From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, has predicted that Governor Willie Obiano would sweep the November 18 Anambra governorship election.
Umeh who is the Chairman of the Chief Willie Obiano Re-election and Campaigns Committee said that his prediction was based on the reception they received at the APGA rallies held across the 21 local government areas of the state, where Governor Obiano’s excellent performance in the last three years and seven months have made the people to yearn for more. In this exclusive interview, he said that the candidates of the other parties who are contesting against Obiano in the election are no match to him.
The general campaign of APGA in Anambra State has ended, what was the reception like?
We concluded our campaigns in the 21 local government areas on the 6th of November and we have commenced deeper campaigns to the grassroots, the communities and the wards. From what we have seen since we flagged off our campaign on 2nd October, Anambra people have made a clear choice to remain with APGA and Governor Willie Obiano. The people came out to take part in our various rallies across the 21 local government areas. There is no local government we can point out that APGA has any difficulty or challenge. It was a wide straight support for the governor and the party because of the way the governor has impacted on all the communities in the state through his wonderful initiative of ‘Choose Your Community Projects programme.’ Every community in Anambra State can point to one major development done by the Obiano’s administration, to the general welfare of the people of Anambra State which he has ably presented in the areas of security, agricultural revolution, light up Anambra programme, roads and general infrastructural development, among many others.
If Governor Obiano has done well in the past three years and seven months as you claimed, why did his predecessor, Mr Peter Obi say he was campaigning against him because he has failed?
It is not for Peter Obi to asses Governor Obiano. If you have followed his ranting in the media that Obiano is not doing well, the Anambra people do not believe him because our people have seen clear demonstration of good governance by Obiano. It is only the people of Anambra State that can asses Obiano. Peter is on a mission of vendetta. He miscalculated in his political journey when he left APGA and joined PDP and when former President Goodluck Jonathan lost in the presidential election; Peter Obi shot himself in the foot. So, instead of counting his losses occasioned by his political misadventure, he turned around, thinking that he can hoodwink Anambra people into a campaign of calumny by ascribing failure to Obiano. But our people are very wise; they appreciate deeply the difference between Peter Obi’s government and Obiano’s government. During Peter Obi’s administration security was very poor in Anambra State. About 68 Anambra people were kidnapped under Peter Obi’s watch; to the extent that even Peter Obi’s Commissioner for Science and technology, Mr. C. C. Okoye from Nanka was kidnapped, killed and up till today, his corpse has not been found. When he begins to shout that Obiano has failed, our people laugh at him. Nobody believes him because where he failed Obiano has succeeded.
It is not within the power of Obi to judge Obiano; we the people of Anambra State will assess him. And comparatively Peter Obi in his first tenure in office was a failed governor. He did nothing; and that was why his re-election was very difficult and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had to cry round the state to say, ‘do me this as my last wish, vote for Peter Obi for a second tenure.’ It took the resourcefulness of our late leader, Ojukwu, the APGA promises and hope to people to push Peter Obi through to a second tenure. But Obiano has done so well under three years and seven months and made visible landmark achievements. Obi is purely on a lonely journey of vendetta.
Even when you insist that Governor Obiano has performed well, some political analysts still believe that the PDP, UPP and APC have strong candidates that can do better than the incumbent governor when elected, what is your reaction to that?
The UPP candidate is a virtual candidate; by that I mean he will not make any impact in this election. I have been in politics for nearly 20 years now; remember that I was the national chairman of APGA, and under my leadership we took over Anambra State about 11 years ago. I can tell you how our people reason and their voting pattern. The UPP candidate is a stranger in this election because he comes from the Anambra Central Senatorial district. Anambra people have come together to agree on the principle of zoning, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State chapter, in conjunction with the traditional rulers came up with the zoning plan for Anambra State. Governorship should rotate among the three senatorial zones, and they came to a resolution that Anambra North, which is the present occupant of that seat through Obiano, should be allowed to complete a second term in office to complete their own eight years. Anambra Central where Osita Chidoka hails from has been in government. Peter Obi was from Central as governor, he spent eight years. Chris Ngige that came in through an infraction was governor for two years and ten months; that makes Anambra Central, 10 years and 10 months. Obiano is from the North and so Chidoka being from the Central is sailing against the wind. Anambra State Elder’s Council met again and endorsed the communiqué signed by Chief Chukwuemeka Anyaoku who hails from Obosi. He appended his signature on the communiqué endorsing that the North should be allowed to complete their eight years and thereafter, it will go to the South Senatorial district. Dr Alex Ekwueme also signed that communiqué, Dr Tim Menakaya signed it, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife signed it. Four prominent members and trust-worthy sons of the state signed the communiqué on behalf of the Anambra State Elder’s Council. So, for Chidioka to come out, even if he is the best candidate, which incidentally he is not, because he is not better than Obiano, for him to carry this burden thinking that he can break through zoning etched in the minds of Anambra people will be a tough game for him.
