PROFESSOR A.B.C NWOSU is a stalwart of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State. He had served four military governors as Commissioner for Health in the old Anambra namely Late Commodore Emeka Omeruah, Col. Robert Akonobi, Col. Herbert Eze and Commodore Joe Abulu.
He was the longest served Commissioner for Health in Nigeria and was in the team that set up government in the new Anambra State in August 1991. Nwosu was recalled by the then governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife but resigned after one year service on mutual agreement with the governor.
In 1998 he was a founding member of the PDP at National and State levels and was the PDP governorship candidate for the 1999 election. This was later upturned by the PDP Electoral Appeal Panel sitting in Abuja in favour of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju who then became governor. Nwosu became Political Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo and later Federal Minister of Health under President Obasanjo until the year 2003. He has remained a staunch member of the PDP and was recently appointed as a member of the Chief Jim Nwobodo Committee to reconcile all elements of the party in the South-East Zone.
Prof, what is happening in Anambra?
Is it with regard to the 2010 Anambra governorship election or with the spate of kidnappings, or with development and good governance in Anambra State?
With regard to all the three issues on security and development, the governor of Anambra State is the chief security officer and chief development officer of the state. He governs on the mandate of the people. It is therefore the people who will judge his efforts when it is time to renew the mandate. However, as an Anambrarian, I am, of course very concerned over the deteriorating security situation and will be happy if government takes immediate and effective measures to stop the bad state of internal security in the state.
On development, the governor won election on his vision and manifesto and is governing as best as he can but I have always had a different vision for the state.
What is this your vision?
No two persons are exactly alike in their vision and ideas. I see Anambra people as a great people - The Light of the Nation. And to me you can only be a great people if you dream big dreams and accomplish great things as a people, that is, government and the people. Governance therefore must aim to bring out the best in Anambra people for the achievement of great objectives.
When regions were the federating units, the Great Zik of Africa in Eastern Region operated on the axiom that if leadership shows the light the people will find the way and the Great Zik showed the light, and great sons of Anambra namely Dr. Nwafor Orizu, Dr. K.O. Dike, Sir Louis Mbanefo, Dr. P.N.C Okigbo, Prof. Chinua Achebe, to name just a few, emerged in the Nigerian firmament.
More importantly, communities responded enthusiastically and there were great strides in development as communities build secondary schools, hospitals, post offices and awarded overseas scholarships to deserving sons and daughters. This was a great era of development made possible by purposeful leadership in governance. We can do it again with the proper leadership.
Certainly, the second Niger Bridge is not beyond Anambra people and their government. Certainly, 21st century-type government colleges and universities are not beyond Anambra Government and the people, when you recalled the type of Government Colleges and the great University of Nigeria built by the Regional Government and not Federal.
I attended one of such Government Colleges from a village primary school in Nnewi and it changed my life. Anambra people can do these things again. If former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili can build a giant Independent Power Plant (IPP) at Omoku, and if the former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke could build TINAPA, so can Anambra Government strategize with the private sector and build a second Niger Bridge and a second international market that would help to decongest Onitsha and convert it into a Mega City.
Lagos State is thinking of a Mega City, why can't Anambra do the same for Onitsha? Why have we degenerated into a people who can not think of mega projects anymore instead of these 'tuke tuke' projects which are scattered all over the state and which will not be remembered by anybody in ten years, let alone 30 years time.
Mega projects like International Market, Second Niger Bridge, Independent Power Plant like Alaoji, being done by Professor Barth Nnaji and his company, will surely boost the revenue base of Anambra and assure sustainable development. There is the saying that if you can dream it, if you can visualize it, then you can do it. My vision is for an Anambra Government that will dream big dreams with Anambra people and restore the state to its old glory.
You still have not answered my question on 2010 Anambra governorship elections.
What is there to say? The madness is back and dark clouds are gathering again over Anambra. The ominous signs are there for anyone who cares to see.
Since 1998 Anambra is the only state in Nigeria to have had five governors namely Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Chris Ngige, Dame Mrs. Virgy Etiaba, Mr. Peter Obi , Mr. Andy Uba and Mr. Peter Obi again. In between, there were purported resignation and failed abduction of a sitting governor, there was mayhem and destruction of Anambra State public property, there was Court-voided impeachment of a governor etc.
As it has now happened, Anambra will be the only state in the entire country to conduct its governorship election a year ahead of others. All the above should give the people of Anambra an uncommon good sense as they prepare for the 2010 governorship election because the eyes of Nigeria and the entire world shall be on Anambra in February next year.
