Dr Alexander Obiogbolu is a business man and politician. He is one of the members of Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, who started the party in Anambra State and is still there. He says, in this interview, that despite the challenges the PDP is facing, the party is the one to beat in the governorship election due to hold in Anambra next year.
What is the philosophy and mission of Oganiru Anambra
I had the privilege to serve our beloved Anambra at the creation of the state when the first elected governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, was sworn into the office. At that time, I had, like many other young men, heeded the call to service of the erstwhile military junta that canvassed for a new breed of politicians who will take over the country and bring in some fresh air and modern ideas. Charged with that vigor to perform and the experience of brief tenure of the civilian administration before the military took control again, I had believed we were going to definitely make things better when I was part of the next elected government of Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju. Those dreams were cut short by the way the government executed its mandate. It was bedeviled by one crisis after the other, that were intertwined by social and political issues.
It got worse with the election of Dr Chris Ngige, especially the way our party, PDP ignored the wishes of the people and sought to impose itself on the state. The crisis was unimaginable as the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo assumed that Anambra must be conquered at all costs. Paramount at that time was how to stabilize the state by gathering support for the embattled governor, Chris Ngige and then to begin the advocacy for a peaceful, lawful and well secured state as we believed that was the only panacea for the peace and progress of our state.
That was how the group metamorphosed to the Oganiru Anambra Movement that we have today. Oganiru Anambra remains the vanguard for good governance and committed to building and consolidating, such that economic opportunities will be available to all our youth, our state will be the industrial hub of the nation with a flourishing agricultural and agro-based business sector that will provide food security for our people.
So we simply tell people that Oganiru Anambra is a call to action for every one, recognizing that we all have common problems as Ndi-Anambra and that we cannot continue to wait for external interests to fix our problems or control our destiny.
What is the motivation for passionately desiring to govern Anambra State
I have on three different occasions campaigned to be elected as the governor of Anambra State and on those occasions I have been unsuccessful. Despite that, I remain passionate about the opportunity to positively impact on the economy of our state and provide the vehicle to turn the potentials that abound within our state into prosperity.
The major motivation for me is derived from the achievements I had made with those I worked with at various sectors of government and under different administrations. I have had the opportunity to serve under more than two administrations in our state, and had been in charge of critical sectors of the government ranging from rural development authority, sanitation and management of environment to overseeing the local government administrations. I have been involved in conflict resolutions ranging from markets to our political party, PDP.
Having served over a period that spanned 1992 to date, within the state, I understand the real issues that affect our state and our people. I remain strong with my belief that our people don’t demand too much from their leaders. They just want to be provided with good infrastructure, adequate security, good quality and affordable education for their children and opportunities to go about their businesses peacefully. You can see how they applauded the achievements of the Chris Ngige and Peter Obi administrations and continue to demand for better governance. This is because our people are not used to waiting for government in all things and are very sophisticated in their social and political dealings.
After 2013, seeing what massive infrastructure that had been achieved in the area of roads and the huge savings that was left behind, we all had expected that Peter Obi’s successor will make it better by developing other less-developed infrastructure, focus on food security and youth and women empowerment and continue to improve on education. I must confess that I was alarmed that the government focused itself on chasing the shadow of it’s predecessor, fighting for who will or will not succeed the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Ikemba as an Igbo leader, and throwing lavish feasts as if there was no recession.
Today, the government that inherited billions of Naira and hundreds of millions of dollars has within two years borrowed N25b going by the approval granted by the state House of Assembly. Development pace has slowed down considerably, projects that were commenced by their predecessor have been abandoned by contractors, and there has been misplaced priority in policy and projects execution. Anambra is not the only state that is 25 years this year, but we are the ones that stretched our celebration for four months spending scarce resources.
They spent billions of Naira constructing three flyovers within three kilometers, leaving uncompleted the last stretch of about 12 kilometers of that important road that Peter Obi could not complete before his exit. Do you know how many accidents have been recorded on that road since Chief Willie Obiano took office and the lives that had been lost? Do you see the traffic congestion those flyovers are causing at Awka? Is government to alleviate suffering or to cause pain and suffering? These issues are what motivate me, because I know we can do better.
What is the effect of the perceived failure of the incumbent governor to aspirants from Anambra North, especially you?
