‘Buying Delegates at Primary Election Robs the People of Their Preferred Choice’

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong holds a conversation with Dr. Godwin Maduka, the triple professor famed for transforming his homestead, Umuchukwu in Orumba South local government area of Anambra State into an emerging city, on issues around his quest to win the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party and his ultimate ambition of governing the state

What are the likely pitfalls that you advise your party to move away from as it approaches the critical stage of selecting a governorship candidate?

The North is about finishing its eight years. Anambra Central was there before now. It is the turn of the South. Every party that I know in Anambra State is adhering to that zoning. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not saying yes or no. I advise them to listen to the zoning process that favours the South. If they don’t, then they might suffer the consequences at the voting booth

Are from the South?

I am from the South, but that is not why I am talking. I am just saying that fairness and equity have to be observed.

Is that the only pitfall that you are advising them to move away from?

I am also advising them to stay away from having many factions. I think they are beginning to respect the integrity of the party. At some point, they had little cliques here and there, but the PDP in Anambra has to be one party under one government. I am advising them to make sure they come under one umbrella without divisions so that they can grab the governorship of the state

In the unlikely event that you are muscled out of the governorship contest, what will be your reaction?

I have to be honest with you, I don’t see that happening because they promised that there will be a fair election this time. From what I am seeing and for being who I am, running for this governorship, I don’t see anybody that can take it away from me. I am from the South. I follow the rules and regulations and I meet most of the stuff they need to be a governor. I know myself. I am not saying that other aspirants are not qualified, but I brought a lot of stuff into this party and most of what Anambra people want is who can produce, not who will produce. I can produce because I have produced before by doing what I have done in this state for 20 years. I agreed after being asked by many people to run. I believe I am not discouraging anybody not to run and I am not discouraging myself. If you know yourself and you know what is required just like when we go to school, I don’t see myself being muscled out of it. That is my belief.

Who are your likely associates, because you need to build bridges, you need to synergize with people, in this contest. Right now, the race is to get as many delegates as possible to accept that you are best man

I walk directly to the delegates and stakeholders. Some people have been working for a long time with these delegates. In every town, there are some people that hold the party for their local governments or their local communities. We recognise those people and we go present ourselves to them and the response we get is very good. We also go directly to the delegates. Most of what I have done is that, at the beginning of this pandemic, I went and gave palliatives to the entire Anambra State towns, mostly to the needy, irrespective of the party. I came back and gave to every representative and every delegate, some palliatives and PPEs; just to reach out to them. I just rounded up what I call one of the good things I have seen in politics-a tour of the 21 local governments in Anambra. It was very rewarding that I spoke to each delegate. In every town I went, all the delegates came out, nobody was missing. They were all there waiting for what I had to say. They are not blind. They know what I have done in my community. I tell them what I have done in this community, I am going to do in Anambra. I have built my community to look like a state. I am going to build Anambra to look like a country. I am not like some guy who is living in America that is not working with the grassroots. I did that. Before the end of the year, I brought every single delegate with the executives and the party chairman and I gave them a befitting Christmas entertainment and I gave them a tour of the projects I have done. They came here, they saw where I live and what I have done and what I am going to do should I be elected governor of Anambra State. I was able to give them live entertainment, provide some palliatives, including umbrellas and almanacs, rice and cash, not that I am buying them. I am a proud member of the party. Everyone of them has seen me and what I can do. They might be saying the same thing to every other aspirant. The way they were talking to me gave me a lot of encouragement. Some of them still call me and I still call them. I am in touch with the delegates. I respect all the stakeholders in Anambra irrespective of religion, denomination or party because I provided a live cow to them just to show my appreciation to the delegates and the bishops irrespective of the denomination. That is what I am doing. I am a proud son of Anambra State and I am here to lead and to serve.

In what areas would you say the PDP has fallen behind in preparing for the governorship contest, considering that the party has been out of power for 16 years in this state?

