Award winning broadcast journalist turned politician and media mogul, Senator Chris Anyanwu, was recently at the corporate headquarters of Vanguard Media Limited, during which she drew questions from Vanguard editors on her latest media project in Lagos, Hot FM, 93.3.
The parlay also offered opportunity to draw questions from the former senator on the ongoing political spectacle that has seen Governor Rochas Okorocha ranged against nearly every major political stakeholder in their native Imo State. Excerpts:
By Gbenga Oke
Did you back Okorocha in 2011 or were you deceived to back him?
I am not going to allow you put me in a defensive. I would say I was fighting for my political survival and then there was a convergence of interest between him and I, in the sense that we shared the same platform and of course we campaigned together. Once I won, it gave him the momentum and that is what I keep telling people; you need to have strong candidates who can build up the momentum.
You need to have strong candidates on the lower level who can build up the momentum for that final race which is the governorship or the presidential. If you don’t have strong candidates, you are going to do your best.
That initial reaction when the lower level wins usually has a boomerang effect. So, I cannot respond in the sense you want me to respond.
You campaigned on the same platform. So how will you assess his stewardship in Imo State?
It is for Imo people to assess but I think we are feeling it. But if you really want to have an assessment, you go into the state and ask the truthful people to answer that question. You can ask the people who feel the pinch most. I mean the people who are living in Imo and who are experiencing the impact positive or negative of his activities.
When will the Governor mould you?
No, I am not pretty enough to be moulded.
So, you would not want to tell us how you are feeling Okorocha, either positively or negatively?
There have been a few things that I wonder what is really going on. I think we will need time to really know. For me now, the most important thing is that we have to come together, the real owners of Imo State must come together to ask this question: Where do we take this step from?
It is really careless of us to elect people and walk away and let them do whatever they like. It is not supposed to be that way, we ought to have definite ideas on the kind of state we would like to have and then select the right people who can bring life to our vision for the state. And that is what should be happening now and I think there is a great awakening in the state on that; there is need to combat and take the full ownership of the state.
We will discuss where it is heading, developmentally and how we will project it to the outside world.
By the time you would have taken your position, Uche Nwosu would have been Governor ….
I have absolute confidence in the Imo people, particularly the ordinary people.
The problem is, the elites sometimes get themselves confused. And, part of the problem is the nomination process – the process through which we evolve the leaders; those who go forward to the voters. If the other parties, especially the other major parties like PDP and APGA, could get their acts right and make that process clean and flawless, I think we should be able to bring out candidates that can clinch that seat.
I don’t want to talk about Uche Nwosu. He is a young man and I think he feels impressive at his age, given his very slim experience that he is taking such ascendancy. But all that said, we have to be serious about governance. Really, we need to get serious and I think that Imo people know better.
It seems that only the old faces seem to be showing interest. Can Imo not do better? Why are you abandoning the battle?
No, I am not leaving the battle. But I will not offer myself for that position.
There are a lot of fresh faces and there are a lot of new people coming. I don’t think it is so much of the freshness of their faces but the capacity of the people. It is the competence, the experience and the trajectory of the people coming to get these jobs. Their ability to deal with the complex interplay between people, issues, and governance.
That person has to be able to have had some level of exposure to that if you bring people from the classroom, we run into the same kind of problem we ran into with Okorocha because he didn’t have governance experience and that is part of the problem.
I think we should be able to find a right person this time. We should be.
And you don’t have anybody in mind especially when elections are just a year away?
I cannot come here and give names but I think there are a lot of them among the array of people that are bringing themselves in and in fact, as we are talking, some new people are still coming even from the diaspora. We should be able to decide on that eventually.
Is there not supposed to be a principle of rotation in Imo State given that, with the exception of four years in the last 19 years, the governorship office has resided in Orlu Senatorial zone. Are you, stakeholders, not bothered about that?
There is a principle of rotation and they are being reminded forcefully, violently about that understanding. But you know in a democracy, everybody has a right to contest. But at the end of the day, it is all about justice, because, when you now exclude a certain part of the state from occupying a certain position, it smarks injustice and where there is no justice, we really can’t have an enduring peace.
But I think Imo has come to that realization and I am very confident that this time they are going to do that. Even the Orlu Cultural Group has said they don’t want it this time and that it should go to the Owerri zone, the zone that claims it is their time to produce. So, it is in the interest of the zone who claims it is their turn to present their best candidates and bring them to the Imo people for them to choose.
If you don’t present them the best candidates, that is where the problems come from. I believe the Owerri zone is ready and will present to the Imo people the best candidates this time around.
Why Owerri zone?
Not just because they are the capital zone, but they have not actually occupied that seat. There was some very short stint occupied by late Enwenrem as governor but not as an elected Governor and it was very short.
Other than that, it is the other two zones that have been producing the Governor and that is why Owerri zone says it is their turn.
There are rumors from Owerri zone that you want to go back to the Senate. Can you confirm that?
It is true.
You talked about the experience of governance. As a seasoned journalist and with your stint at the National Assembly, don’t you think you are better equipped to run for the governorship seat?
It is Imo people who decide who leads them actually. What we wish or what we hope we are right for, it is Imo people that decide who their candidates will be. As colleagues, I understand your concerns and I am very very flattered by your comments but at the end of the day, it is the people who decide who leads.
Are the Imo Elites meeting on these issues?
The last time we met on the 2nd and 3rd of April, there had been major events like colloquium, seminars, rallies. Things are really going on.
I am not talking about seminars. I am talking about the cult, the major stakeholders, Do you people meet and talk?
Maybe I am not part of the cult. But I am sure that they do meet. There are meetings happening on different levels. There is an Imo Economic Group that has been on and headed by Prof. Iwu, many of us belong to this group.
We are concerned; we are meeting and talking but how things play out depends on the processes of leadership evolution. When you transit from aspirant to a candidate, presenting the right people to the Imo people to chose to try and see whether we can do something this time around.
So hopefully after 2019, are you saying the state will move from the era of ‘brought Mr. Biggs to Imo state…..’
Those are wicked jabs and I must tell you that we are not entirely proud of all that. But I must say we are leaving things like this behind us and move to another era. Nobody is without irredeemable grace. There might be one or two things he might have done right, we want to take it from there and install a better, quality leadership that meets our expectations.