Godwin Tsa, Abuja A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday sacked Senator Atai Idoko representing Kogi East Senatorial district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. In a 99 page judgment on the pre-election dispute, Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered the immediate swearing-in of Air Marshall Isaac Alfa (rtd.), who is also of…
By Chinelo Obogo
Tony Nwoye was once the Anambra State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but he later defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) where he contested for the party’s governorship ticket and won. A dinner was recently hosted in his honour in Lagos where unveiled his manifesto to those in attendance. He granted an interview citing the reason for his defection to the APC, while alleging that despite the fact that he was the PDP governorship candidate in the 2014 election, his party starved him of resources, choosing to fund Governor Willie Obiano’s campaign instead.
How prepared is your campaign for the election?
It is going to be a tight race but we are confident of victory.
This is not the first time you are contesting for the governorship position, but this time, you are contesting against an incumbent. What are you going to do differently from what the governor is already doing?
You don’t expect me to start revealing my strategies. But we are working hard to defeat the incumbent. My vision is to liberate my people from the bondage in which this administration has put them. Obiano received a loan of N15.5 billion and if he has expended it, that means every community should get not less than N60 million each. What of the money Peter Obi left for him both in foreign and local currency?
They say that APC is an Hausa party, but has Buhari who is an Hausa man ever withheld money meant for the councils? He keeps signing MoUs and says he wants to build an airport in Umuleri while the hospital close to his hometown is in disrepair.
One of the issues he is campaigning on is the fact that he gave each community in the state N20 million to develop a project and promised them more. This action is said to have garnered him more support from to the traditional rulers and the town unions. How do you intend to break through and get votes from these same communities?
The issue of giving communities N20 million each is a big time fraud because we have about 177 communities in the state and if you give them N20 million each, it would amount to N4 billion of their own money. This is a governor that receives councils funds of more than N20 billion from the Federal Government; he has also received the Paris Club funds of more than N13 billion. Let me explain why I said it’s a fraud. If the councils are supposed to receive over N100 million a month, multiply it by 12 calendar months and you will know how much each council is supposed to get. For the past three years, he has not conducted council elections, and he does not give them up to 20 percent of their monthly allocations.
For instance, in a council like Njikoka where you have Enugu-Ukwu, Nimo, Agulu, Abagana and Nawfia, the governor gives a big town like Enugu-Ukwu N20 million, where then is the money that Enugu-Ukwu is supposed to get from council funds, and I’m not even talking about the state funds?
In every month, Enugu-Ukwu should receive not less than N30 million from council funds, but they are not receiving it. Where is the money? So Enugu-Ukwu alone is supposed to get about N300 million yearly from the federation account. I’m not even talking about the state funds that the governor uses anyhow he wants or even the security votes of about N1.2billion a month. Yet the governor says he is giving them N20 million. That amount is less than three percent of what each community is supposed to be getting on a monthly basis, so he is not doing anyone any favour. It is a big time fraud and one day, he would account for it.
He has denied the claim by Obi, saying instead he (Obiano) was left with huge debts. How about that?
That is not true. Peter Obi swore to an affidavit at the Supreme Court detailing the amount that he left and I have the documents to prove it. So, will Obi go and swear to a false affidavit which can land him in jail? Obiano has squandered the money and now he is claiming that he is giving N20 million to each community which is not up to three percent of the amount that they should ordinarily be getting.
Our people are very industrious, they are entreprenual in nature; they don’t care so much about what happens in government. As long as there is security and they are allowed to go about their business, which is all they want to know, they don’t bother about government. And that is why they don’t know how much the governor has received. They are hardworking and do not depend on the government to survive but Obiano has been feeding my people with malicious falsehood and lies.
If I become governor, I will ensure that the money meant for the people will go to them; that is why the poverty index has risen and the IPOB agitation is much. These IPOB agitators are young people who are feeling frustrated with the situation in the state. They don’t have jobs and the state government is not doing anything about it. The Federal Government has never seized the money meant for councils. If I become governor, I will immediately conduct elections within one year but I will monitor how the council chairmen use the funds so that they would not siphon them.
When Peter Obi was governor, Anambra was number one in education, but now, we have gone down to number seven. In our state hospitals, there are no basic drugs. In Anambra North, there is no functional state hospital apart from the one in Onitsha. I’m a doctor by training and one of the symptoms of hypertension is throbbing headache; so if a woman suddenly wants to give birth at night, and develops hypertension or preeclampsia, she would not have access to a state hospital. We lack basic primary healthcare in Anambra because under this government, most of them have become moribund.
Onitsha is supposed to be the epicentre of commerce and the best in West Africa, but what are we seeing? I am an activist and not a politician so I will say it as it is. If I win, I will pay adequate attention to critical areas like education. Some of our people cannot afford to pay WAEC fees for their children, so I will ensure that those who cannot afford the fees are provided funds to pay for the exams. I must also pay for bursary for Anambra indigenes across the country no matter how small. I will also ensure that I reduce the amount of tuition fees that students pay in state owned institutions.
What the Anambra person needs is basic education. If someone like Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis, Innocent of Innoson Motors and some other big industrialists had only basic education and were still able to become very successful industrialists, then anyone can make it. I want to be able to take the state to an enviable height so that we will regain our respect. Among all the states in Nigeria, Anambra was one of the most respected, but now, the economy of the state is dwindling because of bad governance. The governor is deceiving my people and saying that the state is now producing Anambra rice, but if there is anything like that, then rice should have become cheaper by now. I will improve on the agricultural sector by giving out free interest loans to our young graduates or young school leavers to start farming, poultry business, catfish farming, or mechanised agriculture. We will use the traditional rulers or churches to monitor them so that government can get back their money. These and many more are the things our government would do, if the electorate gives us the mandate, come November 18, this year.
You were once the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and even contested the governorship election on the party’s platform, why did you leave your first party?
Why should I not defect? I won the House of Representatives election on the platform of the PDP, but they refused to allow me enjoy the mandate freely given to me by my people. And despite a court order in 2011, the then Speaker of the House of Representatives (Tambuwal) refused to swear me in.
Again, when I was to contest for governorship, ex President Goodluck Jonathan conspired with Peter Obi so that Obiano will become governor and they kept me in court while other candidates were campaigning. Ifeanyi Ubah of Labour Party was campaigning, Chris Ngige of Action Congress was campaigning and Peter Obi was campaigning for Obiano, but I could not campaign. We were the ruling party, but my own party placed an embargo on me and decided to help Obiano instead, just to please Obi. The PDP mobilised finances and all the resources and gave to APGA just to ensure that Obiano wins the election. Less than two weeks to the election, the Supreme Court ruled in my favour and that was when I began campaigning and the rest is history.
After the election, I still went to court to challenge Obiano’s election, but the PDP went to court to swear to an affidavit against me in favour of Obiano. Despite all that, I still remained in the party, at the end of the day; my supporters were disenchanted and disillusioned, so I had to leave. These same people who treated me unfairly are the ones crying that Peter Obi has hijacked the party, but they forgot that they were the ones who did everything possible and handed over the party structure to him and see where the party is today.
Finally, there seems to be some kind of sentiments attached to APGA because it was founded by the late Odimegwu Ojukwu, how does the APC expect to break through such sentiments?
Ojuwkwu was a great Igbo leader, but APGA did not start mounting Ojukwu’s billboards till it was few months to the election. What has Obiano done for Ojukwu’s family? They are only using his face to deceive our people but it won’t work this time around. Our people are wiser.