have been to both developed and developing world, and I have seen it all. What matters now is for me to contribute to the society through my experience, and God has packaged me for this moment. Every year we produce large number of graduates and they go to NYSC, lasting for even two years. But, at the end of that, they are bundled back to the society as an army of unemployed youths. I can tell you that in the past 20 years no job has been created. We should be talking about producing sustainable job for our youths so that we can have peaceful retirement. That is the way to develop and grow sustainable economy for Anambra State. When you move around our state, you will see a lot of opportunities. What we have today is a virgin economy. I do not see recession, what I see is backwardness, and we have billions of untapped resourses in Anambra State.

You have outlined job creation as your central focus if elected. Do you think that will take care of the needs of Anambra people?

I was with Peter Obi before and he drafted me into the race, as it were, because he knows what I can do. All the while, I never depended on anybody and I have succeeded a lot. I have interacted with a lot of people and they believed in my ideology. The only god-father I have is God. I am advantaged in so many ways. I am well-travelled, exposed and experienced. If the government can create more job opportunities for the teeming youths, we will have a better economy and crime will go. We have not been able to combine the intellectual capacity of the Igbo man. We must understand that the Igbo man is typically gifted. However, because we have not learnt to harness and integrate these gifts, that is why they have become free radicals

How do you intend to cope with the conservatives in APC that may want to have it their way or the high way?

The issue of the conservatives in APC wanting to impose their favourites. Well, that cannot affect my ambition. At my age and experience, I do not need any god-father to speak for me. And, of course, it is not the best for our state now. I have been the Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and I have nothing to fear about anything. What is happening now with regard to the accolades that come to me are as a result of what happened and my achievements in the past. My company Hadis and Dromeda has branches in the four states in the South-east, so I do not need any introduction. We do not build relationships, what we have in polities here is the type of business relationship. We have not been able to combine the intellectual capacity of the Igbo man into governance, and that explains why a lot of people who do not know what politics and governance are all about in most political parties call themselves conservatives in the party. Our people from the academia do well outside Nigeria and most of them are Igbo. Our people are gifted by God, but we do not exploit and integrate them into leadership. Look at Engr Athur Eze and the likes of Emeka Offor, if they can come in and integrate the intellectuals from Igbo land, you can imagine what our people stand to gain at the end of the day. Ndigbo, as a matter of fact, needs projects that can give everlasting name. When you assemble such well-to-do men and women of Igbo extraction and then create a synergy between the intellectual class and such business men we can achieve impact. Let us do it in their name and for the progress of Ndigbo. So these are the things that I intend to do as the governor of Anambra State and I do not need any god-father to realise this. The people you call the conservatives or those who say that they are the real builders and owners of the party will also benefit from it. What matters in our party, APC, is to present a good candidate, win the election and run a populist government that would spill the party over to other states in the South-east. When we begin to consider those people you talked about, it becomes a problem. These are some of the problems most political parties in Nigeria have and this should not be the problem of the APC. As I speak to you, I know that God has packaged me for this job in Anambra State, even in APC, despite the number of aspirants jostling for the ticket. However, only God knows who the governor will be.

Do you envisage any intrigues playing out in APC governorship primaries in Anambra State?

Most people believe that there is so much dishonesty and distrust in politics and, as a result, anything goes. People do not believe that honesty pays in politics and that is the main problem that we faced while I was in APGA. Then, we were about 11 aspirants in APGA during the last governorship election and we agreed that we shall back or support the eventual winner, and we contested happily. Eleven of us raised money to promote APGA as our party and to ensure that the party won for about 18 months. Suddenly, out of the blues they flew in Obiano who told us that he was in his swimming-pool taking his Champaigne, and they called him to come and rule Anambra State. Even the primaries was funny, and everybody knew what happened. I have said it before that APC primary election should be free and fair, or should be seen as free and fair. That is the only way we can get it right. Unlike in APGA, Obiano frustrated the opportunity for any other person to contest in APGA. When Dr Aforka indicated to contest, APGA attacked him and this is not good. Today, we have the APC committee for Anambra State governorship election which is headed by former governor and Senator Chief Jim Nwobodo. I am pleased with the committee and it will help in achieving a level playing ground during the primaries. The calibre of those in the committee would also help in getting the South-east key into the APC, which is the party at the centre in Nigeria. Am sure they will not want to soil their hands with corruption. They are people that have integrity. My ambition to become a governor is not a do-or-die matter. And, if at the end they say I am not the candidate, there will be no problem. If the committee gets it right in Anambra State, which is the head of the South-east, then we are set for the rest of the zone.

