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Those against zoning in Anambra are being dishonest, says Nwankpo

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
26 February 2021   |   3:04 am
Former Presidential aide, Nze Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankpo, is a chieftain of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. He spoke with LAWRENCE NJOKU on the human development challenges facing the state


Former Presidential aide, Nze Akachukwu Sullivan Nwankpo, is a chieftain of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. He spoke with LAWRENCE NJOKU on the human development challenges facing the state and how to tackle them

There’s an obvious infrastructure deficit in Anambra State as resources management capacity is in short supply. What do you think should be done to arrest the ugly trend?
We need boldness in dealing with the infrastructure of the state. So, I think that boldness is what is needed. When you appraise the people who have governed the state, you will see that they have dwelt on building tiny stuff and things like that. Instead of creating highways, they only ended up maintaining just the community roads, which continue to reduce the state to a little village. But Obiano came and saw things very differently.

Do you think APGA can retain ANAMBRA come November?
Specifically, APGA offers the first fundamental to development. If you want to develop people, there has to be some harmony in their overall environment. So APGA offers the state one harmonious political party under one God. Remember, we are predominantly a Christian community. We have one party, one language, one God. We have a cultural dynamic that enables your work development. And globally, that is a standard that when a group of people grabs it they make waves. With APGA, we are under one party, one God and one culture.
APGA is roundly blamed for smuggling in zoning and religion in the state’s polity. Presently, opinions are divided on whose turn next, especially when some insist that it has gone around, hence can start from anywhere again?

Well, I’m an advocate of fairness and inclusiveness. Zoning addresses both. It’s the business of people in leadership at any point in time. If you are not a legislator, governor, traditional ruler or church leader, it means that at that point in time God in His infinite wisdom has not given you a platform. I found out that at this point in our history, our governor, legislators, traditional rulers, church leaders – those people God has given platforms to lead Anambra State said that it would be better if we allow every zone produce a governor in turn. It is not unique to the position of governor. It’s something that appears to be in the culture of the state because if you go down to the villages, town union leadership is done in rotation.

It’s a balancing, as all the quarters will bring nominees to the executive – same for the national and state Assembly positions. There’s always some form of zoning or rotation arrangement in everything that is done in the state. When you complete eight years and want to go again, the people will say no, that you have to give way for other people to go. So those saying they don’t understand zoning are just being dishonest. If you go down to even their kindred meeting you will find out that the positions are always zoned. But now because they have made some money to buy a few SUVs to run around the state, they then convince themselves that they can now ignore everyone. Come on. That is not the way things are done.

Democracy is the rule of the majority, and in Anambra State anytime there is an election a greater population appears to be coming from one particular faith. It’s actually a democracy, not religious politics. However, if there are people playing obvious religious politics with it, then it’s necessary we address it. Again, because of their higher numerical strength and voting along the line of the value of their faith, that cannot be construed as religious politics. I think it’s just democratic. However, I think it will be unfair for any religion, in spite of any view that is contrary to the value of the people, to insist they must have the position. I sincerely think that Anambra State doesn’t necessarily fit that picture.

The grapevine is awash that APGA’s 2021 governorship ticket has been foreclosed and that the ticket has been bought and sold. What’s the situation?
For me, there are different kinds of elections. People adopt different types of strategies. You may come across a candidate who adopts a strategy of intimidating others out of the race by saying that he is the brightest, all too shiny and that anyone who attempts to come close will go blind. And those who bought the story have had their intelligence played upon so woefully they leave ignominiously like a fowl drenched by the rain.

But if we are looking at APGA that has ruled the state for the past four tenures of sixteen years, that’s the only party that understands that it is bubbling with talents. More so, there is nothing I have seen in the party, either in the conduct of the governor, or the party that shows they have already sworn in another governor. Because those touting that the ticket has been foreclosed means they have already selected a governor. The gimmick will render things boring. I would have asked what they then expect members to be doing in such an election year like now. They would be so bored that it’s doubtful they would be at any voting centre on the day of the election. So whosoever that is selling that stuff is hurting the party so much, and members really need to shout such storytellers down. I think it must be the handiwork of moles in our midst planted by our political opponents.

Given the opportunity, what are the things that should engage the next government of your state?
The first and most important thing is education. We should focus on education for living, education for skills. That’s the first priority. That’s why I insist that Anambra families come first. When I talk about education for living, I’m looking at that education that gets the population to understand that the family is the most important unit of the state. So we look at how to help parents organise their homes so that they can look after their children effectively, and bring them to the school system that we have organised. It involves earning power for the parents. It involves special attention to pregnant mothers because education begins in the womb. The nutrient with which you feed the child in the womb is fundamental. So we need to deal with provision at home. That’s why you cannot be discussing education in the school where hungry children come.

Consequently, when I talk about education, it is integral to family livelihood. Parents are therefore assisted to nurture healthy school children. That’s why if we choose to address the issues affecting education in the state it will begin with what happens in the family.

What’s the relationship between APGA and APC?
When Mr. Peter Obi was the governor, he negotiated with PDP president and had some positions given to them so that they maintain a conversation. APGA does not have any conflict with any government at the centre. It’s a unique position that the party enjoys by governing Anambra State while remaining friendly with the centre.

Sometimes in the course of the friendship, they give positions out and that makes people think that they have suddenly become so strong to take out APGA. It’s a wrong perception and doesn’t worry me. What would worry me is if APGA starts behaving like the PDP or any of these other small parties, which make party members start losing energy. That would be dangerous.

Are you not worried that the situation has always made the state an orphan among the comity of states?
No. How can you talk about orphans in a state that produced and still produces so many national and international stars? Anambra doesn’t have orphanage psychology at all. All these states know that all the people helping them are Anambrarians. Anambra is overcharged with budding potential in all spheres of life.

Insecurity appears to have gone overboard. What’s the way out?
Of course, it worries me. I come with a 15-year experience of dealing with and managing conflicts, violence and insecurity across the Niger Delta states. So, I understand what it means. From that harrowing experience, I understand that security is not an issue of guns and muscles. Security is obtained by order. When a community wants to be secure, that community must respond to order and orderliness is not just an attitude that is meant for the criminal. It’s total in the environment. For example, if you are going to any part of the state and you see a little bomb on the road and people are jumping all over the place and there is chaos everywhere even among the drivers trying to escape the area. That is insecurity. It is such little behaviour that transmits to other aspects of life and then manifests perhaps in gun-toting and lack of confidence in the overall system.

So, for me, it’s a problem. But how to deal with it is that orderliness has to drop from the top to the bottom. As the governor or president, you cannot be reckless and expect the citizens to be orderly. Yes, when you live by example and get every other person in the system to respect the rule of law, you would have established an orderly society and it spreads. Let the rules work.

2023 is fast approaching and the Southeast is insisting it’s their turn…
It is their turn and it’s been on every lip for so long. The next step is to engage in dialogue and diplomatic shuttle to get other geopolitical zones to come to your position. It needs high-level dialogue and lobby. I think our people are already at it. I hope that down the road they would find unanimity of purpose. No one can order it. What you need is a discussion to get other people, other zones and parts of the federation to work with you.