‘It’s dangerous leaving Anambra in hands of one without income apart from state resource’
Dr. Obiora Okonkwo is candidate of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the November 6 Anambra State governorship election. He anchors his campaign on a 10-point agenda. In this chat with newsmen the businessman shares his vision and mission. Kehinde Olatunji was there.
If the election is held today, where do you and your party stand?
We have gone a very long way since we emerged the candidate of Zenith Labour Party, which was relatively an unknown party.
And from the progress we have made in the last two months, I am pretty much convinced that if the election is conducted free and fair; we stand a chance of being winner, for the reason that the reality is dawning on Anambrarians that the three major political parties; APGA, PDP and APC are not the best options as things stand today. Apart from the damage these parties have done to themselves because of their previous actions and inactions; the people are also realising that certain circumstances that have to do with various litigations do not leave the parties in the right positions.
Also, they know that due to the situation of things that are not getting better on daily basis, it has further become clear to our people that this race is not about party; it’s about the candidate – his competence, his vision and his dedication to development in Anambra State. Having seen in recent times people jumping from one party to another; so, they are now saying; what is it in parties when one can be in a party today and tomorrow he jumps to another. So, they are saying, let’s follow somebody they can trust and believe in his vision. So, people are looking towards individuals and when it comes to individual consideration, with all sense of humility, we are not rated lower than any one of them. So, a combination of these factors is what gives me confidence that this election is for my party, Zenith Labour Party and I to lose; knowing also that we have entrusted every other thing we do in God. We know that once God has said yes; nobody can change it.
Are you worried that your party, the ZLP is relatively unknown?
Yes, for a party that has not won any election in Anambra State, it’s expected not to be known, that concern and thought might be right. But that may be before two-three months ago. The situation on ground now is different because political structures that we talk about are human beings; they are not concretes. Where human beings move is where the structure moves. As we speak today, we have developed the structure of the party at the grassroots; the 326 wards and 5720 polling units in Anambra State, having completed the list of our agents attached to each of the polling units in the state. We have also set a parallel structure made up of not the party structure but from our support groups in each polling unit. Those are numbers and when you merge them, they run into hundreds of thousands of people. So, we have been quietly and silently doing the most important thing towards this election, which is building silent, physical human structures instead of doing public show; the ones that eyes could see.
We can give you names and list of those who really believe in us that are already dedicated to cast their votes. Beyond that, we have also received within our fold a whole lot of other structures, which we are inheriting. These are groups of people who have their own structures, who do bulk voting and we have been going into some negotiations; a good number of them we are keeping low and quiet as instrument for upset and few others we will probably make public in the coming days. For what we know, which people do not know; I think that I am quite happy at the stage things are now. Besides, it remains work in progress as a lot of critical things would still happen few days to the election and we are positioning ourselves, so that when that happens, it will be to our advantage.
Do you feel bad leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to vie for governorship in ZLP?
Well, if you look at leaving a popular party to a relatively unknown party in a normal political situation, that feeling might be correct. I mean, when all the political parties are up and running and all their candidates are brand fire; doing all they have to do, have their own segments of the voters, then if you find yourself in a small party, then that feeling and insinuation is correct. But in this case, and the way things are turning out; more people are now coming to us, to tell us that they can see this is really a divine move; we’ve seen the wisdom and divineness in going to this party; we are now seeing clearer what we didn’t see two-three months ago.
And because the three major political parties are in disarray; APGA as a political party is in total disarray and rejected by the greater percentage of Anambra people and they have made up their minds that they are not in any way going to reward their failures with another succession. There seem to be a common ground and consensus among the voters. APGA members have seen their frustrations and are decamping to parties where they don’t even have any advantage but to express their anger.
Then on the side of the other bigger party, which is PDP, and as you may know, in Anambra, I was the face of the party. I picked PDP up, cleaned it and rebranded it; put my face on it and made it viable and vibrant until injustice of Peter Obi and his cohorts was meted out to me on June 26. They were afraid of a non-dependent, self-opinionated person emerging as a governor. These are people who are in the business of godfatherism. But I don’t think they will survive that mistake, the last minute injustice they dished out to me because it was a terrible mistake and they will live with the stigma until the end of the election.
The greater part of PDP members still prefer us and for what they already know that I stand for. So, remaining in the party is not the issue. You see, ten percent of the voters are probably those who are registered party members; the rest 90 percent of them are not affiliated to any political party.
The other political party, which you know is the APC. There are lots of shows going on there, and there the drama of people decamping and all that. It’s all a deal because some who have decamped are not welcome in their constituencies by the electorate? So, the story of people decamping to the APC are just shows for the cameras and the press.
So, I can tell you that probably many of those who decamped may not be home until the election is over.
Beyond that, Anambra people are fully abreast of other issues happening in the political parties; the court cases, the faulty nomination processes and all of that, which are capable of upturning any electoral victory.
So, any winner from the three major political parties still have baggage because he has pending issues that can upturn it. Part of the things going for us is that outside the three major political parties, Zenith Labour Party now is next in terms of party popularity; no doubt about that. And in terms of individual candidacy I think we must be counted among the first. It’s a combination of factors; my name is driving Zenith Labour Party and because the electorate know that we are clean; we don’t have any judicial mines; we are coming with new hope for Anambra people, we are the only party and candidate that has no godfather issue. Anambra people are quite convinced that the issue of godfather has been one of the biggest problems of the state starting from 1999 till date and they feel that it’s enough with godfatherism.
One criterion that Anambra people are united on is that for you to be voted for; you must not just tell them what you will do as governor, you have to tell them what you do for a living; what’s your source of income. It’s no more a case of former this and that; because they have realised that it’s a big danger allowing the destiny of this state in the hands of someone who has no source of income or will not have any source of income apart from the state government purse. This is one of the criteria already spelt out by Ndi-Anambra, which none of the candidates of these three major parties can rarely meet.
Are you afraid of losing the November 6 election?
The only thing that can stop me from winning this election is if God says no; otherwise, human beings had done their worst by manipulating the governorship primary election of the PDP, which we were already coasting home with 80 percent victory as the most popular contestant. They had done their worst and I was not stopped; today, I am a candidate, I am in the race. So, nothing else can stop me except God. And we have always said that we have God the father; He knows that in our mind, that we’re coming for service, we’re coming to offer our talent and endowment to the service of humanity, and glorify the name of God. So, we believe that He is God that can do everything and there’s nothing that He cannot do. If it pleases Him that we win this election, nothing else can stop us except if He says no.