Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju is a former governor of Anambra State. He speaks to CHINELO OBOGO on his speculated governorship ambition, the politics of Anambra State and other national issues.
My governorship ambition
Many political observers as well as my friends in the media have assumed on their own that after my first four years as Governor of Anambra, that I will, as of practice, aspire to do a second term as provided in our constitution.
It makes sense that a governor who did well in his first term, and didn’t die in office, will to go for a second term. I believe it is because of this assumption that many in their press reports included my name among their long lists of governorship aspirants in the forthcoming governorship race in Anambra State. But the fact remains that I have not told anyone whether I’m running or will run for second term.
But for humour, I remember the story of an old woman who was asked by a priest if Christ would come again, to which the woman answered, “My son, if you were that Jesus would you come again – the one he came before has he gone”?
So, my first term of four years was eventful with lots of challenges and constitutionally, I qualify for a second term in office. Before the 2003 election, my party, the PDP, voted for me as its governorship candidate. In fact, there were three primaries conducted and I won all.
But the party leader at Abuja at the time was quoted in The News magazine of 27th December 2004 pages 22- 24 that he was the person who cancelled the three primaries I won to make sure I didn’t go for a second term. Apart from the agreement to allow all PDP governors from 1999 to contest in the 2003 elections, my people voted on three occasions for me. What saved Anambra state was prayers.
Every Monday morning we went from government halls to government lodge to pray. Anyone talking about popularity should go to Anambra and ask questions about me. In the competition that was held for all the governors at the time, we won in the security category where a gold cup was awarded to us.
Until that general strike that we had, salaries of workers were paid on the 27th of every month besides other achievements that I recorded.
The problem with Anambra State PDP
I may not run this time around because I don’t think the party will rise to the occasion to give me a second term ticket to run. If you don’t have party ticket you can’t run, even if you run without the party backing you, you may not go too far.
Running a second term election is not as difficult as first term election. Why I supported President Jonathan in his election in 2011 was so that he, or anybody else, would not suffer what I went through.
In my case, many people and my friends and lawyers wanted me dead or jailed without trial but God saved me from all the malicious allegations which proved to be wrong and misplaced. I brought the President into this because while the constitution permits him to run for two terms, he has not even done two out of the four years and already opponents do not want him to run for a second term.
Now, President Jonathan did not write the constitution. He applied it. It is the same constitution that states that if a President dies in office, the vice-president completes part of his 4 year term. If he wants to be President himself, he goes into a fresh election for his own four year term, and is entitled to a second term of another four years. Let the people vote, then whoever wins should govern.
APGA is only one out of several other political parties in Anambra State. The PDP was on ground before all others came in, and as it were, Anambra was one party state. But as from 2003 when I was forced out, PDP fell apart. The first project I completed when I took office was the Government House and I invited the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu to come and commission the office. I wanted to use the opportunity lure him into the PDP but our leaders at Abuja felt I was fraternising with an opponent.
PDP rejected him and he then joined APGA and with his influence APGA became a party to be reckoned with. In spite of having won a governorship election twice, APGA is now in disarray but PDP is not even in a better position to win the next election unless the party does a very serious kind of reformation because there are very serious divisions among its members.
They have not won the election, but they have started sharing positions and offices, which is like putting the cart before the horse. It doesn’t work like that. Unfortunately Anambra now has too many “money bags” and they block entry into the party and it turns off people who make victory possible. This kind of attitude among party members is found all over the country and it must be done away with before it’s too late.
I believe that APGA’s problem is that of leadership and if allowed to continue, it will surely be a plus for PDP. Any APGA loss is a gain for PDP, and let no one be surprised if the present crises in both APGA and PDP are cross inspired by opposing parties.
So far we have concentrated on APGA and PDP, but there should be no attempt to take the Action Congress of Nigeria and Labour Party for granted. Igbo and marginalisation Politics is the struggle for power and this struggle is the same whether among the Igbos of the South-East, or the Yorubas of South-West, the Ijaws of the South-South or the Hausa-Fulani of the North.
There is nothing different among them when they pursue their political interests. Have people not heard the Northern Elders Forum spokesman Prof. Ango Abdullahi speak with vehemence about winning and retaining political powers of the Presidency by the North? The South-South are also good at it for good reasons. The South-West is still interested in the presidency. But the Igbos are different.
There are just a few of them who are waiting to be named vice-president of a Northern president. But nearly 99 percent of Igbos are behind President Jonathan with the hope he will support an Igbo presidency when it is our turn. The case of the Igbo in this country is highly pathetic.
It seems they indeed have no future. For example, the South-East zone has the least number of states, which is five; four other zones have 6 states each, while North-West zone has 7 states. What marginalization is worse?
Because of the number of states, the South East has the least number of lawmakers, councilors and local governments. So also the amount in Revenue Allocation based on all the above criteria. Dr Alex Ekwueme who was the Vice to President Shehu Shagari was billed to become President after Shagari lost out, but because of an unnecessary military coup, it did not work. So where do they stand? Does Nigeria think that Igbos will remain spectators in a game they know best how to play except that there is no level playing ground for them? The earlier the Igbos are told where they belong in this Federation the better for everybody.
Some northerners were quoted to have said that they would make the country ungovernable if President Joanthan contested the elections, but as of today, the government of Nigeria is not ungovernable. A leader should not listen to every evil spoken against him unless he wants to be provoked all day long.
The vituperations by Lai Mohammed of ACN against the government and achievements of the president are even worse than the statement of making Nigeria ungovernable by some Northerners. The important thing is that the president does not want to be distracted. Since his opponents want to scatter the gains he has achieved, he therefore has overlooked some personal attacks. The move to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect and the recent ordering for a state of emergency is for the good of the country and the constitution gives the President such powers.
This is why lawyers say that the Nigerian President is perhaps the most powerful in the world and that is perhaps the more reason President Jonathan is careful in exercising some of those powers that may rather kill rather than save. The amnesty programme and the State of Emergency are merely two sides of the same coin aimed at bringing solution to the insecurity we are suffering.