By Onyedika Agbedo
Charles Chinwendu Odedo is a former member of the House of Representatives. Odedo, who represented Idemili North and South Federal Constituency, recently declared his intention to contest the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he speaks on his aspiration, the chances of his party in the election and his plans for the state, among other issues.
You recently indicated your interest to contest the forthcoming Anambra governorship election. What is your inspiration?
I come with a lot of goodwill having been elected twice to the House of Representatives and I performed exceptionally well. In the years that I served as a member of House of Representatives, I introduced 15 bills and 10 motions including the very popular motion on the passing of Prof. Chinua Achebe in March 2013. I introduced the bill on Telecoms Equity, HB 680 and Prohibition of Repugnant Widow Practices, HB734, among many other bills.
In my constituency, I developed the concept of town-to-town representation, focusing on human capital development and empowerment. I awarded scholarship to over 1,000 students (both university and secondary) from every community in my constituency. My constituency projects were spread evenly throughout all the 17 communities that make up Idemili North and South Federal Constituency. In addition to about 40 full time employments, constituents were also empowered with cash to start or expand existing businesses.
My decision to contest the governorship is therefore borne out of my desire to continue the excellent service to my people. My track record of performance, my education and experience will be a great asset to this endeavour.
What are your chances of winning the APC primary?
I am a foundation member of the APC having been elected to the House of Representatives on the platform of the defunct ACN in 2011, when most people did not give us a chance. I have sponsored ACN/APC financially in at least five major elections, which the party won all in my constituency. For three years, I sponsored the ACN/APC party structure fully in my constituency and also the state party structure in part. APC members know me and my track record; and I believe that they will vote for me.
There is this rumour that the minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, might join the governorship race. Do you see him as a threat?
Well, I think our leader, Dr. Chris Ngige, is one of the very few Nigerians that have been blessed politically. He has been a governor, a senator and now a serving minister of Labour. Less than 50 Nigerians fall into this category that people call GSM, meaning Governor, Senator and Minister. Most of these GSMs are men now aspiring to be presidents and vice presidents. Ngige, belonging to this group should rather concentrate on moving higher. However, if he chooses to contest this Anambra 2017 governorship election, he risks failing in the election. He will rather be coming out late. Mind you, some aspirants have been working hard for over a year. That ambition may fail.
The South-East people feel marginalised by the APC-led Federal Government. Don’t you think it would affect the chances of the party in the election?
I believe that the cries of the people should be looked into. Every part of this country should benefit from the activities of Federal Government. I offer myself as part of the solution to the problems of our people. I will speak up and most importantly, I will negotiate to attract development to our people. There have been a lot of defections from PDP to APC by prominent Igbo leaders and I sincerely think that the defection is good for APC. It will be critical to the party winning the forthcoming governorship election. If you look at the 2013 result of the governorship election in Anambra State, out of the four leading parties in that election, three have virtually merged with the APC. If the APC aspirants are managed carefully, this could result in a landslide victory for the party.
What is your agenda for the state if elected governor?
My agenda for Anambra State will have as its foundation the potential, comparative advantages and capabilities of the state, both in human and material resources, in order to create wealth, create jobs, reduce poverty, empower our people, create the enabling environment and actively promote the private sector as the engine of growth.
I envision building a befitting capital for Anambra State, while there will be a major focus on six urban areas in the state including Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi in the first phase and Abagana, Otuocha and Ekwulobia in the second phase. I am running to provide excellent service to our people. I have been educated in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Portland University, U.S. Having been elected twice to the House of Representative, and having performed exceptionally well, I have no doubt that I have the capacity to serve the people of Anambra State excellently.
There are 14 aspirants on the platform of the APC. How do you think the party can ensure that it remains united going into the election?
One thing you must know is that our party is well organised and have already set up a committee to manage the situation. The South-East committee on Anambra 2017 election is made up of eminent personalities led by the former Governor of old Anambra State, Dr. Jim Nwobodo. Other members include Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu as Vice Chairman, Senator Azu Agboti as Secretary; Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Nkechi Nworgu, Chief Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu and Chief Cosmos Maduba. Things are looking good because so far, the committee has performed creditably well, screening all the aspirants, keeping issues in proper perspective, guarantying a free and fair contest and most importantly, bringing in the spirit of brotherhood into the contest. APC may end up in a landslide victory in the forthcoming governorship election on November 18, 2017.