BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & IKENNA ASOMBA
IN Anambra State, there is a rat race for the governorship ticket of the newly registered mega opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The leading contenders for the party’s flag are Senator Annie Okonkwo, Senator Chris Ngige and Mr. Godwin Ezemo.
Senator, Okonkwo, the party’s deputy national chairman (South) says he is in a pole position to become APC’s standard bearer ahead of other anglers for the slot, giving his business acumen, employment creation, care for humanity through philanthropy and experience.
However, Senator Ngige is currently the lawmaker representing Anambra Central in the Senate says the position of Anambra chief helmsman is not for green horns just as another aspirant on the banner of the APC, Mr. Godwin Ezemo, says Anambra citizenry need a capable hand like him to salvage the state from hopelessness.
I’m tested and trusted – Ngige
Ngige, a medical doctor, governed the state between 2003 and 2006 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) until the courts nullified his election on account of irregularities and handed the seat to Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Obi has been ruling the state since 2006. His second term will expire next March.
Ngige, who later decamped to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on which platform he won a senatorial seat is in the race to succeed Obi. But to do that he has to get a ticket, which he hopes to accomplish through the APC, a party he co-founded. Until the ACN merged into APC with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and some members of APGA, he was the defunct ACN’s sole South-East senator.
Declaring his ambition via a letter to the Senate President, which was read on the Senate floor, late July, he said: “I have concluded my consultations, and now find it necessary to officially inform this Senate that I will be an Aspirant, and hopefully a Candidate in the November 16, 2013 Governorship election in Anambra State. Please wish me luck and offer your prayers for me, even if you are not of my party.
“I intend to use the vehicle of the Progressives – our newly merged political party – The All Progressives Congress (APC)…It is to the benefit of all Nigerians that Anambra State is well governed, has peace, progress and sustainable development. This task is, therefore, not for unsteady or untested hands that would seek to learn on the job. Anambra State needs an experienced, tried and tested hand. The people believe that the Almighty God will do it for them through me.”
How I’ll transform Anambra —Okonkwo
A knight of the Order of St John International (KSJI), Senator Okonkwo, 58, was Ngige’s immediate predecessor at the Senate. He represented Anambra Central in the Upper Chamber on the plank of the PDP between 2007 and 2011. He aspired for the governorship seat in 2011 and later defected to the APGA. He was in the merger committee that hammered out modalities for the APC merger, leading a host of APGA members to the nascent opposition party.
Senator Okonkwo said he would transform Anambra State, if elected. A numerous local and international award winner and chief executive of numerous communication and telecommunication companies, Okonkwo, in a statement on his gubernatorial quest, said, “after a proper look at the aspirants vying for the position of the governor and as somebody who has the people at heart, I believe I would do the job better.”
The aspirant, who has informed the party that he was going to contest the Anambra governorship election, said he could forfeit anything to enable him salvage his people from what they are currently facing in the state.
His words: “Our great party, the All Progressives Congress believes in internal democracy, I don’t want to be imposed and I also know that nobody would be imposed. To that extent, I believe I stand to win the party’s primary election and with that, the party will comfortably win the governorship election. It is a first test for the party.
“APC is seriously preparing for the election and we are very confident that we are going to win the election, to enable us deliver what we have for the people of Anambra State.
“Today, in Anambra, people are scared of traveling to the state because of the fear that they might be kidnapped, but if we win the election it will stop automatically because we are going to provide sufficient job for the masses.”
Essentially, Okonkwo said his mission statement is “to offer quality service inspired by selfless and faithful commitment to the development of our nation in general and our people in particular.”
The business czar is chairman, Zoom Mobile Ltd (winner, This Day Best Information Communications Technology (ICT) Company 2008); Clemco Industries Ltd; Modern Communications Ltd (MCL); Maclemms Marketing Communications Ltd; Clemco Plastic Limited; Pentagon Oil Limited; and Sunflower Industries Ltd.
His numerous awards and honours include: Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Award for Excellence in Enterprise by WAIM; National Productivity Order of Merit Award; Euro Market Brussels leadership award in recognition of exemplary Leadership by Leadership Watch;
Award of Excellence by Advocacy for Democracy Dividend; International Business Leadership award by News Agency of Nigeria; Eminent persons Hall of Fame Awards by Nigeria News world Fame Achievers Award; and Reltel wireless, Best Telephone Company of the year for four years by NITTA and the West African Direct Marketing Award (2006). With over 2,000 Nigerians and expatriates under his employ, Okonkwo said: “I founded this manufacturing company that produces high quality soaps and detergents which is competing very well in the West Africa Sub-region markets. Its success is a testimony of my entrepreneurial competence.”
I’ve a big task to redeem Anambra’s hope— Ezemo
Also speaking, Ezemo said he would redeem what he termed the hopelessness of the people of Anambra State, if elected.
Addressing guests at a reception organized by a socio-political group, Association of Anambra Indigenes Revival Initiatives, AAIRI, in Lagos, Ezemo lamented that despite the natural and human resources in the State, Anambrarians have become beggars and destitute in their own fatherland.
He said: “I’m delighted to be among the capable hands that can govern Anambra State. But despite our abundant natural and human resources, the people have pitiably become beggars and destitute in their own country. Returning to the country, in the last six years, I have been bothered by the level of poverty glaring my people in the face; that is why I have decided to take this bold step to see how we can cause change in Anambra.
“I must tell you that I have lost my privacy because I want to save Anambra State from its doldrums. However, I strongly hold the view that the forthcoming election is not a do-or-die affair.
This is why I leave everything in the hands of God to decide. If God says yes that I’m the one to lead Anambra State, then Anambrarians should start counting their blessings. But if it doesn’t happen, I will take it in good fate, because it will be on record that when Anambrarians called upon me to lead them, I answered their call.”
He decried what he referred to as the moral decadence of governance that had become a do-or-die affair.
Asked his major programmes for the state, Ezemo, who described himself as a successful farmer promised to invest massively in power, if elected governor. “As a successful farmer, I will ensure that Anambra becomes the food basket of Nigeria. Agriculture will have to come back in the state …When there’s stable power supply in Anambra; massive industrial revolution will take place, even as the high graduate unemployment bedeviling the state will be a thing of the past.
However, I still insist that government can’t do this alone. All hands must be on deck to achieving this. One major thing my administration will do is to provide the thriving environment for investors. Once this is done especially through the provision of stable power, we need not go all the way out to look for investors, because they will come looking for us.