David-Chyddy Eleke was among a group of journalists who recently interviewed Hon. Chris Azubogu, House of Representatives member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency after he indicated interest to run for the Anambra State governorship position to executives of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state
My take on the forthcoming governorship election and PDP’s quest to take power in Anambra
Election is a process and not an event. It will culminate on that day, 6th November and it is a great journey for our party. Having been out of power in Anambra State for close to 16 years, PDP has a date with history in 2021; a date PDP will begin again to showcase leadership, to bring development, growth and inclusive governance. I pledge that despite everything, I will work assiduously, like I have done before, to ensure that the PDP wins this election.
I’m running for the position too My intention to present myself to be the flag bearer of the PDP is a thing that I have duly considered, prayerfully. I have looked at it. It is not going to be an easy journey. The ticket of the PDP is a good ticket, and I can tell you that anybody that will take it on behalf of our party and carry all of us along will win this election. He must be ready to show Anambra people what it takes to be a leader and what it takes to win an election. For our party, we are grossly disadvantaged in this election. I don’t want to dabble into it but if you know the extent of battle we are going to get into, we will get prepared for that battle. We are in a democracy. I am a lawmaker. They must make a choice. But the PDP remains a better choice for Anambra State.
Any threat to PDP’s quest for the governorship position?
As at today, the APC which is the party at the centre, you know very well that they have indicated strong interest to come and contest election in Anambra State. For your information or to remind us, in the last governorship election in Anambra State, our party did not come second. APGA won election; APC came second and we came third. And you know that the party in the state, no matter how you look at it, they look so weak now because they are not doing well but you cannot totally ignore them because they have structures on ground. And I want to be open as a true party man. I lived 17 years in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I was a PDP person until I returned to Anambra State in 2007. I can assure you that when I came to Anambra State, I came because of what I had done with the government in Rivers State; the experiences I had garnered professionally serving the government of Rivers State under Dr Peter Odili. Those solutions I proffered there were what brought me to Anambra State as my dear state to help and contribute to the success of the government. That’s how I came.
I went to the University of Nigeria to study Efm8ngineering. When I used to go to school, Nsukka Park at Upper Iweka, I always entered vehicles there, drive behind GRA Onitsha through Otuocha, Anaku, Omor, you get to Adani and from there you cross over until you get to Mkpologu and then Nsukka. But today, it is almost impossible to use that road.
Who I am
I am an entrepreneur. After school, I looked around, and being an engineer, I saw that technological innovation was the trend, I swiftly entered into telecommunication, learnt the ropes; went for further training. I had extensive training in ICT. In Anambra, my company was contracted to handle biometric verification for workers in the state. That was what I did for Rivers State. I did it in Anambra and removed several ghost workers in the system. From primary school board, I was told to do the same thing for health management board, even the moribund water corporation. By the time I finished, I was handed over state pension board. By the time I finished all my work within six months, they clearly saw that I was saving well over N100 million every month in salaries and wages. Facts are sacred. Those that were in government are still alive ranging from Chief Muotolu who was the Chairman, Local Government Service Commission; Commissioner for Local Government, Dubem Obaze; Commissioner for Finance, Eze Echesi; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, and a host of others, even the state Head of Service, Mrs Meluifeonwu. They were all people that participated in that government that we worked in.
It took me four years from 2007 to 2011 to etch my name in the annals of history in the governance of Anambra State; knowing every nook and cranny, working with the state government, adding value because as a scientist I bring result. I believe in efficiency and productivity. I got engaged with His Excellency, Late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who insisted that I should participate in the political process. First, I was offered local government Chairman, but I declined. I told them that it wasn’t right for me. But suddenly, when time for general election came, I was asked to contest for House of Representatives. I asked questions. Having had the privilege of working for the National Assembly as a consultant before, I told them that I know the terrain and I can do well. I consulted the stakeholders in Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo everywhere they were including Lagos and Abuja. After doing that, by the special grace of God, the primary was made easy by the trio of Chief Ojukwu, Peter Obi, and Dame Virgy Etiaba, who all supported me along with all the eminent people of Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo. And my colleagues in the government then, I had a tremendous support from them: Ude Nwafor Ude, Eze Echesi, Chike Obuekwe, Owelle Azuka and others. They were very supportive.
