Interview

August 31, 2022

Why I joined Labour Party – Chidi Obetta

Honourable Chidi Obetta, renowned entrepreneur- turned politician is the candidate of Labour Party, LP, for Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal Constituency of Enugu state in the coming 2023 general elections.

In this interview  with Ikechukwu Odu, he explained why he joined the murky waters of the Nigerian politics and the chances of Labour Party to record overwhelming victory in the general election. Excepts:

 Q: Sir, you are a renowned entrepreneur. You are into the hospitality industry and also real estate as well as construction.

Now why did you decide to get into partisan politics?

 My answer is just simple. It is because of my passion to touch lives of the ordinary people.

I don’t always feel comfortable each time I see people who are in need. I am always concerned about providing opportunities for my fellow youths, and, making contributions to the transformation of the society to create a better future that will guarantee improved living standard.

And because I know that Government platforms offer the most veritable opportunities to touch the lives of greater majority of the people, and, for bringing about a faster transformation of the society, I decided to get involved in partisan politics to enable me realize my passion to touch lives and contribute to the development of the society.

 Q : You have been a member of the PDP and you have aspired to contest elections under the party’s platform in several occasions. Why did you leave the party to the Labour Party where we understand that you are the party’s candidate for Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal Constituency in the coming 2023 general election?

You are very correct. I joined partisan politics in 2010. That was during the preparations for the 2011 general election. And just like I have explained earlier, my reason was to have the opportunity to touch a greater number of lives and create a better future.

And because I know that politics is naturally localised, I joined the PDP because it is the ruling party in my state, Enugu. The party has been in control of the state at all levels in my state since the inception of the current democratic era, starting from the ward to local government and state.

Since I joined the party, I have sought the ticket of the party at three different times to run for elective positions but has not been successful.  Why I have not been able to secure the party’s nomination is not because I am not qualified or that I am not popular among members of the party. It is because  there is an entrenched culture in the party that gives the incumbent Governor the powers to impose anyone he likes as candidate of the party for any constituency in the state.

Now, to answer your question as to why I now joined the the Labour Party. I joined the party because of the political philosophy of the presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, his views about life and interest in touching the lives of the common man and governance which I find is completely in tune with mine. You know that it is said that birds of the same feather flock together. I find Peter Obi as my ideal role model because he espouses and demonstrates all my reasons for getting involved in partisan politics.

As you can see, Labour Party has suddenly become a masses movement just because of Mr. Peter Obi. Unlike the PDP, APC and other political parties, Labour Party is now the only hope for rescuing Nigeria from all forms of bad governance that have bedeviled the nation and the citizen of this country since the inception of the current democratic era in 1999 due to bad leadership courtesy of the respective administrations of the PDP and APC. Today, our country is sadly rated as the poverty capital of the world; insecurity, disunity, hunger, unemployment, especially among the teeming, very energetic youths, tribal or ethnic hatred, religious intolerance, kidnapping, corruption, cultism, etc, have become common culture in our country. It is clear that leadership failure is responsible for all these.

As you can see, all these are particularly the common features of the governance system in our dear Enugu state.

And Peter Obi has convinced the greater majority of Nigerians that he is ready and capable under the Labour Party platform to bring about an aggressive turn around of the country in terms of providing people-oriented leadership and economic transformation. He promises that the government of Labour Party will take back Nigeria for the citizens of this country and transform the country from being a consumption economy to a production one. Also, unlike the culture of imposition of candidates who fly tickets of the parties during elections as has been the case in the PDP and APC where how much money aspirants can pay determines who becomes candidate and not eligibility and capacity to provide quality service to the people, in Labour Party you don’t purchase ticket for a candidate or  political Godfather impose someone on the people, to become a candidate of the party. You become a candidate of Labour Party through majority votes of the party’s delegates at the primary election.

 Q Are you criticising PDP now because the party didn’t give you an opportunity to fly its ticket?

 Look, if I had won election under the PDP, I would have started this revolution Labour Party is now offering Nigerian in Enugu state. I would have disappointed the cabals in PDP in Enugu state and work for the people of my constituency. Is it not what Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige did to the PDP cabals in Anambra state?  When they rigged the election against Mr. Peter Obi who contested under the APGA during the 2003 election and installed Ngige as Governor, Ngige immediately after he was sworn in,  abandoned the PDP cabals and started working for the people of the state. And when Mr. Peter Obi recaptured his mandate through the election tribunal, he also refused to recognise the cabals and worked for the people. So, I would have given the Ngige and Peter Obi type of treatment to the PDP cabals in Enugu state.

 Q . What is your contract with the people of Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal Constituency if they elect you to represent them in the National Assembly.

 First and foremost, I will make sure that their voice is heard at the federal government on any issue that concerns them. Secondly, I will commit myself to making sure that appropriate legislations that will protect the interests of the Federal constituency and my people are enacted. Whatever that are due for the Constituency from the Federal Government will never be missed under my tenure as their representative in the National Assembly.

 I will make sure that distribution of national programmes such as job opportunities, infrastructure, schemes in critical areas like agricultural, water, power, health, science and technology will not elude my people. You know that the critical currency in attracting federal facilities to the constituencies from the federal government is ability to negotiate through by leveraging on contacts you have across people of other geographical regions. I can assure you that I have such contacts.

I will make sure that the number of youths that will relocate to Abuja from my constituency during my tenure will be unprecedented. I will make sure that a lot of them will be fixed in various federal agencies. In fact, my constituency will experience an unprecedented federal presence if I am elected into the House of Representatives.

