By Anayo Okoli
Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju was the former governor of Anambra State between 1999 and 2003 under the platform of the PDP. He lost his bid for a second term following the intrigues that characterised the primaries of his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mbadinuju who is now a member of the ruling APC, in this interview with Vanguard spoke on number of issues ranging from his former party, party leadership, President Buhari’s administration, APC, among others
On the relationship between Ndigbo and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration
President Buhari does not by any means hate Ndigbo. As for appointments, yes, some Igbos across the Niger are complaining, but it is still too early.
The President has just made few appointments. We should exercise patience and give him time before attacking him. Even former President Jonathan whom Igbo gave almost all their votes, what did Igbo get from Jonathan? Nothing! Is it 2nd Niger Bridge or Onitsha to Enugu to Abia to Port-Harcourt roads, indeed nothing? I am not holding brief for President Buhari but truth is that the President still has a lot of appointments to make running into hundreds if not thousands.
Rather, Igbo should find a way to reach out to the President and plead, not by force. It should be a friendly encounter. Because Jonathan failed Igbo, we must try and see the best way to reach and relate cordially with President Buhari and work for the success of his administration.
President Shehu Shagari during his time worked very well with Dr. Alex Ekwueme as then Vice President, and through Ekwueme Igbos got more than anticipated. Such can still be repeated.
Again, to get more appointments Ndigbo must vote right and for candidates that can win and be useful in line with the adage that “he whose bread I eat, his song I will sing”. This should mean a lot for Igbo.
During campaigns Buhari visited the South-East several times, up to seven visits still Igbo believed that Jonathan would win. But he lost. Was that because Buhari hated Igbo? Our people should not eat their cake and have it.
On the performance of his former party, PDP in the last elections?
PDP has been the party on the ground for about 16 years but its performance all these years cannot be said to be satisfactory. For me, the issue of performance is not necessarily the number of years each party has been in existence. PDP was a party destined to save Nigeria’s democracy but it failed. PDP became a party of the past not a party of today and tomorrow.
And because nature abhors vacuum, the PDP was no longer able to take care of its members, APC now fills the space.
Over the period, PDP turned to something else, it became a party of “use and dump” according to its former National Chairman, with many victims, including my humble self.
And from this point on, what I did was “to keep moving” from PDP’s injustice to justice; from PDP’s rigging machine to winning election by rule of engagement; from PDP’s godfatherism to cheating and to avarice, greed, corruption, waste, and ostentation, because that was not the PDP I helped to nurture from 1999.
Do you believe the APC can wrest power from PDP in the South-East?
It is very easy. I believe there is no question about APC taking over power in the zone. In the last election there was little or no planning by APC in Anambra State that was why we lost. The leaders were more mindful of money, how much was brought from Lagos and Abuja and how much was shared.
There was no proper engagement and party members were running up and down chasing the money bags to no avail. But this will not happen next time around. By the time of another election, PDP will still be in shambles.
Even to elect party officials recently was not possible and there are now three factions. I predicted it and it is happening already. What we expect from now on is a fragmented PDP in Anambra State with at least two factions joining the APC.
And we should not waste our ammunition before the game is out. PDP at any level is still the same, they can’t win again. The problem of PDP in Anambra now is a carry-over from the present PDP at Abuja.
On party leadership
In APC both Tinubu and Buhari are leaders in their own rank. Even in the PDP arrangement it is the President that they usually regard as leader of the party. This has become a convention. In the case of APC, there are four regional parties, namely CPC, ACN, ANPP and APGA that had functioned independently and each of these parties had its party leader and that was how the issue of one party “Leader” came up. It was not wrong for people to refer to Tinubu as leader in a limited party situation.
The over-all party leader of APC today is President Mohammadu Buhari and he is known politically in Nigeria as leader of APC. National President and National Leader are about the same in appellation.
It would be a misdemeanor to address Tinubu as “Leader” on a national level. To avoid unnecessary clashes, we can say that this is a matter which protocol can easily remedy. Even a Governor of a State can in his party have capacity to be a leader. If the Governor won’t be leader then he won’t bring fund to oil the party apparatus and indeed this also goes up to party level. At national level the President doles out funds being the Leader. These are not laws, they are convention.
What is your assessment of President Buhari’s performance so far?
I don’t really know which visible accomplishments will be authentic more that others. All I know is that political opponents from PDP never gave Buhari any chance or any hope that APC will ever win the last election.
But these elections have come and gone, and whereas Buhari was to them an “under-dog”, they now have seen after the elections that indeed Buhari remains the man to successfully pilot the ship of State of Nigeria.
President has displayed great zeal and dispassionate love to steer the ship of the nation aright and has put shame on the face of opponents who see nothing good, even his accomplishments everywhere.
His recent appointments have shown what he plans for the nation.
So there is no doubt that he has very clear and progressive vision for Nigeria. It was unfortunate that the Buhari-Idiagbon regime was not allowed to complete what they started but they were stopped at mid-way, and today Buhari-Osinbajo team will continue the good work started till Nigeria becomes a power in the international circle to be reckoned with.
It is important that Nigerians should give President Buhari all the support he needs to do this job.
The opposition party, should not only be opposing, they must support their government to succeed.
Trying to pull down a government that knows its onions should rather not be encouraged. It is necessary that Nigeria should be allowed to be moving and not be stagnant.