From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
National President, Igbo Youths for Positive Change and Coordinator, APGA Media Warriors Forum, Chinedu Obigwe, in this interview talks on the preparations and expectations of the party in the 2023 general elections as well as the journey so far for the Soludo administration in Anambra State.
What is your appraisal of Soludo’s administration after 100 days in office and going forward so far?
I can say that it has been so far, so good. I can also say this, which I know is the position of the governor too, that Gov. Soludo is not somebody that believes in celebration of 100 days in office. It is not yet time to appraise his performance. In fact, he also said it in his inaugural speech that when his administration clocks one year in office, an appraisal can be done of his performance. But so far so good, the governor has not been sleeping. He has been working round the clock to transform Anambra State. On assumption of office, he fulfilled his promise of visiting Okpoko the next day and kick-starting the urban renewal project. He has really done enough and currently he has set machinery in motion to ensure that the mountainous refuse heaps that dotted the state before his assumption of office are cleared. The governor lead from the front and that was how that of Ochanja market area that initially blocked the road was cleared immediately; same for Awka, Onitsha and the likes. Another area the governor is taking seriously is in the issue of security because of the activities of the hoodlums masquerading as unknown gunmen. He is not relenting in the fight because before now, he offered an olive branch, peaceful overtures to the gunmen and agitators but the criminals remained adamant. To the best of my knowledge, the mainstream Biafra agitators have embraced the governor’s peace moves and saw the need for them not to take up arms against the government and unleashing violence in the state and they are now cooperating with him. This was also part of the reason that made Governor Soludo to go and visit Nnamdi Kanu because he wants peace to reign in the state. The past 100 days and beyond in Anmabra has been eventful under Soludo and I give him kudos for that.
Still on the issue of security, the governor has made several pronouncements about ending the Monday’s sit-at-home but it seems not to be working. What do you think is the reason why it has not worked out?
When you look at what is happening, it seems worrisome but the truth of the matter is that the agitation for Biafra has been hijacked by criminal elements. There are two factions of agitators, the one led by Simon Ekpa. Ekpa is the person fuelling the entire crisis going on in Anambra and Igbo states at large. But the surprising thing is that Ekpa is based in Finland but coordinates his activities from there using some of his brainwashed brothers based in Anambra. Governor Soludo even said it in one of his public engagements that 95 per cent of those caught in these criminal activities in the state are not from Anambra State. We know where Ekpa hails from and likewise his brothers. Too bad also that some people were hailing the unknown gunmen unleashing mayhem and killings in Igbo land. That also baffles me. Are they hailing them for the killings, bombing and burning our local government secretariat and destroying the economy of the South East? Anambra is an economic hub of the Igbo and that business we are known for is at the verge of total collapse owing to the activities of these gunmen and some people are hailing them. The only hope we have is that Governor Soludo is not relenting and the security agents are also rising squarely to the challenge. They have intensified their efforts in arresting some of them, destroying their camps and recovery of their deadly weapons. I also tell people that security should not be left for the government alone. It is the business of every citizen of the state and we should be patriotic enough to cooperate with the security agents so that they can nip the activities of the gunmen in the bud. The so called unknown gunmen are known because they are not spirits; they live and operate within the confines of our communities and towns. The people who give them information are also human beings living with us. Soludo has a mission for good in Anambra and we believe he will succeed.
General election is around the corner and APGA party has not always been lucky in National Assembly elections in Anambra State. Do you think that the party will succeed this time under Soludo?
The 2023 general elections is a must –win for APGA and the reason is because we have a governor that desires to have representatives in Abuja who are of the same party with him likewise the state House of Assembly so that there won’t be any form of rebellion in the state. If the opposition takes over the state House of assembly, there won’t be peace and if they also succeed in taking over the National assembly, they will not give the governor the needed cooperation because their party will be using them against the governor and if the governor wants something from the Federal Government, they might block it. The election is very important to us in APGA and thank God we have someone as governor who enjoys enormous goodwill in Nigeria and I believe that those who emerged as APGA candidates in the various legislative positions will win the election with Soludo’s goodwill. Don’t forget that Soludo is the one to lead their campaigns to ensure they clinch a well deserved victory in the general elections. The election of the state House of Assembly is a no-go area for other parties because APGA will sweep all seats there so as to ensure that the governor can go to bed with his two eyes closed. As I told you before the governorship election that soludo and APGA will win and he later won, so it’s going to be in this one because I’m confident that APGA will do very well in this forthcoming general election.
So how prepared is the party for the general election?
APGA as a party is very much prepared as long as the election is going to be free and fair. Our target is to clinch the three Senatorial seats, 11 House of Representatives seats and 30 House of Assembly seats. Remember also that we have a presidential candidate in APGA in the person of Justice Peter Umeadi(rtd). People will vote APGA in both presidential, National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections during the polls.
Grassroots governance seems to have been mortgaged over the years in Anambra because of the non conduct of local government elections in the state. Now that Soludo has sacked the over-recycled transition committee chairmen used by Obiano, is there any hope for elected local government chairmen under Soludo?
The governor has given assurance that he will conduct local government elections in Anambra State. But point of correction, Soludo did not sack the transition council chairmen in Anambra, they finished their tenure but the governor refused to renew it again and I believe that new people will come in soon in that direction and those people will likely be in office until he conducts a proper local government election.
As per governance at the grassroots, that is one of the main thrusts of the Soludo administration. If you look at the revised budget, you will realise that in the community-choose-your –project initiative, he has increased it from N20m to N25m and he has a reason for doing that. He has seen that the initiative was a laudable project and with it, dividends of good governance will be getting to the grassroots. Not only that, the provision for youth empowerment in the previous budget was N500m but it has been increased to N2.5b meaning that he added N2b that he is going to use in empowering the youths. When he starts the empowerment, I can tell you for free that crime and other forms of restiveness will become a thing of the past in Anambra state. Soludo is in the right track because he knows what he is doing and where he is going. I describe the revised budget as people-oriented because everything in that budget is pro-people. For example, the provision in the old budget for roads was a paltry N12b but he increased it to N50bn because he has already declared a state of emergency on roads. People will witness massive road construction under his administration. It is obvious that he is determined to transform Anambra and that calls for support from all and sundry. All that is required is for us to give him time and pray for him to succeed because at the end of the day, the people will be happier for it.