Chinedu Obigwe is the National Coordinator, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Media Warriors Forum. A frank political analyst who bares his mind on any issue, Obigwe in this interview talks about some salient issues relating to the Anambra governorship election.
Anambra guber election is few days away but parties seem to be afraid to campaign publicly because of insecurity. Some are saying the situation is a failure of government while others say politicians were behind the anomaly. What is your take?
I have said it in different forums before now that the situation is politically motivated. I did not mince words when I said that the opposition was behind the killings and when I say the opposition, you know the party I’m referring to in particular. What they intend to achieve in the situation is to instill fear in the minds of the people so that Anambra electorates will be afraid to come out and exercise their democratic franchise on the Election Day. Capitalizing on the anomaly, they want to take advantage of the situation to rig the election. Look at the situation and you find out that each time there was an attack; they will politicize the situation and use it to accuse the governor of abdicating from his responsibilities. But funny enough, the APC governorship candidate, Senator Andy Uba hails from Uga, Aguata where the traditional rulers of the old Aguata comprising of Orumba North, Orumba South and Aguata all came together and gave Governor Obiano the traditional title of Agunaechemba1 of Old Aguata Union all as a result of the governor’s proactive measures in security. It is public knowledge that Anambra was a den of criminals before Obiano came in to the extent that people celebrated traditional marriages in Lagos and other places outside the state. Our people in Diaspora were afraid of returning home because of violent crimes but immediately Obiano came in, as somebody who knew that the first thing to put in place for sustainable development in any state was security, he stamped his feet on the ground and ensured that those criminal elements were dislodged and flushed out of the state. Anambra has continued to be ranked as one of the safest states in Nigeria and not even the present stage-managed situation can change that. If you tell someone to go to Borno State now, the person will be skeptical likewise in our neighboring Imo now but because election is around the corner, they are hyping everything on the negative to score some cheap political points. Even in Ebonyi state today, we see what is happening there too; killings here and there but those places have not been in the front burner. I just used the two Southeast states as an example for one to realise that the situation is not as bad as the opposition is painting it in Anambra security-wise. The APC wants to reap political benefits from what is happening in Anambra . All they want is let ndi Anambra not come out to vote on the election day so that they can have an easy ride on what they want to do but their plan is not working. To God be the glory, APGA is campaigning because their initial plan was to stop our party from campaigning. The party APGA is not only campaigning openly but all their supporters go home safely after each outing without any ugly story. Another cheering news is that President Buhari has given Governor Obiano the assurance that the election will be free and fair. The governor has not asked President Buhari to give him and APGA undue advantage as the ruling party in the state. All he asked for was a level playing ground where some people will not come and use the so-called federal might to intimidate others and it is heartwarming that President Buhari has shown commitment to that.
But people are already afraid and some already saying they won’t come out to vote on the election day going by the threat by IPOB that there will be no election in Biafran land starting with the Anambra guber. How confident are you that the election will witness popular participation?
Let me correct the impression. People are linking both insecurity and no election campaign to IPOB but I don’t agree with that. The Indigenous People of Biafra did not say there won’t be election in Anambra. They are not the people behind the no- election campaign and insecurity in Anambra. I’ve told you that the opposition particularly the APC and its candidate are desperate to take over Anambra State. They are doing all these so that when people shy away from coming out to vote, they will then activate their rigging machinery. That is the truth. On the issue of security, we have confidence in President Buhari while the police has also assured of adequate protection too. People should not be scared but rather see the security agencies drafted for the election as friends. With about 5000 plus polling units and the over 30,000 number of policemen that will work on that day, there is assurance that every polling unit will record visible security presence across every part of the state. Anambra electorates should get prepared to come out on the Election Day, cast their votes, wait for the declaration of results and ensure that their votes count. Once a winner emerges after the election, insecurity will be a thing of the past in the state and that tells you that the killings and shootings are politically motivated.
Obiano as APGA governor has been in government for almost eight years. Now that he is about to complete his tenure, do you think he has justified his stay for APGA to continue in office after him?
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Obiano has done marvelously well in governance. He has done what he promised ndi Anambra he would do. Again, when you want to judge Obiano, you have to judge him based on the economic situation in the country and the money accruing to the state coffers under his watch. During the past administration, there was what they called the oil boom but under the Buhari administration, there have been lots of economic challenges. But Gov. Obiano has performed above board despite the challenges. During the time of economic recession, he came up with various stimulus packages to ensure that the recession didn’t affect Anambra people and it really worked. He has proved to be a good manager of resources and crisis too by the way he managed the recession crisis, COVID-19 crisis and other issues that have come up in the state.
