Obaze rattles Obiano over Anambra 2017, says Anambra North is not divided over candidate

Yesterday Obaze spoke and today again it became something like a bomb, what next?
 Obaze confirms Anambra governorship aspiration - speaks bluntly on various political issues

A slate of Anambra-based journalists recently met with Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze (OHO), the immediate-past Secretary to the Anambra State Government and presently the MD/CEO of Selonnes Consult Ltd. and a gubernatorial aspirant in Anambra State gubernatorial elections next November.  The extensive exchange of views covering an array of political and governance issues follows

Since you left office as Secretary to the State Government, many people have looked forward to your next move. What do you tell such people in view of the fact that 2017 is election year in Anambra state?

OHO:  I left government in June 2015 and returned to private life. However, I remained a member of Nigeria's attentive public. The nature of my policy and governance consultancy meant that I was involved in every aspect of the governance discourse at the national level, but purposely not on Anambra State. I have addressed many critical national issues in my policy op-eds. On Anambra politics, I only broke my silence in mid-November 2016, when I said "Anambra has been hijacked"and hinted that I might re-enter the political fray, if that was the only way to salvage Anambra and save the Anambra North political mandate. With 2017 on the roll, it means that I'm constructively engaged and fully involved. 

As a diplomat what policies do you think Federal Government should put in place to reverse the current economic recession faced by the country?

OHO: The economic and political rut in Nigeria is not new.  The challenges we face are also not peculiar to Nigeria. Yet, good governance is not a one off event; it is a systematic process that requires policy clarity, coherence, political will and the policy executors who can effect required changes without being cowed by either the leadership or sectional pressure groups.  Presently, so long as the federal government lacks the will to introduce a single foreign currency regime, some Nigerians will feed fat on the faulty exchange regime, while the country as a whole suffers since we are import dependent. We need some form of shock therapy to turn things around. Results-based budgeting at all levels, support for the private sector and allowing free market forces to hold sway might do the trick. The present practice of deficit budgeting and borrowing to finance soft and social infrastructure is unhelpful. Generally, we must have the courage and political will to operate governance within available resources. 

Nigeria is at the crossroads, facing agitations from the Niger Delta, Pro Biafra groups, economic recession, religious crises etc., what is the way out?

OHO: Agitation, protestations and dissent are all tenets of any healthy democracy. Nigeria cannot be an exception. There is a yawning trust gap between the leaders and the led.   Nigeria has never been as fractious as it is now, except during the civil war period. Government can't keep on preaching about change and asking people to trust them, even as the situation deteriorates visibly.  I've said it elsewhere, recession, crises, disenfranchisement and alienation are not dividends of democracy. It is also fallacious to handle the agitations in Niger Delta and Pro-Biafran groups as a matter of law and order, while not applying that principle to herdsmen violence and killings. There should be constructive political engagement as well as confidence building measures that are devoid of political rhetoric and policy actions that are not based on precepts. That is the way out.
How could you address the problem of high cost of governance in Nigeria, particularly Anambra state?

OHO: Good governance is not about expropriating every sector -political, economic and social -- so as to convey a sense of being in charge or hands on.  Individual investors,  the organized private sector and the local government and municipal or township governments all have critical roles to play.  Yet the federal and state governments have coveted every facet of governance in order to control local government funds. It's ironic that some elected state governors even refuse to hold local government elections. This results in wastes, duplication, lack of check and balances and absence of due process.  Cumulatively, the end result is a huge state bureaucracy that translates to high cost of governance.  You cannot address youth employment by creating an unwieldy legion of young exuberant political appointees, with bogus titles, exaggerated sense of self worth, undue expectations and a bloated sense of entitlement. Government needs to be streamlined to be effective, nimble and efficient.

Speculations are rife that you are interested in contesting for the governorship of Anambra State which will take place later this year. Can you confirm this? And if you have an interest to run for the Anambra governorship election in 2017; my question is, on which platform? 

OHO: Yes I do. I have said so publicly and consultations on the platform are ongoing. There exists a very cogent basis for my candidacy. Be assured that almost every registered party on this side of the political terrain will field a candidate or adopt one.  This time around, which platform or party a candidate belongs to may not matter as much as the candidate's bona fides.  I believe our people and Nigerians as a whole have learnt some hard and harsh lessons about incidental leadership.  Anambra deserves better leadership and the people know it and will decide.  I doubt that there will be a repeat of past mistakes this time around; if that happens we will have ourselves to blame in the medium and long term, and not just for Anambra State, but for the entire southeast geopolitical zone and the Igbo nation.

Why the desire to serve in governorship capacity? 

