Godwin Tsa, Abuja
An aspirant for Anambra governorship election in 2021 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and son of the first female governor in Nigeria, Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN), has revealed why he wants the job of Governor Willie Obiano.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Etiaba who spoke on other political and legal issues said that the challenges facing the country required people with extraordinary ideas to put things right.
He claimed to be in a better position to transform Anambra State, saying that he has what it takes to contribute more to the development of the state. Excerpt:
You are already an accomplished lawyer having climbed the prestigious ladder of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and also a very senior pastor in the Lord’s vineyard. Why then do you aspire to become a governor?
I want to be governor of my state because I want to serve my people. Anambra State has enjoyed good governance over the years and one will be very careful about who comes next because the legacies so far achieved will not be eroded. I want to become governor because I want to do more. You see, the greatest joy in life is to have the opportunity to serve my people. As a citizen of the state, I derive the greatest pleasure by being among them and contributing whatever I can to their well-being and happiness. If you are true to self, a special joy goes with being amongst your people. What you need to be governor of a state is that you must have integrity, you must be public spirited, you must have confidence in yourself and to be definite in your ways because you can never please everybody. Above all, you have to know that it is a call to service, if you are not public spirited, if you cannot bend backward, if you cannot deny yourself some comfort, then you should not throw your hat into the ring. I want to offer a purposeful adaptive leadership and governance, which is all about weighing options and determining what is most beneficial to the people. Certainly, good public-interest projects and programmes will be evaluated positively and further enhanced.
You once treaded that path in 2013 when you contested for the number one seat in the state. And here you go again. What do you think has changed between that period and now?
I am wiser now politically and I am running on a better ticket, the PDP. I also believe that PDP will organise a proper primary which was not the case when I first contested. And I believe that the people are also wiser now to know the difference between myopic leadership and leadership based on good vision. I think that if it’s God’s will, everything will fall in. Besides, I have a wide range of experience and I have a dream to obviously contribute a lot more.
Your mother was there before between November 2006 and February 2007 and earned the name “Mama Anambra” following her performance. Are you leveraging on your mother’s performance to drive your ambition?
I believe I am my own man. What I am going to Anambra to do is not what Mummy’s boy will come to do. Yes, her goodwill is there, yes she did well, but that is not what is propelling me to contest, what is propelling my ambition is the vision I have for the state and the confidence in my ability to deliver.
What is your vision for the state?
The reason obviously I will not want to talk elaborately on my vision is that election comes in November next year. It’s a long time to come. But I can assure you that the vision I have for Anambra State is a vision that will build on the legacies we already have here on ground and institutionalized governance so that incoming governments will see a plan that it can build on. Just like in Lagos anybody who becomes governor is coming there to meet a master plan that has already been laid over the years. So that is what you will see in Anambra. But more specifically, my government will focus on growing the state economy, agriculture, tourism infrastructure, arts and culture, education, health care, youth and women empowerment and security if elected governor.
There is this claim that your ambition would disrupt the zoning arrangement among the three zones; North, Central and South in the state?
It is the turn of the South where I belong. It started with the Central, it went to the North and it is still in the North. It is coming down to the South now. I am from Nnewi, which is from the Southern part of the country. So, it is when we are done that the zonning formula could have run its full circle.
As a lawyer, what is your position on the controversy trailing the use of virtual court proceedings by our courts? Already, the Lagos State government has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge its constitutionality or otherwise?
At this point, we should try to encourage other states to join the suit by Lagos State. I understand that Ekiti State government has also come up with its own suit. So that the Supreme Court can make a determination on it. If you have 20 lawyers arguing on this, you will have divergent opinions. So, until the Supreme Court settles it, it is not settled. So the issue is that other states should join Lagos in that case so that the Supreme Court can go ahead and determine the constitutionality of it. What people are saying is that virtual trial cannot be said to be heard in the open in contravention of the constitutional provisions. But I think by the time the Supreme Court deals with it, it will be settled otherwise, we will just embark on academic exercise talking about it.
Do you subscribe to death penalty for rapists in view of the increasing number of such cases?
I don’t subscribe to death penalty for rape, 14 years is good enough and don’t forget that sometimes, two friends may find themselves in the bedroom and by the time they may have had sex, one of the friends will come out and say he or she has been raped, probably because one or two promises made had not been settled. But when you talk about death sentence, also know that there are cases that are on the borderline. So, if you say somebody must die because he has committed rape, it does not necessarily mean that the person committed rape as you know it. Fourteen years is enough deterrent, if punishment does deter anything, 14 years is good enough. Also know that even in the case of murder and armed robbery, even with death sentence, it is still on the increase. But I think it has to do with the decadence in the society. It is not for want of anybody seeing a partner to have sex with, sometimes it’s just the decadence. Some do it for ritual purposes. Their ritualists tell them to do that, to go and rape a 13-year-old girl to have money. So we are in a society with high moral decadence, so it behoves on the churches and mosques to begin to take their rightful places in the lives of the people. Moral instructions are all gone, nobody talks of morals anymore. The parents must take back their place in the lives of their children. The Bible says train the child in the way of the Lord and when he grows up, he will not forget. For some of these cases, it is because the parents failed to bring them up in the way of the Lord. So, death sentence cannot be the answer. The answer is for Nigerians to begin to live more upright life and stop their penchant for acquisition of wealth.
What is your opinion on the controversial Executive Order 10 signed by the president and subsequent suspension of its implementation?
I don’t really know whether it is confirmed that it has been suspended. But I know that there has been some noise about it. The governors are not happy, while the Legislature and Judiciary, who are the beneficiaries are happy. I believe that what the president simply did was that the constitutional provisions should be activated. That the Legislature and Judiciary should be getting their money directly from the source. It is commendable and I think with time, everybody will come to agree that there is need for the independence of all the arms of government. There is need for the principles of separation of powers to be activated. A situation whereby one arm goes cap in hand begging for funds from another arm of government does not say anything good about the principles if separation of powers.