Why APC Needs To Win Over The South East Heart – Mbadinuju

Former governor of Anambra state and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, has appraised the state of the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari in the last one hundred days of assuming the mantle of power and argued that the nation under the retired soldier is undergoing an unprecedented positive national recovery. He told CELESTINE OKAFOR in this interview that what was needed is a massive national support for the Buhari government.

You have been with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)for 16 years before you defected to ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). How will you assess the two political parties?

Like you said, the PDP has been in government for about 16 years while the APC is just a just less than three months in power. The issue really is performance and not necessarily the number of years a party has been in power. Defection from a political party to another in a democratic setting is not new to politicians. But this was rare in the Shagari era. Since the Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan’s years, there have been incessant defections from one party to another. And unless the APC’s Change slogan takes root through good governance, the rate of defections will continue to increase unless the judiciary intervenes. In my own case, my defection from PDP to APC, was not for fun. To me, PDP was a party destined to save Nigerian’s democracy but it failed to do so. And because nature abhors vacuum, the PDP was no longer able to take care of its members, and l became one of its victims. PDP became a party in opposition. It also became a party of “Use and Dump” according to its National Chairman; a party of injustice and Godfather ism.That was not the PDP I helped to nurture from 1999 when the PDP faithfuls gathered in Jos Convention where Dr Alex Ekwueme was supposed to clinch the presidential ticket after working very hard for it. For this, Nigerians owe him a debt of gratitude. So the PDP began from the Jos Convention in 1999. Anyone who said he would remain in PDP with all its loads of insincerity, impunity and corruption, will know that he is also an accomplice.

Lai Mohammed, the APC Publicity Secretary kept referring to Bola Tinubu as leader of the party. Who really is the leader of APC, Buhari or Tinubu?

Both Tinubu and Buhari are leaders of the APC in their own right. Even in the PDP arrangement, it is the President that they usually regard as the leader of the party. This has become a convention. In the case of APC, there are four(4) regional parties (namely CPC, ACN, ANPP & APGA) which functioned independently. Each of these parties had its party leader and that was how the issue of one party “Leader” came up. It was not wrong for Lai Mohammed to refer to Tinubu as leader. The overall leader of the APC today is President Mohammadu Buhari and he is known politically in Nigeria as leader of APC. President of the nation and National Leader are about the same in appellation. It would be a misdemeanor to address Tinubu as “Leader” on a national level. To avoid unnecessary clashes, we can say that this is a matter which protocol can easily remedy. Even a Governor of a State, in his capacity, can be a addressed as leaders. If the Governor won’t be a leader then he won’t bring funds to oil the party apparatus. The same thing also obtains at the national level of the party. These are not laws, they are conventions.

You are a political scientist and a former Governor of Anambra State. How do you see the travails of the National Assembly Senate and House of Representatives?

Actually being a Governor of a State has not much to do with the politics of the National Assembly. The Constitution did well to demarcate these three institutions namely: the Presidency, the National Assembly and the Judiciary. Although the three Arms of Government are separate but they function together without stepping into the confines of each other. They indeed respect each other and they try not to over-step their boundaries. A recent example was the tumult, both in the Senate and the House of Assembly, which had to do with who becomes the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. During the period, these issues were deliberated and it seemed as if the heaven s would fall. But eventually, tension calmed down as soon as the Senate President and House Speaker spoke glowingly and sounded quite accommodating. And who said that Senate President and Speaker cannot work successfully together? Obviously, the intervention of Mr. President saved the situation because they all worked together to achieve a peaceful result. So now, it is “No victor, no vanquished”. But this may not yet be over until it is all over. Time will tell.

President Buhari will soon clock 100days in office. Would you describe it as a period of honey moon, or were there some visible accomplishments?

