By Sunday Ani
Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu is the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). He speaks in this interview on the forthcoming Anambra governorship elections among other issues.
You were quoted recently as saying that the APC, PDP, and APGA should be disqualified from the Anambra poll. Why?
I will suggest you reframe the question. I did not say so; rather I said that the three parties disqualified themselves by their own volition. They disqualified themselves through their own actions bordering on abuse of processes and rules set by the electoral bills, the constitution, INEC, and even their own party policies and doctrines. By their sheer impunity and indiscipline, they have offended their members and the people of Anambra and Nigeria. How long do you want our democracy, our country, and people to suffer this type of indignation, callousness and fraudulent tendencies? It is time we moved on. Enough is enough. After 23 years of our democratic regime, should the system be degenerating and not improving? The parties failed themselves and their members in not doing the right things and the level of greed and ineptitude displayed by their leaders and some of the contestants. Imagine the kind of money being bandied and used in trying to corrupt everyone, including structures and institution in the entire ecosystem in Anambra and across Nigeria. Look into the judiciary with court orders and rulings from all the courts in the land. As we speak, APGA is split into four bodies and each has court orders or judgment emanating from different courts. Last week, some judges were held hostage and more or less forced to give judgment in a case that they had earlier adjourned for hearing in September. This is notwithstanding the fact that INEC had said from the beginning that APGA had not nominated or elected delegates according to their constitution to conduct an indirect primary. The PDP is caught up in the same web because of the rancorous nature and effects of too many greedy and inordinate godfathers within the party. Up untill the primary date, the list of delegates continued to change, until they conducted a process in which they had 16 candidates that had invested billions of Naira campaigning across the state succumb to an imaginary super delegates of less than 230 persons. The aspirants paid over N400million officially and a lot more to private pockets and numerous others in Abuja and God knows where else, and they spent over N10billion lobbying delegates at ward levels. Then, finally, the party leaders came up with an unconstitutional super delegates list that continued to change, in a deliberate mode to continue scamming political merchants posing as governorship aspirants. That of APC is beyond voodoo. Quote me. They were supposed to be conducting a direct primary where supposedly over 500,000 of their registered members were to vote in the different wards and some cabals manufactured dud results in the most bizarre and insulting manner, in absolute disregard to the wishes of Anambra APC members and stakeholders.
What is ADC’s strategy or optimism to winning the Anambra governorship election?
One of our strategic paths is continuous public enlightenment and leadership by example. The APC, PDP and APGA think that the way of democracy is in corrupting every institution of the nation, weaponizing poverty, and using the machineries of state to coerce and intimidate the people. Our authenticity is giving Nigerians confidence and hope. This country still has a good number of patriots in the intelligence and security agencies. INEC seems to be learning from their past mistakes. The effort of INEC so far has thrown up the decadence in the so-called powerful parties. In spite of the offensive noise within the political space, our people have become aware of the effects of parochialism in public policy and national development. To help us in the ADC navigate within the fluid terrain of Nigerian politics, we are beginning to reframe the prisms in national discourses and development paradigms. Instead of continuing with the lenses that have kept most of us hostages of ethnic and religious biases, the horizon for us in ADC is continental and global. The ADC mission in this Anambra election is to crystalize our third-force position and establish a clear credible alternative status by winning the election and making Anambra State the Ijele of Africa. Our DNA does not permit parochialism. It has taken us many years to arrive where we are at this moment and we are delighted to have reframed our political and development paradigm to a more audacious pan-African and global perspective. While the ruling parties at the national level and in the states have corrupted and divided Nigeria beyond anything imaginable, the ADC will deepen the solidarity and inspire boldness in our public policy formulation. A nation enmeshed in infighting and clannishness can never come to a point of reckoning. The syndrome of North versus South, East, and West, Niger Delta, and Middle Belt should be off our radar. Kano and Maiduguri cities, over 300 years ago, were centres of trans-Saharan and intercontinental trade. But the myopic politics of recent times have reduced Kano and most Nigerian flourishing cities of old to poverty-stricken ethnic enclaves where terrorists, bandits, and ethnic militias are causing havoc. Think of Kano again as an intercontinental business hub of peculiar nature and Lagos as a global centre and epicenter of global commerce. Calabar, Port Harcourt, Jalingo, Minna, Ibadan, Sokoto, Lokoja, and Abakaliki – all have their strong positioning to gain continental and global acclaim.