To me, Obiano is the best governor Anambra has produced so far. He crowned his achievements with the legacy project of the International cargo airport, the international conference centre and the stadium, three of the best of its kind in Nigeria. The reason why People will vote for APGA in this election is simple; if you look at Obiano’s plan in producing his successor, you discover that what he had in mind was this “let Anambra people have the best and if I hand over, I can go and rest”. Most of the fellow contenders who wanted the governorship slot told Obiano not to allow Soludo become governor because he (Soludo) is wiser than him (Obiano) and that he (Soludo) will jail him (Obiano) if he becomes governor and stuffs like that. They will tell Obiano that they will be loyal to him as his boys and not Soludo who seems to be independent minded but Obiano doesn’t listen to such cheap blackmail. What Obiano has been interested in is giving Anmabra people the best. He doesn’t need a lame duck or someone who will come and sycophantly tell him “I will be loyal to you and because of that, please let me succeed you”. What he is looking at is someone that will give ndi Anambra the best and he says it openly when he goes to campaign that Soludo will do better than him. I love that man Obiano because he is someone that tells you his mind and feelings. People did so many things to dissuade him from supporting Soludo to emerge as APGA candidate but he insisted that Solduo is the best and in all honesty, Soludo is really the best. If Obiano was your everyday Nigerian politician who would like to have a puppet that will be dictated to after leaving office, he would have gone for such feeble characters but he has shown leadership by insisting on handing over the state to the best hand in the person of Soludo.
Then talking about Soludo whom you have been supporting, some are of the view that he is too elitist and may not make a good governor. Do you have confidence in him to win the election and also do well in office?
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Of all the contestants, it is only Soludo that you can see people spending their money for because he is a marketable brand. He has many support groups drumming support for him for the past three years and they don’t go to him for money. Even his nomination form was bought for him by these support groups. Go to the grassroots, even the old woman in the village will tell you that she is for Soludo. Those who accuse him of being too elitist talk from the point of misinformation because when you get closer to him, you see a down-to-earth person. Do you know that his phone number remains the same over the years and not some of these dubious characters that change their contact every now and then? Many don’t know that he is a philanthropist because he doesn’t like blowing his trumpet. Those saying that he is not electable are just afraid of his intimidating profile and pedigree. Let me tell you, prelude to the primaries, the opposition did everything to ensure that he was not in the ballot because they knew that he is the only threat they have but I tell you that it is his time. I love him as a firm character. He is not a backstabber. If he is with you, he is with you in the open and not some that will come from behind the scene. His ambition to serve the people of the state as governor is driven by people at the grassroots.
But now people are leaving APGA in droves to APC, don’t you think it’s an ominous sign that the party may be on its last lap in Anambra?
No. APGA is waxing strong. For those who left the party, they are not men of character and you know men of character are very rare to find in politics these days. But let me tell you, the lawmakers that left APGA did that as a clever move because they know they can’t return to the House after this tenure, moreso, as much as everyone knows that they were lured to join APC. But on a clear note, Lawrence Ezeudu from Dunukofia is in his second tenure as a lawmaker and he knows he can’t return. It was the same thing for Ifedioramma of Njikoka, most of those local governments they are representing have many towns and they rotate their representatives across the towns, so the two can’t go back again. And even Nonso Smart of Nnewi also knows that it has always been one term for Nnewi lawmakers. For me, APGA is waxing stronger and we have capable hands that will keep the party moving higher. One thing I like about APGA is that the spirit of Ojukwu is in every APGA member to the extent that they can hardly betray the party.
Electing one is one thing, performance is another thing. If Soludo becomes governor, do you think he will perform?
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Soludo has a verifiable record of outstanding performance. From the university to the post of advisor to the president. As CBN governor too and even leaving office, President Buhari invited him to be a member of his economic team. If he can be doing it for the Federal Government and other international bodies, he will definitely perform creditably as governor. People tell him that he is a presidential material but he wants to start from the state. Politics aside, Soludo’s antecedents tower above all other party candidates. Propaganda cannot lead anybody to the Government House.
Does Governor Obiano actually deserve all the accolades you have been pouring on him?
No one is a saint but Obiano and the wife are two characters that I love so much because they don’t play hanky- panky politics. They have good conscience that they can hardly hurt a fly but Obiano is a warrior. If you dare him, he will show you his strength. The wife really complemented Obiano’s efforts in the state and I praise her for that. Obiano is also a man of his words because the promise he made to Anambra people, he has fulfilled it.