Sir Humphrey Nsofor is the Director of publicity, APC Elders Forum in Anambra State. He was before then the majority leader at the Anambra State House of Assembly. He told OKEY MADUFORO in this interview that the APC-led Federal Government has done creditably well in Anambra State, especially in the area of infrastructure and appointments, and as such deserve to produce the next governor in the state. Excerpts…
What brought about the idea of setting up the Anambra State Elders Forum at this point?
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State has come of age and this started when the Action Congress (AC) was formed in the country and we had several progressive minded people coming together to chart a new course in the area of politics and governance. Later, there was a merger of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) the Action Congress (CPC) and a part of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which became the APC. Ever since, we have produced members of the State House of Assembly and National Assembly and we have contested two governorship elections in Anambra State though we did not make it. So, what gave impetus to the formation of Anambra APC Elders Forum was that need to harmonise our structures and integrate new members into our fold preparatory to the forth coming gubernatorial election in our state. The Elders Forum is made up of former political office holders and standard bearers of our party across the three Senatorial zones in our state and I am happy to tell you that a great number of elders have joined us for the progress of our party. However, it is not a parallel body to the Executive of party, and we remain totally loyal to the party leadership in the state and at the National Level.
A section of the public sees your Elders Forum as a pressure group in APC. How true is that?
That is not correct. What happened is that one has to look at the progress and fortunes of the party ahead of the gubernatorial elections and we discovered that the rulings APGA government appears to be taking the glory of the achievements of the APC in Anambra State. Hence we stepped in to tell Anambra people that most of the things APGA people are claiming to have provided as democracy dividends were done by the APC government at the centre. Similarly, we have had successive administration in Anambra State, who as a result of the influence of godfathers, had failed to deliver as promised.
What about the APC godfathers?
We do not have godfathers in APC; we are all equal in the party. It was Dr. Chris Ngige, who killed the issue of godfathers in Anambra State, and these godfathers succeeded as it were in killing party loyalty, and the real political class. It is important that one amplifies this issue clearly. Since 1999, when the civilians took over the centre stage of politics and governance in Nigeria, Anambra State has had a checkered history of political challenges occasioned by the effort of successive administrations to make a statement in the polity to the detriment of good governance and purposeful leadership. The political class has been enmeshed in muddy waters, stunted growth, and deep seated horse-trading among the gladiators who decide the fate of the state. The emergence of the then Governor Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s administration witnessed the unbridled penchant for arm-twisting the man in the saddle for their own fate accompli hence sentencing the state to a litany of crisis. Mbadinuju, no doubt, was at the receiving end of this crisis when some acclaimed political godfathers constituted a cog in the states wheel of progress. Consequently, governance suffered and dividends of democracy were denied the populace. Anambra State was left worse than it was before 1999, with the dilapidation of basic infrastructure and near absence of the much desired social security. As the state braced up for a new point of departure from the days of Egyptian captivity, the god-father came calling again with a grand plot to frustrate the regime of Ngige, whose resolve to make a different was set to be frustrated. To the credit of Ngige, the then governor almost paid the supreme price in his bid to rescue Anambrarians from the shark and barracuda infested trouble waters of Anambra politics. Governance was indeed given a human face while tax payers’ money was used for the good of the electorate to the admiration of all and sundry. Ngige’s administration was short lived, thanks to the election petitions tribunal that upturned his victory in the 2003 gubernatorial election. Basking in the victory against the godfathers, Mr. Peter Obi stepped into the political tarmac coming from the business sector with no knowledge or experience of politics and government. Obi’s regime became a paradox of fate when his administration injected the bad blood of religious politics and clannish governance. Against this back drop, the Christendom in Anambra State was polarized in a deep-seated battle between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, hence producing mediocres in politics and governance against meritocracy. To Obi’s credit however, he introduced the politics of zoning, a concept that has been effectively institutionalised in Anambra till date though with its apparent defects.
But the people feel that Obiano is performing?
Willie Obiano was a banker, accountant and auditor per excellence, distinguishing himself in the banking sector, but his hollowness in politics and administration was made manifest when he toed the path of his godfather and benefactor in sidelining real politicians in his government. Stakeholders in Anambra politics were sentenced to the abyss of villains and never-do-wells as Obiano chose to empower green horns and nonstarters through unmerited appointments as Special Assistant, Senior Special Assistants that had no portfolio or job designations. These over 250 political appointees till date are unproductive and have made no contribution to the politics and governance of Anambra State, hence wasting Anambra peoples’ funds under the guise of “job for the boys”.
Does that explain why APC is plotting to take over Anambra State?
It is against this fact that it has become imperative that the APC in Anambra State must produce the next governor in a bid to ensuring that our dear party does not lose its deposit and investments since the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. To this end the Anambra APC Elders Forum urges the presidency to establish liaison offices in state that are not under the control of the party in the South-East, especially Anambra State. These offices would be replicated at the local government levels with loyal and dependable party members at the helm of affairs as it would help to galvanise the support of the masses to our party. This has become imperative, and they would monitor APC projects and interface with the traditional rulers and town unions in their areas of need while playing the feedback role to the presidency. Also, APC members of note should be appointed into federal institutions in the state as their loyalty to the party’s drive to succeed would be used to leverage on the successes of those institutions.
How would you score the APC in Anambra?
The second Niger Bridge, which was used by the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administrations as a political guinea pig has become a reality with work going on at very high rate. Abandoned federal road projects such as Onitsha-Awka-Enugu Expressway and Enugu-Okigwe- Umuahia-Aba- Port Harcourt road have come alive and works have reached advanced stages. Anambrarians are aware of the fatherly respect given to our father and first President of Nigeria, Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, by the completion of Zik’s’ mausoleum and library as well as the permanent site of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi. We salute Mr. President for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, Awka, Police Zone 13 Headquarters attracted singlehandedly by Engr. Prince Arthur Eze including the almost completed Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and the Dr. Ekwueme Federal University of Technology in Ebonyi State. In the area of political appointments, Anambra State has remained the highest beneficiary in the South-East with the appointment of Sen. Chris Ngige as Minister of Labour and Employment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, Chief George Muoghalu as the Managing Director of National Inland Water Ways (NIWA), Chief Chudii Ofodile, Director of Finance, NIMASA, Chief Chuma Nwafor of the Revenue Mobilization and others in the TedFund and Federal Character Commission. The APC regime has also interfaced with the business community in Anambra State with the award of contracts to Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the CEO of INNOSON Motors in the production of military and other operational vehicles. Today, one of our brothers is executing a $2.8 billion pipeline project through APC-led government and by the appointment of the MD, NIWA. It gives Onitsha the capacity of owing an economically viable sea/river port. This river port would certainly produce multiplier effects on the industrial and economic development of Anambra State and indeed the entire South-East. In the light of the foregoing, there is no gainsaying the facts that a governor of Anambra State of APC extraction is not only realisable but inevitable at this point. We salute Engr. Prince Authur Eze for his great role and elderly statesmanship in ensuring that Anambra State retains a pride of place in the government of President Mohammadu Buhari and urge him not to relent in ensuring that the Anambra Project is actualised.