By PETER AGBA KALU
Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State. He believes that despite the challenges facing the PDP, it still has a chance to win the coming governorship race in the state. In this interview, he speaks on a number of issues. Excerpts…
You are running for the governorship of Anambra State, what motivated you to join the race?
It is the immensity of God’s love for Anambra State that draws back to the State every child of Anambra. For me, the overwhelming magnetism of the geniuses and gifted individuals, which God deposited in that single location, called Anambra, pulls me home. Anambra is a special state. It is called the “The Light of the Nation” and truly so. I am sure that it is called the light of the nation because it is the home of numerous legends who in their various careers, have carried bright torches across the nation and the world. The roll call is incredible and their footprints are massive. It is almost mythical to go through the list of these legends. In the midst of these classics, it is clear that Anambra, in the sense people talk about governor today, does not need a governor. For most states, a governor is first among equals; Anambra does not need a first among equals. What Anambra needs is one in the midst of equals, someone whose ego is strong and not overwhelmed or compressed by the successes of others. He or she should not be attached to ego-centred displays.
What is your vision for Anambra?
In my vision, Anambra is a state where the resources of government are deployed to get the pillars of community-living working again, the citizens of the state happy and inspired to be at their best. When the community is working and the citizens are at their best, the result cannot be anything but golden; that’s why I call mine “the Manifesto to make Anambra the Gold Award State”. I was actually inspired to choose this title by a seven year old singer who said to me that in his prayers, God told him that the candidate he did a song for will make Anambra state the ‘1st’ award state. I only changed ‘1st’ to gold on the advice of a renowned man of God. To realize this vision, there are definite pillars of community-living that must be in place and these pillars constitute the body of my manifesto.
Tell us about these pillars.
The first relevant pillar that promotes our vision is God. Anambra is a Christian community and so God is the foundation of everything we do. It is foolishness for a Christian community like ours to conduct our public affairs in ways that do not put God at the center, we must therefore be very clear in policy and practice about the place God has in our public space. As governor, there will be no confusion regarding the place of God in Anambra.
Life and property are the next pillar. Without life, we are nothing, and the properties, the things we acquire in our lives, help us to sustain life itself. The protection of life and property is therefore a critical pillar in our community life. As governor, I will consolidate peace and security through effective law and order.
The third pillar is the economy of the individual, especially the youth in the community. The youth is the back bone of every viable community, the soldiers and the work force of the community. As governor, I will emphasize youth development. I will build the capacity of the youth to sustain the energy of our state and I will massively create jobs for them.
Despite having one of the best arable lands in West Africa, Anambra cannot feed itself. What do you have to say on this?
We will look at our land use laws in order to create more efficient use of land for investments, agriculture and agri-business. A key first step to development is the ability of a government to feed its citizens. I will, as governor, provide an appropriate enabling environment to support the achievement of food sufficiency in Anambra by intervening in the following specific relevant areas; agricultural mechanisation, production and distribution of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and improved varieties of commercial seeds, seedlings, brood stock and fingerlings under government certification and quality control supported with a virile and effective extension service. We will also support sustainability through the provision of commodity storage, processing and marketing facilities. Since the majority of Anambra citizens are traders and businessmen, we will use commodity trading to bring the interest of Anambra business people into the agricultural sector and create a big synergy between agriculture and business.
How do you offer pillars necessary
We will continue with infrastructure development especially electric power, water and sanitation, intermodal public transport system (rail, water, road and air) and ICT infrastructure. On roads, our emphasis will be on creation or expansion of intercity highways linking major Anambra cities except doing new roads for areas in obvious need. We will also introduce community driven development in order to promote decentralized community infrastructure development.
The quality of your environment indicates the level of your civilization. While aggressively tackling erosion and waste management, I will bring the environment of Anambra at par with the civilization which a greater population of our citizens have been exposed to.
Poverty is most painful when it affects health matters. What do you have on Medicare for the people of Anambra State?
We shall address the issue of Medicare in a very comprehensive way. Our people still die in large numbers from lack of early detection and treatment of preventable diseases especially in the rural areas of Anambra. With the goal of providing high quality, affordable, accessible and sustainable health care services at primary, secondary and tertiary levels to all Anambra citizens, my comprehensive strategic health sector plan for Anambra will address the following areas: recruitment and retention of adequate manpower, renovation and equipment of hospitals, provision of maternal and child care services, provision of essential drugs and the prevention and control of major endemic diseases. I will introduce and support various schemes for the provision of health education concerning prevailing diseases and methods of preventing and controlling them. We will introduce health insurance schemes and drug revolving funds in the hospitals in Anambra State and secure the support of donor groups /agencies for a number of health programmes and projects such as immunization, reproductive healthcare, HIV AIDS, and capacity building of health sector workers etc.
Finally, every modern state deserves a modern Capital, where the world will meet the citizens of that state. We shall resolve permanently the issue of a world class Awka capital territory.
How did you get to know that all what you have enumerated are the real needs of Anambra State?
I will approach that question in this way: I usually have a poser for anyone who tells me he/she wants to rule Anambra State; I will ask, ‘have you really listened to the people of Anambra State? Have you tried to go home and spend time with the people? Have you gone round the villages? What did you find? What is it that the people desire?’
If you go to Anambra and talk to every citizen, they will tell you that providing sustained security for the citizens in the state is top priority. Recently, this was a subject of discussion I had with one of the prominent citizens of the state, specifically Chief Chidi Anyaegbu, popularly called Chisco- a highly successful businessman. I was recently in Lagos where Chisco lives, and as he was driving me around Lagos Island himself, he expressed the pain he has that he can freely drive around in Lagos but needs a truck load of armed security men to drive from his luxury home in Amichi to a nearby Church. Every Anambra wealthy citizen has a world class environment in his village where he can enjoy with his friends and relations from anywhere in the world. Yet today, they cannot freely go there and even when they manage to go, they cannot freely move around. For instance, my cousin Dr Ernest Azudialu Obiejesi, President and CEO of Nestoil Group, built some nice roads for our village along which he loves to jog whenever he comes home. Now, he hardly does that because of the security challenges which affect everybody in the State both rich and poor. Apart from restoring the place of God in Anambra public space, my top most priority is peace and security, alongside law and order.
What plans do you have for women in this vision?
I will pay special attention to women empowerment. It is widely acknowledged that Anambra women are hard working. Nobody will forget the robust energy and fingerprints of Professor Dora Akunyili in NAFDAC or the quiet but massive impact our own Stella Odua is making in the Aviation Ministry. The woman, in Anambra State, is fundamentally a mother, she is the home maker but if her economy is weak, her back is broken. There is a certain project I have experimented with which I call the“Family Value Relay Fund”. It is a type of fund that is driven like a relay race, from one woman to another woman. So, at any point in time, you know who currently has the baton, who next is going to hold it and when it will move to that next person on the line. It is driven by collective consciousness. We put money into the hands of these women and make our local markets viable. It is a kind of revolving fund managed at the local level by the women themselves. There is collective punishment and collective responsibility. I have experimented with that and know it will work beautifully.