Greater Anambra Initiative for Development (GAIN) is made up of professionals, members of the academia, captains of industry, students and other stakeholders in the Diaspora. It is a leadership and good governance advocacy Initiative. It is non-partisan, and non-aligned organization with the objective is to galvanize all Anambrarians for good governance and sustainable development. We have contributed and made interventions in good governance through our advocacies and consultations since the inception of the present Republic. We also observe the primaries of the parties that choose to invite us.
The party nomination contests for governorship in Anambra State have come to an end. Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Well, the Greater Anambra Initiative for Development (GAIN) actually observed the governorship primaries of some of these parties. Parties like APGA and PDP posted successful primaries while others like ADC and Labour Party etc. resorted to adoption of candidates. You know the usual Anambra state scenario is still playing out; a scenario in which after primary elections or even substantive elections, many people lay claim to tickets and victories. Therefore, because of litany of judicial pronouncements, we do not want to comment on these litigations or be speculative to avoid being contemptuous of any court. So we may not have the capacity to make categorically statements now, unless the parties exhaust their litigations.
How would you rate the candidature of Prof Soludo of APGA?
Prof Chukwuma Soludo is one of the best brains to offer himself for public service in Nigeria. His candidature has been well received in Anambra and across Nigeria. Anambra is looking forward to having a Governor with the required local, national and international contacts that can be leveraged to galvanize all the potentials in the state for the next phase of development.
And how does Soludo’s candidature square up to other candidates who have also been nominated?
To a large extent, Val Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds similar shining credentials and both men are the leading candidates in this election. It may interest you to know that Anambra state indigenes in Diaspora have the capacity – financial and entrepreneurial wherewithal – to sustain the state? They want to invest here if we have a governor that has character and competence. This is where Prof Soludo and Ozigbo have edge, especially Soludo. Ozigbo has piled up private sector experience but Prof Soludo has much public sector experience and international exposure. We think that Prof Soludo has an edge for now and he appears better prepared. He has built a collateral of integrity which endeared him to both domestic and international stakeholders.
A lot has been said about Governor Obiano’s preference of Soludo as his successor, how much will this impact the contest?
GAIN’s major objective is leadership and good governance. Most of our members are non-partisan; so we do not necessarily jump on that Obiano-Soludo relationship. We are looking at the bigger picture. Anambra has been relatively lucky with Governors. Ngige did well despite the contradictions. Governor Obi posted a stellar performance and Governor Obiano has equally done well especially when you factor in the airport he built. What we need now is sustainability and if past records are a factor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo has an edge. He has demonstrated the amazing results of intense focus and vision and he has struggled to excel in everything he sets his mind to. On most leadership credentials, governance indices and other important factors, he stands out.
Peter Obi’s endorsement of Obiano 8 years ago was critical to his emergence as governor. Can Obi repeat the feat with his endorsement of Val Ozigbo of PDP?
Again, we in GAIN are not concerned with those endorsements, which does not remove from the stature of Obi as an astute administrator or the other men involved in the endorsements; we are more interested in credible leadership and good governance. Anambra is looking for a governor with character and gravitas to sustain the tempo the past and the present governors have put in place.
Many people criticize Soludo’s policy pronouncements as elitist. How much does he connect with the grassroots?
I don’t share the view that his policy pronouncements are elitist. He has been around for a long time so I believe he connects well with the masses, the middle class, the entrepreneurs, the political class, domestic and international partners and stakeholders in development. Prof Soludo is a technocrat of no mean repute, an expert in the public sector and a global citizen that connects well with the neighbor next door. He promises to ensure youth development and employment, to build capacity, to intervene in Agriculture, provide access to capital and to provide credible leadership and good governance. These should resonate with everybody.
The campaigns will soon get underway, what issues in your opinion will dominate the contest?
The issues that will dominate this guber campaign, in my view, are security, economic development and the capacity to sustain the tempo of infrastructural development while opening up other areas of investment. Anambra is a peculiar state. It is a state where people yearn for opportunities to excel in business and entrepreneurship. The people are leading industrialists and the state is the centre of commerce in Nigeria. To that extent expectations are high that the next governor will open up other areas of the economy, for instance in agriculture. Very importantly, the candidate’s pedigree, ideas and previous performances will endear voters more than the party he represents. We are looking forward to having a governor with charisma, motivation, confidence, maturity, character and the necessary gravitas to deliver.
You referred to the litany of court pronouncements following the party primaries; how desirable are these processes?
They are desirable to the extent that judiciary is an integral part of our democratic practice. However, it is worrisome that most times, Anambra state alone accounts for more than 25% of election cases in the Courts, ranging from pre-election to post-election matters. Like I said we do not want to comment on the cases in various courts because of issues of sub judice, but we are optimistic that very soon, these matters would be resolved.
Does GAIN intend to campaign openly for a particular candidate, if so, who?
In line with our policy of advocacy, there is a consensus that we shall mobilize for the best candidate, the one we adjudge with the best pedigree and ideas. But as I said we are still waiting for all the factors to play out.
What projects or Programs do you rate as Governor Obiano’s most important achievement as governor?
Governor Obiano has intervened in some area like security, agriculture and infrastructure. He kept the state relatively peaceful and engaged in developmental strides like, the Anambra Cargo Airport. Anambra is looking forward to having a governor who will consolidate on the gains of the present and previous governors.