No doubt, there have been visible accomplishments as Mr President’s regimes clocks 100 days. You see, political opponents from PDP never gave Buhari any chance. They never also gave the APC any hope or chance of winning the last election. But these elections have come and gone, and Buhari emerged victorious. What I didn’t understand is the opposition view that Buhari was not in line to win perhaps relying on their rigging machine. Some even said that the candidate was looking “fragile” and may not be able to finish off at the general elections. All the opponent’s predictions and speculations failed as they kept seeing the same Buhari growing stronger, virile, and travelling all over the world from Europe to America, to G7 and Ecowas summit. Many Nigerians are yet to see the type of zeal the President has displayed so far on the job. The recent appointments he has made so far in the NNPC, in high security command are quite commendable. The President made it clear from the beginning that he would not carry out key appointments like the ministerial until September. Even for saying this, many Nigerians have left the country hoping to remain abroad. But even then, their records are here in Nigeria and they will sooner or later be caught unawares. I have always believed that Rome wasn’t built in one day and that whatever has a beginning must have an end.

It was unfortunate that the Buhari-Idiagbor was not allowed to complete what they started in 1984. They were stopped mid-way, and today the Buhari-Osinbajo team will continue the good work they started till Nigeria becomes a power in the international circle to be reckoned with. It is important that Nigerians should give President Buhari all the support he needs to do this job. The opposition party, should not only be opposing, they must support their government to succeed. Trying to pull down a government that knows its onions should rather not be encouraged. Even in America, both Democrats and Republicans are supporting their President, and only oppose him when it is necessary to do so in the interest of the nation. It is necessary that Nigeria should be allowed to be moving and not to be stagnant.

It is said that Buhari did not appoint Igbo people into his government. Is it that he hates them, or that they didn’t vote for him in the last election?

My answer is no. As for appointments, some Igbos across the Niger are also complaining. Even Jonathan whom Igbo gave almost all their votes did not deliver either. So what did Igbo get from Jonathan? Nothing.! Is it the 2nd Niger bridge or Onitsha to Enugu to Abia to Port-Harcourt roads that he promised to do? Jonathan actually did nothing. I’m not holding brief for President Buhari but the truth is that Mr President still has a lot of appointments to make. Should Igbo need to antagonize the President at this early stage? There’s no evidence yet to show that the President hates Igbo. If Igbo had given their majority votes to Buhari, obviously Igbo will have gotten their own fair share of appointments. But the truth is that appointments are not yet over. I will advice that lgbos should not be deceived into thinking that they would get recognized or appointed into positions if they begin to antagonize President Buhari. Rather Igbo should find a way to reach out to the President by providing the needed support to the effort of his government to revamp the country and her economy because Jonathan indeed failed Ndigbo. President Shehu Shagari worked well with Dr Alex Ekwueme as Vice President during their tenure in the second republic democracy. And through Ekwueme, Igbo got more than anticipated. Such can still be repeated this time.

To get more appointments for Igbo, they must vote for popular candidates that can win elections and be useful as one Sage said: “he whose bread I eat his song I will sing”. This means a lot for Igbo. During campaigns, Buhari visited the South-East several times, up to seven (7) visits to Igbo land. Still Igbo believed that Jonathan would win. But he lost to Buhari. So Igbos should reassess their political strategy and see how they can provide immediate support to the Buhari administration which obviously doing well.

There are some abandoned projects following the exit of former President Goodluck . Some of these projects are fly-overs, the roads leading to Abuja Airport, some FCT projects and so on? Nobody knows who kept the funds for those projects and who paid to contractors without the jobs being completed?

Your question on this subject are the same question any right-thinking Nigerians have been asking too. The question is where is the money? Nigerian money belongs to Nigerians? As we ask for the whereabout of the Chibok girls, so also Nigerians are asking about their money which have been taken to different parts of the world. This is the dilemma President Buhari has been confronted with. One man alone cannot handle this problem. There is need therefore for all of us Nigerians to rally President Buhari round in the effort to repatriate these stolen funds. We must collectively resolve to change this attitude of “monkey dey work baboon dey chop”. The President has encouraged Nigerians to know that most of the funds stashed abroad must be found wheresoever they are hidden in foreign banks. This problem is not academic. It is not a responsibility we should abandon for government alone. People who are in a position to know should come forth with information that would enable government track those funds.

