Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze explodes, says Anambra deserves better than Obiano




Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze says Anambra deserves better
Oseloka H. Obaze, a consummate technocrat, former UN official and former secretary to the Anambra State government under Governors Peter Obi and Willie Obiano, is considered the most eminently qualified amongst governorship aspirants in the forthcoming Anambra State elections.  He bears him mind in this interview with some Awka-based journalists.

Sir, you will deliver the keynote address at the forthcoming Anambra State Media Summit. Why were you chosen and should we expect any fireworks?

Obaze:I don’t know why I was chosen, but I feel highly honoured. I know I will speak truth to power.

A while back, you said you were consulting with regard to which platform you are going to pitch tent for the governorship election.   Party is a vehicle to actualize your ambition. It seems you are yet to be associated with a party. Have you finally chosen any?

Obaze:It was not a matter of choosing. I knew all along, where I was headed. But I needed to consult widely and consolidate my support.  Now that I have concluded my consultations I have publicly pronounced my platform. I am a PDP aspirant.  However, two smaller parties have expressed keen interest in adopting me as their candidate, fully aware that I intend to run on the PDP platform.  That is gratifying.

Recently, there was mass exodus of political gladiators in the state into APC, apparently because of their belief that any candidate emerging on that platform will be rigged into power to justify their control at the centre. Are you in any way worried that they may gathering to win by all means possible? 

Obaze:  Your question is speculative.  Politicians engage in platforms and parties where they believe their interests are best catered for and their chances of emerging victorious seem better.  It has less to do with ideology.  The notion of rigging, though a reality in our body politics, should not feature prominently or be accorded credibility.  INEC must consistently pass the litmus test of conducting elections that are sufficiently transparent, credible, free and fair at every juncture. 
From your statement during a recent interview on Blaze FM, are you saying that the construction of the three fly over bridges was a mere waste of money and do you have any plans of altering it if you win?

Obaze: I said that every government must determine its developmental priorities and that funds expended for any project must be commensurate with the returns on investment. In that context, I observed that the N15 billion reportedly spent on the three Awka flyovers- the government insist that they cost only N8.5 billion- could be have been channeled to youth empowerment programmes, if that was the priority.  Moreover, that since the flyovers are not tolled and there was no prior approval from the federal government for their construction, the expended resources will never be recovered. 

Time is ticking and almost all aspirants are campaigning. The worry about you is that people believe you don’t have money to execute your project. How do you react to this? And given the capital intensive nature of politics in Nigeria, many people are wondering where and how a man of your rather elitist background would raise the funds to finance your election. What is your take on this issue?

Obaze: It is all a matter of perception versus reality.  Campaign financing here has certainly become an albatross for the qualified but-not-so-rich aspirants.  We intend to alter that mindset.  Politicians with deep pockets tend to seek to buy their way into office. However, when it's all over the people suffer.  This time the election and politicking will be issues and candidate focused. We will appeal to the enlightened self-interest of the people. We will use volunteers, whose real reward will come after victory, not those who wish to cash in during campaign.  I believe our people are wiser. They will surprisingly be more introspective this time around. Those who want good governance and development must find ways to support the most eminently qualified candidates.

The in thing among aspirants now is to gather some people who in turn claim they have endorsed by such people. How do you react to such tactics? Your local government and zone seem to have foreclosed your candidacy by endorsing Obiano, what’s your fate?

Obaze:The so-called Anambra North Peoples Assembly (ANPA) endorsement reflects the views of less than 1,000 people who were consulted in the seven local government areas of the North. As I see it, political endorsements are make-belief and make-happy episodic events. Ironically, it is somewhat an elitist mindset that does not always reflect the reality on the ground and at the grassroots where the presence of government is not being felt and where the votes will be cast.  Moreover, endorsements are hardly public opinion polls that may have veracity or some scientific validity. At the end, it is one-man-one-vote that will count.  And who is to say that these unceasing endorsements are not financially induced? 

