Anambra 2021: Security, economy talking points at election debate
Security and economic revival were major talking points at the Anambra State governorship election debate organised by Prime Business Africa, a multimedia news organisation.
Anambra, as the commercial hub of Nigeria’s Southeast, is currently recording a spate of violence as “unknown” criminal elements unsettle socio-economic activities in the run-up to the November 6 election.
Candidates, who gathered for the debate made security and economy their major talking points.
The well-attended virtual election debate on the topic, Anambra 2021: Security and Economy in Focus, began at 7 pm and was anchored by Dr Okey Ikechukwu, mni, and Prof Nduka Otiono.
Dr Ikechukwu is a Senior Fellow of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School, a Public Communications and Business Strategy consultant, a Life coach and a public speaker, a former Head of Communications, Federal Ministry of Education between August 2006 and July 2007.
Otiono is a veteran journalist, an Associate Professor of African Studies and English, and a Graduate Program Supervisor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University.
Dr Ikechukwu explained that the objective of the debate was to elicit reassuring responses from the candidates who wished to become governor of Anambra State, about their intentions for citizens of the state.
He also pointed out that the debate platform was non-partisan and not intended to impugn anybody, but an avenue for the candidates to market themselves, their political parties and programmes.
Host of the event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Newstide Publications and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Prime Business Africa, Dr Marcel Mbamalu, in his opening remarks stated that the essence of the debate was to engender discussions on issues around the polity, especially as they affect Anambra State as the commercial heartbeat of Southeast that has been in the eye of the storm in view of the spate of violence threatening economic activities and the November 6 election in particular.
According to Mbamalu, the “citizens must come first in the scheme of things and those who elect to lead must have clear intentions to govern well.”
He said the media organisation thought it important to organise and independently fund the debate in the “interest of the masses whose economic lives would be affected by the decisions of elected political leaders.”
After reading out the rules of engagement, which guided the debate to give each candidate a fair opportunity to express their ideas, Dr Ikechukwu, the lead moderator opened the floor for candidates to introduce themselves and their mission in the business of governance in the next four years.
Candidates of different political parties contesting the election enthusiastically took their turns as called by the moderators, to respond to issues bordering on security and economy and how they would tackle them, if elected, for the welfare and development of the state.
In attendance were: Chief Ben Etiaba of the Action Alliance (AA); Dr Chidozie Nwankwo of African Action Congress (AAC); Chief Akachukwu Nwakpo of the African Democratic Congress (ADC); Col. Arch. Geoff Onyejegbu (rtd) of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Dr Valentine Ozigbo of the PDP, and Dr Obinna Uzoh of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Ifeanyi Ubah of the YPP was also present, although he could not speak due to what the organisers believed were technical hitches from his end.
Chief Ben Etiaba said he would create an enabling environment to attract investments in key sectors of which agriculture is one. He also spoke about creating a hub for entrepreneurship to stem the tide of youth unemployment and promised to assemble a team of experts who would work with him to take the state to its desired status.
The PDP governorship candidate, Valentine Ozigbo considers working towards actualising the Onitsha Deep Seaport project to boost economic activities of the state and entire Southeast region as well as tackle the issue of security. He disclosed that he had had fruitful discussions regarding the ports with relevant stakeholders.
“I have had a long discussion on this issue (developing a seaport in Southeast) with key stakeholders in this area, the person in charge of the infrastructural commission, and that of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, talking about how to bolster the economy of the Southeast and we were quite open-minded on which of the ports would make more sense, whether it is Onitsha Port or any of the other ones in our surrounding environments; we considered Onitsha Port.
“We can actually go on with it, given the feasibility and the economic potentials. The reason Lagos is what it is today is that it has a port; Anambra can actually skyrocket in terms of development when we have the port,” Ozigbo stated.
He said that, given his background, he has the right skills, experience and all it takes to solve the economic and security problems of the state.
Ozigbo said he believed that the only party that could deliver what the people of Anambra deserved was the PDP.
“Our party is the most acceptable party in Anambra because we unify the people and also have what it takes to ensure that an Igbo President emerges soonest.”
The candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Dr Chidozie Nwankwo said he seeks to make the state an enviable hub for industrial activities to create many jobs for youth and curb unemployment.
Nwankwo who has been in the private sector for more than three decades, with business concerns in different areas, in different parts of the world, including oil and gas, says he would deploy his skills and expertise in reshaping the economic structure of the state and also work towards developing the oil and gas resources so that the state could join the league of major oil-producing states and earn much more revenue to avoid being dependent on federal allocation.
The AAC flag bearer said he would bring into governance what he termed integrity capital, which he said, was lacking in the governance of the state.
Speaking on security, candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) Col. Geoff Onyejegbu (rtd), said that resolving the problem of insecurity in the state would be his first priority when elected as governor.
Onyejegbu, who has a background in security having retired with the rank of Colonel in the Nigerian Army, said he has better knowledge and experience needed to tackle insecurity in the Anambra.
He said that, without adequate security, there would be no meaningful development, hence his quest to tackle it squarely and restore peace when elected.
While highlighting his philanthropic activities across Anambra State, the SDP flag bearer in the election, Dr Obinna Uzoh, also stated that, if elected, he would focus on entrepreneurship programmes for the people, especially youths, to enable them to become gainfully employed.
He equally said that having used his philanthropic organisation, the Obinna Uzoh Foundation, to reach out to many people in the past, he has got a good knowledge of the plight of the people in the grassroots and how he would continue to address their problems.
Akachukwu Nwankpo of the ADC said the problem in the state was a lack of responsible governance. He stated that once the proper structure of governance is set in place, every other thing would work perfectly. He mentioned some of them to include rule of law and respect for the will of the people while making policy decisions.
At the end of the debate, the moderator, Dr Ikechukwu thanked the host for thoughtfully organising the debate, bringing the candidates to convey their governance missions to the masses. He pointed out that the programme was never paid for by any individual, group or political party but solely sponsored by the management of Newstide Publications Limited, publishers of Prime Business Africa (PBA).
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