Again, Obiano stands out more than the other candidates on this issue of zoning. Apart from the fact that he is doing very well as the governor, he is the only one that can constitutionally guarantee quicker transfer of power to Anambra South Senatorial zone because if he completes his second tenure, the North has completed its own eight years; so power will automatically be transferred to the South. If Chidoka, for example, wins, he will be making Anambra Central to have power for 19 years; nobody will tolerate that because it is inequitable to the other zones. Then Tony Nwoye of APC or Oseloka Obaze of PDP, if any of them becomes governor, which they are not likely to become through this November 18 election, they will stay eight years in office before power will go to the South. So, Anambra South Senatorial zone has come out strongly to support Obiano knowing full well that Obiano is the fastest way power would be transferred to them in the next four years.
Obaze like his godfather Peter Obi, promised to stay for only one term and then give up power to the South. That is a desperation that is very easy to see. Who will stay four years and give up his constitutional guaranteed second term, nobody? Goodluck Jonathan promised it when he was president and he didn’t keep to it. And in the present case, Anambra people are seeing beyond Obaze and are looking at Peter Obi who is his godfather. Anything that Peter Obi swore he will never do, he has done all of them. He swore with his children that he will never leave APGA, but he has left APGA. He swore that when he leaves APGA he will quit politics, he left APGA but he has not quit politics. He swore to Anambra people that at the end of his second term, he will retire to his business to join the league of the Aliko Dangotes. Since he left office he has been playing politics much more than he was playing before. He is not a man anybody can hold to his words.
What about the APC are you people not worried about its candidate?
No, the candidate is a young man and, in fact, he is my friend. I consider him a good man, but he has a terrible problem. This APC is not planning to contest in an election, what it is planning is to rig the election. So, if you go around Anambra State today, there is a palpable feeling and tension that APC is planning to rig the election. If the people are planning to vote for APC, they will not be raising the alarm that the APC wants to rig the election. The audacity, with which the APC is making people to believe that whether you like it or not, APC must take Anambra, is being resented by our people. You cannot come out and tell the people whether you like it or not, we must rule you, we must take you by force. APC by popular vote will not get up to 10 per cent of votes that will be cast on the 18th November. A number of things are responsible for this, our people are not happy with the treatment APC has given them in this dispensation. We have been terribly ignored, terribly sidelined in the government, we have been marginalised. There is no structure here, no followership and they are saying they must do that because they control security agencies, and INEC is a federal institution. In fact, I want to tell you that the mention of APC in Anambra State makes our people to be angry.
What is your advice to Anambra people as they go into this election?
I have been telling them this at our various rallies. We are the only party that has gone to the people fully; no other party has done that. And I have two central messages to them. One, they should prepare to cast their votes on 18th November. Let them not be intimidated by anybody. They should get ready, those who are saying that there shall be no election in Anambra State on the 18th of November cannot stop the election because if we don’t cast our votes, we will not re-elect Obiano, and then we will be in for great anarchy. So, we must vote to re-elect our governor to continue his good works. They shouldn’t listen to anybody who is saying that there will be no election. Our leaders are saying it everywhere; even the clergymen are announcing it in their churches that nobody can deny us our right to vote on the 18th November. Those who are saying that election will not hold will have themselves to blame. Two, let them not be afraid that APC will rig the election. APC cannot rig the election. We are determined to protect our votes. I always tell our youths in all the rallies to see this as a call to duty by the Anambra people and Ndigbo in general. This is the future of the youths, it is not about us for today because we are going; the future is for them. It is in their best interest that they protect their future.