As the country grapples with the present economic challenges, the leadership of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has said that it would ask Nigerians to support its quest to take over power at the centre using the success story of Governor Willie Obiano in Anambra State as campaign point. In this interview with Onyebuchi Ezigbo, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Oye, gave insights into the secrets of APGA governance model in Anambra which is fast becoming a reference point and also spoke on other national issues
Why do you think Governor Obiano deserves to be elected for a second term?
Yes as you can see, he has done very well, irrespective of what anybody might think about the governor, he has done very well. The world has also acknowledged his sterling performance. Within just 18 months in office, he has won the best governor award, the Sun Man of the year award and 21 months after his swearing-in as governor, he won the Zik’s prize for leadership, in addition to numerous other prizes he had won since he came in as governor. In fact, if you come to Anambra, the state is passing through steady transformation. Look at the capital territory, it has been totally transformed.
It used to look like a local government headquarter but now we have fine structures springing up here and there, three brand new Fly-overs traversing through the centre of the city and connecting Anambra state to Enugu and other parts of the country. The traffic snarls that we used to have along that stretch of the road have been drastically reduced or even eliminated.
The erosion that used to eat-up that road thereby causing traffic congestion has also been dealt with permanently. So the esthetics of the cities have improved, with new street lights here and there in most cities in Anambra, like Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi. Then security has also received adequate attention. This is the safest state in the country now. We do not have herdsmen attacks on the natives because of an understanding between the Anambra state government and the Hausa community in the state. This is a governor who has been very proactive in dealing with crucial issues. Again he has been very prudent in managing the resources of the state and that is why the state pays salaries of workers as and when due.
Like some of the states in the country have been finding it difficult meeting their obligations due to low IGR. How can you score the state. What strategy is the APGA-led government adopting to cope with the harsh economic situation?
Yes, I can score Anambra state 100 percent, because the state has remained number one in the payment of workers salaries. The state is not owing workers salaries including pension and even payment of gratuities. Once you retire from the service, you get your entitlement and go. It is unlike that in some that are owing about three to six months and some of them for many years have not paid gratuity or pension. In Anambra State, managing the resources is done prudently by the governor. In fact, all leakages have been blocked and what the government is doing is instead of cutting down cost, government is cutting down waste.
It is wastages that keep causing the problem in the management of the resources of the state but now the governor has plugged all loopholes and leakages in the system. Collection of government taxes and revenues have been done prudently as well and instead of going to private pockets, they are channeled into government coffers from where they are appropriated for providing services for the people of the state. So generally things are not done the way they were used to be done, things are now done more professionally and more humanely. The people’s interest overrides every other interests as far as this government is concerned.
How has the state fared in the area of security and making lives safe from criminal elements?
You know the first thing we addressed when the governor came into office was the issue of security and we reasoned that there is no way the state could develop without adequate security. Investors will not come with their investments at all. It was from that time that the governor came up with a very strong strategy to protect the people of the state from rampaging marauders, kidnappers and other miscreants. So Anambra state is the safest state in Nigeria. In December last year, from the 21 day to January 7, about 12,000 exotic cars came into Anambra state but none of them was stolen nor burgled and the people went to sleep with both eyes closed. So it is feat yet to be attained by any other state.
In order to ensure steady security, the state continued to collaborate with other governors in the South East and Delta State and that was why on August 25 last year we set up the first committee to organise a security conference, inviting security experts and the six state governors from the South East states and Delta. The result of that conference is the greater security for the people of Anambra state and even for the people of neigbouring states and other state governors are coming to our state to learn one or two things from us on how to develop their one state.
So this is something that is worth emulating. You can see what Senator Ben Bruce said about Anambra state. He advised the Federal Government to come to Anambra state to take some tutorials about how to run scarce resources of the country. As you can see in Anambra state, things are happening because the governor is focused and the people are cooperative. I believe that by the time he ends his first tenure, Anambra state would have been a new Dubai in terms of development.
What do you make of the insinuations that the leadership of APGA and Governor Obiano are making moves to align forces with the APC ahead of the 2019 general election?
All that is rumour. Nobody has ever talked about it here. Our party is a very strong brand, globally even. We don’t need a merger with any political party to give a second term to Governor Obiano and we are not merging with the APC. This has never been discussed and it has never been canvassed at all. So nobody is thinking along that line, I do not expect it to happen and there is no need for it to happen anyway.
What about the alleged strained relationship between the party, Governor Obiano and the immediate former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi?
As far I am concerned, their relationship is very personal and at that level, they are friends. You see some of these things are magnified beyond reason. You can see Governror Obiano extended an olive branch to former Governor Peter Obi during the celebration of the centenary of the Christ the King College, Onitsha. As it turned out, it became a big reunion and Governor Obiano in his humility, openly extended a hand of friendship to Peter Obi in order to dispel all kinds of wicked insinuations being made in different quarters and that was why he did that openly to show that he is not harbouring any ill-feelings against the former governor.
Why should he harbour Ill-feelings against former Governor Peter Obi? Obi’s tenure has come and gone and we are in a new era. I do not even see any need for any conflict at that matter. They should continue to cooperate and Nigerian governors should understand that once their tenure ends, they should give way and allow the next person to take charge, to take responsibility for his actions. I think that is one of those things some past governors are yet to imbibe when they are out of power and that brings friction. Any reasonable person will know that once your tenure ends, you are gone and a new phase will set in that will try to take care of the interest of the masses.
What happened to the vision of APGA not only to take over control of governance in all the South East states but also at the national level. Has that vision died with the demise of its late founder, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu?
You know what happened during the last election, APGA won in Abia state but it was short-changed. In Imo state, APGA is still in control of affairs, not minding that Chief Rochas Okorocha is hobnobbing with the APC. The Nigerian constitution do not allow somebody to leave his political party and move to another party just like that. The way Okorocha did it was too simplistic to be true and this was an election everybody contributed his resources, time and energy to achieve and you can see the level of wickedness amongst our people. By now APGA should be controlling the five South East states and that was our own projection and understanding. Every political party in Nigeria has a regional base from where it sprung to national limelight. APC is a conglomeration of three parties, ANPP, CPC and ACN.
While the CPC controlled Nassarawa and has its strong roots in Katsina in the north west, ANPP controlled Borno and Yobe in the north east and the ACN controlled five states in the south west. So as you can see in the Southeast we almost achieved the unity but because of bad blood of some people, it was scuttled. Now by 2019, I can assure that aim would be achieved because there is greater desire by the Southeast people, there is a burning desire by the people to cooperate. Now APGA has gone beyond the regional bias and is operating as a global brand. We have a branch in the United Kingdom, we have branches in some West African countries like Togo. And we also have branches in Malaysia, Japan and United States of America.
What do you think is hampering the efforts of APGA to stamp its authority on the South East politics and possibly extend its influence nationwide.
In the reasons I gave earlier, I said that our mandates were stolen. They used federal might to snatch our mandate. But you can see the level that APGA has gone, the party controls state Assembly seats in Bayelsa, Taraba and we also control the second largest local government councils in the FCT, the Gwagwalada Area Council in the FCT. This is the first time an opposition party will be winning a chairmanship in the FCT where the ruling party is always in control. APGA has an Assembly seat in Niger state and defeated the governor in his own ward. This is Not a party that you can take for granted. We have emerged as a strong brand.