Anambra State Governorship candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) in the last election, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, in this interview with journalists in Awka spoke about his mission in the election petition tribunal, the prospects and challenges before APGA among other national issues. Excerpts:
We understand you filed a petition at the Anambra Governorship Election Petition Tribunal; why?
“Well, I am at the election tribunal to assert my right as the authentic flag bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) in the last gubernatorial election. And it may interest you to know that for inexplicable reasons, I was not given the certificate of return by INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) as winner of the election. That informed my decision to approach the tribunal to register my complaint and canvass for the remediation of the anomaly. Part of the reasons for my petition is that after winning the primary election of our great party, APGA; I duly submitted my nomination forms to INEC. The nomination forms were duly acknowledged by the same INEC. So for INEC to turn around and hand over the certificate of return to a person who is a total stranger to APGA is to say the least, embarrassing to me. As a firm believer in the rule of law, I decided to go to the tribunal in search for justice; my demand is for fairness and equity at the tribunal. I am not under any illusion that the mandate to govern Anambra State was given to me so; I expect the tribunal to look at the issues and do the right thing by redressing the anomalies.
You talk with confidence as if you believe in the nation’s judicial system to give justice without fear or favour…?
“I believe in the rule of law, which is at the bedrock of popular democracy. To me, without justice and equity, Nigeria would be seen to be playing mere lip service to the practice of democracy. Looking back at the various judicial pronouncements in the present dispensation, I can proudly say that Nigeria’s judiciary has proved itself as the bastion of our practice of democracy. The judiciary has being doing its best and it has a rich history of commitment to the protection and defence of the tenets of democracy as they relate to good governance. I am particularly excited by the crucial role the judiciary is playing in the country even in the face of mounting challenges thrown up by the exigencies of a growing democracy. My petition to the governorship election tribunal reinforces my confidence that the judiciary will remain the key driving force in Nigeria’s efforts at attaining lofty socio-political heights. I believe the tribunal will do the right thing and justify the confidence of Nigerians who are hopeful that justice will be done. I think the nation is blessed to have the distinguished services of two women at the helm of affairs at the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court at this point in time of our nation’s history. Their appointment is a boon to the nation’s judicial process. As politicians we should encourage them through responsible conduct, respect for the rule of law and fair play.
But many people look at the nation’s electoral process and wonder at INEC’s ability to guide and guard the democratic process; with what happened during the Anambra governorship election, what is your take on INEC?
“Well, there is no doubt that INEC has the capacity to midwife a transparent electoral process and conduct credible elections. The electoral umpire has its own scars from the long period of military interregnum in the country. I think they are improving with each passing electoral contest. Against that background, one can give kudos to INEC if for nothing else, its commitment to the democratic process. I also believe that it tried to give its best during the Anambra gubernatorial especially when it acknowledged its own shortcomings. INEC won my admiration for that singular demonstration of courage by accepting some noticeable shortcomings in that outing. However, despite the shortcomings, APGA was able to win the election clearly because the party was on the ground in Anambra state. We worked hard, mobilized effectively and the result was a resounding victory us as a people and as a party.
What gives you hope that you will be sworn in as the next governor of Anambra State?
“Of all the things one can lose in life, hope should not be one of them. I have absolute trust that God, who in his infinite wisdom gave me the courage to run for the election, will make it possible for me to serve and effect the needed changes on the lives of the people of Anambra state. Having come thus far, I can say it is God’s will that I would mount the saddle as the next governor of Anambra state. I also respect the commitment of the people of Anambra who believe in the vision of our great party. I know that my programme, tailored towards the uplift of the living standard of Anambra people was at the heart of the people during the election. If the governorship election is held hundred times again, Anambra people would still vote for me and if this massive support receives the final endorsement of the Almighty, I will be in the position, very soon, to impact positively on their lives. My hope rests in the Lord Almighty who made heaven and earth, who is all knowing, who raises the lowly and plans for his people. I also trust the judiciary and its commitment to equity and fairness. I believe that in all circumstances, the truth will always triumph over falsehood. I know that my petition will be seen in the light of the truth and the justifiability of its legality.it would be upheld to the glory of God!
Assuming you are sworn into office as governor what would be your government’s priority areas of attention?
“Don’t forget that I have a programme and our party has a manifesto; there is a template. Above all, the essence of government is the provision of security of lives and property and to cater to the welfare of the citizens. All these are some of the primary things I intend to pursue with vigour immediately I am sworn in. virtually everybody in Nigeria acknowledges the fact that Anambra people are resourceful and energetic. And one great quality of our people is that they are ever willing to cooperate with government for the development of the state. So my immediate attention is to create the enabling environment to encourage our people bring in their goodwill and contribute to lift our state to greater heights as an ‘A’ state. We shall provide basic infrastructure and redouble efforts to develop the inert abilities of Anambra people for self-actualization. My programme of action which is clearly defined would be strictly adhered to. We will give Anambra security; we will fight crime and bring investments to the state. We will erect proper frameworks for enduring and sustainable economic growth.
But a lot of people have come to the conclusion that APGA seems to be gradually losing focus and sidetracking the visions of the founding fathers, are you not disturbed by such negative sentiments?
