By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
Anambra State is one of the 17 states that do not have democracy at the local council level. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, recently, advised such states to shape up and conduct council polls. In this interview, Secretary to the Anambra State Government, SSG, Oseloka Obaze, who is from Anambra North and considered to be eyeing the governorship seat, says the state cannot hold council polls now because of an avalanche of pending litigation. He also speaks on the need for Anambra North to produce the next governor among others.
On the Governors Forum charge to Anambra and 16 other states to conduct council polls.
We have spoken about this severally. We are constrained in holding the election because there are several cases before the law court and being a law-abiding government that believes in due process and the rule of law, we will not be in contempt of court to proceed to hold an election when those cases are not resolved.
I have said it often time that if those who are in court withdraw the cases from the state and the Attorney General of the state confirms that those cases have been successfully withdrawn then there is nothing that will disturb the conduct of the election, the governor will proceed to call for an election and Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) will proceed to conduct the election. So there is no problem there. The fact is that you cannot put the cart before the horse in this case.
On clamour by Anambra North to produce the next governor.
It is not a clamour rather it is a clarion call to discuss what has been the entrenched equilibrium and lack of equity in the way the state has run since 1991. Since 1991, the leadership of Anambra State, the governorship has been dominated by the South and Central senatorial zones and the Northern senatorial zone has so far not held any governorship position and it is believed that this the time we allow somebody from the North to emerge and take that position.
It is not zoned by any means but it is at least a shared view by well-meaning Anambrarians, some of them from the South, some of them from the Central, a view shared by the leadership of Anambra in the person of Governor Peter Obi and a view shared by the people of the North which is comprised of the people of Omambala, Oyi, Onitsha and Ogbaru and the discussion is still ongoing and I think it is a vibrant discussion.
What we said is that charity begins at home because it will be an anomaly for Igbo who continue to canvass for an Igbo Presidency, seeking equity and equilibrium to turn around at home and marginalise their kit and kin or refuse to grant the same benefit of being able to run for the governorship.
So that is the reality. But mind you, nobody has said that only the people from Anambra North senatorial district should run to the exclusion of the people of the South and Central. I have not heard that. All they are saying is that we must reach a meeting of the minds which say yes for a change. We want somebody from Anambra North to emerge. At the end of the day it is the electorate of Anambra that will vote. It is not something you can impose on anybody.
On speculations that he or his brother has Governor Peter Obi’s backing to become the next governor of the state.
In politics, people can speculate what they want. I am from the North and my brother is from the North. But I cannot compete against my brother neither would he compete against me. But I think that even His Excellency, Governor Obi has said that he does not know who will succeed him and that it is only God that knows who the next successor is and I think at this point, it will be presumptuous for anybody to think that they know who is going to succeed Peter Obi, that is something that is left to the Anambra electorate and free and fair elections.
We saw what happened in Edo and Ondo states. If we have free and fair election, the right person will emerge and Anambra electorate will vote with their conscience that is the way I see it. Based on speculation, it is a democracy and people are free to speculate what they want. I know that neither I nor my brother has declared that we are running for any office.
On job creation efforts of the state government.
Unemployment is a global problem, it is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is also not peculiar to Anambra State but it is a challenge we face. What we are trying to do as you have observed, is that we have not employed in the state government for a while; we are going to open that up in months ahead.
Hopefully, we are starting with 3000 people perhaps in the educational sector. Generally, unemployment is addressed when you create wealth, build industries which allows people to be employed, and people who are employed earn income and invest it, they generate more wealth and then cut down the level of unemployment.
It’s simple. We need to hasten whatever we are doing to allow more foreign and domestic investors to come into Anambra State, establish their businesses and employ more people. But we also have to understand that we face a unique challenge. We have a large labour force of largely unskilled labour.
Our people who are on the street hawking materials are not employable unless you are going to employ them as truck pushers. You cannot employ them as vigilante because they lack basic requirement to that. For the youth, those have already missed boat will have to find a way to accommodate.
The most important thing is to keep the younger ones in school where they are educated sufficiently to continue to the higher institutions or even if they don’t go the higher institutions, they can go to the vocational schools where they come out as skilled labour. We have experienced a diminution of artisans, people who perform the highly needed menial jobs, lay ties, carpentry.