From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
One of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election, Sir Chukwuma Paul Chukwuka has said that the APC administration as young as it is has done more for Ndigbo than the previous administrations in the country. In an interview with Sunday Sun, Chukwuka who is the current Zonal Youth Leader of APC South-East said the people of the South-east geo-political zone should acknowledge the impact President Muhammadu Buhari is making in the zone especially in infrastructural development.
The guber aspirant who hails from the same area as the incumbent governor Willie Obiano said Anambra state would be better with an APC elected governor from the north, just as he spoke on the party primary and what he intends to bring on the table for the state.
You said you are an aspirant in the forthcoming governorship election; one would want to know why you want to become the next governor of Anambra state?
For me, I am running for the governorship of Anambra state not basically because I want to join the train. I am running for the governorship of Anambra state because I feel I understand where we are now as a people, and what needs to happen for us to get to the next level. A lot is basically at stake in this election. I am running for the nomination of my party which is the first step. I am running for the nomination of my party because I think I am the right candidate for the party. I think I have the capacity, I have the training, I have the skill, I have the character to represent my party as the flagbearer in the forthcoming election. I’ve talked about my academic qualification , but what I didn’t also mention is that while I was writing my PHD thesis, I also enrolled for my law programme and by the grace of God I will be graduating next year because I figured out that to be in a position of leadership you need to be prepared for it. So I am pretty much prepared for the task ahead if by the grace of God and with the support of my party I pick the nomination of my party.
However, what we are having today is not satisfactory because government is not all about building roads, there are soft components and hard components of development and for every development to make sense it has to be sustainable. So, personally I have looked at a number of things including but not limited to poverty mapping of various local governments of Anambra state to understand basically what we need to do. Number one, I don’t agree for instance that we should be talking about transitional government at the local government level because local government level to a very large extent, is where we have the grassroots and we must ensure that development gets to the grassroots otherwise there is no good governance because a greater number of the population resides at the rural areas. So,part of my agenda is within six months of coming into office, I have to conduct a very credible, free and fair local government election, so the party people will be accommodated, Ndi Anambra will have a feeling of government and government should function the way it should function. It is illegal and unconstitutional not to have elected local government in place and I think it is electoral fraud on the electorate. That is one of the first things I am going to tackle because once we have the local governments and local governments should be allowed to function with executive local government officers, then the issue is half solved. Because you now find out that at the various local government levels you have mini state houses where people engage with their elected members and begin to see dividend of democracy and all that.
Then I am also in this race because I believe I am young. I believe as the Youth Leader of the party in the South-east, part of our problem is dealing with the youths, a greater segment of our population is within that bracket of the youth and we don’t seem to have any clear plan of what to do with that percentage of the population. I am in this race to ensure that the youths are taken seriously, and there is no reason we should be talking about unemployment in Anambra for instance, there is no reason we should be talking about youth restiveness here and there either in the form of the youths taking over the communities and selling the communal lands out of frustration and lack of employment or involving themselves in all manner of illegal activities. So, my aim and part of my agenda is to put in place a pro youth government that creates room for the elderly to equally be taken care of. There are a number of laws we have in Anambra that you might be surprised that are not even implemented. We have all manner of laws, for the aged, for the physically challenged and nobody is talking about all these. So we need to within the rule of law see how we can get Anambra out of the woods, where we are today currently is not palatable.
Some of the things you said were said by previous governments and is being said by the incumbent administration, what do you think you can do differently?
This is a very good question, but you see, I am going to answer this by going back to the beginning. We have a constitutional provision that for you to be governor of a state you need to take oath of office and in that oath of office, there is an interesting line that will help us answer this question and that is, the constitution says,” I, so, so and so pledge to serve my state in line with the constitution to the best of my ability”. People don’t take note of that, ‘to the best of my ability,’ what it means is that if a particular governor is not performing you shouldn’t blame that governor because he is acting based on his ability. So for me, we need the electorate to look at people that are coming out, whether current governor, new entrants who want to run for the office of the governor, to see how much capacity, to access their personal ability because you cannot give what you don’t have. So if we allow somebody who does not have capacity and he has taken an oath telling us that he will steer the ship of state to the best of his ability, then if he does anything wrong, nobody will hold him responsible.
That’s part of the reason i am in this race because I have the capacity, I have the ability and this ability has got components that are empirically verifiable. So we can verify that from antecedents, we can verify that from what the individual has done in the past and we can also verify that from the skill, the training and character of the individual. So that’s basically the way I think I would answer your question, ability and capacity are very important. I have the integrity, I have the character, I have the political will, I have the courage, I have the energy,i am a young man, to get these things done. So I believe if we can as a people assess those who are vying for the office of governor we will not be having any issues.
Back to your party APC, what is the best way you think the candidate of your party will emerge?
Free and fair primaries, APC has proved that with the previous elections. We went to Edo, I was part of that process, we went to Ondo, I was physically present and you find out that we are not like other parties. Number one, it’s going to be a delegate election for our primaries, and the delegates are known, there is no speculation about who the delegates are. We know the delegates; every aspirant of course knows who the delegates are, so you now need to start talking to those delegates. You need to sell whatever you have to the delegates, so I can’t see any other way around it other than allowing the people and our delegate to vote. Almost all the organs of the party from the grassroots to the state level are delegates. So it is a full representation of the party and whoever that emerges as the candidate of the party is coming out fully and properly nominated by a good number of people. We are talking of more than 4,000 delegates. So it is not a joke. Of course, the party had proved that in the past and our party APC has a track record of free and fair primaries and Anambra is not going to be different.
