Magnus Eze, Enugu
Commissioner for Environment, Mineral Resources, Science and Technology under the Mr. Peter Obi-led administration, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant in the Governorship election of Anambra State in 2021, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, has said that his aspiration was based on merit and competence.
The onetime National Secretary of APGA, who has the traditional title of Ugwumba Osumenyi, said the present All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) administration in the state has taken the state years back from where former Governor Obi left it.
He said that the PDP would reclaim the state, declaring that the glory has left APGA.
The stage is set for Anambra 2021 and you want to be Anambra governor; why do you want to govern the state?
When you look at Anambra, it is a state with the greatest potential. When the old Anambra was readjusted and Enugu was created, we that became the new Anambra had expectations of a state that can turn into Singapore; a state that can become another Dubai within a short time because the state is endowed with both human and material resources. The state has a huge population with small land mass. Twenty nine years on, our hope has become misplaced. What we expected is not what we are seeing. We have become a state that leads to nowhere. It got to a point where a governorship candidate asked the question, ‘Are we cursed or are we the cause? But of course, years after that question was asked, we discovered that we are not cursed but rather, we are the cause. This has to do with leadership selection process; the calibre of people who govern us. But we thank God, that my boss, Mr Peter Obi within the time he was there showed that the state can be governed well. Six years after, we have reversed our trajectory once again that we are gradually becoming another state where nothing works. So, some of us who were part of that Peter Obi government are feeling bad that after putting the state in motion for movement, foundations were laid, resources were kept, all we needed was to shoot up to cruising level but unfortunately we lost it. I looked at it from the point that we need to retrieve these years of the locusts. I look at it from the point that we must restore hope to Ndi Anambra. I offer myself to be used as an instrument to restore hope for the Anambra people. I am coming to make Anambra State a destination where people will come in for certain things especially the youth. I am going to make Anambra a place where you will have job opportunities waiting for you to pick them. We are going to bring about digital transformation of entrepreneurship in Anambra. We are going to do start-up Anambra where clusters of youths will be put together and grants given to them to propel them to develop and take over the job for the whole world. There are about four million gadgets to be connected to ICT between now and 2025 in the world. We are going to convert Anambra boys who were hitherto accused of being ‘yahoo yahoo’ boys. We will retrain and upscale them to take over the job of not only being IT experts of the world but cyber security experts across the globe. From Anambra, we will supply the world with manpower. That is part of the first priority. Two, we are traders. Every Anambra man is a trader including myself. And that is what we are known for. We will recreate our markets. We will reinvent and rebuild our markets. Don’t forget that markets are reforming in the whole world. It is not the way my father who as a trader did his business that I and my children will do it. So, we have to recreate and reinvent markets in Anambra. We need to develop our markets so that people will look forward to going to Anambra to do business. We are going to involve ourselves purely on innovation and incubation. I’m for e-government, e-training and e-business. Virtually every sector in Anambra will be transformed digitally.
We are going to be asking serious questions. Anambra men are living in all parts of the world and they are suffering all kinds of deprivation. No person or government asks about our people. Our people are sent to jail for as little as nothing; even immigration offences and they are abandoned. While we discourage illegal migration, we are going to promote legal migration and ask questions. Anywhere any Anambra person is, the government will ask about him because we are going to do a data of every Anambra man and establish a diaspora desk in major cities of the world. We are going to create a legal desk that will provide legal aid to every Anambra person. We are encouraging people to invest in our state, but if you invest anywhere, we will not allow our people hounded out of that place. If you invest in any part of Nigeria, because the law of Nigeria permits you to invest in that place, nobody will oppress you there, because you pay tax and as you are paying tax, you bought your land and you are contributing to development of that state. As such, the government should take care of you, if they don’t, my government will ask questions. Five, we are going to rebrand Anambra because perception is one key thing. Anambra is a wonderful place. We are all hardworking people. We are truthful people. When we say things, we do it. We are hard people. So, we are going to use those qualities to rebrand Anambra people. In all the things, we have to make this place a destination. We have to encourage industry, commerce, trade and we will use our products. Everything made in Anambra will be used in Anambra. We are not going to allow people to discourage us. Government will ensure that made in Anambra products are used in Anambra. And as a governor, I’ll be the chief marketer of Anambra products. If you look at the whole thing, I want to take Anambra to a new level where it becomes a destination where people look forward to going because there will be a lot of attraction that will bring people into the state.
Will you rely on zoning for your aspiration or will you fly based on merit or competence?
Basically, I am a proponent of zoning. You know why? Zoning helps every part of the state to aspire to govern the state. I am from Anambra South and if you don’t zone, we will continue to produce the governors of Anambra State because we have the population and we have the resources. We are the people who supported it so that other zones will have the opportunity to govern Anambra. But is it not ironic that after we’ve waited for almost 19 years, when Obiano leaves, the same people who relaxed and allowed others to take it are denied that. It is not good. Personally, I am running because of my competence. I am the most experienced of all the people who have currently declared interest to run, because I’ve worked in Anambra as a commissioner; I know the terrain. I know the politics of Anambra State. I know the business of Anambra state. I was involved even as a member of the IGR committee that basically reengineered the revenue of Anambra from N400million to about N12billion before I left the government. So, as Commissioner for Environment, I visited virtually every community. I know every village in Anambra and have ideas on how to turn things around. I am a bridge between the young and the old. So, I can innovate. I will not run government as usual. What you will see is a modern government which has innovative ideas and can relate to the world. I am well read by all standards. I have integrity, so, I don’t think I am such a person who people will say is coming out because of the issue of zoning. But I will always say that for fairness, equity and justice, if we have started something, let’s continue it. It will help, not only the present situation but will reorder things and make things easy for every part of the state.
Are you not bothered about the incumbency factor that could play to the advantage of APGA knowing full well that the party has held sway in the state for so many years; so, Anambra is the home of APGA?
I totally disagree with you. Anambra is not home of APGA. It is PDP that made APGA to produce governors of Anambra State any day. If not for now that YPP produced a senator in Ifeanyi Ubah, all the three senators are always from the PDP; except through litigation that brought Umeh as a result of administrative lapses in PDP. That was how Umeh became the first APGA senator. In most cases, you find out that 10 or 11 of the House of Reps members are usually PDP. So, I was National Secretary of APGA at a time. There was a time I was the person funding APGA in Anambra State. I can tell you that the soul of APGA has left APGA. The people who are calling themselves APGA today don’t share the spirit of “Onye aghana nwaneya” (Be your brother’s keeper) which made us to leave PDP to go and start APGA. At a time, it was like a cult to some of us who moved to establish APGA. But ask me, who is there now? Virtually everybody has left. So, forget the incumbency factor. APGA has no incumbency factor in Anambra State. That election for governorship is for the PDP to lose. If we do our primaries right in PDP and the best man for the job is allowed to take the job to contest that election, it is going to be a landslide victory; I assure you that. No matter who APGA brings, people have lost hope in APGA. People have lost hope in the government of the day and Anambra is not swayed by partisan interest. What Anambra needs is government that will take them to where they are supposed to be. And you know that when Anambra is right, South East is right. If we don’t get it right in Anambra, we would continue to play Ndigbo.