The member representing Anambra East/Anambra West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Chinedu Obidigwe, in this interview with OKEY MADUFORO, speaks on the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State, among other issues
The people of Anambra State will be electing their next governor this year. What are the chances of your party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), retaining the governorship position?
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as a party has been able to provide good governance to the people of Anambra State through the administration of Governor Willie Obiano, which is made manifest in the projects ongoing and completed in the 21 local government areas of the state. This score card is what our party is taking to the 2021 governorship election in the state. Also, our rural areas and communities have benefited bountifully from the Community Choose Your Project Scheme embarked upon by the APGA government. When you understudy the capital projects, you will discover that there is no community in the state that has not been touched and people are happy to interface with the government of Governor Obiano. So, it would be out of place to say that we do not have chances in the next election. You know that APGA has been in power for almost 16 years now and the achievements are gargantuan. When you look at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you will agree with me that the party has lost its deposit in the politics of the state and for it to upstage the ruling party, it has to work much harder but it is only looking at its rival, the All Progressives Congress (APC) while we coast to victory.
Are you saying that with the number of aspirants in the APC and PDP, there is no aspirant that has the capacity to win the election?
We are talking about the primary election first and you know that after the primaries, there will be litigations against the conduct of the process and some will even leave the party on protest and work against their party. With such a development, how do you expect that candidate to win? They have to first of all put their houses in order before going for the election proper. For us in APGA, we do not have any crisis, the party is like a family and after our primary election, everybody will work together as one family to deliver the eventual candidate of the party.
Are you saying that with about seven aspirants in your party, there will not be any litigation or crisis after the primary?
That is not obtainable in our party because we always conduct free, fair and credible primary elections and they always end up in praises. Though it is not clear who these aspirants are, we appreciate the political awareness of our members and that shows that the party is alive. Our party has a constitution and guidelines for the conduct of its primary elections and everyone who wants to contest on its platform knows that and they will follow the due process.
There are several organisations that have been shadowing support for Prof Charles Soludo, don’t you think that the candidacy of APGA has been foreclosed?
We are urging Soludo to run for the governoship election of Anambra State under the platform of APGA and we are optimistic that he would accept to contest. We have looked at the man in question and his personality as well as wealth of experience and come to the conclusion that he is the candidate to beat. That does not mean that we do not have people in the party, who are good enough for the governorship seat of Anambra State but we are looking for the best. Two of the organizations you referred to are my brain child, and they, among other organisations, were instrumental to the second term victory of Governor Obiano. The groups have embarked on investigations and carried out opinion polls within the party and Anambra State in general and the result was the total support of these bodies for Soludo in the next election. This does not foreclose the interest of any other aspirant in the party, but for now, nobody has officially indicated interest to contest in the party. All we hear is that Mr A, Mr B and Mr C may contest.
It is being rumoured that some powerful forces in the party are against Soludo and that they are doing everything to stop him. How true is that?
This is Anambra State and that is normal in a situation like this. Those flying this kite are being sponsored by members of other political parties who are afraid of the credentials of Soludo. From my experience in politics, there are some people who become relevant in the state by allowing themselves to be used by desperate politicians to unsettle the polity. There is no body in the party that is raising a finger against Soludo and like I said before, people are looking for jobs and what to do at every election. So they are the people spreading the rumour. Other political parties are afraid of APGA and that is why they are doing everything possible to run the party down. Which of the aspirants in other parties has the kind of profile Prof. Soludo has?
Several allegations were leveled against your party over the way it conducted its primary during the elections. What were the issues then?
It was a case of bad losers, who went about blackmailing the party because they lost. Before you contest, you are provided with party guidelines for the exercise and you sign that you will abide by it. In this coming election, you will expect this type of allegation and the opposition will always cash in on these stories to run the party down.
You only mentioned the achievements of the governor, how about the performance of National Assembly members of APGA extraction?
It is not only the governor’s achievements that will market the party in this election. For us in the National Assembly of APGA extraction, we have been impacting on the lives of our constituents. My constituency is Anambra East and West Federal Constituency, which is the food basket of the South-East and Nigeria in general. We have always had the perennial flooding that always submerge our communities. But under my watch as the lawmaker representing them, I was able to provide palliatives for my people during the flooding and I recently organized a work shop for farmers in Anambra East and Anambra West local government areas. The essence of the workshop was to expose them to modern ways of improving food production because after the flood, hunger comes but with what we have done in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Environment, our farmers can comfortably arrest issues of food scarcity, hunger and low productivity. At the end of the workshop, the participants received N20, 000, seedlings and other crops to the tune of N10 million. We are putting up a specialist hospital and permanent Internally Displaced People IDP camps in order to avert flood victims from being homeless during the flood.
Again the Anam-Otuocha-Abaji Abuja road project, which has been on the drawing board for more than 10 years now is receiving attention and in this year’s budget, it was captured and the sum of N 200 million has been appropriated for the continuation of the project which was abandoned. With the project, it will take you about four hours to get to Abuja from Anambra State and this will have a socio-economic multiplier effect on Anambra, Kogi and Benue states. I am making strong representations for the dredging of Omabala River, which would also go a long way in reducing flooding in our communities. This was part of my motion on the floor of the National Assembly and I have commenced the process with the relevant government agencies at the national level. Same is the case with my other colleagues of APGA extraction and that explains why no political party can defeat APGA in the governorship election. We are talking about performance while in office and that would always rub-off positively on the fortunes of APGA in Anambra State.
APGA is regarded as a regional party that cannot win presidency. What is your response to that?
Far from it; APGA is a movement and we are growing from stage to stage. Before, we had no strong representation at the National Assembly, but we have produced a senator of APGA extraction, we have more members of the Federal House of Representatives of APGA extraction and the party has won elections in other parts of the country, not only in Anambra State. Rome was not built in a day, so it is a gradual process and with time we shall get to the level other political parties are now.
There is this relationship between APGA and the APC, what informed that?
The APC is the ruling party in the country; you don’t expect us to begin to fight the party at the centre. All that we are after is to bring home the dividends of democracy down to Anambra State. You will also recall that under the former governor of Anambra State, the party had a marriage of convenience with the PDP and nobody made issues over that; so why now? No political party can claim to stand on its own. During the First Republic, we had the National Council on Nigeria Citizens (NCNC) alliance with Action Group and also that of Northern Peoples Congress just for convenience. We also had National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) accord in the Second Republic. So, when people talk about the relationship between APGA and APC, one wonders if we are no longer students of history. That however does not mean that APGA is an appendage of the APC. We do have points of understanding and that is what politics is all about. Political parties are there to form government by winning elections but what matters most is the welfare of the masses and you cannot play politics with the collective interest of the masses.