…Sets to declare on Tuesday
…Explains why he consulted PDP gov
By Anayo Okoli, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Chinedu Adonu
THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige yesterday said that his intention to contest for the 2023 presidential election is to re-engineer Nigeria the way, he re-engineered Anambra State as a governor.
Senator Ngige, who said that all roads will lead to his Alor hometown, in Anambra State on Tuesday for his declaration noted that he had rounded off consultation and was set to answer the calls of Nigerians across ethnic and religious divide urging him to contest for the presidency.
The former Governor of Anambra State, who will be seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as its presidential candidate explained why he had to consult a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governor in the realization of his ambition.
He said his aspiration has a cross-party appeal, hence the decision to consult other governors elected on the platform of the opposition political parties.
Ngige had made a stop at Enugu enroute Awka, Saturday, where he was received by supporters at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport and later visited Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Addressing a mammoth crowd of supporters who waited for seven hours to receive him at Amansea, a border town with Enugu State, Ngige apologized and said he was held up in meetings with different South East support groups who converged in Enugu.
A statement issued by his Media Office quoted him as saying, “I also visited the Enugu State Governor as part of my nation-wide consultation. Even though he is in PDP, he is an Igbo man. Even though he is in PDP, he is a very realistic, discerning person. Don’t forget also that Enugu is the capital of the former Eastern region. And you know that respect is reciprocal.
“Over the week, I also consulted some other Nigerians not aligned to any political party. Therefore , I had to consult him over my intention to contest for president and sought his views too and he told me to kick the ball into the net.
“So this journey is not for the APC members alone. Our brothers in PDP have easily agreed that I tower above some of the persons aspiring to the position in their party. I have no fear whatsoever. I’m equal to the task. Even our brothers in APGA will join us in the task ahead.”
Reflecting on the reason he is throwing his hat into the ring, the Minister said his antecedents, stewardship as a civil servant, governor, Senator and Minister stand him apart.
Ngige said: “What we did in Anambra State in 34 months, those who did eight years have not done them. When they come to compare Ngige with (Peter) Obi, or Ngige with (Willie) Obiano, they are making a mistake. I did 34 months during which I laid the foundation for the new Anambra State. But I didn’t just lay the foundation, I also took the house beyond the lintel level.
“I built schools, returned schools to the missions, rescued Odumegwu Ojukwu University from the status of a glorified secondary school; built structures there and secured accreditation for 15 courses including Law and Medicine.
” I rehabilitated and upgraded our general hospitals including Enugwu-Ukwu, Onitsha and Amaku in Awka and restructured the state civil service.
“I was the person who introduced examination as basis for promotion in the state service. I built over 500km of roads across all senatorial zones, that are still standing today.
“So, without the foundation I built, neither Peter Obi nor Obiano would have succeeded. I inherited N42b debt when I assumed office. I didn’t talk about it. I put my hands on the plough and started working. I didn’t mention (Chimaraoke) Mbadinuju one day. It is not necessary because if God wants us to be looking back, he would put our eyes on the back. I cleared arrears of pension and salaries, mapped out agricultural zones, and restored water to dry taps in Onitsha and Awka.”
He also recalled how he brought insecurity in the state to a halt.
Hear him, “Let’s not forget that when I became Anambra Governor, our people had stopped coming home as a result of insecurity. I effectively deployed the meagre security vote, established the Anambra vigilante group with a law passed by the State House of Assembly. I opened up our productive capacity and got many youths engaged.
“I have an advantage of being part of this government and part of the 7th Senate. I’m well equipped for this job.
On his stewardship as Labour Minister, he said: “When President Buhari appointed me Minister of Labour and Employment, I had to re-structure the place. The Ministry didn’t have a capital vote because it was designed as a ministry that will do only the management of strikes and settle disputes.
“I re-engineered it and started vocational skills, establishing new skill centers, refurbishing old ones, and bringing the NDE (National Directorate of Employment) back to life. I also tackled the rot at the NSITF (Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund). This is an agency that couldn’t pay salary in 2016/17 now posting savings of over N17b as of February 2022.
“My Ministry also conciliated over 1680 industrial disputes and restored Nigeria to reckoning in international labor diplomacy – bringing her back to the ILO governing board and chairing the government group of the GB between 2019 and 2020.
Ngige summed up his mission, “I plan to re-engineer Nigeria the way, I re-engineered Anambra. I want to go and be your ambassador there. Tuesday is the date. Let all roads lead to Alor where the matter will be laid to rest. I’m done with consultations. I will answer your call.”