Nigerians must talk to each other - Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze



 Oseloka H. Obaze, an aspirant in the forthcoming 18 November 2017 Anambra State gubernatorial elections, is a well-known name nationally and in Anambra State.
 A credible public servant and technocrat, he was a senior U.N. official before serving as the Secretary to the Anambra State Government under Governors Peter Obi and Willie Obiano. He has written widely on policy issues relating to Nigeria and Anambra state. Many consider him as perhaps, the most eminently qualified amongst governorship aspirants in the forthcoming Anambra State elections.  He spoke with some Awka-based journalists on critical national, state and governance issues. Our South East Editor, Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, captures his views. Excerpts:


How would you rate your profile now in the eyes of the Anambra electorate?

We are well known and acknowledged by the people across Anambra State.  The grassroots and the elite alike, appreciate fully our past service and unfettered commitment to good governance. The electioneering is yet to commence, when we arrive at that juncture, we should be able to showcase a governance platform, which should make us the most credible alternative and leadership choice. 

Which zone will you choose your running mate from?

Let me tell you that inclusive democracy is about consensus and consultations.  We will cross the bridge of selecting a running mate when we get there. Be assured that the choice will be very credible and a good governance partner; not a subordinate or in the local parlance a deputy who is just a "spare tire." 

Do you have confidence the PDP matter will be settled soon to pave way for the party's primary and emergence of a flag bearer?

 I'm by nature an optimist; and by training a problem solver and conflict resolution practitioner. But I'm also a realist.  When a conflict is not ripe for resolution, any forced attempt will fail.  But when the cost of collective failure outweighs the cost of individual success, people tend to come around. There is still ample room to rally the forces, and the key PDP players in Anambra are hard at work to find a mutually acceptable solution. 

Are you confident, you will eventually emerge the party's flag bearer above people that have been in the party for so many years?

If you go enter the finals of any competition with your second team or third team you risk losing.  If you put forth the best or most qualified and most credible player or candidate, your chances of success becomes greater.  Without any disrespect to those who have been "in the party for so many years" as you said: Did they deliver? Did they win?  If they did, the party won't be outside the government now.  There's your answer. My hope is that we can rally all party players to a consensus and that the key players especially the recurring aspirants won't become spoilers.

Your zone Anambra North and Ogbaru even the traditional rulers are consistent in saying Obiano is their candidate and he should be returned, is it not a psychological on you?

 You engage in collectivized assertion and attribution.  Who are these people? Are they the same people I'm consulting and talking to? Or are they the hirelings that parrot the master's voice for crumbs off his table.  You must understand that we are in a recession.  People need to eat; but they do have conscience. Moreover, I'm least perturbed by such utterances, by people who are unconnected with their grassroots and have never secured victory at their respective polling booths.  Anyway, politics for me is not and will never be a zero sum game. As our people say, "you count the miles after the race."


You served under Obiano, what you are going to correct now that you did do then?

Yes, I served well, loyally, honestly and diligently. I offered unvarnished advice and counsel. Yet, every leader brings to public office his vision, style and political and leadership DNA.  Purposeful leadership is about management style, focus and a full grasp of the imperatives of good governance. If you know how to make institutions function efficiently, that's half the battle; if you don't, then you will have to grapple with a dysfunctional government.  So it's not a matter of correction as it is a stylistic and operational. We will offer accountability, cost-efficient optimization of institutions, full adherence to extant laws and due process, and unfettered service delivery all within available resources. We will make grassroots development and the efficacy of our local government and municipal council system the cornerstone of our governance. We will hold local government elections as required by the Constitution.

The Governor hasn't been using the State Government House as a matter of fact the central gate is permanently locked. What is the implication of this in the government institution itself? What will be your approach when elected as the number officer in the state?

 That the primary entrance to the Government House Complex is permanently locked does not mean there is a lockdown. It could be for security reason. It might also be indicative of the low energy and feebleness of government. I don't know; so you may need to redirect these questions to the State authorities. 

Will you truthfully return power to the South in 2022, if you win the 2017 gubernatorial election in the state? 

I certainly will. I have to honour any deal made by our zone or by me in that regard. That is the only way to begin to reshape our politics and dispense with the notion that you can't trust politicians.  Moreover, I'm a student of politics and history; we are witnesses in this country to what happens when deals and promises are not kept.  By 2022 Anambra North would have completed eight years; there should be room for others to contest. 

What is your manifesto? Can you share it with us?

 I will unveil my manifesto at the appropriate time. It's very simple to understand and similarly simple to operationalize. It will deliver good governance in every sense of the word. With it, those in government will work for the people and not for special or vested interests. There will be accountability and transparency in government and we will put our people back to work. I will not disclose the key elements now, since we have noticed that people in the other camps appropriate my policy ideas and policy recommendations without the decency of giving us any credit.  

A new political party, Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), has just been formed. Where does Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of which you seek to use to actualize your dream stand in all these?

 Party politics is about accommodation and convergence of ideas, more so, where our parties are not ideologically based. The beauty of democracy is pluralism and broad representation. All the fuss about a meagre party fizzled. The registration of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) may yet prove propitious; it has some well-known backers. It if it is sufficiently inclusive will attract broad following.  It will certainly feature prominently in the 2017 elections.  The more parties there are, the wider the choices and the stronger our democracy. 

Nigeria is on the cross roads again with the quit notice issued Igbo by Northern Youth Congress. Can this be the rumored prediction by United States of America that Nigeria will disintegrate (even though USA denied this)? 

I pray that Nigeria does not implode.  As a nation, we are conversant with political brinksmanship; but we must not overplay our hands.  It's never wise to play with fire standing next to a tinderbox. It is up to the Nigeria political leadership not to allow the present political rascality to translate into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

There is so much tension on the Nigerian state due to sectional agitation, would you subscribe to a Call for Urgent National Discourse, are you comfortable with the let's wait-and-see attitude of the federal government.

 Nigerians must talk to each other. There is too much grandstanding and triumphalism going on. In the life of any nation, holding national conversations is routine. You don't wait to arrive to a tipping point before you engage your citizens fully. The "let's wait-and-see attitude" could easily backfire. As regards the ongoing agitation, the reality is that Biafra as a word, in spirit or in history will not evaporate.  Neither will Nigeria. The demands for restructuring or any of its other synonymous sobriquets boils down to three words and aspirations; equity, fairness and justice.  Such goals ought not to be too hard to attain or extended to those who feel aggrieved in any way. Yet we have become so sectional that patriotism and national interest are badly eroded.

Nigerians must talk to each other - Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze Nigerians must talk to each other - Ex-SSG Oseloka Obaze Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Saturday, July 08, 2017 Rating: 5

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