Mr. Joe Igbokwe is the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress and also an indigene of Anambra State. In this interview with Akinbami Faloye, he speaks on Senator Chris Ngige, the APC governorship candidate in the November 16 election in the state. Excerpts:
How have you resolved the crisis that trailed the emergence of Senator Chris Ngige as APC Gubernatorial candidate in Anambra State
Senator Chris Ngige has no serious competitor right from day one and even those who showed interest to square up with him knew this fact very well. Ngige has a fantastic, excellent and unquestionable pedigree that tends to dwarf the personality of other candidates. Comparing Ngige and these other contestants is like comparing apple and orange. It is like comparing President Obama and President Jonathan. It is like comparing the capacity of a brand new 504 pickup with the capacity of a 30year old Mark Truck. Ngige’s antecedents have rendered nugatory the ambition of these other contestants.
His structures in Anambra State are formidable, alive and strong. So what you call a crisis is the mere imagination of those that expected crisis in the emergence of Ngige but who were disappointed in the transparent way and manner the primaries were conducted by the APC. It is a fact that apart from Ngige, every other candidate in the election is wading through serious intra-party crisis. So there was no crisis to resolve except in the fertile imagination of the opponents of Ngige.
How is the campaign so far?
The campaign train is moving as expected, riding the smooth roads, then bumpy roads, climbing the hills and descending with grace and dignity, breaking ossified beliefs and heresies, engaging the high and the low, drilling the deepest wells, making politics sexy and adorable. The campaign is moving with common sense (even though common sense is not common); reaching to Igbo in Nigeria and Igbo in the Diaspora that what happens in Anambra must worry every Igbo man.
Without sounding immodest Anambra is the engine of Igboland. Anambra State parades the highest class of intellectuals in the South-east and South-south. Anambra State is one of the richest states in Nigeria. Most celebrated leaders in the East of Nigeria are from Anambra State. In Anambra State, wealth is almost distributed house to house. In fact, a school of thought says if Anambra State is not good, Igboland cannot be good. It is based on this compelling need to keep Anambra State strong that informed our decision to beg Ngige to run again and our people are happy that he accepted.
What effect has the relocation of Anambra indigenes from Lagos had on the chance of Ngige?
A sound and patriotic policy not targeted at any particular ethnic group just to make Lagos livable, clean and decent has been grabbed by ethnic chance-takers and miserable politicians to score cheap and dangerous political points. The plan of these political nitwits and dwarfs is to use the so-called deportation to bring Ngige to their level. These clowns know that they are not in the same political page with the former Governor and Senator Chris Ngige and therefore their devilish plan is to beat down Ngige from his towering height to their miserable level by engaging in primordial sentiments and ethnic pre-occupation.
It has failed and it will remain so. It is dangerous politics that may rock the boat and put to danger the cordial and well-respected relationship between Igbo and Yoruba that dates back to 1970, if not properly handled. The chance-takers and peddlers of misinformation will fail.
Don’t you think that rally in Onitsha on the day the Obi of Onitsha was celebrating Ofala festival was a political miscalculation?
Again, that’s another dangerous politics to reduce the towering image of Senator Chris Ngige. If reality is to prevail, the Ngige Campaign organisation had extensive discussion with the Palace Secretary on the matter and the campaign organisation was asked to go on since the Ofala festival in Onitsha is always conducted without asking people to close shops or markets because Onitsha people are civilised people who practise their well-respected tradition with grace, respect and profound dignity.
Unfortunately by the time the campaign organisation was talking to the Palace Secretary, our own HRH Igwe (Dr) Alfred Achebe was in Retreat (the normal tradition before the Ofala Festival). I am sure the Palace Secretary did not get the nod of His Royal Highness before he asked the campaign organisation to go on. This is the mistake. Senator Ngige is a traditionalist who understands Onitsha tradition very well, and he could not have ignored the highly revered Obi of Onitsha. Beyond all these however, it speaks of the depths and the height of depravity some people have taken Anambra politics to, for them to believe that such issues and not the general welfare of the people will count in the coming election.
How are you addressing the issue of power shift to Anambra North?
In Anambra State, we do not believe in the doctrine of power shift because we do not celebrate mediocrity. Only the best is good enough for Ndi-Anambra, Ndigbo and Nigeria. Four years is too much for a vibrant and a very important state to lose in the name of zoning. In Anambra State, we believe that if need be to form a football team for the state, only the best is good enough. If eleven players come from Nnewi North, so be it. Zoning breeds incompetence, mediocrity, and backwardness in governance.
What is your candid assessment of Ngige’s chance in the election?
There are 10 reasons why Ngige will be elected Governor on November 16, 2013? Dr Chris Ngige is a trained Medical Doctor of almost 40 years. He was in the Federal civil service for 18 years. He has served as a Governor for three years and made unprecedented impact under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. He is serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is first President General of Aka Ikenga, an organisation of Igbo intellectuals. He liberated Anambra State from despicable money bags and notorious godfathers. Of all the candidates contesting for the Anambra governorship, Senator Ngige is the most experienced both in politics and governance.
Ngige is the only candidate that opened the eyes of the people of Anambra State that there is money in Government contrary to the picture previous governors painted. Ngige initiated and started the extensive road network we have in Anambra today. Ngige is the boldest, the most courageous, capacity driven, independent minded, most outspoken, fearless, strong-willed, and firm among the lots.