As the governorship election in Anambra State inches closer, a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Uchenna Okoli, has expressed optimism that with the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, as the party’s flag bearer, victory for the party appears to be certain. The international businessman in a media parley in Lagos last Wednesday enthused that APGA paved the way for victory the day it chose Soludo, as the party’s governorship flag bearer. “The November 6 election is a mere formality,” he predicted.
What’s your comment on the coming governorship poll in Anambra State?
Last time, I remember, we spoke about Soludo before the party primaries. Today, I am very happy that Soludo is now the APGA candidate for the governorship election coming up in Anambra State. And by the special grace of God, he is going to win. The election would be a walkover in favour of the APGA.
What gives you such confidence?
The party has paved the way for victory the very day it chose Professor Charles Soludo as its flag bearer. That has made winning the coming election a foregone conclusion in advance. It would turn out to be a mere formality in favour of the APGA.
In addition to that, what baffles me so much is the kind of support Soludo is getting from the sitting governor, Chief Willie Obiano. It is very rare for a sitting governor to say somebody coming to succeed him would outperform him; that somebody coming after him would perform better than he. That shows and tells a lot about Governor Obiano. That confirms that Obiano has a good heart and he wants the best for the Anambra people and we Anambrians should listen to him. He has been a governor for almost eight years now; he has the experience and knows where he wants Anambra to go and he knows who can take the state to where it should be.
My brother, I told you before that if we did not get it right and choose somebody else apart from Soludo as our candidate for APGA, all the good work Obiano has done and still doing would be in vain. Soludo is the only man now in APGA, Anambra State chapter, that is capable of building on the foundation already laid by Obiano and take the state to the next level.
I am happy and glad that we have somebody like Obiano as our governor in Anambra State. He is a kind-hearted man and loves the Anambra people. And for him to say from his own mouth that Soludo would do better than he says a lot about that man-Obiano. I like him so much and I want the good people of Anambra State to key into Obiano’s conviction that Soludo is the only man now, among other governorship candidates, that can do it well. Soludo is the man, who will take us to the next level. Soludo would not solve all the problems in eight years, but I believe, just like Obiano, that Anambra would be a lot better under him.
Why this strong support for Soludo?
It is simply because he knows how to manage the economy. He has managed an economy that was over 200 times larger than that of the Anambra State as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). To be a CBN governor, managing trillions upon trillions of naira for Nigeria’s government, is a big job. For agreeing to serve us as a state governor, is like we are demoting him from the federal level to the state level because Soludo is qualified to be the president; there is no doubt about that. But for him to agree to serve as a governor, we are glad about that and we should give him all the backing to succeed in his desire to serve us and make the state better.
What about other candidates from the other political parties?
Well, there are other candidates from the other political parties. I have seen and scrutinised them. They cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with Soludo. They are far below him in all standards. Most of them have godfathers. Even if they have the brains to perform, they don’t have money to scale the electoral hurdles without the backing of one godfather or another. And some of them have the money but they don’t have the brain to do anything.
However, the other person I can consider to be qualified to do it apart from Soludo, is a United States-based medical doctor, Dr Godwin. But we don’t want ‘on the job training.’ We don’t want a trial and error situation in Anambra State at this point in time. It is very dangerous now given the security challenges all over the place, given the economic woes, given the depreciation of the naira. So, we need somebody who would save us now and that person is Soludo. We don’t need on the job training, we don’t need godfatherism and we don’t need trial and error. Anybody with godfather; APGA does not want him in Anambra State.
Are you supporting him for ….
(Cuts in) I am not supporting Soludo for any pecuniary benefit. I am supporting him for the love I have for Anambra State and for the love I have for the Anambra people. I am an international businessman. By the grace of God I am comfortable. But as a patriotic senior citizen of Nigeria of Anambra State origin, I want other people also to be comfortable. And I have the strong conviction that if Soludo eventually becomes the state governor in Anambra, the people here would thank their stars.
So, I am supporting Soludo because I am convinced he is well versed in administration. He knows what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Nobody is in doubt of the fact that Soludo has a track record, antecedents and pedigree that are not hidden from the people. Other candidates across other political parties don’t have the type of track record of Soludo. And we don’t want such people in the state at this trying period. They are no match to Soludo.
Is your love for Soludo applicable to other people?
I agree some people don’t like Soludo. Yes, it is normal and natural. If I come to my office and discover that every staff loves my manager, I will sack my manager for that because it means he is not doing his job well. He must have compromised some policies of the company. I am not worried about some people who dislike Soludo. What I am worried about is, do those who dislike Soludo love Anambra State? If they love the state, they would put their hatred for Soludo aside and work with him for the general interest of the generality of the people of the state. So, I believe he is the candidate among the lot that can take us to the next level.
What then is your message to the people of Anambra on the coming election?
My candid advice for the people of Anambra State is they should watch out. They should not allow what happened in Imo State to happen to us in our state. We want to vote for a candidate that would be our governor. Even if we collectively decide and vote for a ‘goat,’ let that ‘goat’ become our governor. Nobody should be allowed to be the governor of that state through the law court!
We are aware that some people are going around planning to win the election either by rigging or through the court. We should not allow that to happen. We know the All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot win Anambra State. We know the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot win Anambra State. We know any other political party cannot win Anambra State apart from APGA. And even at that, we should not relax and go home to sleep, believing that the job has been done. No; complacency can be dangerous!
On that day, we have a lot of work to do. We will go out there, we are going to vote, we are going to follow our vote to the collation centres until the results are announced and we have our own copies of the result. Though we don’t envisage going to court because we would not give room for that, we would, however, prepare to go to court if the need arises. But, you know, we cannot go to court empty-handed. We have to be armed with our results and with evidence to prove our case.
No party could win Anambra State besides APGA. So, I advise my people to be ready. They can collect money from the other parties but should vote for their conscience, which is APGA. But if you don’t vote for APGA, just make sure you don’t vote for anybody you know would destroy the state.
This is a trying period for us. So, we must all wake up, we must all listen and we must take action. If we want a positive change to come to us, we must push for a positive change. We must make sure we put in the right candidate and that the right candidate is Soludo.