It is looking better now. Everybody knows there were so many divisions in the PDP. You can’t win an election that way. They can’t afford not to be talking about zoning again. If they want to win the election, they should be talking about zoning, which every other party respects. They should stop the divisions within the party. It is a very strong party made up of a lot of eligible men and women in Anambra State. It is one of the most well-put-together parties, which is why I joined them. The only way they can lose is if they continue the division. I think the division is almost over and by the time we get to the general election, we will be one party and we are going to win the governorship of Anambra

You are a man of the sciences, how much of IT and AI are you deploying to change the politics of Anambra?

It might surprise you to know that we have deployed it already from the party hierarchy and I deployed my own. I am not going to tell you how much of it has been deployed. I can tell you that politics is about educating the people and that is what we are doing at this stage-educating the people on who and what they are voting for, because that is lacking. I don’t think we should continue this idea of pumping money to the delegates. That, to me, is going backwards. I know the PDP will make sure they put an end to that because you do not win an election by buying the delegates and by who gives the most money on the day. That should stop. That is robbing the people of their rightful voting because that is another reason that the PDP and any other party that wants to present their candidates have to make sure that they present those people who can serve. How do you know they can serve when you haven’t seen what they have done? You have to see what people have done before they enter politics, for you to know what they are going to do after politics. In terms of AIs and ITs, I am prepared with it. I am from the country where that is being deployed, but I am not going to use it to the disadvantage of my colleagues. I will only use it in disseminating information that I want the populace to know.

Are you trying to get other contestants to promote the overall good of the party over self? Are you willing to build alliances, because you sound like you are all by yourself?

I am not by myself. When you are running, you are running by yourself, but when you are dealing with the party, it is not by yourself. I have contributed immensely, financially to the party, so have other aspirants. This is not a war. I have my own focus on what I want to do, using the ideas of the party as well as individuals. I am not in a war with other aspirants. We are all friends, but I am very much on the point of what I want to achieve having been in this state for 61 years. I am more convinced about what I want to do because it has worked for me. I have done them all. That 10-point agenda that I put across are things I have done; from IT to women empowerment to religious tolerance. You know why they call me ‘Ecumenical Minister?’ That is because I don’t really care much about different religions. I am Catholic, but I am also helping the Anglicans and other religious bodies in my town. I derive my 10-point agenda from what I have done in the past 20 years with my own money without help from the government. Can you imagine now that I am going to get help from the government? I am going to do more.

I really would like you to mention some of those things, if you don’t mind, that you have done to uplift the party in Anambra and in Nigeria that may count in your favour as you seek the governorship ticket of the PDP

