By Chukwudi Nweje
Lady Goody Ogbogu is an astute politician in Anambra State. She has been around for quite a while and understands the dynamics of political leadership in the state. In this interview, she bares her mind on the sort of person the state needs as successor to Gov. Willie Obiano
You are deeply involved in Anambra politics. In your understanding, what exactly is at stake as Anambra goes to the polls in November?
You are right when you said I have been involved with the politics of Anambra State. I have been involved actively right from the creation of the state. The governorship election in November is not going to be too different from the previous ones. However, the only thing I expect, which I honestly look forward to and believe that the election will usher in, is better governance. I expect Anambra people to vote for better governance and for a better state. Anambra is unique. It is blessed with an abundance of human resources, which, if well harnessed, we shall get a team that will make Anambra better, a team that Anambra people will be proud of. From the look of things, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is ready for the challenge. The other parties are gearing up too. That tells you it will be an interesting game to play but the focus is about electing the right kind of governor who will work for the common good of Anambra people. APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) has been there for 16 years. They have tried their best and we all have seen their best. So, it is time to look elsewhere for redemption, for a resourceful and credible person that will give Anambra people what they want in governance. Anambra people are highly intelligent and they like to be governed by someone who is equally intelligent and who can stand the test of time. Anambra needs a man of high status and intelligence, natural and academic. It is my expectation that November will usher in a new era for our dear state. So, I am looking forward to November with high hopes that a credible man, one who understands what governance means and one who has a track record of achievement and performance in his private engagement.
When you say APGA has done its best and it is time for Anambra to look elsewhere, you suggest that APGA’s best is not good enough?
Well, everyone knows that APGA’s best is not good enough, given the expectations of the people of Anambra State. There are lapses everywhere and that is why we have to do the needful and try our hands elsewhere. When we talk of opening up Anambra for investors to come in, you need to get someone who understands investments to drive that vision. You don’t put a luxury bus driver to fly an Airbus because they both have ‘bus’ in their names. No, you look for a pilot who is trained and rated to fly an Airbus. If you look around Anambra today, you find that we have a lot of youths on the streets doing nothing. Parents are faced with a reality of seeing their children graduate only to sit back at home and without jobs. Parents who were looking forward to their kids attending to them in old age are still taking care of adult children because they can’t get jobs. This has even led to a rise in crime. To address these issues, you need someone who is capable of creating jobs and it can only be someone who had passed through the crucible and had created jobs in his private enterprise. Someone who had earned salary all his life may not quite understand what it takes to grow investments and create jobs or create the atmosphere for investors to create jobs. These are part of the dynamics of what we are looking forward to in November. So, like I said, APGA has done its best. Unfortunately, its best was not what Anambra looked up to when it went with APGA. So, it is time to look elsewhere.
You are of the PDP and the popular refrain about the party in Anambra is that it will always split and approach elections with three or more factions. As you prepare for the primary election in June, do you fear that the party may split?
You know, we are humans. We deal with human beings every day. I agree that there are people who fear that there may be a split; but I am strong in my belief that it won’t happen again. PDP in Anambra has found its rhythm. It is more united now than ever before. Anambra PDP is one and those who think they can split it will only be wasting their time. Party members are resolute in their support for the incumbent leader of Hon. (Sir) Ndubisi Nwobu. You are aware that every attempt to split the party last year failed and the members are happier for it. If you look carefully, you will see that PDP has been on a sensitisation tour of wards and local governments in the state. The tour has been an educating moment for the members and they are now better informed about the issues that caused previous splits. In the past, some people traded the party for money from the opposition and dumped it. They would accept money from the other parties and, from within, work to ensure that PDP does not pose a threat. That happened because they know that PDP is formidable and too large to be uprooted. But those issues have been addressed and attempts to balkanize the party using the judiciary have also been checkmated judicially too. Today, the members of PDP in Anambra are more aware of the issues and they are ready to put an end to those behaviours that had betrayed them in the past. I believe that the people are better informed now and are ready to stand firm with the incumbent leadership. Those who indulge in this deceit will come to realise that the members are no longer ready to go with them and will have a rethink.
What are the chances of PDP, given that APGA and APC are also firmly rooted in Anambra?
Anambra has always been a PDP state. Those people you see in APGA and APC are all PDP members. They only moved over because of the internal crises that were orchestrated in PDP. We thank God that those internal crises have been resolved. Thank God for Dr. Obiora Okonkwo who God has used mightily to put the party in order. He has done whatever is necessary to make sure the PDP is put firmly in order. A lot of them in APC and APGA are now on the wings to rejoin PDP because they have seen the new direction and the renewed unity. With this new resolve to work and fight as one, PDP will definitely wrest power from APGA.
You were very prominent at a recent event in Awka tagged ‘Dr. Obiora Okonkwo Praise Worship Conference with PDP Statutory Delegates’, and turnout was massive. What was the idea behind such a gathering of your party’s statutory delegates under a roof?
It was all part of efforts to strengthen the unity that now exists in the party. The organisers thought it was good to bring all the statutory delegates and executives of the party in all 21 LGAs of the state under a roof and under a single state leadership to give thanks to God for the good things we are witnessing in the party and also to make that necessary and bold statement that PDP is back, bigger, stronger and better to win the governorship election in November.
If you were there, you would have noticed that all the statutory delegates from the 326 wards in the state, numbering over 2,000, were present. Beyond being present, they arrived the venue way before 8am for the accreditation and participated actively in the praise and worship till about 6pm. it was a huge statement on their readiness to do the needful to bring PDP back to the leadership of Anambra State. It was a huge event. And to show you that PDP has bounced back, there was no attempt from any quarter to break up the event or even infiltrate it with naysayers.
You suggest that the event was a huge statement by PDP on its readiness for the forthcoming election?
It is part of it. Just imagine the energy and resources put together by the organizers to make it happen. It was a very good outing for the PDP.
Do you have any fears about the June 26 primary election of the PDP? There are fears that it may not be transparent?
Certainly it will be transparent. The leadership of the party, in both federal and state, has made that promise and they are sticking to it. So, I have no fears that it will not be. I believe it will be free, fair and transparent and everyone will be happy with the outcome. Whoever emerges the winner will have the support of those that were beaten and that will strengthen the party and make stronger. We are focused on this and I have no doubt that PDP will deliver a very clean primary election.
Sixteen aspirants purchased the nomination forms of the PDP. Majority of them are from Anambra south. There is this view that they may could be working towards a consensus candidate from among them on the argument that it is the turn of Anambra south. Do you share this view?
No, I don’t! See, I am from Anambra north zone and I have a different view. Those who talk about zoning do not actually understand what it means. If there is to be zoning, then, there must be a general assembly of the people, not just politicians, but also, all critical stakeholders in the state who would agree to zone the governorship. And it must be written and agreed that when it is the urn of any zone to produce a governor, all the political parties in the state, be they 100 or 1000, must pick their candidates from the zone and no one from any of the two other zones must indicate interest. Fortunately, we have never had any such meeting in Anambra state. Don’t forget I told you earlier that I have participated actively in the politics of this state since it was created. So, I am in a position to know we have had any such meeting. To that extent, zoning means nothing. Those clutching to it may actually have no pedigree to market and so, are looking for a narrow filed to play on. Anambra has long gone beyond such. Thank God that the PDP had said it is more interested in picking a candidate that could win the election. Since the party, the major platform they are contesting on, is not interested in zoning, why still flog a dead horse?