‘With Tinubu on Ballot, APC Remains the Party to Beat in 2023’

The All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Anambra Central Senatorial zone, Chief Kodilichukwu Okelekwe, in this interview with Adedayo Akinwale says with Senator Bola Tinubu as the presidential candidate of the party, APC remains the party to beat in 2023.

 FormerLagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, recently emerged the APC 2023 presidential candidate. What does that portend for the party?

First let me start by congratulating Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his doggedness, tenacity.  It is a victory well deserved. Having said that, if you  look at his chances in the main election, it is obvious that APC is the party to beat. You know why? Because we have  a good candidate in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Love him or hate him;  but one thing you can’t take away from him is that he is a leader gifted with the characteristics, the major ingredients  that make for good leadership. God has endowed him with those characteristics and what are those characteristics? You talk of determination. You talk of self-confidence. You talk of good judgment and finally, we talk of foresightedness. You can agree with me that he is endowed with these four major characteristics that make for success in leadership. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that he will emerge victorious. Again, if you look at the political permutations on ground, it is also in his favour. This is apart from the fact that he is a very good and sellable candidate.

A lot of people expected delegates from the South East to vote for aspirants from the zone at the last APC national convention, but what we saw was a far cry from that.

To be honest with you, I would have loved it if  a person from South East had emerged as the APC candidate. That would have been my first choice. But I was not a delegate. I can’t really say what happened. But I wouldn’t want us to really dwell on that now. I want us to focus on the fact that a candidate has emerged. So, as South Easterners, as Igbos, how do we key in? Because I can tell you, AsiwajuTinubu is a president in waiting. So, the question as an Igbo man is, what does an AsiwajuTinubupresidency portend for the Igbos? I think that’s what I want us to dwell on.  As for the behaviour of delegates from the South East, it leaves so much to be desired. But let’s not focus more on it.

Let’s focus on the future. How can the Igbos key in? How can the Igbos be part of the Tinubu presidency, what does it portend, what will be the place of the Igbo in his presidency, these are the areas, we need  to focus on, to talk about, and not to dwell on the past.

You are from the South East where the APC is seen as “Hausa or Northern” party, what hope is there for the APC in the South east in the coming election? Secondly, why do you think Ndigbo should key into the Tinubu project?

You talked about the perception of APC as “Hausa or northern  party”. Well, now that there’s a southern person as the presidential candidate, is it right to still call it a “Hausa or northern party”? I don’t think so. So, if I may, without conceding, assuming it used to be, right now with the emergence of AsiwajuTinubu as the presidential candidate, the APC has come of age. APC is a Nigerian party, we have demonstrated that by electing a southerner as the flag-bearer of the party.

Secondly, I would have loved to see a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, no doubt about that.  I am not making a pretense about that, I’m a proud Igbo man. There’s no way you can be a proud Nigerian without first of all being proud of your heritage, of where you are  coming from. So, I am a proud Igbo man, that is why I am also a proud Nigerian. Having said that, the question is, as Igbos, what do we do? How do we key in? The emergence of AsiwajuTinubu as the standard flag bearer of APC calls for strategic thinking among the Igbos. That is what it calls for.  I had spoken about the inevitability of Tinubu’s presidency come 2023. As Igbo, we need to be strategic in our thinking. How can we be part of it?

We are talking about restructuring. Going back to true federalism; having true federalism, not in name as we have at the moment.  But in practice,  so that each region or state can develop at their own pace. And who is best suited to genuinely restructure Nigeria into a true federation? There is no other person other than AsiwajuTinubu. If an Igbo man were to be president today, he won’t be able to restructure Nigeria. You know why? Because of suspicion. We fought the civil war and there is the agitation by IPOB. So, every move of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, no matter how well intended will be viewed with utmost suspicion by other tribes in Nigeria.

But a Yoruba man will be able to generate the needed and necessary cooperation of other tribes to restructure Nigeria;  because there will be no suspicion of  him trying to balkanize and break away. So,  I expect the Igbo, I expect our elites to sit down with AsiwajuTinubu and have an understanding that we will follow, so that by the grace of God when he becomes president in 2023 and Nigeria will be restructured  into a true federation, where one’s ability can determine how far he or she can go in life. I think that’s what we need to focus on.

You are aspiring to represent Anambra senatorial zone in the National Assembly in 2023, what are you offering the zone?

 I am assuring my constituents’ of people centered presentation and optimal results. I will do things differently. Those that were there before, they have done their best. I don’t believe in politics of calumny. I believe in issue based politics. They have done their best.  But you know where better is possible, you don’t look at good, where best is possible you don’t look at better.

That’s why I said optimum, which means to the zenith, highest result possible. You know, when you represent a people, representing a people, you symbolise their wishes and aspirations as a people. So representation is much more than physical things that we see. There are also intangible things but also very important. As a Senator representing them, what can I do? What laws can I initiate to ensure that every obstacle to their trade is removed? These are intangible things you may not see. It’s not like if you have attracted a road people can see the road, but you can also initiate laws that can remove every obstacle to their business.

Look at the current insecurity ravaging the whole of South East particularly Anambra state. I must commend the new Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo.  He is tackling it head on and I’m sure that if he sustains the momentum, the way he’s going now, in the next three, six months, Anambra will be calm, there will be peace.

So as a Senator, it is incumbent on me to work with the governor regardless of party differences to ensure that there is security, because if there is no security my people cannot trade because trading is their primary occupation. What are the impediments, administrative, political, legal and otherwise to their trading? What do I do to ensure that every obstacle to their trading is removed? That’s what the representation is all about.

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