I will enumerate them without sounding as if it couldn’t be done by anybody else. It is a personal choice. It is a personal choice to be persuaded to run for governor, when I have a massive philanthropy going on, but I realize that being a governor will be an expansion of my philanthropy, which can reach more people than what I have. I have constructed roads and bridges. I have provided transport. In Anambra, I said I am going to do air, land and sea. For roads, we are going to repair and build roads that will last beyond two years. We are going to have an airport on expand the one that we have now to include a commercial and international airport. We are going to do something about our ports, the nautical miles from Ihiala River to the Atlantic Ocean and the River Niger tributaries are not that high. We are going to try our best to get people to help us to dredge so that medium level vessels can get here. For education, there is no need for primary and secondary school students to pay anything. I do not think it will be a drain on our economy if we respect that. I will build 21 campuses of the existing universities in each local government of the state. We have to increase the literacy rate in Anambra. I have done that in my city. I built primary and secondary. I encourage adult education. I am also devising a means of online education for universities. Those 21 campuses will be sited in the local government headquarters or close to it so that people can trek to the universities. The literacy rate will go up and that will bring the economy up when people are educated. We talked about IT, which is the mainstay of this world now. People doing IT, almost everything we are doing is with IT, no matter what area of endeavour you want to join, we will include it in the schools also we will be teaching vocational education and we are going to make sure people are learning their skills. We talked about religious tolerance already. Remember I have IT here too. Everything I talked about I have done in my town. In the case of transport, the only type I could do here is just the land transport.. In terms of women and youth empowerment, that is what I have done here. I have given a bunch of them scholarships to further their education, some of them that couldn’t further and those who don’t want to, they go for vocational education, learning a trade, not selling and buying. I told them if you want to deal on plumbing materials, you have to learn plumbing so that you will be able to give people a fair quote that they will understand. You need to understand your trade before you buy and sell anything. You want to sell any building material, you have to know how to construct a house. You have to do mason and things like that. These are part of those things that I have done in my town that I will take to the entire Anambra on a larger scale. I will say it before anybody, my intervention in the judiciary system in Anambra State is why we ended up having three additional divisions, which is why we have Orumba South Judiciary Division, Ogbaru and Aniocha, which is Neni. We have a high court here in Umuchukwu. In the area of judiciary, we are going to augment that state wide. We will rebuild all the courts and make sure that they have and make sure they have good living quarters so that justice can be the same. I also built a Magistrate Court here. You can see that in the area of justice, we have done that. Then we are talking about the area of medicine. In the area of medicine, I have built a very nice and first of its kind hospital which is operating right now, called the Trinitas Hospital and Maternity in Umuchukwu. I have equipped it with materials I bought from overseas and now they do surgeries, maternities, emergencies and that is why I said that in 21 local government area of Anambra State, we are going to have 21 emergency rooms so that people who have an accident will get help first before being transferred to tertiary hospitals. In that place we will be able to save people from stroke and heart attack once we recognise the symptoms. The ambulance will be waiting to transport them as soon as they are managed initially, so that people stop dying from these cardiovascular events and they don’t start dying from a cerebral accident which is a stroke. These are most of the things that I have put in my 10-point agenda that I am going to do. My construction of a 17-decking of the tallest African medical research which is in existence, we are remodelling it now to fit things that were there, Oncology will be there, MRI-CT Scan will be there. Most of these I have built in America, anybody can check it out and then we are going to have ICUs for specialised cases. We are going to have special areas where we train the doctors in different specific areas and we have expatriates that will be coming here and teaching them all that. We are going to have the nurses and laboratory technicians being trained. Most of these will be in that medical research. That will encourage medical tourism being reversed because most of the people will be airlifted here for serious problems. That is building ahead for possible COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria because I don’t think we have enough ventilators to handle it. We are just asking God to help us so that this does not become a serious problem and go wide into the rural areas. That is what I am doing already. I will now do it at the state level

When you have these interactions and palliatives for delegates on what platform do you have them because campaigns have not started?

It is on the platform of Dr. Godwin Maduka Foundation, even now that is what I use

I believe and some people do too that Anambra is easy to govern because you have so many wealthy men and they are already doing things in their locality, so all, an enterprising governor needs to do is to harness all the possibilities from these town unions and individuals and then the state is on autopilot

I can’t agree with you anymore than this. It is true. That is why last Christmas season I paid homage to most of them that I can remember. We will call on our illustrious sons from home and abroad to join the people at home. You are right we have more multi-millionaires in this state than most states but that has not been harnessed. We are going to have a governor that will be simple enough to approach any rich man. Anambra people are very good in philanthropy. We still have the biggest philanthropist we can ever have, Prince Arthur Eze. He is from this state. We have a lot of these rich people, Obi Jackson, Sir Emeka Offor, I can name all of them. These are the people I look up to before even joining this race. I have tried to reach out to them, one way or the other that they will be able to bring their resources together either as an investment that will yield them money or as a philanthropy, whichever way. Let us hope I get elected as a governor of this state. I will work with each one of them.

I also believe you have more than a gold mine in Onitsha and Nnewi, with the volume of trade that goes on daily in those two cities, a very creative governor of Anambra does not need to borrow because you have a huge turnover in those two cities that can spike the state’s IGR

I can never say something I don’t know. I do know we have a great IGR from these places. I am not going to tax people if it is not needed. We are not going to be wasting money that we cannot harness. More than taxing them, I am going to make sure that the volume of trade increases because I will have in place things that will help the traders. I am going to make sure that the roads going to Nnewi and Onitsha are not congested. I will do whatever I have to do to make that easy. I will do some kind of rebuilding without loss of income inside those markets, so that it can be standardized and have a kind of uniformity. We still have Ekwulobia. We still have Umunze. We still have Obosi. There are so many cities in Anambra with the potential to grow their commerce. Anambra State are mostly people of commerce. We will take good interest in that and we will also pay attention to their unions and hold them accountable instead of making it to be all over the place, we create harmony.

