Secretary of the Enugu State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Peter Ekwueme, who is also a contemporary of Dr Tony Nwoye, the All Progressives Congress’ governorship candidate in Anambra State, says Anambra will be better with his classmate as governor. He spoke to Tobi Soniyi. Excerpts:
You are a medical doctor, how come you are so interested in social and political issues?
I do think that man is both a social and political being before being a doctor. Indeed, to shy away from the reality of our social interaction and political participation is to live life sub-optimally. Not only have I made a conscious choice to engage myself in these concerns, I urge every person to realise it is our civic responsibility to do so if we really are serious about contributing to shaping the society and participating in nation building.
Do you belong to any political party?
Yes. I do belong to a political party. I have always belonged to one at every point in time. But let me quickly clarify that I’m not one whose thought process and worldview are restricted by party affiliation. Not in the least.. I have a much more robust and expansive view of politics way beyond party lines especially in the context of the peculiarities of our polity where the ideological divides between the parties are ever so blurry. But we will get there.
How well do you know the APC candidate given the articles you have been publishing about him?
Dr Tony Nwoye is someone I have known forever. Our paths crossed way back in our pre university days. He was in Metropolitan College Onitsha while I was in Christ the king College (C. K. C).
Being a very intelligent and socially active person, Tony was a constant feature in the inter-school contests. He led his school in quiz competitions, debates, JET club contests and the likes. I led mine in same events. So we started off as adversaries really but had mutual respect for each other.
We got into the same College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Nsuka (UNN), played our parts in the Medical Students Association of our Alma matter UNMSA, SUG and the likes. Because of his natural gift for leadership, man management and organization, Tony became an instant hit, dusted his contemporaries and those that came even before him. The rest is now history.
So, I knew him first as an adversary (laughs). But we grew to be comrades sharing the same trenches. Our interaction has never looked back since then.
What was it like being a medical student and being involved in students’ politics?
An interesting question. It is the toughest life to live. Your classmates view you with some suspicion as someone who does not know why he is in school.. Your teachers are sure you shouldn’t have been in that field of study. But to the credit of characters like Tony Nwoye, he had the conviction and passion to pursue what was clear in his mind was his life purpose. Some of us were not as tenacious as he was with it. But looking back at what he has achieved and the impact he’s made in his society, there can be no doubt that he made the ‘rightest’ possible choice as regard his path.
How did you come to know Dr. Nwoye?
Is it true that he was a cultist as some of his political rivals have alleged?
Nothing can be further from the truth. You see when political opponents have nothing to say, they resort to baseless propaganda and cheap blackmails.
Tony all through his stay in school never had any issue with the security department of the school. In our days, you cannot contest any election in school if you are reckoned a cultist. In fact, such charge was the easiest way for the school authorities to get back at troublesome student leaders. It speaks so much about how far removed from cultism Tony was that the school authorities could not even label him with that. I mean that would have been such an easy way of stopping his participation in student union government politics. But they just couldn’t because the young man was so clean of such.
It is a fact that he has never been accused of cultism while there. He has never been charged for that anywhere in his time. Any of his contemporaries in school who is honest can attest to this.
Is it true that he played some role in curbing activities of cultimm in UNN? If yes, what role did he play?
It is one of the great ironies of life that what Dr Tony Nwoye risked his life combating is what people who have no fear of God are accusing him of. Tony, both as a student union government leader and National Association of Nigerian Students’ (NANS) president fought tenaciously against the cultism menace. He confronted it so head on that most cultists in UNN and UNEC had to publicly come and denounce their membership of the various cults so as to escape the onslaught he used the instrumentality of his office to bring to bear on them. He engaged the security agencies in this. It is in respect of his extraordinary courage in tackling the menace of cultism that the then Vice chancellor of UNN Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefo gave him an award as a student leader. When he repeated the feat as NANS president, the then Benue State governor George Akume also gave him an award of recognition in that respect. Even the then Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun recognised his excellent contribution in this regard. What more can be said?
Do you believe he would do well as governor of Anambra State?
I have no doubt whatsoever that Anambra in Dr Tony Nwoye’s hands will experience its best run of governance ever. Tony is someone who prepared himself for leadership. He is an excellent manager and knows how to distill from an assemblage of great talents the very best for the good of the society. More than any other person in this race, he possesses the best resume as far leadership is concerned.
What expectations do you have of him as governor?
I urge him to remain true to his person and his deals as he had been in the myriads of positions he had served in the past. He should remember that it is his past performance that keeps making way for him to soar higher and higher.
I expect him to continue making his focus the masses, the poor and the dispossessed. I expect him to maintain focus on the youths, empower and equipment them to unleash their immeasurable potentials which should catapult our economy to enviable heights.
I expect Dr Tony Nwoye to carry on in office with the same humility, the same focus and the same servant leader disposition that have seen him excel in his past calls to service
Your advice to Nwoye as he continues with the campaign to be elected the governor of Anambra state.
I urge Dr Tony Nwoye and his teeming supporters which grow by the day not to relent. They should continue to sustain their grassroots spread and dominance for truly power belongs to the people.
It is my conviction that if the current tempo is sustained, Tony will emerge victorious cone November 18th and Anambra will enter into its most peaceful, most progressive and most prosperous era in history. That is the Tony Nwoye promise. As Dr Tony and his teeming supporters like to assert as their slogan/battle cry, the future is now!
I have no doubt whatsoever that Anambra in Dr Tony Nwoye’s hands will experience its best run of governance ever.