“I share in the sentiments that APGA have in the past few years lost focus and that is why we are presently rebranding it. We are repositioning APGA to align it with the vision of the founding fathers. We have a clear vision for South East geopolitical zone and for Nigeria in general. In a few months’ time, you will notice a brand new APGA ready to occupy its rightful place and square up to the goals set out for it by the founding fathers. The machinery is in motion and I am happy that Barrister Maxi Okwu is determined to take APGA to the next level. The emergence of Okwu as national chairman of APGA at such a time that the party is turning a critical bend in its forward march to the future is part of the divine orchaestration for the party’s resurgence. Already things are looking up for APGA. Just recently the former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmmanuel Iheanacho left the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and joined APGA. There are many like that who have seen the silver lining in the horizon for APGA and are joining the party. Also former members who felt betrayed by the loss of direction in the party before are returning in droves. APGA is rising to glory from the ashes of elongated crises. You know that APGA has for quite some time been enveloped in leadership crisis and this was a major drawback to the attainment of the goals of APGA. Elders and notable well-wishers of the party who remembered the desire of our late leader, Dim Ikemba Odumegwu-Ojukwu intervened. The court also decided that the party’s constitution should be upheld thus opening the way for the new lease of life you now witness in APGA. We saw the need to reinvent and restructure APGA in line with original spirit and thinking of the founding fathers. The past is over for APGA and the present leadership has demonstrated the capacity to build bridges of friendship and understanding. Very soon all the challenges within the party will be resolved and APGA will return to its preeminent position. We are on course!
As 2015 draws nearer, a lot of commentators dismiss Nd’Igbo as not being ready for the challenges of national leadership, do you think so?
“Nd’Igbo have contributed more than any other tribe in Nigeria to the economic and social development of the country. As such Nd’Igbo should brace up for this challenge. The Igbos are the most travelled, we are not insular in our thinking, we have helped to build almost every state in Nigeria. If you go to Abuja, the second largest ethnic conglomeration there is the Igbo Nation. If you go to Lagos, the second largest ethnic conglomeration is Igbo, if you go to Kano; the second largest ethnic conglomeration is Igbo nation. Everywhere you go, apart from the original origin/indigene of that particular place, second largest of population of the people there is the Igbos. That means first of all, our population (Igbo nation) is far more than it is being estimated. Because we have been involved and engaged seriously in the building of this nation, we should aspire for the national leadership of Nigeria. It is our right but the only thing that we are not ready to do is to agitate for the presidency at this period when President Goodluck Jonathan is there and is performing very satisfactorily. Coming from a minority zone that has never occupied the office, it is the thinking of virtually every Igbo that President Jonathan should be given a second tenure if he so desires. It is his fundamental right. By the time he finishes his second tenure, definitely it will be the turn of South-East to produce the next president so that the Nigeria nation can be seen to be founded on equity and fairness. Nigeria belongs to us all.
How comfortable are you with APGA’s role in national politics?
“There is so much work still to be done. I am not so comfortable with APGA’s role in national politics so far. In terms of governorship, the party has only one governor in the whole country. At the Senate, APGA produced only one Senator in the person of Senator Chris Anyanwu and we just lost her to PDP. In the House of Representatives, we have just a sprinkling of them there. So we are not playing visibly on the national turf as expected. I think it is only when we are able to have many representatives at the national assembly complemented by many state governors that we can start articulating the APGA agenda. APGA agenda may be similar to Igbo ideology but it is definitely not an Igbo agenda. APGA is not a tribal party as some people think; it is rather a national party. It does not matter that the weight of APGA rest in the South-East, that does not make it to be a tribal party, because there are people from Plateau, Ondo, Oyo, Kano, Lagos and Jigawa who are core members of APGA, they are contributing their money, their time and their energy towards the growth of APGA. But strictly speaking, APGA, does not have the capacity to drive the socio-economic development of Nd’Igbo because we don’t seem to be playing our politics right. But once we step in and get things right, then rebranded APGA’s sole aim should be to drive the socio-economic development of Ndigbo, put APGA and our people on the map of Nigeria. Only then can we prepare to accept responsibility for national leadership.
Who is Dr. Chike Obidigbo?
“The man sitting before you is Dr. Chike Obidigbo, (laughs). I am from Umunya in Oyi Local Government of Anambra State. In terms of Education, I can say with modesty that I acquired very good and quality education and in terms of contribution to the society, I think that I have done quite a lot to raise the standard of living of several people in the Country. I am an Industrialist by profession and by the special grace of God I have been able to produce a lot of products which are in the Nigerian market. I have also been able to employ a lot of workers of various tribes, educational qualifications including foreigners and we are doing our best to contribute towards the economic development and growth of our nation. I am happily married. I enjoy thinking, planning, and creating a lot of opportunities for young people to become fulfilled in life. My vision is to help to create jobs for young people; I have been doing that for the past thirty years and I know how best to keep doing it!
From GG Blog: It was an insightful interview and we believe that in less than hours from now, the court will deliver its final verdict on the chairmanship tussle between Chief Maxi Okwu whom the court had declared the winner earlier in the year and Chief Victor Umeh.Till then , stat tuned !