Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Former National Youth Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the 2019 senatorial candidate of African Democratic Party (ADC) for Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Tony-Uche Ezekwelu, has predicted that Nigeria may collapse and split into different countries if she is not restructured and an Igbo man allowed to be president in 2023 in the spirit of equity, justice, and fairness.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jubilee Star Engineering spoke on various issues in this interview.
The next governorship election in Anambra State will take place in 2021 but activities leading up to that election have commenced already in the state. What type of politics should we be expecting in Anambra?
We won’t be expecting anything different from Anambra politics. Anambra has its own unique style of politics. It will be full of activities. A lot of people who are urban tigers, who are coming from abroad, from Abuja, Lagos, who have been away for a long time will all want to come down and become governor of the state. Also, politicians that have been making efforts to be governor of Anambra would want to contest. And then, the new generation will also contest. Anambra has always had dominant parties, two or three. There will be major activities between two major political parties in Anambra State, the ruling party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which APGA took over from. The All Progressives Congress (APC) will also do a very good showing but I am looking forward to a situation whereby there may be an upset. I foresee a situation in Anambra State where the governor of the state may eventually come from a hitherto not very popular party in the state but with very popular and acceptable leader or personality that can bring about that change. Most likely, it may happen in the 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra State. I do not foresee the nature of horrific elections that were held in Kogi and Bayelsa States which I wouldn’t regard as democracy or election but jungle warfare. I wouldn’t expect that in Anambra State because Anambra is reasonably advanced in politics and violence is not our tradition in this state like it happened in Kogi and Bayelsa States. However, I also foresee a situation whereby there is going to be issue-based campaigns in Anambra State not overlooking religious sentiments and connotation that have been the tradition in Anambra since 1999 and 2003 when it became prevalent. Religious politics will play very visible role in the Anambra campaigns and elections. This is my own analysis of how 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra State will play out. If care is not taken, APGA will lose Anambra State. If PDP doesn’t work on its cohesion, it may lose. I don’t see APC winning Anambra State.
At the moment, the ruling party in the state, APGA, appears divided. What future do you think there is for the party in the 2021 governorship election in the state?
That is why I said that if care is not taken, they may lose Anambra guber to another party. If PDP positions itself very well and tries to overcome its traditional chasm, divisions, ego that usually characterised PDP’s internal politics, it may win. The division in APGA has become very ominous and very obvious and very, very politically destabilising and unfortunate. And it got escalated in 2019 general elections when the party allowed itself to be enmeshed in the kind of internal political manipulations that have never happened in the party in such a volume in the state whereby the level of manipulation and fraud that characterized their primaries last year, is trying to become the albatross of the party in Anambra State and even nationally. Also, the party’s inability to put its house in order, to support its own presidential candidate is another thing.
Thirty percent of the candidates of APC in the last election showed lack of confidence in the leadership of the party. This is because you must have self confidence in yourself first before others will have confidence in you. So, the division in the party, I want to advise the leadership of APGA nationally and state-wise; they should go and resolve that problem. The nature of the division whereby we have about four factions, two major ones and two others, and the nature of court cases that are on. If you remember, this is the type of crises that destroyed the PDP’s control in Anambra and have kept PDP down for too long a time until, Mr Peter Obi, emerged the Vice-Presidential candidate of PDP in the last general election.
What kind of person do you think Anambra needs as the next governor after Obiano?