It is not out of place for some people to generalize and claim that the senatorial zone lacks competent hands and leaders, but I will state that they are generalizing. Rather, what we should learn from the incumbent administration’s failure to improve on the other governments is that cognate experience and learning the rudiments of public governance is very important in consideration of who should become governor or President.
That you were a successful CEO of a profit making company or that you arrived from abroad with a bagful of Ph.D, awards cannot make you a successful governor. Driving a private company where all instructions from above are obeyed is not the same as a democratic government where the minority must always have their say and could become clogs in the wheel of progress.
The problem with the Obiano-led administration is that critical appointments were given to friends who sojourned back from overseas with him, and then overloading of the administration with people from just one town. Thus, they are having people even within their own party and government undermining their attempt and expending a lot of time planning as they seem bereft of ideas that can move the state forward. The perceived failure has no effect on me even though I am from the zone because people know that I have served in government and readily point to the achievements where I have served. I have worked within the state in the last 25 years and lived amongst our people.
What will you do differently if you make it to Government House?
Most importantly, what we shall do differently is to develop our human capital. That is my major area of strength. I have always believed that if you develop physical infrastructure without developing human infrastructure, there will no persons to employ and enjoy those infrastructure. We created over three thousand jobs in local government service within two years during the Mbadinuju administration when federal allocation was so poor and the state government owed salaries. Another area we shall do differently is that our agricultural revolution will be for real not farming for the television and social media. We believe that agriculture remains the way to turn around our economic fortunes as Nigeria’s over dependence on dwindling oil revenue affects all of us negatively especially in consideration of the fact that over 60 % of our state population are farmers.
Your party, the PDP is polarized right from the national to the state and even local government levels. Won’t this development affect your election fortune?
There is no doubt that the incumbent political party is doing all in it’s power to disintegrate the PDP. If the President Jonathan-led administration had promoted this anti-democratic attitude, they won’t be in power today. We thank God for the succour we found in the courts and also the behind the scene attempt to resolve the myriad of issues that face us as a party.
The good thing about Anambra is that we have acclimatised to controversy and understand when to pull together as a people with one destiny. That is the secret why we win elections in the state despite multiple candidacy. We have been unfortunate with the governorship, but we are quite hopeful this time as many of us who remain personal friends are beginning to agree on the need to provide that leadership that PDP had always provided in the state in the past. The strengthening of our party with the entry of many wonderful personalities from other parties has rekindled the desire to make our state better. So, those who have always wished our party ill-luck in Anambra State may be disappointed in 2017.
The Anambra royal fathers have subtly endorsed the incumbent, what effect does this have on the revered traditional institution?
It is incorrect to state that the royal fathers have endorsed the incumbent. What I believe was agreed and published is that they all collectively agreed that it was only fair to allow the North Senatorial zone the opportunity to complete a second term, and also requested that the incumbent governor be considered to return a second time. The royal fathers are all very accomplished and intelligent men, who clearly understand their limitations in electoral matters and one cannot therefore accuse them of endorsement.
Are they voters at the APGA primaries or any party primaries? Do they have more than one vote to cast or are they INEC? All they can do for any politician is to intercede and make requests apart from praying and blessing you when you make a request. I know and relate with many of them and know that their palace doors are always open to all including myself. Please our revered elders should not be dragged into political waters. They are there to partner with any government in power for the benefit of their subjects.
Anambra State recently rolled out drums to celebrate 25 years of existence of the state. Is there really anything to celebrate?
We have a lot to celebrate, no doubt. We have come a long way from the grave insecurity, political instability to relative peace and security and enjoying good governance. However, I don’t agree we should roll out the drums. What drums do not cost money especially at these austere period? I would have thought that the government would have used this period to deliberate and develop winning strategies to deal with the challenges confronting us on daily basis.
The insecurity posed by kidnapping has changed to insecurity of violent intra and inter communal clashes, heightened apprehension and insecurity within our state resulting from government poor response to the agitations by our youth for self determination which could have been prevented by a proactive, engaging and responsive government. Well I can only urge our present government to strive to unite and work organically to enable us surmount every challenge we share together in the spirit of “Igwebuike” and “Ibuanyidanda”.