What kind of difference do you think it will make if we have a conversation around more women and youth participation in the political process in Anambra State?

It will make a whole lot of difference. If there is bad government, it is the youths and the women that will suffer more than anybody else after all the most people who have money are the young adults, remember we have a lot of widows who make a large population of the women and those women have children who are a large population of the youths. They will be able to tell us what their need is. The need of somebody living in Onitsha may be the need of somebody living in Umunze, for example. We get them to dialogue. Frankly, I want to go to every community. It might take me a long time to get a task force to go to every community to talk to us. What do they need? And you attack what they need first before we go to any other stuff. Some people might have a need for a drug factory or an emergency room or one of these university campuses. They don’t have any other means of income, road is not their problem. That is how I want to run my government by listening to what people need. We will take care of what they need, then we do our own. You will get that mostly from the youths and the women. If you provide employment that is the strongest labour force you are going to get-the youths and the women.

What aspects of our political culture are you not comfortable with and what are you doing to change it?

I don’t like money politics

But you are perceived as a money bag

They are perceiving me wrongly. I have been spending money on philanthropy and to prosecute my political ambition. Nobody has come to my help yet and when you make your own money, you don’t throw it away to rubbish. But if money bag means building homes for people, that you don’t even know and sending their children to school or even going to find the delegates after giving the general money that you give to everybody- find the delegates that need it most and give them, I believe that this race will be about educating the people on they want. I do not know who perceived me as a moneybag, they don’t know me well. Obviously, a well travelled man is wiser than a very old man. I am a product of the West and the East. My money is hard to come by. I spent so many years in school, so many years in training for a Harvard education which was not the best place for me to be. They may have given me a quality education, but I went through hell, being a minority in Boston. I am not afraid to say that. I hope by now they have changed their ways, so are the major universities in America. As a Black man who worked so hard in getting his money, who has his community in mind and now my community is Anambra. I am not a money bag. I don’t believe in that. That is why I do not think that we should be using money for delegates. I think we are lying to these people. If you are not qualified then don’t run. The first qualification to be a governor is to have humanity. If you are coming there to be a governor because you just want to be called a governor then I will not be going there because I have already been where the governors are not. I am not interested in being called a governor, but I am interested, with what is left in me, to be able to reach more people and manage the resources better. I am not saying people are not managing the resources, but I know I can manage it better to reach every community in Anambra.

Why do you abhor the use of money in politics?

It messes up what we are trying to do. It introduces some bad leaders and we all should cry out against it. We need to do it now. They call it jungle politics. We don’t want that no more. The other one that I don’t like is tribalism. It is immaturity, illiteracy. Tribalism is archaic. Tribalism is inhuman and frankly, tribalism is outright ignorance. It has no place in politics. That is what is putting us down. That has to stop. Tribalism should not have a place in our history at this point. If we keep practising it in our politics, we are not going anywhere. I was told in 1970 or 1973, Dubai used to come to us for loans. Look at that! Now, they are one of the world’s largest developed place. I want our politicians to concentrate at home. We need to develop our place. We should not be developing people who are already developed I am not saying you should not buy a home in the West, that is not my thing. Let home be your forefront, then you can do that. However, it is very sinful to use public fund to do that no matter which way you hide it. I am tired of people hoarding money and we know it. We see it, we don’t say anything. Some people are being stopped at the airport taking our money over there. We have people who are being chased by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). I am not saying they wont unleash EFCC on innocent people, but there is a reason EFCC is going after them, for corruption. Politics should be about humanity. You have no business in politics if you have any atom of indifference in you. We should stop corruption in politics. Otherwise Nigerians are beautiful people. Politicians are beautiful people. We just need to teach them what they need to do when they get there.

What kind of conversation do you think should be promoted around what has become known as the Igbo question?

