_Lady Chidi Onyemelukwe, a leading PDP aspirant in the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial elections recently spoke to some Awka based journalists on her candidacy, insecurity in Nigeria and some topical issues.
*_Security in Anambra and other parts of the south-east has worsened considerably. Do you see it as a failure in leadership? How are you going to address the issues?_*
I and most Nigerians I’m sure, are deeply perturbed and troubled by the rising insecurity across the nation. What we are witnessing in the south-east, and indeed in most parts of the country, is worrisome and must be prioritized by any purposeful government.
Security, for me, will be a top priority. If given the opportunity, our administration shall implement fully, the government’s responsibility to protect life, property, economy, institutions, community and environment in Anambra state.
*_It has been alleged that public schools in Anambra don’t have adequate teachers. What are you going to bring onboard to give a face lift to the educational sector of the state?_*
No society can fully develop without qualitative and affordable education. There is a nexus between absence of free education and the 13 million out of school children in Nigeria. That is why education is a priority for us. We have publicly undertaken to devote the United Nations’ prescribed budgetary allocation of 26% to education. Through education, we shall promote the welfare of Anambra youths by consolidating employment and empowerment. Our educational policies shall be e-based, assertive and human-development driven. We shall invest aggressively in primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary education. Primary and secondary education will be mandatory and free up to junior secondary school level. This is to lower Anambra’s quota of out-of-school children and dropout rates. It’s ironical that our schools still train children for jobs that no longer exist. We intend to work in concert with relevant education and development partners to tweak our school curricula to meet today’s realities. We will accord priority to vocational education; that way our school leavers can be equipped with problem-solving, hands-on and in-demand skills that will enable them compete favourably in this 21st century global marketplace.
*_Awka, the capital of Anambra state is said to be congested and poor looking. How best are you going to clean up the city to be befitting of a capital city?_*
Someone I respect highly once describe Awka as “a glorified village.” That is painful. Since governance is a continuum, our administration, if given the opportunity, will revert to, and implement, in phases, the Capital City Master Plan and other such plans already in place. The Awka Capital Territory is quite vast; we will adopt a concentric approach, making the outer circle the residential suburbia and the core the operational orbit. Our preferred model of development will not be to concentrate resources on a few urban areas to the utter neglect of other areas. Awka, and other emerging Anambra cities will be given their due attention, but deliberate efforts will be made to equitably distribute available resources and to develop all parts of the state simultaneously.
*_Let us discuss politics. You are jostling for the ticket of your party with assumed money bags and men with long legs. What are your chances?_*
Anambra has a lot of billionaires and millionaires. Yet, nobody in Anambra today, not in my party the PDP, nor in any other political party, can make him/herself governor solely off the strength of his/her personal resources. I don’t believe public office should go to the highest bidder. There is a downside to over investing to win a political office – the net result is to first recover funds invested, to the detriment of public interest programmes.
Becoming a governorship candidate and then a governor elect is a feat that can only be achieved by collegiate and all inclusive efforts. What this tells you is that the candidate that emerges might not necessarily be the one perceived to have the deepest pockets. Money will play its role, but by and large the coming elections will go the way of the one who is able to mobilise broad support and acceptability with diverse power blocs. Moving forward from where we have found ourselves, Anambra requires a level-headed, executively exposed, capable person of integrity to steer this ship to greater heights.
With respect to your reference to “long legs”, I have said before that there are no legs longer than those of my father in heaven. Those legs, after all, stretch from heaven down to earth which is His footstool. He alone plants and removes kings, and in addition no pockets are deeper than His. On Him alone I depend, and therefore you can see my chances are very bright.
*_Women are normally said to discard their fellow folk in an election, are you experiencing the same fate?_*
No, that’s not my experience. The women folk are very excited about this project. But there is a price to pay, and I am clear-headed about that. Sentiments may play a part, but it will be totally irresponsible for me, or indeed any woman running for public office to assume that women will vote for us because of the mere fact that we are of the same gender. That’s not how it works. People follow leaders who they can trust – leaders they perceive to have the willingness and ability to lead them to where they aspire to go. Moreover, the kind of support one needs to have in order to serve at the level we intend to serve cuts across gender, religious, partisan and even generational divides. That is why we are ramping up our consultations across board, to better communicate our vision and to drive support for it. So far, it has been an exhilarating journey.
*_Your party has been out of power in Anambra for almost 15 years. To make it worse, your party is now also out of power at the centre? Do you see Ndi-Anambra voting against APGA this time around?_*
Your assertion about my party not being in power is partly true, yet the coming election PDP is the party to beat. All the cards are now on the table. Ndi Anambra have seen the best the ruling parties have to offer, both at the state level and at the centre and our people are yearning for a better life. PDP’s chances have never been brighter. All eyes are now on the party to nominate a credible candidate that can unite the party after the primaries and galvanise to get the mandate of our people to restore Anambra on the right path of greatness.
*_In a normal build-up to any electioneering exercise, negotiation and horsetrading will ensue, will you step down to support a consensus candidate if asked to step down by the stakeholders of the party and will you support anyone that emerges after the party’s primaries as candidate of your party?_*
I did not enter the governorship race on a whim. I was in the race in 2017 and was one-half of the candidacy ticket. I am in this race with all my heart. I have heard snide remarks that I am running to be nominated as a deputy governorship candidate, others say I was recruited to play the spoiler. Such insinuations are untrue and distracting. I am approaching the coming primaries, and indeed the general election, with every sense of seriousness and diligence. I have already mentioned to you that several layers of consultations are ongoing. Those are expected to continue in the coming weeks. In all, the party is supreme. PDP needs to nominate a candidate with clean records, a candidate who enjoys broad acceptance among the different power blocs within the party, and across the three zones in the State, and a candidate who is committed to the party, to the people and to God. I offer myself to Ndi Anambra anyi as that person.
