Chief Ugochukwu Okeke (Eyioha) is a frontline aspirant for the 2021 Anambra state gubernatorial election, a great leader with pragmatic strategies for conflict resolution in this interview with Raphael Ekpnag, the business tycoon cum astute politician and a philanthropist speaks about his plans to make Anambra state a 21st Century investment destination if giving the opportunity to lead the state and other issues.
What are you going to do differently if elected governor of Anambra state in 2021?
Thank you very much. First of all, I want to send my greetings all Anambrarians. It will interest you to know that I had aspired for the position before but I can say it wasn’t my time then. Well, I am a true believer of the tenet of democracy and I believe that my people have not got the real dividends of democracy. Even the one they have got has been taken away, so we are coming with a system that will work for our people and provide dividends of democracy to them on a daily basis. If you look at our message on our T-shirts and on social media #hashtag, you’ll see Efanature, meaning What you are looking for in Igbo language. I believe I am the one Anambra people are looking for to lead them from next year. I believe that Anambra is looking for that man who is accessible, the man who is real, the man who doesn’t claim he knows it all but who believes in the uplift and the growth of Anambra state.
We are here to offer the best to Anambra, to make the state a 21 century investment destination. And can we do that, by harnessing what we have as a people, the blessings we have gotten from God which is the fact that our people are naturally very hard working, our people believe in growth where ever they found themselves, that is why they are in all nooks and crannies of the 36 states in Nigeria and Federal Capital Territory as well as in most parts of the globe. It is a well know fact that most businesses in all states of the federation are manage by Anambrarians, therefore, if giving the opportunity to lead my people what we intend to do is to gather them, create enabling environment for all of them to thrive with their business in the land of Anambra, thereby turning the state into industrial safe haven.
According to Nigeria Guide 2020 10 top richest states in Nigeria; Anambra has a total GDP of $7.95 billion and we are not even a major oil producing state, but we have arable land in Anambra North, industrial centers in parts of Anambra Central and Anambra South, so when we come on board these are the areas we will be looking at to grow our GDP the more, perhaps it is time the state takes its place among industrialised states of the world.
Moreover, as a matter of fact we want to ensure that the local government system works. If local governments begin to work the state government will have less pressure because they are in the first place created to bring democracy and development nearer to the people. You can see we have a lot in stock, but in all we want to make Anambrarians to benefit from the potential of the state.
What role do you think the traditional institutions can play in a democracy?
Yes it is, but you also understand that some of our traditional rulers are not democratically elected butm
I believe they understand the tenets of democracy, so we must partner with the traditional institution, work with the local government structure, and everybody who can offer to make Anambra state great in line with our thought for the state will be brought onboard. Our government will be a government for all and by all.
Do you believe in the zoning system in your state?
Yes, I do. But as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) I want to state here for the record that our party has practiced zoning system but has not practice it in governorship election, that is the reality but because of the demand of the people, the mood of the state, Anambra South is clamouring no the position because Mr, Peter Obi did eight years from the Central, the current governor, Obiano from the North is about to complete his eight years, so automatically and naturally for emphasis, for justice, equity and fairness we believe it should come to Anambra South but beyond that I am running this race as Onyi Anambra, as Nwa Anambra, and as a true Anambrarian.
At the moment we are clamouring for equity and fairness to prevail because we believe we deserve it, we are ready to go there and test ourselves.
What is your take on the nationwide EndSARS protests era, what would you be looking at if giving the opportunity to lead Anambra in 2021 as its governor
You see whenever you are sick as a patient in the hospital and you go to see a doctor, and a doctor recommends you go for a test; the result of it determines the ailment which now gives room for treatment that will be given. Now it will interest you to know that the EndSARS protests was beyond just that but rather it was a protest against bad governance though EndSARS was used as a bedrock, so if given the opportunity as an Anambra state governor come 2021 I am going to offer governance to our people from a different perspective which of course they know already. My people know me, Eyioha and our government will truly be for the people. We would make sure all the points that were raised by the youths via the EndSARS protests are dealt with because that is the only way you can be seen providing good governance to the people. We are also of the view that the time for us to decentralize our system is now; power must not remain in the central alone, there is need for true federalism in Nigeria where states own and manage their resources while remitting a percentage to the central government, that way states can be growing at their pace. Anambra of course is one of those states that has what it takes to sustain themselves both in agriculture, human capital and industrialization.
Our major focus in terms of industrializing Anambra is to overcome the issue of poor power supply through partnership with power sector because for you to do produce there must be electricity. Beside there are many programmes we would put in place with a view to addressing post covid-19 and EndSARS issues. We will also deepen the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), so that our people can sell their products wherever there are and whenever they want. We need to give them the foundation that they would need to deepen ICT and use it to run their businesses as the world is now a global village.
As the 2021 Anambra state governorship election approaches, what is your message to the people of Anambra state?
My message to Anambrarians is simple, we cannot continue to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result, we’ve all witnessed elections in Anambra state where people come with money bags and buy votes at the end we ended up where we are today, but this is the time for the Anambrarians to bring forth a candidate they know will serve their collective aspirations and also cast their votes for the rightful candidate.
This is also the time for all the state constituencies to go in-house and decide the way forward for the state because with what is happening politically everywhere now, it would no longer be business as usual where an individual or a few persons will bring money to come and buy an election results; it is time for everybody to be involved; those who have one naira should bring, those with one thousand naira should bring and so on, so that the next government of Anambra state will truly be the government of the people of the state and that is what we are. Anambrarians know me because I am their son, so I pray that they see reason with me why we should all own the state by electing me to lead them. Like I said earlier, we will make Anambra state an investment destination with adequate security to guarantee the safety of lives and property of our people. When the people are secure, the investment will also be secure.