By Christy Anyanwu
The People Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant for the November 6 election in Anambra State, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) has said that he is determined to bring change to Anambra if elected to paddle the affairs of the state. Having obtained his nomination form recently, Etiaba, son of the first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virginia Etiaba, told Sunday Sun in an exclusive interview that he is coming out for the second time to run for the governorship of his state, promising to take governance of the state to new heights. Excerpts:
You are running again as candidate in the scheduled governorship election in Anambra Sstate, knowing full well that APGA has been in government for over 16 years in your state, what do you think you will be bringing to the table to your favour since Anambra is known as an APGA state?
I’m running for a second time having ran in 2010 unsuccessfully. I’m running because I know that the 16 years of APGA in Anambra State has created an opening for PDP to come in and show how governance should be done in the state. Remember that those 16 years, Peter Obi did eight years and under the governorship of Peter Obi, the state actually had it good, but I cannot say the same for what is on the ground now. I know that the government of the day has done its bit, but there is need for a more enterprising, more focused leader to come on board and that is why I offered myself. I offer to be the next governor of Anambra State, to be the preferred aspirant in PDP, and what I do come with is one, focus, I’m a very focused man, once I set out to accomplish a goal I do not waiver until I accomplish that goal. I’m humble and we need humility. As a leader, one needs humility as one of the virtues. Beyond humility, I am a team player. I believe that I don’t know it all. I believe that God has created every man with some talents and when the talents are harnessed together then, you see a great success. That is to say, one person cannot rule a state. You cannot be a governor, a special adviser and be a commissioner at the same time. You need to harness the different talents that God has brought your way and I know that I am the one that is used to delegating authority very well. I also know that I understand Anambra State perfectly well, having followed the politics of Anambra since 1999 till date and most especially from 2003 till date, I can tell you that I know where the bones are buried in Anambra State, I know what the major issues are, I have the prerequisite knowledge to Iead the state on the path of greatness once again .As a person, I know that Anambra state is endowed with so much virtues, so much talents, so much resources. When I say resources, I mean, human, capital, and natural minerals. I know that Anambra State has veritable soil for Agriculture, I know that Anambra State is the second to the smallest state in terms of land mass and so, it is possible to make Anambra State a one-town state because of the land mass. Anambra State has the second highest density, and that means that we need to plan our villages, our communities and our town. What you find now is planlessness, people build carelessly, and nobody controls anything. With population explosion in another 50 years, the population of Anambah State will be more than 20 million, at present, we are somewhere around 4.5 million, in 50 years it will be more than 20 million, how can we live with the way that development is going? Anambra State has quite a lot of industries and most of them are moribund. I know I have the wherewithal to put that sector of the economy right. In Nnewi where I hail from, I can tell you that in the 80s we have over 100 functional industries .Today; we don’t have more than 20. This is very pathetic. One has to revisit those areas. There are a lot that is bringing me out, and I know I’m in a position to accomplish that which we need most in Anambra. The present government actually did a lot on security; it was when this government came into power that we could sleep with our two eyes closed. But all that is fast becoming history. We need to get back, we need to ask ourselves what is going wrong and be able to right the wrong.
You were in APGA, but now back to PDP; do you think that the people in PDP who have been patiently waiting all these while will allow you have to have ticket?
I was in APGA, I contested the first time in 2010 under APGA and because APGA refused to conduct primary election (nomination exercise) they insisted that the governor should have a second term without contest, eventually I left. And since I left in 2010, I have not been a member of APGA. I left APGA in 2010, so I don’t understand why anybody would think there’s APGA blood in me anymore after 11 years. Most of the people I’m contesting against, have either been in APGA or are just freshers in politics. I can’t really find one of the contestants who were in PDP in 2010. Not one. In fact, as it were, I’m the oldest amongst the aspirants, I’m the one that is the oldest member of PDP in Anambra. So that postulation is not correct. I am the oldest member of PDP among the aspirants.
Anambra State election is determined by so many factors, including religion, are the churches and other associations in the state supporting you?
It is a topic I don’t like discussing because it’s something that will be dealt with once and for all, but I’m not representing any denomination in my quest in becoming the governor of Anambra. For associations, I’m not even any member of associations apart from the NBA and probably being a member of the royal cabinet of Igwe Nnewi. I’m not any member of any association. I’m not an association person and there’s no association supporting me.
How would you cope with the incumbency factor since Obiano would like to choose his successor, how would you cope with that?
Incumbency factor is not strong in this coming election because Obiano is not seeking a third term; he has completed his second term. The incumbent factor only plays strongly when the governor wants to come out for a second term; now he has done his second term. I don’t believe the incumbency factor is there. But APGA being the party in power, I believe that they are not to be shroud aside, we are not to trivialize their strength, but I know that the body language of Ndi-Anambra as of today is “change” and I offer them an opportunity for that change and I know it will come by God’s grace.
