An aspirant for the Anambra State House of Assembly, (Idemili North Constituency) on the platform of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Mike Chukwuma has said that the 2019 general election will prove a deciding factor on the readiness of Nigerian youths to take over governance of the country. He fielded questions from Onyebuchi Ezigbo.
What is your interest in running for the Ndemili North constituency seat in the State House of Assembly?
My inspiration is beyond human understanding. It is a constituency where I was born and had all my education. I have particular knowledge of the area. At seven years, I found myself in places of leadership. There are some peculiarities about Ndemili North. It is one of the largest local government areas. I discovered a town like Obosi that is up to a local government is still having one ward. The constituency projects in my area are not very encouraging with what I have seen on the ground. I am aware that there are works in the constituency projects being handled by honorable members at various levels; federal and state, but I am concentrating on the state level. Simple things that could take development far are being neglected, ignored or not even remembered at all. This is one thing that has inspired me. For instance I am thinking of a law or a bill that will inculcate public/private partnership with the government in terms of internally generated revenue. An individual can build a market or something like that then a sharing formula with government will be determined. With that, a lot of our people will come into that constituency. The largest market in Africa is in Onitsha, Anambra State. The building materials segment of that market is in my constituency, but the standard is still poor. These are the things that inspire me.
What are your other areas of interest if you make it to the House of Assembly?
We have a problem with maintenance in Nigeria. I remember the first man who represented my zone in the state House of Assembly, Eze Chinwenye. He facilitated the sinking of bore holes in almost all the 12 wards in of the constituency, today none of those bore holes are functioning. I would try to push for a law that will ensure maintenance of these constituency projects. It is only a law that will enforce this.
All constitutional hindrances against participation of young people in the politics have been removed through a recent law signed by the president. How will this impact on the country?
This is an area of interest especially to me as a young man in my 30s. Before now, who would have thought that a youth can make a wonderful impact. We thank God for the government at the centre. It is coming rather late. But we are glad that it finally came. The President of France is in his early 40s, but when you come to Nigeria right from when I was young I have always heard that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. With this recent law, you will see a lot of changes in Nigeria. Come to my party, APGA in Anambra, (where) I am contesting for the House of Assembly, I haven’t seen anybody that is above 40 years in this race.
It is not just enough to make a law, are the youths prepared for leadership?
Why not! The law wasn’t in place before I started running. People didn’t just make up their mind because of the law. It is just that they never had the opportunity. You will see a total revolution in terms of development because we are the youths, we know the social media, we know the keywords, we know how to pull down a leader that isn’t doing very well but when you talk about a very aged man who doesn’t know about the internet whatever you are writing about him is nonsense. The youths are ready to take over the development of this country.
What is your view on APGA in 2019?
I must have to say a very big thank you for the people that started this party. APGA is a young party. By all standards, we are the third biggest party in Nigeria. The issue of being in one state before now isn’t totally correct. As you can remember the current governor of Imo state won under the platform of APGA before he defected to APC. APGA also won the election in Abia state; I can authoritatively say that. APGA is growing bigger than we can imagine under the leadership of Dr. Victor Ikechukwu Oye. His leadership is taking the party to another level. We also thank Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. He is doing exceptionally well. APGA won in Gwagwalada local government council of the FCT, providing the chairman and five councilors. In the last election in Kaduna, APGA won seven seats. APGA recently received another big fish into the party Senator Stella Oduah who defected to the party. What you are about to see in 2019 will amaze you. APGA is going to emerge the second party in Nigeria.
What is your assessment of Gov. Willie Obiano?
We call him Akpocha Global. Formally Anambra state was asleep. From the leadership of Chris Ngige that was when things started changing. When Peter Obi came under the platform of APGA he did marvelously well and then handed the baton to Willie Obiano. Obiano has done very well. This man has remained the only governor in Nigeria that didn’t borrow money to pay salaries; almost all the states have done that. Anambra state under his regime started to export a lot of things. Agriculture received a boost. Education is on the rise under Willie Obiano. He just came back on a one month retreat on economic study from the United States with his team so you are about to see more. Unlike most governors who become slow in their second term, he is even doing more. People wonder where he is getting money for all these projects from.It is transparency, it is Willie Obiano, it is APGA in power and we hope that APGA will go round other parts of Nigeria.
Though governed by an APGA governor, Anambra is seen as a PDP state, owing to the number of elected PDP legislators. Do you think APGA stands a chance in Anambra in 2019?
Unless you haven’t been following the recent events, in the last governorship election in November, 2017 Peter Obi led the PDP in a futile attempt to take over Anambra state but what happened? You all saw it; total lose! Even APC came second and PDP came third. Today their house is in more disarray compared to 2017 election so I wonder how they will perform the magic. APGA is in control in Anambra state. APGA has a strong foothold in the south-east of Nigeria.
Contesting an election in Nigeria is usually for people with deep pockets. Do you want to trade this lane, some people use to have godfathers, do you have any godfather?
It is a journey of relationship. I was born in that constituency, schooled in that constituency and still live in that constituency till date. My one-on-one relationship with the people is of great value. I don’t care about money bags because one thing I discovered recently especially in my party is that things are changing for good. It is no more the days you give people money and they will vote for you. These days there is hunger; they will collect the money and vote the candidate of their choice. It played out in this election during Willie Obiano’s second term. The other parties were sharing as much as N5,000 but APGA people didn’t collect it. Those that wanted to collect did, but they were not swayed. Our people are beginning to come out of the euphoria, things are really changing. I have no godfather and I don’t intend to have one. I am running my election on my own with the little I have and good individuals who look at my antecedent and feel that this young man can do something wonderful. God is good to me. I am not seeking any sponsor. In Anambra, godfatherism is dead.