PDP To Commence Zonal Stakeholders’ Consultations
…As NWC Receives Prof. Jerry Gana*
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to commence consultations with critical stakeholders across the six geo-political zones in furtherance of its democratic efforts to rescue our nation from misrule.
The party is also working on templates that will enable it to, within the ambits of laws, further harness suggestions from Nigerians on democratic means to tackle the festering insecurity, guarantee the safety of life and property as well as restore our national stability and cohesiveness.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, stated this at the PDP national secretariat on Wednesday, while receiving former Minister of Information and National Orientation and founding National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Jerry Gana, who recently returned to the party.
Prince Secondus stressed that main objective of the PDP is to rescue the nation from misrule adding that it was imperative to tap from the wealth of experience of leaders like Prof. Gana.
“The main objective of the PDP is to rescue our nation from collapse. Our country is threatened and this is not a joke. We are confronted with a guerrilla warfare and the very foundation of our country is being threatened. That is why the PDP is leading the charge in seeking solution to the ugly situation our nation has been plunged into by the All Progressives Congress (APC)”, the National Chairman said.
Stating that the party is glad that Prof. Gana was back to its fold, the National Chairman urged him to deploy his wealth of experience and intellect in the collective quest of well-meaning Nigerians to forge a direction for the nation.
Earlier during the visit, Prof. Gana emphasized that Nigeria “is in a dire strait” adding that all hands must be on the deck to rescue the nation.
According to him, “Nigeria is on the brinks. The economy is stagnated. There is insecurity everywhere. Nigerians are beginning to doubt our nationhood. The political answer to the situation today is for PDP to take back power. Nigerians do not deserve what we are going through today. We must take decisive steps that will help rescue our nation”.
Prof. Gana commended the Prince Secondus-led leadership of the party for its efforts in stabilizing the party adding that he was happy to be back to the fold.
National Publicity Secretary
Account for N10trn security allocation, PDP tells Buhari
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to account for the N10.
The party made the call in a statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary on Tuesday.
It explained that its position is predicated on heightening allegations of diversion of funds meant for security as well as an alert by a pro-transparency organization, BudgIT on the absence of proper audit on the spending of national security funds from 2015 to 2021.
The party asserted that such situation points to why terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other forms of violent acts had continued to worsen, with widespread complaints of lack of adequate combat equipment for the nation’s security forces, for which gallant soldiers, as well as thousands of compatriots, are paying with their blood under President Buhari and the APC.
The party recalled that the APC administration is yet to come clean on claims by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Babagana Monguno, that billions of naira meant for security could not be traced.
The party said it is appalled that the APC and its administration have turned the heightened insecurity in the country which it said, was caused by their incompetence, divisiveness and gross mismanagement of the national diversity, into bloody merchandise for APC leaders.
The PDP challenged President Buhari, as the commander-in-chief, to speak out on the alleged diversion of security funds under his command.
The party also called on the two chambers of the National Assembly to immediately commence an investigation into the spending of the N10.02 trillion.
The PDP said it is further alarmed by the clear scheme by the APC and its administration to frustrate the well-intentioned strategies from the PDP to check the tide of terrorism and banditry in our country.
The statement added, “Our party rejects the move by the APC to frustrate the establishment of a National Borders Protection Force as suggested by the PDP to check further infiltration by terrorist elements as well as inflow of illegal arms into our country.”
The PDP insisted that the setting up of a bureaucratic National Center for Control of Small Arms by the APC administration instead of a pro-active and operational Borders Protection Force that will ensure watertight security at our borders further exposes the lack of commitment by the APC to secure our borders and check the inflow of terrorists and ammunition.
The main opposition party asserted that by its outlook and operation, such a center cannot check the infiltration of terrorists as well as the flow of firearms into our country.
The PDP, therefore, rejected the resort to “a sitting room measure in the face of our porous borders and heightened terrorist activities in our country.”
The PDP consequently urged President Buhari to immediately establish the Borders Protection Force which will draw personnel and equipment from the military and other armed services to man the nation’s borders and check activities by terrorists and their backers.
INEC Commences Nationwide Verification For Polling Units Expansion
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday commenced a nationwide verification exercise for centres proposed for voting units to be converted to polling units across the country.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this when he visited some of the proposed centres and existing polling units in FCT and Nasarawa State, said that the purpose of the verification exercise was to ensure that the right thing was done in the conversion of the voting points to polling units.
Yakubu spoke with newsmen at the exercise at the INEC’s office in Karu local government area of Nasarawa State.
“All the national commissioners are out, visiting the states of the federation to verify the work of converting the voting points to polling units.
So, we decided from the headquarters to visit some of the polling units and voting points in the FCT and also in the Karu local government area, Nasarawa State.”
“We have done that of FCT, we are now in Karu.
“You will recall that as part of our engagement with stakeholders, we show images of one of the congested polling units in the country from Karu in Nasarawa State.
“So, I have to verify that the right thing is being done in converting those voting points to polling units and relocating them in line with the Commission’s guidelines.
“So far, it is a work in progress. At the end of the exercise will address the media,” he said.
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