Chief Chidozie Nwankwo is an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant for the 2021 election in Anambra State. In this interview, he speaks on his ambition and the fate of his party in the South-East. OKEY MADUFORO reports
The governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, recently joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). What are your views on the prospects of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction through the party?
That was a timely movement and it is a welcome development for the South-East. Governor Umahi’s defection to APC has boosted our chances to bargain for the number one seat in the country. There’s strength in Unisom because a tree can’t make a forest. We need to align ourselves with the ruling party and champion our course. The truth must be told because we cannot continue to play the lone ranger status to the detriment of our people. APC is the party in power in Nigeria and no matter what any Igbo man says about the party, he is doing it to his own peril as you can agree with me that we stand to gain a lot from the APC government at the centre. I know that our brothers and sisters in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not happy about it but Governor Umahi knows what he is looking for and he appreciates the fact that it is only the APC that can ensure that the South-East produces the next president of Nigeria and that explains why we must have this hand shake across the Niger. Those criticizing Umahi failed to understand the bold political move he made, In the next general election, the PDP will still present former Vice President Atiku Abubaka or another person from the North. The leadership of the party doesn’t seem to have interest in allowing the Igbo man to be in Aso Rock as president of Nigeria.
Some people are of the view that if all the PDP governors in the South-East join the APC, it would better the fortunes of the zone in the next presidential election. What is your take on that?
It will increase our bargaining and negotiating power. PDP will also know that it is no longer business as usual and that we’re ready to negotiate with other geopolitical zones to support our bid for the 2023 presidency. At the moment, we have APC governors in Imo and Ebonyi states, while the rest are PDP with only Anambra as All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA state, but you cannot go to the center without a strong bargaining power and that has been the bane of the South East geopolitical zone. Why the South-West appears to be playing deep into the country”s politics is simply because the entire zone is APC and that is why they are more rooted in the government of the day. But I have this strong belief that the two other governors would soon join the APC and that would be of great benefit to the South- East in 2023. You cannot go to Abuja to negotiate without any thing on the table and that is the massage Governor Umahi is passing across. Other geopolitical zones are watching to know how committed the South- East is in its pursuit of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
A lot of people are calling for adoption of the electronic voting system to stop rigging; do you support that?
The world has turned into a global village, so people should be able to vote from their comfort zones without fear or influence. It will also help to reduce the rate of rigging and restore the confidence of the electorate that their votes will count. That’s the practice in most developed countries. It is as a result of the absence of the electronic voting system that results are not released on time and we keep hearing stories of result sheets and other sensitive materials missing during the election and that has remained our problems. However, I urge the authorities concerned to carry out the necessary legal frame work and enabling laws to give it bite. Nigeria must get it right for once and allow the wishes and aspirations of our people to prevail at every election. We have had several elections and they all ended up the same way. Those who do not like the electronic voting system are those who are not popular and they know that they do not have the call for service to humanity.
The PDP has boasted that the APC can never win the next governorship election in Anambra State. What is your response to that?
That’s the same way, they boasted to rule Nigeria for 60 years. The party claims to be the largest party in Africa but at the end of the day, we have seen how the party plunged Nigeria into poverty. The advent of the APC government has exposed the fact that the PDP gave Nigerians a false picture of what is on ground and today Nigerians can now appreciate the real picture. Everybody has gone into agriculture and people are now looking inward for a way out of the woods. No more long convoys and wasting of taxpayers’ money in buying gasoline and sharing money to touts who are apparently jobless. Instead of providing employment, you dash money to people who did not work for it. So, forget about their boast; when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.
Anambra State is the industrial hub of the South-East but the manufacturing sector is not growing. As an industrialist, what will you do to improve the sector if you become the governor of the state?
As an Industrialist with vast experience in wealth creation and management, I will change the narrative of governance by creating enabling environment for both foreign and local investors. I will build industrial parks in some strategic areas of the state, thereby creating employment. We’ve other plans to unveil as time progresses.
Anambra South and other parts of the state are being ravaged by gully erosion; what is your blueprint for environmental protection?
I will introduce operation clean-up your environment, construct drainages to checkmate the erosion menace in all the communities, while we partner with the Federal Ministry of Environment to ensure incorporation of the affected areas in our national budget because most of them are beyond the state government. I will also solicit for aid from the likes World Bank and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
What plans do you have for the agricultural sector?
The agricultural sector is an untapped opportunity that we need to develop in order to create employment, especially now the price of oil is dwindling. I remember vividly what the then Premier of East Central State, Chief Micheal Okpara, did to the agricultural sector and as at then the crude oil was not in the picture. We talk of Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State and that was the achievement of Okpara. We had the oil palm plantation that was the main stay of the old Eastern Region and that was our source of revenue. But today, we have abandoned all that to our own detriment and Malaysia has taken over the sector. At what point did we forget everything? It is not too late to start again. All that we need is to prioritize our needs in agriculture. You also know that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed us in the area of agriculture and we must learn from it and my administration will take agriculture as a first line charge and ensure that everyone contributes to that sector of the economy.
APC has always been accused of conducting undemocratic primary elections, do you agree with that?
How do you know when you are not a member of the party? Before the primaries, the party usually comes up with the modalities in agreement with the concerned state. It is either direct or indirect primary with the masses will always prevailing.
Some people are insisting that zoning would not produce the best governor for Anambra State. What is your position on that?
Are they saying there are no competent candidates in the zone being referred to? The essence of zoning is to ensure that there is justice, equity and fairness in distribution of power and resources. It gives every participant a sense of belonging, minimise agitation and cry over marginalisation.
The forthcoming election is between the Old Aguata Union and the Old Nnewi political bloc, how prepared is the Old Aguata Union?
The election is for the entire Anambra State and all the zones are preparing seriously, including Old Aguata Union, where I come from. We are negotiating with other zones to support our bid to clinch the number one seat in the state come 2021 and we are fully prepared by God’s grace.