From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Oseloka H. Obaze, former UN official and former Secretary to the Anambra State Government, (SSG), under Governors Peter Obi and Willie Obiano, is one of the governorship aspirants. He spoke on his ambition.
You once said you were consulting with regard to which platform to run on, have you finally chosen any?
It was not a matter of choosing. I knew all along, where I was headed. But I needed to consult widely and consolidate my support. Now that I have concluded my consultations I have publicly pronounced my platform. I am a PDP aspirant. However, two smaller parties have expressed keen interest in adopting me as their candidate, fully aware that I intend to run on the PDP platform. That is gratifying.
Are you in any way worried by the mass exodus from your party to the APC, which may mean a possible win for the APC in the end?
Your question is speculative. Politicians engage in platforms and parties where they believe their interests are best catered for and their chances of emerging victorious seem better. It has less to do with ideology. The notion of rigging, though a reality in our body politics, should not feature prominently or be accorded credibility. INEC must consistently pass the litmus test of conducting elections that are sufficiently transparent, credible, free and fair at every juncture.
Anambra election appears to be about money, people believe you don’t have the money. How will you tackle that?
It is all a matter of perception versus reality. Campaign financing here has certainly become an albatross for the qualified but-not-so-rich aspirants. We intend to alter that mindset. Politicians with deep pockets tend to seek to buy their way into office. However, when it’s all over the people suffer. This time, the election and politicking will be issues and candidate focused. We will appeal to the enlightened self-interest of the people. We will use volunteers, whose real reward will come after victory, not those who wish to cash in during campaign. I believe our people are wiser. They will surprisingly be more introspective this time around. Those who want good governance and development must find ways to support the most eminently qualified candidates.
Your local government and zone seem to have foreclosed your candidacy by endorsing Obiano, what’s your take on that?
The so-called Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA) endorsement reflects the views of less than 1,000 people who were consulted in the seven local government areas of the North. As I see it, political endorsements are make-belief and make-happy episodic events. Ironically, it is somewhat an elitist mindset that does not always reflect the reality on the ground and at the grassroots where the presence of government is not being felt and where the votes will be cast. Moreover, endorsements are hardly public opinion polls that may have veracity or some scientific validity. At the end, it is one-man-one-vote that will count. And who is to say that these unceasing endorsements are not financially induced?
As a former SSG what difference do you think you can bring into governance in Anambra state if you are given the opportunity to serve as Governor?
First, by training and experience, I understand fully the role of leadership and good governance in the delivery of services, unfettered development and managing expectations. Good governance also rests on frugal management of resources, operating within available resources and equitable distribution of such resources via prioritization. Positive growth cannot be sustained without strategic thinking, visionary planning and guided implementation of purposeful policies that serve as the bedrock for effective programmes and projects. Enduring prosperity is infinitely predicated on solid and enduring development frameworks. I have written and spoken about pruning the cost of governance and achieving more through joint interstate ventures, which our leaders seem averse to. Above all, good governance is about transparency and accountability. Where both are lacking and policies are opaque, leakages and malfeasance are bound to occur. Likewise, disenfranchisement and political dichotomy will ensue. These negative variables can be done away with easily, if the leadership is focused and adaptive. That is what makes the difference.
The incumbent governor hails from the same senatorial zone with you. Why do you think it is politically wise to contest against him?
This is beyond our personalities. The good of the greater society cannot be subsumed in sentiments. Several others and I were in forefront of the campaign to bring the governorship to the north senatorial zone. We had also committed to advancing Anambra state in all its facets to greater heights, based on the existing solid foundation, the resources and savings available and the well laid out development trajectory that saw Anambra State as the top state in attaining set benchmarks of the MDGs. At some point, we went off the trajectory. This gave room for politicians from the south and central contending that the leadership from the north has not met expectations, thus the need to truncate the north’s tenure. Our view from the north is that we should be given the opportunity to complete our second tenure; however, if our south and central counterparts insist on upending us and ousting the incumbent, then we are obliged to enter the fray and offer credible alternatives. As you know, Tony Nwoye, Chike Obidigbo, Alex Obiogbolu, Ralph Eke and I are all from the north and are all in this race. We are not involved for the sake of frivolity or recognition. I personally believe that Anambra deserves better.
The former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, has advised those of you running for the guber election this year in Anambra to forgo your aspirations because the incumbent has done well enough to secure a second term. Are you impressed with Soludo’s advice?
I have the highest personal and professional regards for Prof. Charles Soludo. I also respect his right to profess his views freely in our nascent democracy. Yet I have rendered my disagreement with him on this matter, both personally and publicly. Let us say that we have agreed to disagree. My point, which with the benefit of hindsight, I’m sure Prof. Soludo appreciates, is that constitutionally there is a vacancy in the government house every four years. Thus, whoever is the incumbent must subject him or herself to re-evaluation and a re-election procedure. The outsiders will also seek to be elected and to unseat the incumbent. The difference is that the incumbent will run, presumably on his good record and accomplishments. If the good governance bona fides exist and are sufficiently credible, then reelection will be assured. If they are found wanting, then the outsiders might have a chance of pulling off an upset. That is the present reality in Anambra.