… Says it is a ploy by Obi to handpick successor
From: TAIWO AMODU, ABUJA
Ahead of the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, the zoning of the exalted office to a particular senatorial district in the state has become an issue.
At an interactive session with newsmen last Wednesday at his party national secretariat in Abuja, the senator representing Anambra central and aspirant for the All Progressives Congress, [APC] ticket, Senator Chris Ngige dismissed the agitation, as he told newsmen that zoning of governorship slot has never been an issue in Anambra state.
He further claimed that the zoning debate was a ploy by the incumbent APGA governor, Peter Obi to handpick his successor from Anambra north senatorial district.
“Those who are preaching this today, we have seen where they are going. The chicken will come home to roost and what has been shown is that the incumbent governor wants to handpick somebody from Fidelity Bank which is his bank where he was chairman and he has left as chairman to be governor for 8 years, he is going away and he wants to bring back an executive director of Fidelity Bank to come and govern the state.’’
At the last National Executive Committee meeting of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) there was the endorsement of your aspiration by the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and some other aspirants are saying that was meant to give you an edge over them. Was that endorsement stage managed?
No, how can it be staged managed? It wasn’t an endorsement in the context you are putting it. You know that after his speech the whole hall rose up in unison with him and congratulated me.
They congratulated me for deciding to go and run, because it isn’t easy to go and put yourself for election. I have been fighting a lot of elections. I fought election in 2007, 2010 and in 2011; governorship in 2007, in 2010 and Senate seat in 2011-three elections.
So, as it were, they appreciated that I decided to threw my hat into the ring on behalf of the party. There is nothing like an advantage over others, because the party constitution is clear; it is clear and the Electoral Act is clear. The Electoral Act says that the party must conduct primary to produce their candidate and that’s exactly what we are doing now.
I have submitted my form; anybody who wants can buy the form and submit, from any constituency he chooses but it must be within Anambra State. But there is nothing wrong in a father, if you have so many sons you can say you have four, or five sons and some people say to you, we are going into a wrestling contest and you say, this is the son I am going to send, because I know when he gets there, you will not win him.
That doesn’t mean that if the competition is open that any other person can not come and say I want to vie. So that’s is all I can say.
There is nothing like undue advantage and the governor of Imo state is a human being, he is a member of our party and he is the leader of the party in the south-east now as we speak. We don’t have any sitting governor there in that zone. I was a governor but today I am not a governor; I am only a serving senator. So, that’s it.
Don’t also forget that why governor Okorocha speech was applauded was because the deputy national chairman, south, Senator Annie Okonkwo was also interested in vying for the office and he signified and signaled to the party that he was going to relinquish his chairmanship position and it was just after the peace talks that we held that morning that the governor of Imo state made that announcement and Senator Okonkwo voluntarily agreed to become the leader of my campaign, for us to get into the government house.
But why are you leaving the Senate for the governorship? Are you not comfortable serving your people at that level?
Well, I am very satisfied with the national assembly and its workings. If you read my letter that I passed on to the Senate before we went on recess, signifying my intention to go and contest, I did say that I respect the Red Chamber ; I did say that I enjoy my work there, but
there is a wide difference between executive position and legislative position.
In the Executive, you execute things that have been done; you can even liaise with the legislature and then they make laws for you to execute, because you can originate what we call Executive Bill. It can come in the way of normal laws or money laws which we call budget. So, I have a feeling that I can be more useful to the generality of the people of Anambra state if I come back there as governor.
Don’t forget that I was there from May to March 2003 when I left, after the court judgment. I had a work plan there, I had blue print there and one would have thought that some of my work plan that in the eight years of Anambra government, they would have covered 80 or 90 percent of it, but they didn’t.
I have done an appraisal of my blue print, of my work plan vis.-a vis. what is on ground and what have been done and I can tell you that I left with 23 percent done and the APGA government has done only about 7 percent in their seven and half years or eight years.
So, aggregately you have 30 percent of that blue print done. I want to get back and see what I can do of the 70 percent that is remaining. I have no doubt in my mind that in four years if the people of Anambra State ask me to come back as the chief executive of their state, to execute their infrastructures, to execute laws made by the house of assembly, that I will complete about 65 percent of that remaining 70 percent.
In Anambra state today there is this perception that people from certain areas have held the governorship seat for too long and that there should be power shift to Anambra north.
Do you think this would work against your ambition?
No, it can never work against my candidature. Never! First and foremost, the people of Anambra state, the 3 zones in the state we are colleagues, we do our things together; we don’t segregate, we all came out of the former Eastern Region, into eastern states, into old Anambra state and then where we are now.
The old Anambra state was Ebonyi, Enugu and the present day Anambra.
We have never segregated, we have never ever said, you go and run for this position, because you are from the north or from the south, of from the central.
From our forefather, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who came back from the Western Region and ruled us for 8 years, before going to Lagos in 1960 to become the governor-general and then President of the federation, nobody was talking about Azikiwe and where he came from.
He came from Onitsha and another Onitsha man, Ukpabi Asika held sway there from 1967 to 1975: 8 years. Onitsha is in the north of Anambra State, but we are looking for excellence. We didn’t say no other area had quality men. So, we are talking about quality.
So, those who are preaching this today, we have seen where they are going. The chicken will come home to roost and what has been shown is that the incumbent governor wants to handpick somebody from Fidelity Bank which is his bank where he was chairman and he has left as chairman to be governor for 8 years, he is going away and he wants to bring back an executive director of Fidelity Bank to come and govern the state.
So, all along when he was preaching ‘north, north, north,’ the North people now know better! There is great lamentation and mourning over what has befallen them.
For me, I am a realist. I knew that the Obi government was playing hide and seek and I knew that what Anambra needed was the best and I knew that we are never segregated. If we segregated, the great Zik wouldn’t have ruled us for eight years; Ukpabi Asika wouldn’t have ruled us for 8 years; Chuba Okadigbo wouldn’t have been unanimously adopted by the three senators from Anambra state to be the Senate President when the seat came to Anambra.
So, we don’t do all those things and more importantly, we have never sat down like I said to say, ‘’this zone, it is your turn to produce, the others, don’t vie!.’
Each time we are vying for governor of Anambra state, the people from the north have vied, vigorously from 1999 primaries and elections to 2003! 1999 was Joy Emordi from the north, slugging it out with Mbadinuju from the south. 2003 was
Chris Ngige with Peter Obi and Ikechukwu Nduze from the north; 2010 Mgbolu from the north, Soludo from the south, I from central, Peter Obi from central Ikechukwu again from the north. So, we have never actually said we are doing partitioning. We have never done so.