Prince Afam Ume-Ezeoke is the Action Democratic Party (ADP) candidate for the upcoming elections for governor of Anambra state. In this interview with OKEY MADUFORO, he talks about his party’s chances in the elections and other issues
You are one of 18 candidates for the election of governor on November 6 in Anambra State; what are your chances in the poll?
I am convinced that I will win the election as the youth of Anambra State have become wiser and are more determined to take control of the areas of leadership. Gone are the days when the young people of the state are used as thugs by desperate politicians to win elections and after that they abandon them to their fate.
When you look at all the so-called big parties, you will find that they do not have a clear agenda for the sustainable development of Anambra State. All they want to do is take power and keep digging their noses into the state. Our party, the ADP, is focused and more determined to bring governance to the people through massive rural development, women’s empowerment as well as youth empowerment. Most people quit the big parties and when you study the previous elections in Anambra state, you will find that the majority of the candidates for the November governor’s election are young people compared to what we had in the past and that’s the beauty of democracy.
Do you have what it takes to take on the other contenders for the election given their political background?
Most of the so called big names have challenged individually and one wonders what they have kept in the government house, Awka that they want to go get. People are tired of hearing the same old names, the same old stories and manifestos that have lost touch with what is available today. They want change and something new and achievable. The era of experimenting with old ideas is over. What the people of Anambra need today is a way out of the Holocaust era that left our state powerless.
But your party doesn’t seem to be on the ground in Anambra State …
This is what these other parties say because their members are leaving. A political party is made up of people and we have the people behind us. We have a large number of young people and women in our party and we have offices in the 21 local government areas of the state as well as in the electoral districts. So whoever says that we are not on the ground is only trying to deceive the voters, but like I said before, our people are getting wiser every day. Recently, we have heard from people who have decamped from other parties because of the lack of internal democracy in those parties. They were not taken away, so they left, but these parties went to town to say that we are not on earth.
Most political parties have had problems with the conduct and results of their primary elections and there is this call to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ban them from participating in the elections. What is your position on the issue?
Although this is an internal party matter and we don’t need to ask any questions, when you look at the process you will find it was undemocratic, to say the least. ‘you could say. If someone is going to write down the results of their party’s primary elections or do a monumental trick, what do you expect from them in the election itself? But Anambra State is different because our people are there to protect their votes and no one will come here to write results and succeed because our people are wiser and knowledgeable and we need to make sure our votes count. Gone are the days of carrying ballot boxes and ballots or lacking results sheets and anyone considering doing something funny would have to face the people of Anambra.
As a member of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), what is the way out of the energy crisis in Nigeria?
Determination! If the government is to correct the anomalies, it must be determined to do so, regardless of the beef that is gored. It doesn’t stop with making statements and policy statements; it’s more of playing the gallery with nothing to show as results. This is both in the oil and gas sector as well as in electricity in Nigeria. What happened to our refineries; what happens to the ministry of power? Are there not other sources of energy in Nigeria? Most of the businesses in Nigeria have closed due to the power supply which is very epileptic and we go overseas to refine our products and sell for a high price. It shouldn’t be. The government should be more focused than ever to fix the energy sector and this will indeed improve our economy and help local industries as well as create more employment opportunities for our people.
Religion has greatly affected politics in Anambra State, aren’t you worried about this development?
Well, you can’t separate religion from politics because those in churches are human beings and they are political animals, but what needs to be highlighted is the fact that the next governor of the He State of Anambra would be the governor of all, not for Anglicans, Catholics or Pentecostals alone. I urge the Anambra electorate to vote for competence, service and populist leadership not because Mr. A or B is praying with you in the same church. We are talking about the governor of Anambra state and not the governor of your church, so let’s elect credible leaders in the house of government of Anambra state.
Anambra is an industrial and commercial state, but people feel like they’re not making the most of it?
It comes down to my position on power. If you locate factories in an area, we can generate energy to run our industries. We can also diversify our activities into other areas with a competitive cost advantage and profit from them. We need to create an environment where foreign investors can come to do business with us here instead of traveling abroad on business, which would lower production costs.
How would you rate Governor Willie Obiano’s administration so far?
It is for the people to judge because I am one man. If the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government did well, the masses would say election day, and if the government failed, the party would be removed from office. But we at ADP will provide good governance to the people of Anambra and that is why we are running for the governorate election in November. The PDP had been there for almost seven years and we saw everything that happened and the crisis that happened at that time. APGA is here and it’s been almost sixteen years now, and when you look at the condition of our roads and other infrastructure, you can agree with me that our condition is still struggling.
What do you think of the clamor of the peoples of the Southeast for an additional state?
The demand is fair and explains why we are asking for control over resources, so that component states can earn from what they produce. When you look at the state building in Nigeria, you will see the imbalance between the number of local government areas, the number of states, federal constituencies and senatorial districts. When you put questions to the vote in the National Assembly, we do not have the number to have our way because other regions will vote against us. Thus, the South East is expected to have at least two other states to close the gap and reassure our people that they are still part of Nigeria.
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