Chief Emeka Okonkwo, is an All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) chieftain and Editor-in-Chief, Anambra Compendium. In this interview, he speaks on the need to support chief Victor Umeh for the Anambra Central senatorial election and other issues of interest.
Your party, APGA seems to be brimming with excitement as the rescheduled Anambra Central Senatorial election draws near. What is informing this level of optimism?
The optimism is understandable going by the total victory recorded by APGA in the last election in Anambra State. Momentum is on APGA as a party and don’t forget that the statement issued by the Anambra electorate with their votes at the governorship election is still fresh in the minds of all Ndi Anambra. The overwhelming support for APGA was a testament of the laudable performance of Governor Willie Obiano in the state. We are delighted to note that Ndi Anambra have now come to recognise and also appreciate good governance.
Under Obiano Anambra has become the fastest developing state in Nigeria. A development that is targeted at the economic revival of the state; and there is no other way to thank somebody who has done well but to tell the person, please go back and continue the good work. For instance, for a person like me who supports President Buhari at the centre, I had to take a stand, a moral stand that puts the interest of Anambra first, to say that security in Anambra has been awesome under this governor; a stand that says that Willie is truly willingly working. That is why we all support his government.
Many observers are of the view that the last election polarised Anambra people. What is your honest opinion on this?
No, I don’t think so. Contrary to that perception, that was an election that brought together different personalities with divergent persuasions together, who believe in the Anambra project rather than mere selfish ambitions. If you observe closely, you will realise that well known APC, PDP and other stalwarts from other political parties, all campaigned and voted for Obiano, because without bias and sentiments, they saw and recognised his footprints of performance in every sector of the state. His economic empowerment of Anambra people was clear for everybody to see. Rather than polarise, this election brought to fore the ideal that there is reward for hard work. That anybody that does well in his assignment deserves recognition and commendation.
Some analysts are of the view that many people, especially the civil servants voted out of fear rather than love for the governor. Do you agree?
That is far from the truth, if you ask me. His victory was a statement that he worked excellently for the state and should take us to the next level. It is an endorsement for good governance.
Don’t you think that the coming together of the bigwigs you talked about should be of concern to APGA in the coming days because of the obvious ambitions of some of those people? Will APGA be able to manage such people with large egos?
Everybody has the right to aspire, but the right to choose resides with the people. The big guys will continue their aspirations, but the Anambra people have demonstrated that they are now more than ever before, more politically aware and when the time comes for them to choose a leader again; I believe they will do that wisely as they just did in the last election.
Going by the tough politicking in the build up to the election, there is this perception that Obiano might not really do much in terms of projects, as it is believed he had spent a lot in his re-election project, what’s your take on that?
Sincerely, that is not a fact. See, I’m one of the stakeholders who supported him in the election. Willie didn’t spend much; rather his goodwill did the magic. For instance, those that worked for his re-election took it upon themselves to do their bits in their respective arrears of influence to ensure the eventual victory. I as a person without the knowledge of the governor spent my money out of my conviction for what he stands for. Prior to now, whenever I was traveling to Anambra for a short visit to see my mother or during festive seasons, I used to go with about four mobile policemen, right from Abuja, and it cost me a lot to maintain them for a period of maybe one week that I would stay with them, but for close to four years of Willie’s government, that expenditure is no more on my books.
In fact, I could just wake up and travel to Anambra and stay as I like, walk everywhere freely without even bothering about insecurity. So, in the last election, I said, this money I would have spent on security let me use it to work for Willie’s re-election. That to me is objective. And many people did the same. Personally I branded over 2500 bags valued about N1500 each. I did about 1000 wrappers. I cooked for one week for my town people in order to have the opportunity to bring the Obiano message to them. And I did these because of my belief. And many people also did the same without running to the governor; the only thing we expect is dividends of democracy like any other electorate. There is a short road that leads into my community, Nibo, right behind the government house, I’m very sure the road will receive the attention of government this time. If Willie does that for our community, it will save us a lot of cost and open up our community to a lot of other communities. These are the things we expect not personal benefits.
Why is it so important to your party that your former chairman Victor Umeh should be in the senate?
Chief Victor Umeh is a giant of contemporary politics in not only Anambra State but in Nigeria in general. He is a rugged and dogged politician. A brilliant and a serious voice that nobody would want to wish away on the national stage. He understands Nigerian politics and should be the one to utilise such experience in defending and fighting for the interest of not only his senatorial zone but also those of the entire Anambra State. So we are all behind him because we believe he is the right man that should be there. This is not about APGA, but another Anambra movement. He is our senator in waiting.
His contact cuts across the several divides. And he is the real deal as far as the January senatorial election is concerned. We shall celebrate again.