Former Governor Peter Obi initiated the zoning system in Anambra politics so as to encourage spread of governance, but some people are of the opinion that it encourages mediocrity. What is your take?

Yes, the concept of zoning was Mr Peter Obi’s baby, and I promoted it. The man saw a lot of reasons for that zoning and I agree with him. However, I do not agree that zoning would promote mediocrity. If you study American politics very well, you would discover that they always bring someone in to tackle any immediate need of the country, I told Peter Obi that the zoning thing must seriously be marketed and, in our constitution, there is a zoning arrangement. Zoning has tremendous benefits and Anambra State is too rowdy hence, we need something to calm it. After elections are over, there is always bitterness, only zoning will help douse it. The people in the north are sometime very shy, but shyness at the same time could be an advantage because we are people that like order. Anambra has adopted zoning and we need to let it work, like in other South-east states. It is only Imo that is currently not following zoning system. Zoning also makes for spread and equity and at a time in the life of a people they always know what they want in politics and governance and that is exactly what zoning is all about. There is no zone that does not have men and women of integrity that can pilot the state to success. When Peter Obi invited me to say that he wanted me to succeed him, I agreed and told him that that was the only way to ensure balance. Even in APC, it has a kind of zoning arrangement and it is great advantage for Anambra people. It can also bring out the best out of the people. We contributed money, time and energy to promote zoning. So, if anybody is opposed to zoning, then he is not helping the state and the South-east in general. Today, Willie Obiano is governor of Anambra State from Anambra North, based on the zoning arrangement if he is not doing well, it does not mean that everybody from Anambra North Senatorial Zone are non-performers so the north still has the opportunity of providing good governance for the Anambra people, and it is my opinion and that of Anambra North that we should be given another chance to complete a two-term tenure of eight years, before it goes to another senatorial zone.

What is your driving political philosophy?

Democracy enunciates the basic ingredients of a truly civil society, where all citizens are equal as important stakeholders in the nation building process. Against this background, my driving philosophy in my career is that in whatever I do, my life must impact positively on the lives of others. One cardinal objective is to uphold the rule of law in order to achieve equal opportunity. This retrogressive style had been encouraged by Nigeria’s dubious electoral system before now. The 179 towns of Anambra State have peculiar challenges, which we hope to confront head on. Towards this end, the new government under my leadership plans to partner with them to tackle their problems in a bottom-up approach that has been the style of my charity organization: Osisioma Foundations. There is no doubt that  Anambra people are leaders and trail-blazers in academia, commerce, business and industry. The government under my leadership would seek to provide a driving force to harness the innate potentials of our people, especially the youths and women. Extreme individualism, our current bane, does not augur well in the long-run, for a developing society. So, we must develop some meeting points for social engagement and enterprise.

If elected Anambra governor come November 18, what will be your action points?

Well, it is now 18 years since Nigeria returned to the path of democratic rule, and Anambra State would be going to the polls to elect its fifth civilian governor. Within the period spanning 1991 through 2017, Anambra has witnessed four administrations. In the course of these administrations, efforts have been made to uplift the state through roads and other infrastructure. If given the opportunity to pilot the affairs of the state as governor, the following shall, therefore, constitute my action-points to take the state to another level:

My effort will be geared towards institutional revitalisation, human capital development and wealth/job creation. These are the areas we are lacking representation. Successive governments mostly concentrated on roads, but we need these other areas to expand and grow our economy. The state’s economy should be first, then other areas will fall in naturally. 

Source News Express

Posted 30/06/2017 8:35:29 PM


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