Education for the entire Nigeria. The problem you have is illiteracy. The answer to the Igbo question is literacy. They are already talking about their presidency. In a literate country, do you really think they will be a question about Igbo presidency or Yoruba presidency or Hausa presidency, it does not matter. Frankly we should do away with the name calling. If you live in the north, you were born in the north and you move to the south, you are a Nigerian. We should do away with these words-Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo. Until we do that we cannot have a perfect union. The question is, what is the conversation we are having around Igbos? Igbo presidency or South-eastern presidency is top of their mind. That can stall our economy and stop our growth. Any person who does not believe in the equal treatment of all Nigerians-I don’t care if he is Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa- should not go there. We have had leaders this country who are not ethnic conscious. If we have a president that makes sure that Igbos are treated the same as every other Nigerians, he is as good as an Igbo president, even if he is not an Igbo man. If he makes sure that there is a deficit that has been denied the Igbos, he corrects it, that is fair enough. The reason for Igbo president is to make sure that there are infrastructure and some things that should be accorded the South-easterners that are not getting to them. It is not something about identity. This Igbo president thing should not be about identity. There is something we are trying to stop in Nigeria called regional governance, whether it is at a state level or country level.

But that appears to be what many of the ethnic nationalities are clamouring for, with a weak centre and stronger regions or states

I don’t think that worked either. Was that not what led to the civil war? What we need is pure democracy, where we don’t look at anybody based on your tribe. When you want to get infrastructure, you put it where you need it. The only president I know is the president of the country, he passes his judgment based on what is good, no matter what is done. I feel bad about those people who do that. When you see the Igbo talk, they say they are being denied a lot of things. For example, we should have a campus of the Police Academy here in the South-east. There is one in Kano, we should have one down here and another in the Sout-south, so that the police can be going to all these places. The current president and the future president should be thinking of a legacy that takes Nigerians into account. If we can do all these, I believe Nigerians would start being sensitive about tribalism. Injustice rendered to one tribe results to counter force, which comes in the form of different associations and a quest by some people to secede from the union. We need to have a commission on that. People should never be identified as a Yoruba, as Hausa and Igbo. We have to remove State of Origin from all forms that we complete. Anyone can go to Sokoto and live over there, we are all Nigerians. We should also encourage language studies in our schools. Do you know the most linguistic tribe in Nigeria? It is Igbos. Every time that I am talking to a guy that I consider from the north, say in Abuja, it turns out that he is an Igbo man. Igbos like inclusiveness. My uncle stayed in Kafanchan. That is where he gathered the money which he donated some of it for me to go to the US. I love this country. Nobody should divide us. I want black people all over the world to stay united. We should not be treated bad outside and come home and be treated bad again, just like some Igbos that are overseas feel. They have no place to rest their head and they come home and they are discriminated against too. So, they ask which one is better of the two? We should give our people who are overseas a safe landing when they come home. I want to live in Jos. I have heard so much about Jos. I want to live in Port Harcourt. I want to live in Abeokuta and nobody will call me Igbo and Yoruba. I have a feeling that that perfect union in this country is possible.

QUOTE 1

Everybody knows there were so many divisions in the PDP. You can’t win an election that way. They can’t afford not to be talking about zoning again. If they want to win the election, they should be talking about zoning, which every other party respects. They should stop the divisions within the party. It is a very strong party made up of a lot of eligible men and women in Anambra State. It is one of the most well-put-together parties, which is why I joined them. The only way they can lose is if they continue the division. I think the division is almost over and by the time we get to the general election, we will be one party and we are going to win the governorship of Anambra

QUOTE 2

The answer to the Igbo question is literacy. They are already talking about their presidency. In a literate country, do you really think they will be a question about Igbo presidency or Yoruba presidency or Hausa presidency, it does not matter. Frankly we should do away with the name calling. We should do away with these words-Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo. Until we do that we cannot have a perfect union. The question is, what is the conversation we are having around Igbos? Igbo presidency or South-eastern presidency is top on their mind. That can stall our economy and stop our growth. Any person who does not believe in the equal treatment of all Nigerians-I don’t care if he is Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa- should not go there. If we have a president that makes sure that Igbos are treated the same as every other Nigerian, he is as good as an Igbo president, even if he is not an Igbo man. If he makes sure that there is a deficit that has been denied the Igbos, he corrects it, that is fair enough. The reason for Igbo president is to make sure that there are infrastructure and some things that should be accorded the South-easterners that are not getting to them. It is not something about identity. This Igbo president thing should not be about identity.