Professor Alphonsus Nwosu, the former Minister of Health and the man who emerged the first governorship candidate of PDP in 1999, was recently appointed the Anambra State Caretaker Committee of the party. Nwosu would have become the first civilian governor of the state under the present political dispensation, but for intrigues that played out in the party then.
When, in 2003, the party wanted to appease him with the ticket of the party, he declined and advised the party to consider a younger person. In this interview, Professor Nwosu explained why he accepted the position and the mission of his team. Excerpts:
By Vincent Ujumadu
How do you intend to carry out your new assignment as chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee?
I regard myself as the captain of a first class team of elders on a rescue mission in Anambra State. We thank those who appointed us for having confidence in us.
We have a simple objective to reopen the political space in Anambra so that the people will choose who they want to represent them. Simply put, we have promised to keep the front door open so that people will not attempt to use any back door and other means to thwart the will of the people. We intend to succeed.
Prof, why did you accept to lead PDP at the state level and at the age of well over 70 years and having served as Minister of the Federal Republic among so many other positions?
I recall Professor Chinua Achebe’s answer when he accepted to be President-General of Ogidi Union Nigeria. It was in the process of that assignment that he had the accident that confined him to the wheelchair. He simply answered that one cannot be greater than the soil from which he was created. In other words, you can’t be greater than your brethren. I therefore consider myself privileged to be leading the kind of team on this salvage mission and we are all making immense sacrifices to serve our beloved Anambra State. The calibre of membership which I will reveal to you later will assure you of the integrity of this committee on a mission to reduce the financial and human costs of election in Anambra State. Anambra must cease to be a cash-and-carry state.
Anambra being a difficult political terrain, can you effectively lead the party to victory?
Anambra is not a difficult terrain in my view. I was the first gubernatorial candidate produced by the party in 1998. We can do it again. All that Anambra people need is for us to be open with them and show them that conditions of life will be better under our political party and that they will be allowed to choose their representatives.
This is what I am determined to lead the team to achieve and we are certain that we have the capacity to reconnect with both the elite and the masses in Anambra State. Our objective is that Anambra can be better. Anambra has not yet reached where it ought to be and it is our determination to realign Anambra along the track that produced development in the past for greater achievement in the future.
The state that produced the great Zik, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the first Igbo PHD holder, Nnodu Okongwu, Sir Louis Mbanefo, Chinua Achebe, Pius Okigbo, Cardinal Arinze and so many others, must fly again. Anambra’s strength lies in human capital, that is, Ndi Anambra amongst whom are the world’s most talented people.
You came in at a time election is a few months away. The party has been in crisis with so many factions, what are you doing to unite the aggrieved parties?
Well, the universal answer to grievance is justice and fairness and the caretaker committee will ensure fairness to everybody. We will do everything to be fair because anybody denied justice is not really interested in peace. We shall make sure that the party is not owned by anybody or any faction. The party shall go back to Ndi Anambra, who are the original owners so that they choose who they want, not those who the committee wants or the factions want. We are here to ensure a level-playing field, to enable Ndi Anambra choose their governor. That is our promise to Anambra State and to Nigeria.
What about the stakeholders? Are you reaching out to them?
Yes. As you can see the caretaker consists of stakeholders from different factions who are solid PDP members. I am a stakeholder and that is why I am the captain of the team. Iyom Josephine Anenih is a stakeholder, Senator Annie Okonkwo is a stakeholder, Elder Linus Ukachukwu is a stakeholder, Senator Ugochukwu Uba is a stakeholder, Chief Obiora Okonkwo is a stakeholder, and many others. And we plan to reach out to all the stakeholders not only in Anambra, but in the South East zone led by Chief Austin Umahi.
We will also reach out to stakeholders in Nigeria because the National Secretary of our party comes from Anambra State. And our committee was set up by a resolution of the National Convention of the party. We are hopeful that we will be able to bring all the stakeholders back to the PDP fold and we shall work hard to bring Anambra State and its governor back to national politics and produce the next governor in the state.
Do you intend to reorganise the party structure in the state before the November election?
Yes. As per the mandate of the National Convention we inaugurated members of the Local Government Committees on Thursday, 17th August 2017 at the PDP State secretariat in Awka for them to go back to inaugurate the various ward executives. In doing this, all stakeholders and elected members under the PDP were consulted. We are also going to make necessary inclusions to accommodate any interest that has been inadvertently missed out in the compilation of the final list. The new structures will be charged with the responsibility of selling the new PDP message to the grassroots.
What is the new message of PDP?
The new message is simple – raising the quality of human beings in Anambtra State through quality education and meaningful employment. We want to produce new Dr. Nwafor Orizus, new Dr. Ernest Obiejese (Nestoil), Barrister Onyema Allen (AirPeace), Chief Innocent Chukwuma (Innosson), Chief Vincent Obianodo (Young Shall Grow), Chief Augustine Ilodibe etc etc . To do this, of course, requires improved infrastructure. This is what the PDP promises for Anambra State.
What strategies are your committee putting in place to effectively deliver Anambra State to PDP?
Our strategies are our main weapon for reconnecting with the people of Anambra State and getting their mandate. Since we are determined that the people must choose who governs them, our main task is therefore to connect with Ndi Anambra so that they can choose our candidate to govern them. What we shall do to reconnect cannot be revealed to our competitors. Our promise, however, is that we shall be open, we shall canvass superior solutions to Anambra problem and we shall unveil a superior vision of where Anambra shall be and how we shall get there and finally we shall be decent in executing our strategies because Anambra State in recent weeks has seen the kind of violence that is abhorrent to the human soul.
There are challenges from APGA and APC, how do you intend to surmount them?
The beauty of politics is that the eagle shall perch and the kite shall perch. Even the vulture will not be driven away. The people shall look at the eagle, look at the kite and look at the vulture and make their choice. What the eagle should not do is to descend to the floor to be looking for earthworms with chickens or struggling with dead and rotten cadavers with vultures. The PDP shall show that it remains the eagle and we hope that Ndi Anambra shall choose the eagle because Ndi Anambra are eagles.