What is your appraisal of Anambra state under Governor Willie Obiano. Is he actually performing in your own view?

I have the feeling that the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, is an easy-going gentle man who truly came to Anambra to do a job. He does not appear to me as someone who wants to tolerate distraction from his mission. I welcomed and congratulated him on the day of his inauguration in my newspaper advertorials. I equally visited him only once at his governors lodge in Awka and on that day, I noticed a passion in him to transform Anambra state. In the course of our discussion I mentioned a few issues that were left unaddressed by his immediate predecessor, former Governor Peter Obi, since 2003. But Governor Obiano promised to look into those matters. When I went to Awka as State Governor in 1999, there was not much on ground there. The Military just went back to barrack, and left nothing in the treasury.

There were times Revenues Allocation gave Anambra N200 million for a monthly salary of 483 workers in the State at the time. Nobody could believe it. With good management, we started paying workers as at when due, and we gradually cleared the three months salary arrears owed workers by the military and even began to pay them Christmas bonus which no other government did till today. I went to Umuleri-Aguleri and Umuoba-Anam where the natives fought themselves violently for 50years. I invited the then President Obasanjo to visit us officially ad he did. After that, I developed a blue print for the community, and nobody had fought there till I left.

As for security, Anambra was very secured under my watch throughout my four years in the State. It remained the most peaceful State in the country at the time. We even took first position in a nation-wide national competition especially on security and welfare of the people and we even won a gold cup.

The present Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, is from Aguleri and he never neglected doing everything for God and for his people and Anambra State as a whole. As for the oil deposit discovered in the state, I was the first governor to begin oil exploitation before others after me. Anybody entering Awka now will observe a different especially in road and bridge constructions. The slogan in Awka now is “Willie Is Working” and I agreed with the people. The politics of Anambra remains what it shall be. For example, I was the person who established the Anambra State University for the first time but the then governor after me, Dr. Chris Ngige, took the University away and tried to put it in his home town but it failed. He then returned the University to where it was. Then former governor Peter Obi also tried to relocate the University again and putting it at places nearer his local government area. Perhaps another governor may come one day and still return the University where I located it at the beginning. But generally, governor Obiano is doing well and l wish him well as he clock sixty years of age.

What will be your advice to President Muhammadu Buhari on how to ensure that the ordinary Nigerians benefit from his government?

Well President Buhari must first bake the cake before sharing it. The President does not even need an advice as to what to do because he has already started doing all the good things expected of him by the electorates of this country that brought him to power. I believe very strongly that he will do better than what he had done before. Buhari-Idiagbor period worked well for Nigeria but though was short-lived. So what Buhari did before, he sure will do again. President Buhari has a good vision of what he wants Nigeria to be and this is where the concept of Change will be more useful. Buhari is the architect of Change and he’ll carry it to its logical conclusion. For him, this is just a start. Buhari will raise an army to lead in the direction of what is to come for this country.

How do you think APC can wrestle South-East From PDP since people like you want Igbo support for the president?

I think it is a very easy thing. I believe there is no question about APC re-claiming power which the PDP lost in the Last election. In the last election, there was little or no planning by APC in Anambra State. The leaders of the party there were more interested in how much money was brought from Lagos and Abuja and how much was shared. There was no proper engagement and party members were running up and down chasing the bags of money. This won’t happen again in the next election in 2019. By the time of the next general elections, PDP will still be in shambles. Even to elect party officials recently was not possible in Anambra and there are now three factions of PDP in the state. I predicated it in the past and it is happening already. What we expect from now on is a fragmented PDP in Anambra State with at least two factions of it joining the APC. PDP at any level is still the same. They can’t win again. The problem of PDP in Anambra now is a carry-over from the present PDP in Abuja headquarter. It is very glaring that everything good about the PDP has since vanished.


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