Relatedly, the former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, has advised those of you running for the guber election this year in Anambra to forgo your aspirations because the incumbent has done well enough to secure a second term. Are you impressed with Soludo's advice? 
Obaze: I have the highest personal and professional regards for Prof. Charles Soludo. I also respect his right to profess his views freely in our nascent democracy. Yet I have rendered my disagreement with him on this matter, both personally and publicly.  Let us say that we have agreed to disagree.  My point, which with the benefit of hindsight, I'm sure Prof. Soludo appreciates, is that constitutionally there is a vacancy in the government house every four years.  Thus, whoever is the incumbent must subject him or herself to re-evaluation and a re-election procedure.  The outsiders will also seek to be elected and to unseat the incumbent.  The difference is that the incumbent will run, presumablyon his good record and accomplishments.  If the good governance bona fides exist and are sufficiently credible, then reelection will be assured.  If they are found wanting, then the outsiders might have a chance of pulling off an upset.  That is the present reality in Anambra.

As a former SSG what difference do you think you can bring into governance in Anambra state if you are given the opportunity to serve as Governor?

Obaze:  First, by training and experience, I understand fully the role of leadership and good governance in the delivery of services, unfettered developmentand managing expectations. Good governance also rests on frugal management of resources, operating within available resources and equitable distribution of such resources via prioritization. Positive growth cannot be sustained without strategic thinking, visionary planning and guided implementation of purposeful policies that serve as the bedrock for effective programmes and projects. Enduring prosperity is infinitely predicated on solid and enduring development frameworks. I have written and spoken about pruning the cost of governance and achieving more through joint interstate ventures, which our leaders seem averse to.  Above all, good governance is about transparency and accountability.  Where both are lacking and policies are opaque, leakages and malfeasance are bound to occur. Likewise, disenfranchisement and political dichotomy will ensue. These negative variables can be done away with easily, if the leadership is focused and adaptive. That is what makes the difference.

The incumbent Governor hails from the same senatorial zone with you. Why do you think it is politically wise to contest against him?

Obaze: This is beyond our personalities.  The good of the greater society cannot be subsumed in sentiments. Several others and I were in forefront of the campaign to bring the governorship to the north senatorial zone.  We had also committed to advancing Anambra State in all its facets to greater heights, based on the existing solid foundation, the resources and savings available and the well laid out development trajectory that saw Anambra State as the top state in attaining set benchmarks of the MDGs.  At some point, we went off the trajectory.  This gave room for politicians from the south and central contending that the leadership from the north has not met expectations, thus the need to truncate the north's tenure.  Our view from the north is that we should be given the opportunity to complete our second tenure; however, if our south and central counterparts insist on upending us and ousting the incumbent, then we are obliged to enter the fray and offer credible alternatives.  As you know, Tony Nwoye, Chike Obidigbo, Alex Obiogbolu, Ralph Eke and I are all from the north and are all in this race.  We are not involved for the sake of frivolity or recognition. I personally believe that Anambra deserves better.

As an insider, what is your assessment on the quantum of fire in direct investment flow into Anambra which is put $4.3 billion and the agricultural output rice at 230 metric tonnes per annum, which the Anambra State government is bandying around?  Some have seriously questioned the veracity of such claims

Obaze: I'm no longer a government insider, but I remain a member of the attentive public.  I have been asked that question severally. Fundamentally, government must be honest and transparent in its dealings and public claims. Of this I'm aware. Trading Economics of Nigeria recently reported that the actual foreign direct investment (FDI) that flowed into Nigeria in 2014 and 2015 were US$4.69 billion and US$3.06billion respectively. The projected figure for 2016 is US$3.12, based on figures available from the first two quarters of 2016.  So, if we accept that the Anambra State Government attracted an estimated $4.2 billion in DFI in three years, it presupposes that more than half of the FDI that entered into Nigeria during the past three year are domiciled in Anambra. What of the other four viable states and the other 31 states?  And where are these funds invested?  As regards producing 230 metric tonnes of rice per annum, what this equates to is more than 20 ship loads of rice per annum.  Expert estimates confirm that a normal shipload of rice of 12,500 metric tonnes consists of 250,000 (50kg) bags. One 30 ton trailer carries 600 bags of rice.  So you will need 416 trailers to move 12,500 metric tonnes of rice.  Where is such a huge rice production being warehoused?  Those who are good in math will have to figure out how many trailers you need to move 230 metric tonnes of rice and the number of silos required to warehouse the production. 
Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze explodes, says Anambra deserves better than Obiano Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze explodes, says Anambra deserves better than Obiano Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Monday, March 27, 2017 Rating: 5

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