There is this fear that this beautiful picture you painted about your party may not work in Anambra following the influx of PDP stalwarts and aspirants. Knowing the antecedents of the party they are coming from.Are you not worried about their presence?
I am not bothered about that, and I don’t think any serious minded party member will be bothered about that, because we already have got the party to a point where the party has assumed some kind of character as an entity. So we have a civil culture in place that doing something contrary to that will single you out as not being part of the system. I am also not particularly against our brothers from other parties who have decided to join us, because political party is all about people, it is a game of numbers. However, a single individual or a couple of individuals cannot, because we have rooted the party in a civil and transparent culture and tradition. It will be difficult for one individual or a couple of individuals who are coming in to corrupt the party. It is the party that will positively influence those individuals because the party has already a culture that is either you fit into that civility, transparency and that law abiding character then you can’t stay. So nobody should be bothered. And I also don’t think that the people that are joining our party will have such intention because they also know from a distance that this party has singled itself as a party of transparency, we call for change and we can’t be seen to be doing things that will be an aberration to that change that we have been professing. So, from my own personal opinion I don’t see the possibility of that happening. I see the possibility of the party converting souls and making them better citizens of the party and not the other way round.
There is this feeling in Igboland especially in Anambra state that it will be difficult for APC to win election in the state. Don’t you think this may affect your party in the forthcoming election?
I feel the sentiment of our people with regard to APC. I am unapologetically an Igbo man. I am an Igbo man in a united Nigeria, my Nigerian identity cannot be wished away just like my Igbo identity cannot be wished away. I have interacted with a number of people, a good number of people feel and represent the question you have asked, while a good number of people have a broad minded position. Having said that, the issue is about delivery of dividend of democracy. The issue is about effective representation of Ndi Anambra, the issue is not about the party, the issue is about the individual. We were told sometime in this party, that APGA is the party of Ndigbo. You will allow me to ask you, I know journalists ask people questions, but I will ask you, you think that APGA is still the party of Ndigbo? You may not answer that question but the answer is obvious. We should not allow people to deceive others because they are in a position of leadership; APGA has never been and will never be the party of Ndigbo. It is an aberration to talk about party of Ndigbo because we are in a federal system of government; we are not an independent state. We had the previous government that some people erroneously felt was more favourably to Ndigbo but can we look at the numbers?
What did Ndigbo benefit from that government? Is it Enugu-Onitsha expressway? It was not done, you are a journalist, you go to Enugu from Awka but this administration has done 60 per cent in fixing that road and look at the quality of work that is being done, yet this is a party, an administration some people regard as anti-Igbo. We shouldn’t allow certain elements to confuse our people. Whether there are serious issues to be discussed as Ndigbo? Yes, there are issues, but the way and manner we discuss these issues is also very important.
We need to put whatever it is we are doing within the framework of the law; anything that is not within the rule of law will not work.
Without wishing away the fundamental and existential issues of Ndigbo in the federation, I also call for caution, is not about party, is not about APC, is not about PDP, is not about APGA, is about the individuals. The Governors we’ve had in Anambra, none of them is from the north, none of them is from the south, none of them is from the south-south, they were all Ndi Anambra, how far have we faired? That is the question. So we should look for credible people to represent us as governors, members of National Assembly and even State Assembly members. The State Assembly members we have are they from the moon, are they not Ndi Anambra? So we need to look at these issues. Haven said this I want to make it clear that there are issues that need to be discussed, there are issues that need to be worked on, there are issues that as Ndi Anambra we need to effectively look at and in looking at these issues we need to ensure that our interest as Ndigbo is protected but not at the detriment of the federation. I agree that Ndigbo have made a lot of sacrifices in this federation but the point is that we must continue to be Ndi Igbo within the federation and not otherwise. So I share the sentiment of people but I want to say categorically that this administration as young as it is has done more for Ndigbo than the previous administrations and the case at point is this Enugu-Onitsha expressway that is a nightmare. Now recently another road from my village to Abuja has been awarded under this administration. So what are we talking about, Niger Bridge was used every as political campaign, it was only this administration that took a bold step to put it in the right direction, so we need to look at the numbers is not about how many people that were appointed. I agree that political appointment is important, but political appointment, we’ve had Senate Presidents of Igbo extraction, we’ve had all manner of juicy cabinet positions, to what extent does that translate to placing bread and butter on the table of the average man from your village in Imo State? Those are the issues that we will be talking about. I think what is at stack in this election is not political party and our people need to understand it, what is at stack in this election is Ndi Anambra, the fate of Ndi Anambra in the federation, the fate of Ndi Anambra as Ndi Anambra within the state and among the comity of states. So we should forget about some people deceiving others pretending that they are working for them, if APGA is the party for Ndigbo, what is happening now? We are in a federation and we must behave like people in a federation.