The state Anambra is in now, we have come to a point that we are at a crossroads. This state presently needs, based on the strategic role Anambra plays in Igbo land and in Nigeria’s politics, as the leading light in Nigeria, Anambra will by 2022, need a home grown governor. Anambra does not need imported governor or somebody who is an Anambra man but has lived all his life in the United States of America (USA) or in Abuja or Lagos. Such person cannot rule Anambra State. Anambra needs a governor that can be part and parcel of the state; that knows the problem of the state because if you don’t know the problem of the state, you cannot solve it. And if you don’t have a personal experience of a problem, you will find it difficult to solve except when you have experts that can help you in diagnosing it. We need a governor that knows where Aroma is before he becomes governor; a governor that knows where Amanuke town is. I have been to Amanuke and I know the problem of Amanuke people. Anambra needs a governor that knows Ojoto town and its problems and can solve it. A governor that knows who and who are the leaders and stakeholders from Anambra; knows them by name, by attribute and capacity. A governor who can relate well with every stratum of Anambra people. Anambra needs a wealth creator as governor and not a wealth manager but somebody that creates and manages. Somebody that has lived his whole life managing other people’s businesses, property, and wealth cannot rule Anambra effectively because what Anambra has in quantum which others don’t have is human capital. And to utilize the human capital to create wealth and manage it effectively, you must have been in the business of creating wealth and managing it. Anambra does not necessarily require somebody that is the most educated in the whole world. We don’t need such a person. But somebody who is educated but also has his hands on ground here; and who has invested and done business in this state and knows actually the nature of doing business here and the pains of the businessmen so that he can solve it. Anambra has no business being about number 26th from the rating of the Bureau of Statistics as at last two months; being about 26th in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) rating in Nigeria; that Enugu, Imo, Abia States have more IGR than Anambra is a shame.
The 2019 general election has come and gone. What is the future of ADC especially in Anambra?
Looking at what happened in 2003 general election, the political realignment that happened, you will see that ADC became the third largest party in Nigeria as at 2018. Apart from APC and PDP, they had the highest number of National Assembly members cutting across so many states. APGA has governor but they have more National Assembly members than APGA; more state House of Assembly members than APGA. It was larger than APGA because APGA was mainly just within Anambra and a few other places. So, with what happened and the nature of the person that is the National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, I see ADC as the party of the present and the future. What I saw when I went there to run election, I feel that other parties should borrow a leaf from the way ADC runs its affairs. They are very open and they are not too much after money. They are after quality and materials. They need to provide alternative leadership to the nation. They have a message and an ideology that they adhere to. And they have their ideology centred on pan-Africanism; justice, equity, fairness. In ADC, women don’t pay for nomination forms; the youth pay half, and also have the support system for the people that are running the party for them. So, ADC is the party to watch out for; both in Anambra 2021 election and the Nigeria’s 2023 election. The political leaders should emulate Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu. This is where I saw a political party leader that is not greedy, money conscious, self-centred. He doesn’t even want to control anybody. He wants you to run within the law of the party; the principles and manifesto of the party.
The issue of Igbo presidency has been reverberating, and lately there have been voices from different parts of Nigeria speaking in favour of the Igbo. But the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo appears to be more interested in restructuring just as Afenifere is doing. What position do you hold on this?
They can run concurrently. My opinion is that they should run concurrently. Nigeria should be restructured if they must remain one. If Nigeria is not restructured, I doubt if Nigeria will last a few more years. Apart from restructuring, every part of Nigeria should be given sense of belonging. It will be for the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians to beg an Igbo man; a competent Igbo man to be president in 2023. It is for the good of the other parts of Nigeria because, Nigeria may not be able to contain what may happen if the Igbo who are the largest population in Nigeria, with the largest spread in Nigeria and across the world are made to become totally disenchanted, skimmed out, and frustrated in Nigeria. Nigeria may not be able to contain what will happen. It is not like I am saying it as a threat but I am giving you an analysis of the situation that is factual, founded, and very objective. Restructuring is a must for Nigeria. Without restructuring, Nigeria will collapse and split into different countries. And God forbid that it will be violent and done in a war situation. If an Igbo man, while restructuring is going on in Nigeria, is made the president of the country, it can help to facilitate restructuring and make it go better and cool down the temperature; the political hype and tension in Nigeria.. If Biafra must remain inside Nigeria as a country, it must be by agreement and negotiation. Force cannot solve it. And the message of Nnamdi Kanu, pro-Biafra groups, and others that are marginalised in Nigeria including myself, is that we should sit back to renegotiate Nigeria. The Igbo should be given equal rights and privileges as Nigerians. If Nigeria cannot allow the Igbo to be full citizens, we have no business remaining in Nigeria or else we are prisoners or slaves to other people in our own land. Mind you, in history, no nation has ever been colonized forever. A time will come when the sons of slaves will become the presidents in the countries of the slavers. So, what I am saying in effect is that with the way the Biafra agitation is getting international recognition, and the consciousness increasing, let me tell you, even though big men who have so much interest and investment in Nigeria never wanted Biafra, most of them are changing their minds now. If