As the political storm is gathering once again in Anambra State with regard to the successor of Governor Willie Obiano and the issue of zoning, OKEY MADUFORO speaks with the member representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe on these matters and other burning issues
Your party the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has a great task of remaining in power after Governor Obiano, how prepared is the party for this battle?
At the end of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration we world have been in power for 16 years and that is a plus for us in APGA and we intend to maintain this record in the coming election. Some people are of the view that it would be over with APGA after Governor Obiano but they are missing the point.
In the State House of Assembly, we have more than majority of the members and at the National Assembly we have half of the legislators from Anambra State, hence it is wrong to still think that the party cannot win the governorship election. Anambra State is not owing worker’s salary and we pay our pensioners and these are the people that vote on election day.
There are so many youths that were engaged by the state government through several political appointments and this has a great and positive effect on the fortunes of the party at every election year. Don’t forget that we also have the Choose Your Project Scheme where communities choose the project that they want to embark on and we have entered the third phase.
So the government of APGA is at the grassroots and people feel the impact of government. Why would the party not win election? When you look at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) you will discover that the party has his hands full of crisis and internal tangling, and they may not resolve all of them before the election. Also some aspirants who may feel short-changed would go to court or pull out of the party and play anti-party role in support of APGA.
Though the APC does not have crisis their problem would be the choice of candidate and it will not be easy at the end of the day.
Are you saying that APGA will not have crisis going by the issues that emerged at the end of the state and National Assembly primary elections?
APGA is peaceful and as we say be your brother’s keeper and we do not think of crisis at all. There is nothing that would bring crisis to the party because we are democratic and we follow the party constituction at all times.
The news everywhere is that you already have a candidate and he is Prof Charles Soludo. Does that mean that there are no other aspirants?
At the moment I do not know of anyone who has indicated interest to contest and not even Soludo that you mentioned. We have not announced the sale of forms yet. So to say we already have a candidate is wrong.
But some of us in the party made up of the United Anambra Youth Assembly (UAYA) , the United Anambra Women Assembly (UAWA) and scores of support groups, about 30 of them are begging Soludo to come and contest.
When you look at his personality you will agree with me that he is the best man for the job across the three major political parties and he cuts across all the political parties. He has experience and name with a pedigree which others do not have. But the issue is that has he agreed to contest?
We are yet to hear from him. Some people say he is not a real party man and I ask what makes a real party man? Today the APC government recruited him in the Economic Advisory Team because of what they see in him. We are talking about continuity from where Obiano stopped in the area of infrastructural development human capacity building and government to the grass root.
Assuming some other people indicate their interest?
I don’t live in the realm of assumption. Until they come up then we take it from there. All I know is that our party gives everyone room to contest for the primary election and the party members will nominate their candidate.
The issue of zoning has come into play but some people are against zoning the governorship position to the South?
Zoning has come to stay in Anambra State and this makes for fairness equity and good conscience. They say it is an APGA affair but when you study the politics of Anambra State you will discover that it has run full circle with the North in power.
Common sense should tell all and sundry that it has to go back to the South where it all started and any political party that fails to buy into the project does not stand the chance of winning. Chinweoke Mbadinuju and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife came from the South while Sen. Chris Ngige and Peter Obi came from the Central and Governor Obiano came from the North. It is fair for us to go South and that is the spirit of the Igbo man.
Talking about the Igbo man Nigeria as a country is said to be against the Igbo race do you agree with that?
I have tried to restrain myself from this discussion but let me tell you whatever that is believed to have been done to the Igbo people have always been an advantage to us. All that we need to do is to look inward and rediscover ourselves and move on with life. What can we do?
Let us help ourselves and use those things that bind us together to overcome whatever is the problem and that is how we can get it right. We are into commerce and industry and we have the capacity to do it and the issue of what you talked about would be history.
The South-East is known for commence and industry but what we see is industries closing shops. How will what you said work?
The problem of the South-East is power and that is why the forms are closing. If we can have steady power supply those companies will not closedown, If we can arrest the issue of power we are good to go. A good example is Nnewi and Aba.
If we can have an industrial hub the Federal Government can provide power which is in the exclusive list and this can jump start our industrial base and also provide power to communities around the hub and also create employment for our people. I urge our South-East governors to take this as their first line charge and put in place a South East Economic Policy that can save our industries from closing and that would also affect the economy positively.
We also need to interface with multinationals to come and invest in Igbo land in the areas of agriculture and the allied industries. For instance my constituency is part of the food basket of Anambra State and we can exploit that.
Presently I have a scheme that empowers the farmers in Anambra East and West Federal Constituency and as I speak with you food production has been given the much needed attention and soon we shall provide soft loans for the farmers.
How do you see the National Assembly in this dispensation?
By all standards the House of Representatives is alive to its responsibilities and so far the journey has been eventful. That you are a legislator does not mean that you take war to the executive arm of government because we are all part of government and all that we need is to work together for the good of Nigeria and Nigerians.
When people say that the National Assembly has compromised I ask them, is the leadership of the National Assembly not a representative of Nigerians?
They were elected by their people and they owe it as a responsibility to speak the minds of their people which they are doing.
Recently, you presented a paper on the dredging of Omabala River. What informed that?
We always have flood disaster in my area and it is a horrifying experience and Omabala River is a tributary of the River Niger. So I am appealing to the Federal Government to please dredge the River Niger to control the flooding in the River Niger and it will affect Enugu Kogi and Anambra states and even parts of Rivers State. The Omabala River is shallow and if we dredge the river it will reduce the level of flood along the coastal lines and our farmers would not lose much to the flood.
You have spent about two years at the National Assembly, how has the journey been?
I am new in the National Assembly but it has been eventful and also challenging. My major concern is the good of Anambra State and my constituency and I want to make this solemn promise of populist representation that would always connect with the people