The experience I am bringing to Anambra governorship
I have spent a cumulative of 14 years in proper art of governance, leaving my professional background. It took diligence to study this. I worked under Peter Obi for four years, contributed immensely, ask anybody in that government, I contributed immensely to the success of that government, and advanced more; operated and worked with the federal government though from the state but I have participated. I have been involved in core public policy decision and I am telling us that Anambra State is yearning for someone that has the right, requisite and relevant experience in governance.
As a parliamentarian I have participated and voted for local government autonomy. As a reformist, I worked to reform local government system. I have evidence here. I have those who are witnesses to what I did in local government. I am a very courageous person. So, if I tell you that I will conduct election in six months, it is guaranteed because that is the only way. If I conduct local government election, I will have 326 councillors, 21 council chairmen, supervisory councilors, and all of them will come from members of our party. If I do that then our party is in government. I have a blueprint that will put PDP in government for 24 years unbroken. The reason is that I have the same winning streak. I have the special grace of God. I have run elections three times and have won all of them. I have never failed any of them. I don’t think I will fail this one. We have a clear roadmap. It is not easy to win elections in Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo.
The difference I will make in government
We have a clear blueprint to develop the state’s infrastructure; from physical infrastructure, oil utilities, power and everything that you’ll put in place that will make money to come into the state. I want to warn us again, coming to govern Anambra State is not an easy thing. People will tell you semantics about what they will do. It is not about what you will do. How do you intend to do those things? I have clear knowledge on how to govern; how to raise money to finance projects. At Harvard where I went to study Public Policy and Governance, I had 12 World Bank staff who where my colleagues. I can do projects worth N100 billion with only N20 billion and have seven years moratorium. These are core experience I have; core competence, relevant and requisite skills about governance.
It is not about going to Abuja to collect allocation. Very soon, revenue may not be coming from Abuja. Oil is not a business anymore. We are in COVID-19 era. Post COVID economy is something that you cannot predict. We need someone who understands what it means to govern; who will drive us to begin to do the right things. We will not look up to Nigeria. We are not going to look up to Nigeria. Anambra State can treat herself as a country. As a governor, there are inherent powers that are there for a governor. Most people want to govern without knowing the powers of a governor. Go and look at the concurrent list. Every time we are shouting about restructuring. The one that is to our advantage what have we done with it? Any governor that knows what he can do can do something on health, education, agriculture, industry, environment. There are core areas that you don’t require the federal government. They cannot stop you from developing a clear policy programme and driving it.
Resources for the contest
Many do not know that I have the resources to make all the noise other people make, but I choose to be silent. The resources to prosecute this election is not my problem. Go to every local government in Anambra State, there is none that does not have a Chris Azubogu imprint. I have projects scattered everywhere. Do not look down on me because I am simple. I have the contacts, I have the money. About seven Nigerian governors are backing my governorship project, so the resources is not the problem. It is about our party accepting to give the ticket to a candidate that can win the election.
We are in COVID-19 era. Post COVID economy is something that you cannot predict. We need someone who understands what it means to govern; who will drive us to begin to do the right things. We will not look up to Nigeria. We are not going to look up to Nigeria. Anambra State can treat herself as a country. As a governor, there are inherent powers that are there for a governor. Most people want to govern without knowing the powers of a governor. Go and look at the concurrent list. Every time we are shouting about restructuring. The one that is to our advantage what have we done with it? Any governor that knows what he can do can do something on health, education, agriculture, industry, environment. There are core areas that you don’t require the federal government. They cannot stop you from developing a clear policy programme and driving it.