 Q : What is your hope that you will defeat your major opponents, especially those in the PDP and APC considering the fact that your party doesn’t have such structures as those other two parties mentioned above?

The structure of any political party are the people, it depends on the number of people who are members of that party in the constituency, and, those supporting the party, who are ready to vote for the party in an election. I challenge you to carry out a diligent verification about the support strength of Labour Party now in Enugu state vis-a-vis those two parties you mentioned. You will find that none of those parties has even one tenth of the real supporters compared to the members and supporters of the Labour Party in the state as at today.

When you talk about having or not having structure, I believe that you are talking about the membership strength of a political party and those supporting the party.

I am currently visiting members of my party in the various wards in my Federal Constituency to thank them for choosing me as their candidate and to encourage them to work harder for the victory of our party in the coming general election. In each ward , I have visited so far, including Obukpa ward, Alor-Uno,  Nru, Lejja, Idi-Ogbozalla, Ibeku wards, each ward has already between 1,000 and 2,500 registered members. The registration exercise just began about three months ago. 

And I was told that more people are still trooping to the wards to register to be members of the party. These members are the real structure of the party not like in PDP for instance where the government in power in the state is said to have turned a part of the Lion Building (Government House) into an ATM office where people are being mobilised from various parts of the state to go and collect money to pledge their support to the party and their candidates in the coming election. I am sure that the PDP and its candidates will be disappointed by those they are now paying money because people are wiser now. The people know that they are being deceived to vote for the candidates of the party and that after the election they will be abandoned as usual while those elected will now see their positions as a means of recouping the paltry amount given to them to secure their votes.

Even the bazaar of appointments the Governor is doing now is just part of their strategy to deceive the electorates to vote for  PDP candidates. Just like I said already , the people of Enugu state are wiser now. Virtually everybody in Enugu state have realised that PDP is not ready to cater for the ordinary person in the state so the people have become ‘Obidient.’

Those being invited to go to the Government House on solidarity visits, and at the end of the day paid money and those others being offered appointments know that what they are being offered are mere Greek Gifts aimed at deceiving them to secure their mandate, so that after the election they will be abandoned as usual and be told that “ashua azimama” and will only be offered”nrashi” instead of real governance.

So, I am very confident that I will not only trounce my opponents in Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal constitu Constituencyency, the election will be a win, win for all the Labour Party candidates in Enugu State because the people have queued behind the revolutionary change which Mr. Peter Obi and Labour Party is bringing to the country. The campaign now in Enugu State is that voting during the election is “From top to bottom”. What this means is that Labour Party candidates will be voted for: starting from Mr. Peter Obi and his running-mate, Yusuf Ahmed-Datti for the presidency, to all the National Assembly candidates (Senate and House of Representatives), Governorship which is Chief Chijioke Edeoga and all the state Assembly candidates. Thank God for the introduction of BVAS and electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission. So, it will no longer be possible for them to go and write results and give the INEC officials to announce their candidates as winners. In the coming general elections,  the results will be based on the votes cast in each of the polling units.

 Q : Why do you think that you are the most qualified among all your co-contestants, especially those in PDP and APC to win the Federal House of Representatives seat?

 I have the greater passion to give my people more honest representation than any one of them. And more importantly, the people of my constituency know how much I love them.

Everyone in my constituency is aware that one of the person contesting with me has been part of the PDP government in the state. He has a construction company that was awarded many contracts but he couldn’t do most of the contracts after collecting money for the job.

Look, I am the owner of Jerry Marriott hotel, Nsukka. About 79 youths are already employed in that hotel. I deliberately established that hotel in my constituency to offer job opportunities to my people and to bring development to my area. High calibre of people from different parts of our country when they have one programme or the other go to either lodge or organise their programmes in that hotel. So, nobody or institution can say anymore that they cannot organise any high profile event in Nsukka because of lack of appropriate hotel or facilities to host such event. That hotel is a Five-star hotel standard you can get in any developed society today.

Also, I have already endeared myself to a lot of people, especially the youths and the ordinary persons in my area. I have fixed many youths in some federal agencies like in the military; I sponsor annual soccer tournaments in my community and some other communities and have empowered many youths in one way or the other.

Also, I have contributed to the construction and tarring of many roads in my community. I only pointed to these to show you that I have been demonstrating the passion in me to better the lots of the people of my area.

And very important too, I have never been part of those government that have held our state down since the beginning of this current democratic era.

I have never served in any capacity as government appointee;

Meanwhile, I have profound academic credentials.

I possess a B.Sc in Business Administration and MBA in Business Administration from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. This is unlike one of my opponents whom I will not like to mention his name here, but, I am sure that many people in my constituency know about the person because I hear many people complaining about him saying that it shows that the person is not an honest person and that it means that he has questionable character.

I have had work experience that exposed me to acquiring the veritable skills that will assist me to deliver quality service as a legislator.

I am an ex-banker having worked with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc where I served in different capacities. I started my banking career in Kano as an operations/cash officer before moving to a new branch of the bank in Minna, Niger state. The bank later moved me from operations to marketing after identifying the unique potential in me, my flair for customer/business acquisition. I was later transferred to Kaduna as a marketing officer under the Commercial Banking Group. This movement spurred me to a greater task as I was made the unit head for Institutional Banking Group unit in a short time.

I was later made a branch manager of the bank to head and start a new branch of the bank. This position I held until my resignation from the bank in 2011 to pursue my dream of becoming an employer of labour.

At present, apart from my Jerry Marriott Hotel which I head as the Chairman and Managing Director, I am the Managing Director of Skyfrost Nigeria Limited, a company that engages in real estate business, project finance, construction and management consultancy.