Former Nigeria’s ambassador to Spain and widow of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Bianca, in this interview expressed anger over how the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has reneged on his promise to her late husband to sustain the legacies of the late Igbo leader in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
You are the chairman of APGA National Contact, Mobilization and Dialogue Committee and I know you have gone round the country, as well as the length and breath of Anambra State in the course of trying to discharge the assignment of your committee, what are your party’s expectations in the scheduled Saturday election?
What we are clamouring for is a level playing field. APGA has come a long way and has continued to surmount unrelenting challenges since its registration on the 22nd of June 2002. Because our candidates have in the past been victims of electoral fraud at various levels, our major concern, at this time, is that electoral malpractices, abuse of due process and even brazen acts such as ballot box snatching do not rear their ugly heads during this election. We must also be assured that certain candidates are prevented from making good their promise to bring the federal might to bear on the process.
The election has once again thrown up another opportunity for INEC to demonstrate its seriousness and willingness to meet the irreducible minimum commitments that would guarantee the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible elections. It is our hope that the electoral process not only meets international standards, but also satisfies the expectations of the people of Anambra State.
On our own side, we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our party faithful and supporters turn out en masse to vote. APGA is a grassroots party, and our people are fully mobilised. Our party has conducted a state-wide electoral orientation exercise, educating voters on how to vote and ensure that their ballot papers are not invalidated by improper thumb-printing. People all over the country are watching and waiting with bated breath, and as I said, the onus is on INEC to assure Ndi-Anambra, Nigerians and the world that they are ready, and competent to undertake the conduct of this election. We are also appealing to the police, the armed forces and other law enforcement agents not to be instruments in any scheme of any individual, candidate or political party that seeks to use them to achieve personal ends or perpetuate electoral brigandage.
We are also enjoining both local and international observers and monitoring groups to be highly vigilant and ensure that votes are not manipulated. Most importantly, we continue to appeal to our vulnerable youths not to allow themselves to be used as pawns in the hands of desperate politicians who may wish to import wholesale mayhem and violence into the polling centres. We have traversed the 21 local government areas of Anambra State in an unprecedented grassroots campaign and mobilization exercise, made contacts with our people outside the state and we are convinced beyond any doubt that the people are poised to return APGA’s Willie Obiano for a second term based on the accomplishments of his administration over the past three years and seven months.
The legacy of Ezeigbo, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, is woven around APGA; is Obiano in your estimation living up to those ideals and philosophies which were espoused by your late husband?
Our late and highly revered leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the one man who saw tomorrow because most of the things he relentlessly advocated – freedom, equality, justice, equity, good governance and true federalism – for which he was heavily criticised at the time, are today, the essential elements Nigerians are demanding, and the very issues which are once again threatening to tear this nation apart. APGA’s political credo revolves essentially around those principles championed by Ojukwu in the Ahiara Declaration which constitutes the benchmarks of a well-ordered society. Ikemba envisaged an administrative model with a dynamic policy for industrialisation which concentrates on the employment of primary products in various domestic manufactures, a government which creates possibilities for citizens with talent in business and civil administration, agriculture, technology, trade and commerce, to mention but a few, to fulfil themselves and receive their due reward and appreciation in service to the state. It is in this same Ahiara declaration drafted as far back as 1969 that the motto of today’s APGA, ‘Be your brother’s keeper’ was espoused by Ojukwu when he talked about the qualities of the individual in the republic. These principles are the administrative gruundnorm of the APGA template for governance which the governor, in an APGA dispensation is expected to adhere to, and Governor Obiano has certainly been doing all within his powers to abide by this enduring legacy.
Why did the rank and file of your party break bond with former Governor Peter Obi who was a staunch member of APGA?
It is simple. I maintain that Peter Obi betrayed Dim Ojukwu, and tried to destroy APGA for his own selfish interests. He has continued to undermine Ojukwu’s personality and recently, he has gone ahead to desecrate his legacy. From relative obscurity, Obi was brought into national prominence when the leader, Ojukwu, through his party APGA, offered him an opportunity and platform upon which he ran and became governor of Anambra State. Ojukwu sacrificed so much and laboured for him to become governor. He (Ojukwu) was fiercely protective of him and helped him overcome the various challenges that confronted him. Peter Obi had a difficult first tenure and stepped on so many toes that the majority of our party faithful were adamant that he should not be nominated for a second tenure. Yet Ojukwu stood by him when it mattered most, jeopardised his health by traversing all the local governments in a rigorous campaign on his behalf and begged the people of Anambra State to grant him a last wish by returning Obi for a second term. This feat was achieved for the first time in Anambra State’s history on 6th February 2010. Peter Obi swore to Ojukwu, upon his honour, that he would never abandon APGA; that he would quit politics or die; rather than leave APGA, and that he would preserve this legacy as a potent voice and rallying point for Ndigbo. History will judge him (Obi) harshly because the truth of the matter is that it is his pathological fear of political redundancy and oblivion that is now driving him dangerously close to the precipice from where he will soon commit political suicide. The people of Anambra State cannot be hoodwinked as they are determined not to indulge him with a third tenure by installing his candidate as governor.
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Source (The Sun)