The ADC candidate is said not to have the muscle to run a good race…?
(Cuts in) I have heard all forms of concoctions and lies about the ADC and our candidate. Our strength has never depended on money but character, integrity – and do not forget that all Nigerian youths adopted the ADC in an online poll this year and also our strategy of 35 per cent women inclusion; these are values and disciplines that money cannot buy and virtues that are unquantifiable. People must also consider the debt profile of these other candidates – they all come with heavy baggage. All of them are either heavily indebted to AMCON or are under EFCC radar. The ADC candidate, Akachukwu Nwankpo, may not have all the money but you can go to the bank with his integrity and competence. The people of Anambra and the new Nigeria we aspire for have become wiser and ready for the third force with fresh ideas, the people desire newness which ADC, as the third force, provides.
The National Assembly voted against electronic transmission of results and electronic voting; how will that affect your party and what is ADC’s position?
Frankly, the National Assembly members are playing Russian roulette with our democracy and with all of our life. It is foolhardy for legislators to be so blinded and be shameless in passing bills to leave gaps for fraud or infuse corruption into our bills. Wisdom demands that a people build integrity into their systems. By now we must be consolidating our democracy. Integrity, transparency, and credibility in the electoral system will ensure sustainability and build resilience into our body politics. We need to move beyond quality of elections to improving quality of governance. Electronic transmission of results ensures that the results are not tampered with when agents move from one point to another. Electronic voting is another matter altogether. We support this but, in addition, there must be paper trail for all elections. That is the practice in the most advanced democracies. After 22 years, we should have refined and have a dependable electoral system.
What are your chances as a party in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election?
I must tell you that, by all standards, the ADC candidate is best qualified in terms of background, experience, and record of performance in public service and character. Ndi-Anambra, just like all Nigerians are tired of the two parties because of the adverse situation of the country and the polarity and culture of corruption that these people have foisted on the country. In the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT, no exception – if you conduct surveys in the streets across all the constituencies, ‘No PDP and No APC’ have become a singsong. In Anambra State, it is the same for APGA, after 16 years, the people want them out. So, Anambra intends to bequeath Nigerians with the third force. ADC has penetrated deeply in Anambra State and across Nigeria. Again, if you have followed elections in Anambra since the beginning of the democratic regime, some of us have played major roles in enforcing regime change or changing non-performing parties in Anambra. In this case, APGA, APC and PDP have shut themselves out of this election.
What do you think of INEC, and do you expect free and fair election?
So far, INEC has done well. They have insisted that the parties keep to the rules in their internal processes and primaries. INEC has been clear that APGA did not conduct a delegate’s election. INEC has also issued a CTC to the fact that the APC did not conduct primary election in Anambra. They have also waved the red flag against the super delegates’ election of the PDP. The institution is showing the boldness not minding whose ox is gored. INEC fought alongside the people against the National Assembly on electronic transmission of the result and they are not giving up, not minding the parliamentarians’ undemocratic positions. I want to believe that leaving a legacy for posterity now resonates with Prof. Mahmood. So, irrespective of the court orders being bandied around now, INEC has provided all parties sufficient evidence to ensure that they get justice at the end of the elections even if court orders make them to include these three political parties that have shown absolute disregard to processes and established protocols. So, for now, we are working hard and we are trusting INEC.
Quote: “the National Assembly members are playing Russian roulette with our democracy and with all of our life. It is foolhardy for legislators to be so blinded and be shameless in passing bills to leave gaps for fraud or infuse corruption into our bills. Wisdom demands that a people build integrity into their systems. By now we must be consolidating our democracy.”