Right now there is confusion. The only certainty is that there is an incumbent governor. But there is confusion in his party. There is confusion in the other major parties in the state. And there is confusion regarding whether the elections shall hold because there is presently a court case challenging the proposed 2010 Anambra Governorship election. It is a well known fact that confusion in political parties always translate into disequilibrium and confusion in the polity. So, the summary is that all is not well and Anambra people must not sleep.
But your party, the PDP seems to be leading in this confusion.
It is not. In Anambra State the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has its own confusion. The Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) has its own confusion and the Action Congress (AC) has its own confusion. However, I believe that as soon as the court gives its final judgment on the law suit by Mr. Andy Uba, the INEC shall provide details of the election and the political parties will select and present their candidates for the election. My position concerning the PDP Anambra is that the apparent confusion over the State Executive Committee can be resolved overnight if the National Working Committee (NWC) hearkens to the yearnings of Anambra people.
The apparent disagreement between the PDP National Working Committee and the South-East Stakeholders meeting over the Anambra State Executive Committee of the party is a very bad omen. When one considers that that South -East PDP governors, former Presidents of Senate from the zone and a key father figure of the PDP, Dr. Alex Ekwueme were among those who attended the South-East meeting, it is most painful to people like me.
Fortuitously, I was not at the South-East Stakeholders meeting but I am in complete agreement with the objectives and their views. Ndi-Anambra know what they want regarding the State Executive Committee, and they know who they do not want as governorship candidates. This is self evident and palpable. To hear and hearken to the yearnings of the people is a matter of personal integrity for all concerned. As for me, I shall always remain with the people.
Why do you maintain this position?
Because in the end all political offices and all political appointments have tenure and shall pass. But the people, the state, the nation, and the land shall endure.
By some counts there are over 40 Anambra governorship aspirants. Is that not a big factor in the emerging confusion?
It is better to choose from many than from a few even if presently the matter appears to be a free-for- all affair. Nowadays because of joblessness whenever a very senior executive position is advertised even in the private sector, hundreds will apply. Thereafter criteria and processes are used to select a single qualified candidate to fill the position. The governorship position is the most important executive position for any state. In the case of
governorship position, there are functions of a governor which cannot be performed by just anybody. The governorship position should not be seen simply as chief contract awarding officer.
The governor is not only the Chief Security Officer; he is the Chief Development Officer and the Chief Administrative Officer, who should be conversant with executive council memoranda and best practices in governance. Beyond this the governor must have a vision of the state in the next generation.
The intellectual capital base, the educational infrastructure, the internal revenue base, the physical infrastructure, etc , of the state in the next 30 years must be the major concern and focus of a governor. Beyond this, the governor must be able to lift the people of the state to higher ideals of service to the community, morality, honesty, hard work and genuine concern to eliminate poverty and suffering. Based on the above, political parties should be able to develop criteria to sift the grain from the chaff among aspirants under their platforms.
How can this be done in the case of Anambra where so many want to be governor of the state?
All aspirants can not contest the election only those selected by their parties as candidates shall contest. Presently I belong to a group of well-meaning Anambrarians, the Anambra State Good Governance Forum (ASGGOF) which has adopted criteria developed by the League of Anambra State Professionals as far back as 2006 or thereabout.
These criteria have been published very recently in national dailies as part of communiqué from ASGGOF meetings. The criteria are specific that aspirants who are of questionable integrity; aspirants whose educational qualifications are suspect; aspirants who have no track-records of personal and public service achievements; aspirants who have doggy business and family backgrounds and relationships; aspirants who have criminal records etc must be flatly rejected by the Anambra electorate. The political parties operating in the State and INEC have been written by ASGGOF on this matter and we are working with the Civil Society, the Churches and well-meaning Anambrarians to ensure that political scallywags do not have their way.
With due respect, it is also a fact well known to political roughnecks that most of you will vanish from the country at election time when the long knives come out. How therefore will ASGGOF enforce the criteria and influence the Anambra 2010 elections?
It is also a well known fact that the days of violence, long knives and election rigging must and do end one day. Indeed for Anambra they shall end sooner rather than later. Ndigbo have a saying that 'rats do not chop the fish of those who stay awake'. And Ndigbo also have another saying that 'when the mouth gets into battle before the legs, very often the legs do not return'. Consequently, the less that is said of this by ASGGOF, the better. It shall suffice
to state simply that ASGGOF is a committed group and I am a committed member of ASGGOF.
