By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
Immediate past President and CEO of Transcorp Plc, Chief Valentine Ozigbo, wants the best man for the job to emerge as the next governor of Anambra State. Born in Umuomaku in Old Aguata, Orumba, Anambra South senatorial zone, in 1970, Ozigbo, an accountant, former banker, and Chevening scholar has an MBA, and M.Sc. He is aspiring to govern Anambra State on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Last Sunday, Ozigbo hosted a consultative meeting with members of Rebuild Nigeria Initiative, a political group known for its huge grassroots structure in all the 21 local councils, as part of moves to realise his quest. In a virtual interview with select media executives, Ozigbo said he is in the race to make Anambra the envy of other states in Nigeria. He said PDP is in a pole position to win the election ahead of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and All Progressives Congress, APC.
He said apart from his academic, career and boardroom credentials, he is from Anambra South, which is hugely favoured to produce the next governor, and is in the good books of leaders, power brokers and stakeholders in the state, which have made him the unofficial consensus candidate.
What do you think is wrong with Anambra that you want to correct as governor? What is wrong with the South-East Region or Southeastern politicians that they cannot put their acts right?
One of the biggest failures we have had is a lack of cohesion as a people. Anambra is endowed with a lot. And in the world of today, knowledge is the most important. Knowledge is power. But when you don’t come together, you miss loads of opportunities. I want to see myself as that unifier that would eventually get everybody on board.
I have also seen a lot of people say in Anambra you have a lot of billionaires, why are you not investing at home? We haven’t made Anambra such a friendly state to invest in. I don’t believe in coercing people to invest at home. I believe in making it attractive for people to invest at home. If we make sure that businesses at home are succeeding, we will become the envy of others.
So, part of the missed opportunities also links to your second question which is this lack of cohesion across the South-East area. Unfortunately, for you to have leadership at its best, you need an abundance of emotional intelligence and that’s what we’ve been lacking very strongly. And I say this because we can’t speak with one voice because we don’t even have the simple humility to converge and discuss. And it doesn’t have to be so because we come from different party lines; APGA vs PDP vs APC.
And then you have leaders who don’t show the right priority. They have no idea that through collaboration we can achieve more. If for instance, an Anambra could focus on collaboration with Delta along the second Niger Bridge or with Imo State on the development of new ports or with Enugu at fixing the road, which would link the markets to other locations, we can do a lot more. And there’s no reason we can’t have joint development agencies that all of these can come together.
In the days of Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Micheal Okpara, South-East was the envy of the world. We were studied in Havard as the fastest-growing region in the world. We were an example of the world. So it is possible.
On his thoughts regarding the zoning formula in Anambra State, the APGA hurdle and his chances of winning the election on PDP platform
Zoning is an interesting subject. But the way I always like to approach this question is to put a preface. And that preface is ‘I am in this race to win’. I’m in this race not to experiment. I’m not in this race because of zoning. So with or without zoning, I believe that I have what it takes to win and lead.
No constitution or law forbids anybody to run. But when the people say… and who are these people that say? Everybody that matters: the Elders Forum are saying zoning. Association of Town Unions is saying zoning. The Igwe Council says zoning. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo says zoning. The professionals and trader unions are saying zoning. Who is remaining in Anambra State? It’s only those who are running for their personal reasons and those who they fund.
So my simple message is, I think the Anambra people know for sure where the next governor would come from. And I thank God that it happens to work in my favour and I think it’s a good thing because it’s going to help to reduce spending in politics. High spending leads to the corruption that follows, and going into bed with fellows that you wouldn’t ordinarily be talking to.
So what I’m saying here is it’s a good thing. But what I want to advocate always is don’t choose zoning over competency. Match the two. And don’t choose competency and ignore zoning because you’re going to be wasting your time. When you bring the two, you have the best of two worlds. And that’s what my governorship candidacy represents. Competency-wise, I feel God didn’t create me short and zoning wise, I’m also favoured because I come from the Anambra South.
PDP’s internal problems, multiple primaries, and chances of the party at the poll
PDP has become a much better party in Anambra today. For the first time, we already know who the statutory delegates are, years before the election. In the past, you wouldn’t know the night before the election. They would be fighting. But today, we know who the statutory delegates are. There would be ad hoc delegates, but that would be like 30%.
So if you are succeeding with the statutory delegates, chances are you’re already succeeding. I think this is the best moment for me to run for the governorship of Anambra State. I feel that the leadership of the party is comfortable with my candidacy. They don’t see me as a threat. And they know I mean good. They know it is for the good of Anambra State. They know it’s not for money, and they know it’s not for fame.
And I said this to them, if it was for money or fame, I won’t be running because I don’t think that there is a governor in Nigeria that lives a better life than myself. I consider myself a privileged human being. I’ve had the opportunity to shake 30 presidents every single year. If I travel anywhere in the world, I’m treated like a king because of my membership of the Hilton family. So I have a lot to sacrifice and throw away to go into this. And it can only be for a bigger purpose. So it’s not for anything other than altruistic. On the question of my chances, I think that this is an election for PDP to lose. It’s not APGA. APGA has done enough damage to themselves, not just about how Obiano is being perceived in Anambra today.
What shocked me after my media parley with Anambra correspondents, one of them wrote in a headline— “Ozigbo promises to consolidate achievements of Peter Obi and Obiano”. People started attacking me on social media. “Why did you put Obiano there?” “What has he achieved?” And of course, I wouldn’t respond because that would mean justifying him.
The point that was being made here was to take all they have done to the next level. But the perception in Anambra is so strong that APGA isn’t coming back for this election, especially if PDP does the right thing. And this is what I want PDP to do. PDP needs to unify and I think that also not being active in the past in politics is also a good thing for me because people can easily come around me.
Unlike when you have been so categorised or so camped. What I’m seeking to do and become is the consensus candidate for the key leaders in PDP. And, more importantly, an acceptable and overwhelmingly popular candidate for the grassroots. Once I can achieve these two, PDP and I will be celebrating on March 17, 2022.
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