What will be your immediate focus if you become the governor?
My immediate focus will be security, security, security. We need to get the state secured once again so that businesses will thrive, life will return to normalcy. Beyond that we now talk about the problems we have in Anambra State.
What is your take about herdsmen and farmers clashes in the Southeast?
It’s becoming a problem of national calamity and since a lot is not being done nationally as the governor of Anambra State, I will take charge and I will determine how the herdsmen will operate in Anambra State. There have been quite a lot of attacks, molestations of our women, loss of lives and property and all that. It is not something I will play politics with because once one becomes governor of a state, the first purpose of that governance is to protect lives and property, that I will do, no matter how anybody feels, no matter how political the matter may sound. We have to secure our place. Without security nothing will thrive. I will deal with it squarely. Anambra is not a state where you will say there’s a forest that covers 10 kilometer like in Sambisa. There’s no place where you can hide in Anambah that we cannot smoke the person out.
If elected, what are your main plans for the people of Anambra State?
My main plan for the people of Anambra is to make sure that I take the state to regain its lost pride, making Anambra State great again. I will do that by first of all making sure that all the key infrastructure are put right, I will do that by redirecting the minds of our youths to understand that hard work is the only guaranty to success. I will make sure that education is taken seriously. Government of the day has done so well in education, but again, there’s room for improvement and I will do that. If you look at our schools, you realize that many of our schools are dilapidated. I will also deal with that. One important thing I will do is to make our curriculum in the schools right so that the Igbo language will take a place of pride, so that our people will begin to see virtue in being an Igbo person, so that we begin to inculcate in our children the virtues of an Igbo person. I will also make sure that the numerous tertiary institutions we have in Anambra are properly funded. Judiciary is my immediate constituency, and I have always said that, it does not make sense that a judge of the high court will be driving anything less than a Prado Jeep as his official car, that is a big insult, a very big insult. I will reassess what goes on in the judiciary and I will make sure that judiciary takes their funding on the first term charge. I won’t be the one that will be giving them pittance like little children. Judiciary would be a place where independence will be guaranteed so that justices can be done. I can assure you that when judiciary takes its pride of place, every other thing will fall in line because it is the judiciary that determines the existence of other government institutions. I will revisit the issue of our IGR because no government would fund its activities based on Abuja handout, the little money that Abuja is still handing over to states; we need to improve on our IGR. That means that I’m likely to step on toes because the money that is supposed to come to the states is going to private pockets. We really have to dialogue with such private pockets to see how they can understand that the only way to provide governance and dividend of democracy in the state is by receiving the revenue that accrue to the state, that I will also do. Most importantly, we have to encourage agriculture, Anambra State has quite a lot of fertile ground and I know that with improved agricultural techniques we will do well.
As a SAN, what would you say are the problems facing the judiciary in the country?
Funding, funding is the first problem. We need to allow the judiciary; the constitution has stated there should be independence of the judiciary. The independence actually also extended to their finances. Let the judiciary take their monies from the coffers not from the executives direct. Secondly, the state assembly or the national assembly must make sure the judiciary budgets are not tampered with. These are not things you should tamper with, they are necessary, they are not luxury issues. The judiciary has a major issue. The mode of appointment t of judicial officers where people believe it’s a reward scheme, it shouldn’t be like that. We must make sure that people who are qualified get into the judiciary. The institution where you have old people in their 60s becoming judges that does not mean well for our people. When the people we are actually competing with send their own iat 35 and 40s they have produced judges by the time they are 45, 50, they are in the Supreme Court. . Our people go to Supreme Court, stay two, three months and retire. It doesn’t make sense. I will make sure that the pressure that judicial officers receive especially from politicians because when you talk of corruption in the judiciary sometimes it is borne out of pressure from the politicians. You noticed that, most times those of us who are lawyers and active litigation lawyers, you find out that discordant judgments mainly prevail in the political cases, when you talk about commercial and issues that relate to non-political matters the judgment comes out strong, but when it comes to political judgments anything can go because there’s too much pressure. The “pressure’ is not necessarily money, money. if I have a friend that I believe that I’m instrumental to his elevation and the person is adjucating in the matter I have interest, once I start calling the judge to please do it this way, that pressure is actually more deadly than money. So, as a governor, I will make sure that the judiciary is shielded from such influence and the way to shield the judiciary from such influence is by making sure that no one man will claim the glory that a judicial officer was appointed based on his recommendation. Again, if their condition of service is improved then they are likely not to go for bribe. I have often said that we say that judicial officers should not take bribe, but again, the condition of service makes it impossible for them not to take bribe. These are things we will look into and make sure thing go right.