‘The act of governance is about the person prepared to govern’
Chris Azubogu is a governorship aspirant in the forthcoming November 6 election in Anambra State under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). A versed politician, he’s currently the member representing Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency at the National Assembly. In this interview with LAWRENCE NJOKU (Southeast Bureau Chief), he explained why he wants to govern Anambra State, among others.
Why are you in the governorship race for Anambra 2021?
I WANT to offer service to my people at a higher level. I have been serving my people for several years, but now, I want to go higher.
What in specific terms would this service bring?
Presently, I am at the National Assembly representing Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal constituency of Anambra State. I have so far made a quality impact in my Federal Constituency and I think it is time to touch the entire Anambra state. I want to consolidate the growth and development of Anambra state. I want to bring human and capital development through science and technology, to create institutions, opportunities for our people to excel, accountability and good governance to transform Anambra state as a state of reference in the comity of states in Nigeria.
What do you think you have that others may not have?
I don’t compare myself with anybody; some think they are more qualified than others. Some think they are better educated than Chris Azubuogu, they know governance better than Chris Azubuogu. Some people are Professors; some people are PhD holders. But the act of governance is about the person that is prepared to govern. I have been in the National Assembly; I have won every election that I contested. Age is in my favour, I have impacted lives; I have served the people well so far. My own is that I am on a mission and I have the vision to transform Anambra state.
I am not interested in what they are saying. My mission is to be the governor of the state and my vision is to ensure that I rule Anambra State well. It is not about blowing the siren and not being ready to work. We are coming with a vision that will transform the state once we get in. I have said I am prepared for governance. My activities in the National Assembly could speak of what I desire for the state. I know the politics of Anambra state; I understand the political culture of Anambra state. If I say, I am going to govern, I understand the political framework of Anambra State and that is why I am offering myself.
I am a technocrat and I am a politician. I am a core professional, an Engineer and I have been in politics for 14 years. I have run elections, three times and won. We are talking of leadership and the desire to serve our people. I am prepared to serve.
I am not contesting for qualification; you can be a PhD holder, it does not transform into good service. You don’t need a certificate to be a good driver; you must learn to drive. You cannot jump into the road without learning because you are a Professor. I have spent time learning and that is why I am offering myself. I have been a good pilot and I know I have learnt enough to pilot the affairs of Anambra State.
There are notions that the prominence Anambra is enjoying today is because of the party in power and that there was a need for that party to continue to rule the state using the coming election?
It is not about the party, it is about the individual; it has nothing to do with the party. Ngige did well as a governor and Peter Obi did much better, having stayed longer than Ngige. We now have Willie Obiano, who is the governor and completing his tenure. He is trying his best.
I have prepared myself overtime in the act of governance. I understand Anambra politics and the skill it requires both at the state and national level. I am prepared to take Anambra to a greater height. It is not about APGA. I was an APGA member; Peter Obi was an APGA member. We are talking about individuals and we want that individual who will take Anambra to a greater level and this is what we should be talking about. Anambra electorates do not vote party, they vote individuals and it can be anybody. Once you have a good candidate that can serve Anambra well, the people will vote for you.
Are you not worried about the number of persons from your party angling for the sole slot to be governor?
It does not matter to me. It is the delegates that will decide who will wear their ticket and in the long run, who will be governor. I can only talk about myself and not anybody. I have a mission and I know that the mission is for the good of the people of Anambra state. It does not matter the number of persons angling for one particular ticket. It is the delegates that will decide after they must have viewed all the people clamoring for it. One thing is sure, PDP and by extension Anambra, have a way of getting what they want. What is important now is for all to go to the field and present what we have to the people.
One thing that has become a problem with the PDP is the issue of aspirants jumping into other political parties because they didn’t get a ticket or working against the party when they fail in the primary. How would you respond to this?
It is not the PDP that is faced with that challenge. But I tell you that once the right candidate emerges, others will join forces. I don’t have a problem with that. All of us know that at the end of the day, only one candidate will emerge. I assure you that if you put the right candidate, some of us who have had leadership experience will work with the person that you have put. The PDP is not the only party that has experienced this kind of problem but we are prepared to overcome it. If I get the ticket for the party, I know how to convince those who may have run with me and they will work with me.
Don’t you think regular meetings of the aspirants could help checkmate this trend?
It is not about the aspirants alone, the party must work hard to continue to engage the aspirants. The stakeholders also need to be engaging and advising them on the need to continue to stick together and support anyone that emerges. It is a matter of asking everybody to work together as a family and that the primary goal is to win elections and institute a government that will bring development.
