Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Godwin Chukwunenye Ezeemo has been a two time Anambra governorship candidate of the Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA. Now a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he is also nursing a fresh ambition to take another shot at the governorship seat in the next guber election. In this interview, he reflects on the Nigerian situation and why he remains committed to a better Anambra State.
Nigeria will be 60 years this year and people are still asking which way forward. What can you say has kept Nigeria under-developed?
I believe the founding fathers of Nigeria had lofty dreams about the country. Many of them had good intentions, wanting to have a nation where they can express their feelings, exploit their ingenuity and develop their potential. Looking at the countries of our colonial masters then, they wanted a nation that will look like that. But I think, along the line, there must be some apple of discord sown into the components that make up this nation; otherwise, I don’t see the reason why we should be like this now. We used to stick together as one in reality; we said though tongues and tribe may differ but in brotherhood we stand. I don’t know why we deviated from that.
Something I think might have happened. That is what I call apple of discord, it could have originated from the founding fathers or the colonial masters based on certain reasons. Another possibility might have been the plan by the colonial masters to keep different ethnic groups apart from each other so that we will be always working at daggers drawn or at cross purposes.
Somebody might have been told, this is what you have, let nobody take it away from you. Some section of this country might have been told this and they held tenaciously to it, otherwise, if we meet ourselves in Europe, we see ourselves as same brothers because we carry the same colour but when we come back here, we refuse to make this place where all of us can thrive and share whatever we have together.
From there, greed and corruption set in and today they have heightened. The dimension is frightening and very wild that it is no more issue of apple of discord but somebody in the course of keeping this, wants to make money at the same time, to cheat others etc.
When there is somebody very qualified for a certain position and is denied such opportunity because he is not from a particular part of the country, that is a major problem.
So are you saying that corruption, greed and ethnicity are the reasons we have not developed at par with other countries granted independence same time?
Yeah, exactly! But another reason why we have not developed really is because of absence of patriotism and disobeying God in all ramifications. Whether Christian or Muslim, any human being who obeys God’s commandments will not cheat or exploit another person. There is absence of love amongst Nigerians and it is also an issue because anybody you love, you won’t do anything that can hurt him. We lust for the best for ourselves at the expense of another. Religion is also an issue in Nigeria. Everybody wants to protect his own religion and divisions among religions also causing problem here and there. Even when they tell you they are worshipping same God but still there are problems of several sects among the Muslim faith. In the Christian faith, it is the same, Anglican, Catholic and Pentecostals all discriminating against one another while no one is bothered that we are retrogressing in the country every day.
So in this entire ugly scenario, how do you think Nigeria can work?
If you ask me how, I will say it is a difficult question but I think Nigeria can work better than this if there is a proper federation structure where power is shared among the federating units. Some call it restructuring where certain powers resident in the exclusive list will have to be shared with the states. If that is done, every state will now move at its own pace. Some will crawl while some will run, while some can walk but at last, everybody will get there. You don’t have to hold everybody down together to move at same pace. The structure is very dangerous because it doesn’t encourage growth. Any Nigerian still living in China, America and the likes is still a visitor because this is the only place we have and such people will not be happy forever no matter the volume of money they have. Restructuring is the only thing that can help us presently because if we do that, certain things will automatically stop. For instance, we have ports in Calabar and Onne but you now ask why is it that everything is concentrated in Lagos Port. If we restructure, Rivers State government will make sure that their ports boom to the fullest because the Federal Government will hands off there. Everybody is jammed up in Lagos, you have goods there and they stay till thy kingdom
Back home now, you’ve been around for some time, it is common knowledge that you left your comfort zone in the UK to Anambra to see a better state. What do you think are the missing links in Anambra governance?
The missing links are many. Most of the people who have been in charge of affairs do not have main focus. They never prepared their minds for one day that they will be governor, rather they were prompted by either somebody or group of politicians who want to just get money off them. Some, they will just go and bring them as stooges to give them power. They don’t have a faintest idea of their own. But I have also seen in Anambra state, certain leadership that came, took decisions on its own and did very well but another leadership came and couldn’t do anything tangible. So, what I’m saying here in essence is that any person desiring to lead this state must have slept over the task for a long time and has already prepared his mind, the ups and down, the cost of decisions and so on. If you have not taken the time, some years and you want to govern, then it must be a joke. Any leadership coming in Anambra must have love for the people. There should be a deep felt resolve from the heart to make a difference in governance. Some are more interested in just being addressed as a governor, the chief executive of the state and nothing more. But the yardstick should be what you have been able to do, to change the fortunes of the people positively. Some are more interested in just answering the name of governor nothing more, they don’t really care whatever happens to their name which they are supposed to protect. But somebody who has made a name for himself would want to protect that name. He doesn’t want his name to be stained but unfortunately, such people of character who have a name to protect, it’s always difficult for them to get in. They also make things difficult for such people. I once heard politicians say- look at this man, he has money, a wealthy business man, why should he come out to contest? Let him go and eat his money while we make our money in politics. And I ask a question, is it eating that money that matters than to save our people dying every day? You see the rate of death within the state and within the country! We don’t even have the statistics, yet everybody will come out and promise they will build New York in Anambra State within four years, yet little things that matter, they won’t even do that.