So, in plain language, how would you assess the 2010 Anambra governorship election?
The elections shall hold in February 2010 unless the court rules otherwise because the tenure of the present governor is specific. Consequently, even in the present confusion, the battle lines are already drawn. The two biggest political parties with structures and wide following throughout the State are the APGA to which the governor belongs and the PDP to which the speaker and legislators at state and federal levels all belong. Then there is the AC which is
already campaigning with Dr. Chris Ngige as its anointed candidate and thereafter the PPA. This is not to say that the other parties can be ignored given the current mood of the Anambra electorate.
Howbeit there is the incumbent governor, Mr. Peter Obi who is seeking a second term. There is Dr. Chris Ngige who is already anointed by his party and who is on a serious comeback mission. These are known names with some track-records in the state. One therefore expects that the other political parties, especially the PDP shall offer to the Anambra electorate candidates who are comparable or better than these two
candidates, if they expect the people of Anambra to take them seriously. It is clear from background and underground activities at grassroots level that Ndi-Anambra will not accept a governor that they did not vote for in 2010.
Most significantly, Anambra governorship election being the only election in Nigeria in February 2010, will be a test of will especially, Nigeria's will to conduct credible elections. It will be a test of competence and capability for INEC and security agencies. It will be a test of determination by the electorate to ensure that the votes of the people are counted properly. It will be intense.
So, are you an aspirant or a candidate?
Only political parties can have candidates. Before they are adopted by the parties, individuals can only be aspirants. Remember that in 1998 I was the PDP Anambra Governorship candidate until the Appeal Panel sitting in Abuja reversed it. The Chairman of 1998 Anambra PDP Primaries, Gen. A.B. Mamman wrote an unforgettable damning letter on the injustice of the verdict of the Appeal Panel. That was eleven years ago. I have moved on since then. Anambra State has also moved on and all that is now history.
Against this background you will appreciate that the best I can do in the present situation is to assist the PDP to put its house in order as a political party in the State. It is the only sensible and sane thing for me to do. It will be futile for me to begin to aspire on a platform that is not quite in order in my State, as I have no desire to operate outside the PDP where I played significant roles at National and State levels during its founding in 1998.
Consequently, my primary desire and prayer is for the PDP National Working Committee to hearken to the cries of Anambrarians. The people of Anambra have spoken. The people of the South-East including the PDP governors have added their voices to those of Anambrarians.
Ndi-Anambra and the people of the South-East are waiting to know whether their cries have been heard by the PDP. After the PDP House in Anambra State had been put in order, water shall find its level according to the desires of the electorate.
When you said that the people have spoken are you referring to the recent South-East Zonal meeting of the PDP Stakeholders?
Not really. Before the PDP South-East Stakeholders' meeting, there were committees set up by the National Working Committee of the party. I was a member of the Chief Jim Nwobodo committee. There was the Professor Jerry Gana committee etc. The National Working Committee of the PDP accepted their reports. In the case of the Chief Jim Nwobodo committee, its interim report formed the basis for the inauguration of the PDP State Executive Committees for Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu States. These State Executive committees are functioning effectively.
For Imo State, a Caretaker Committee has just been set up. Some of us therefore wonder why Anambra has become intractable. A major feature of the Chief Nwobodo committee was that it was made up exclusively of people from South-East Zone as the people of the region deeply resented the situation in the past where people of other zones exercised overbearing influence on internal affairs of the zone. It is in this regard that PDP members of the region deeply resent what they now see as cavalier treatment of the views of South-East Governors and Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
The truth of the matter is that Anambra PDP members simply want an Oha Zuru Mee State Executive Committee that will produce a governorship candidate on the platform of the PDP who will be credible and who will be acceptable to Anambrarians. No more, no less.
Finally, How do you see the scenario playing out?
The 2010 Anambra State Governorship election will hold in February next year. INEC has given a date and only the courts can truncate the process. A winner will emerge. But a winner who emerges through flawed processes will become flawed by that fact.
I only hope that the electioneering will be devoid of violence because Ndigbo have seen enough bloodshed. Those who rule by the sword will find that it is better to rule through the consent of the people.
Whatever happens, life in Anambra shall go on. Ultimately the will of the people, which is indicative of the will of God, will prevail on earth as it is in Heaven and Anambra people who are God's people will triumph.