The issue of zoning has not been rested and it is certainly going to play a role in the election. How do you view the issue?
Zoning does not guarantee to win, but without zoning, you can be sure that you may fail. It is the people that do zoning and it is the duty of the party to respect their wish. If Anambra people say they have zoning, any political party that did not consider that has failed before the election is started. So, the party should go and do an investigation to know if there is zoning in Anambra or not. Whether the PDP, APGA or APC zoned or not is not the issue, if the people say they recognise zoning and you are saying there is no zoning, then you have failed the project by yourself because you will not be voting for yourself alone.
My party is a much-matured party and in fact, the only party in Nigeria. Constitutionally, they recognise zoning and when the party wants to do anything, they look at what is on the ground and ask questions and whatever that will make them win elections; they will do it. If they want to consider zoning in the election of candidates, they will follow that process. It is nothing to worry about; it is not an issue. I have made it clear that zoning does not guarantee to win, but without zoning, it is a sure failure.
For you, is there zoning in Anambra politics?
You can answer that. Last election, how many parties contested? The three parties that contested –APGA, PDP and APC, which zone did their candidate come from?
If it is so, where do you think the next governor should come from? Sort out that yourself.
So, what do you think should be the benefits of zoning?
It will instil discipline. It will reduce the cost of electioneering and give a sense of equity among the citizens and based on this, it can go round and touch everybody. There will be less contention among the people because Anambra politics is a very tough exercise. It is all about equity and giving people a sense of belonging.
Looking at the primary, what are you telling your party members?
As a party, we should put ourselves together and ask Ndi Anambra, who among the aspirants can bring victory to us in the coming election. That’s all we need as a party. As for PDP delegates, ensure that the aspirant that has a better message for Ndi Anambra, should come up and fly the flag so that anybody that has a better opportunity to win the ticket for us, can come up. It is not one person that wins the election; it takes everybody to win the election. So to go for a contest, you need to bring your best. You have to go and study the market and ask Anambra people who are acceptable and marketable, who can easily be voted for by Anambra people. So that is what the PDP will do first. They should have the right candidate and they should go about marketing him. They should find out what Anambra people are looking for and when they do that, they can go to the field. There are so many factors to be considered so it is not a straight fight.
But there are feelings that PDP has lost ground in Anambra State compared to what it was in 1999, how true is this?
It must be within the imagination of whoever is saying it. Which ground did they lose? In the last general election, out of three senators, we won two. Out of 11 House of Reps members, we won 7. In the State Assembly, we have six members. Last general election, the PDP won the highest votes in Anambra, almost 90 per cent of the votes cast in Anambra state for the Presidential election. The best governor in Anambra state as of today is Peter Obi and he is of the PDP. So, what are they saying? It is propaganda and it is all politics.
We are not in 1999; we are in 2021. Anambra people are yielding to change after 16 years. They want a new party, a new candidate and a prepared person that will govern Anambra state and cause development, not about the party. Anambra people vote for anybody they want. PDP should go to Anambra and look at the candidate Anambra people want. I have won elections; I have antecedents. I know Anambra very well. I worked with Peter Obi. Our electorate is too sophisticated and they know what they are going for. It is not about parties. I was in APGA. I can divide any party. Party is only a vehicle to win elections.
As a governor, how can you bring development in the southeast?
As a governor of Anambra State, I will make sure that I and my brother governors from the southeast collaborate in areas where we have common interests. We can do regional economic planning whereby we can drive the economic development of the southeast together, ranging from infrastructure. Within the government in the zone, we can form the southeast economic development to negotiate and discuss issues of development in the zone.
Take, for instance, southeast is hosting the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC); we can partner with the EEDC to attract development in the region and provide adequate power supply to our people. When we have an adequate and affordable power supply in the southeast and you cannot imagine the level of development it will attract in the zone. It will help us build other infrastructure. We will jointly improve our interstate roads; we can jointly improve our educational system such that we pay attention to science and technology to attract investments in the region. We should be able to come together and exchange ideas that can impact our wellbeing. We can do that. I am a Legislator and some of the governors were my colleagues at the National Assembly. We understand how it works and with that level of understanding we have had in the National Assembly, we should be able to come together and do something for our people.
We also feel that we don’t have the kind of leadership we require to move the zone forward economically?
We need to build the kind of leadership we want. We should know people who are prepared for leadership and those who are not. Political leadership is something you learn overtime. We have to look at the socio-cultural settings. No Igbo man is born an island. We need the cooperation of everyone to get the kind of leadership we want and that is by service and to live by example. Doing what you promised and when you work hard, you can influence the opinion of others.