From Iheanacho Nwosu,Abuja
Mr. Barth Nwibe is a successful businessman and a philanthropist. As a private citizen, he has given out scholarships to hundreds of indigenes of his home state. According to the business mogul, he has also rendered other assistances to people.
In this interview, he spoke on how he will govern Anambra State if he secures the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket.
You seem to have so much confidence going into the primaries when you are competing against notable politicians who had vied for the office in the past. What is giving you such confidence?
I have been an original member of this party. When I say this party, I mean APC. Of course I come from one of the legacy party, the ACN. I think we constitute the majority in Anambra State. So I believe this is our party, and I believe I have the best programme for Anambra people. I have been marketing my programmes to Anambra people, so I believe free and fair election, I am going to win. The people you are talking about have never won election to be governor of Anambra State, which means they were not popular. If they were popular, they would have won.
Some of these guys are coming around today because there is election, and after that most of them will disappear. But some of us are home every weekend, interacting with these guys; so that gives you the confidence that these are my people. And I think they know who I am, I don’t deceive them, and I don’t make empty promises to them, I don’t promise what I can’t do. You know when you tell lies, after sometime people will realize that you are telling lies. Today we have some candidates who go about promising one position to about five people at the same time. And before you know it everybody realizes that these guys are just toying with them.
Beyond winning the APC ticket, do you see yourself defeating APGA and PDP?
I disagree with you; I think our people have realized over time that they have been deceived. APGA and PDP are the same party. APGA was just a local branch of PDP; it was a local arm of PDP, fashioned in such a way that they will win the local election. APGA was not presenting presidential candidates, and they were also not interested in the national assembly elections until recently that they negotiated some few from the PDP. So over time a lot of things have happened in Anambra State to make people realize that they are deceitful. APGA is the party in power in Anambra today, and I bet you the falcon is not hearing the falconer in Anambra anymore. Things have gone from bad to worse, things are not happening, there is a public disconnect between the government and the people of Anambra. People are harassed, about two months ago, there was this operation clean and healthy Anambra, they started breaking down people’s home, they went to somewhere in Onitsha, extorting money from them, if you are not able to pay, they will bring your house down; all in the name of making money for the state.
In this time of hardship, the government is still using such measure. So that is APGA; as for PDP I am not sure they will able to come out of their problems, and even if they do come out of their problems, for the damage they have done to Anambra, I am not sure the people will entrust them with power. So APC is the party, and I know our people have realized that we need to get back to the centre, to where things are shared in this country.
Are you saying you do not reckon with the APGA government in Anambra when it is praised for its achievements in the area of security and education?
In Anambra State, Peter Obi started the policy of pulling down business and buildings that are suspected to have proceeds of crime, we continued with that. Beyond this, the APC government when we come in will look to improve the security problems we have. We intend to have proper command and control. We do not have high profile crime cases, but we still have cases of stealing, rape and all kinds of crime. But these are not what you see, it is only when a high profile person is kidnapped that it becomes big news. What I propose that we do in Anambra is what I call operation know your neighbor; whereby we take a proper census of whoever is living in a locality. And we are going to be looking at people’s lifestyle; if we suspect you are living above your means, we are going to interrogate and find out how you are making the money. In Anambra, we have the Town Development Unions, so every community has administration that focuses on the peculiarities of that community. So this is a plus for the state. We are going to have security cameras in some busy places like upper Iweka , all the flash points.
On education, did we take first in NECO or WAEC this year and last year? It answers the question of how well or not we are doing. Anambra is a premier state of this country; it is the light of this country. If you talk about this nation; somehow Anambra people have remained outstanding. Zik , Ikemba, Chinua Achebe ,Chimamanda Adichie , Soludo are all from Anambra State. The point is what significant progress have we made in recent times? I want to see a situation where Anambra is investing in technology, research and development, and you do realize that most of the pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria are owned by Anambra people.
In specific terms, what can you say you have done for the people that would make the electorate to vote for you?
I come from Aguata Local Government. I have touched lives, I have been awarding scholarships for the past 13 years to students, I have been giving aids to APC, and every month I pay physically challenged people salary. That is an aspect of my life. I set up a business; I employed a lot of Anambra people. Many of them have passed through me; many of them have joined big companies. So I give them opportunities to come into the oil and gas sector. I support the church. I am building a church in my own community. I am building an ICT center for the Catholic Church at St. Peter’s University. So within my means, I have done so much. I have never been in government, but I have helped people that I have come across to the best of my ability. My gate is open to the people, I relate with them and I believe I have a very solid plan to transform the state, which is the most important thing.
Why do you think that you are better than other aspirants?
I want people to engage me on what they can do better for the state. I have said it that I am going to make the state energy independent, in terms of a working refinery. We can generate our own electricity to power the state. That means small scale industries can survive, that means we can employ graduates in Anambra State, that means we can have a middle class that means the state will come up and that is when we can realize our destiny as a people. Today we are not doing that. Nobody has that kind of programme.
What do you make of the recent IPOB threat against the guber election?
Anambra people are basically all Igbo. Nobody is more patriotic than some of us. Some of us go to the deepest end of the sea to make money and we bring it to Anambra State. So I would be surprised if a young man on the street of Onitsha or Aba or Owerri has not realized that those of us outside South-East are struggling to bring opportunities back to the area. So IPOB or no IPOB, we are all of the same ethnicity. We like Igbo land to progress. We like things to be done better in Igbo land. Look at the pedigree of the original APC guys. We are talking about the likes of Chris Ngige, Ogbonnaya Onu. These are impeccable characters. Nobody can claim to be more Igbo than Chris Ngige, Ogbonnaya Onu or even Orji Uzor Kalu. These are great Igbo men. The IPOB feeling is as a result of what PDP did in the past. It is a manifestation of leadership failure, which is what PDP left. We had so much opportunity under Jonathan. Under Jonathan the south easterners were in key strategic ministries. It didn’t translate to anything. I live in Port-Harcourt. The road from Port-Harcourt to Owerri was at a point cut off completely. Now that road is fixed, that was during Jonathan’s time. I go from Onitsha to Enugu today; you see the massive solid work that they are doing in the Enugu-Onitsha road. That is the APC government today.
What will be your next political move if you fail to pick the ticket?
I believe in God. I believe in God’s will. There is nothing that cannot be accepted. If God does not wish anything, it doesn’t happen. So if the unexpected happens, I will take it as the will of God. But what God has not destined for man cannot happen to him. So I believe in God and there is nothing we can’t accept.