OHO: In every capacity that I have served as a public servant, I have always put in my best and added value. So, a governorship slot, or foray into that realm can't be any different.  But then, leadership is about vision, exposure, capacity and the wherewithal to deliver the required governance values and services.  Besides developing a forward looking blueprint, one must also have the experience and institutional knowledge of how government establishments are run. Apropos Anambra, our potentialities remain high, but we are underperforming and underachieving because we are contented with a state that is just working rather than aiming to be the best state that every other state emulates and aspire to catch up with or surpass.

The general opinion is the incumbent governor has done well and that the North zone were lucky to occupy the position for now. Why the mad quest to replace him, is it the interest of the generality of Anambra people?

OHO:   What are the parameters of doing well?   Routine governance obligations like paying salaries and pension hardly constitute critical good governance benchmarks; except of course, if you are comparing your state to near-failed or unviable states.  Don't get me wrong.  Credit must be given where due. Anambra has progressed with each successive administration. But then, if one goes to the Olympic Games, the ultimate goal is not just to get beyond the first round, but to win the gold medal.  On the core question, every incumbent must run on his record while in office; the challengers will run on the basis of being credible alternatives with far more better services to deliver. In the end, the electorate will decide.  Any leader with a stellar performance will not be at risk of being openly challenged. Those who are openly challenged have obvious chinks in their armor; such inadequacies are not lost to the generality of the people. Moreover, there’s a vast different in concrete achievements and hyped accomplishments.
How do you see the Local Government system and its administration in Anambra particularly how their allocation from the centre is used; and does the recent largess of N20 million for communities justify the lack of need for of it.

OHO: The way we have handled the local government in Nigeria is an aberration. The flaw is systemic and linked to the 1999 Constitution, which does not make the local government a federating unit per se. That lacuna is being used as an excuse by the federal and state governments to emasculate the local government.  Any governor who understands the tenets of democracy, and is committed to development at the grassroots, must give unfettered effect to the functioning and efficacy of the local government. As things stand, the local government structures, mandate and resources are consistently abused by the Centre and the states.  Giving communities N20 million each is as symbolic as it is shambolic.  Frankly speaking, giving N20 million to a community is neither an act of altruism nor a show statesmanship.What is N20 million per community in three years compared to actual amounts collected by states on behalf of each local government?  In November 2016 for instance, the LGs in the 36 states got N38.282 billion or (20.60%) of the FAAC allocation. By simple arithmetic, the N20m shared to 177 communities, cumulatively amounts to some N3.5b, which basically is a 3 month allocation to LGs.  What of the allocations for the other nine months? The reality is that states engage in a game of hide-and-seek. Moreover, who are those executing or controlling the execution of the N20 million community projects? Are they not all State appointed?  Please, let's for once be serious about governance.

Why would you still be doing hide and seek when stakeholders have already endorsed you for 2017 after its last meeting?

OHO:There is no hide and seek. I have declared my interest publicly. Yet, leadership and governance politics is serious business.  You must reflect and consult broadly and not treat the matter with levity.  Many stakeholders across party lines have expressed support privately and some publicly. What I believe is that I represent the very best option open to Anambra and indeed what Anambra needs to move forward and that Anambra deserves to be chaperoned by better, more credible, more capable and more focused and more accountable leadership going forward. 

Where would you beam your search light for Deputy Governorship candidate? 

OHO:Anambra North is a beneficiary of the unwritten zoning arrangement. We respect that and we are grateful. Invariably, a deputy will emerge from one of the other two zones, most preferably the south zone. We are consulting on that topic and would make a decision in due course. 

How would you respond to the "mad dogs" sent in to the social media to attack anybody with opposing view to Obiano's administration when the real politicking starts?

OHO:Personally, I do not subscribe to negative politics, name calling, casting aspersions and epithets and will discourage that from members of my team and my supporters. We are in a democracy and our politics must be based on civility and decorum.  But those who wish to engage in negative politics should always remember that such conduct is not their exclusive preserve.

Why do you think Anambra needs a change of guard at the government house this 2017/18? 

OHO: the last two years of the Peter Obi administration was used to set the foundation and trajectory that would have set Anambra State well ahead of every other state in Nigeria.  I was part of that endeavour and we finished strong.  Unfortunately, the momentum was lost, our development partners left; the continuity promise was totally abandoned and the enormous saved resources were frittered away.  Those who were not part of the grand design hijacked the mantle of leadership and reins of governance without any recourse to the game plan.  The reality is that you cannot implement an idea which you are not the author or one for which you do not know the genesis or have a full buy in.  Those from the North who really campaigned and worked assiduously for the government house had a clear vision and determination. But those who arrived later scuttled the plan. A second tenure should be predicated on performance and full accountability. As far as I can see there is a performance shortfall and an accountability deficit. So I belong to the cadre of those who believe that Anambra deserves better and that there are ample and plausible reasons for desirable change in 2017/18.

Those outside government always criticize as if to say that when they are in charge, they will do magic. How do you think you can make a difference as a Governor? 

OHO: There is no magic wand to governance; but there must be accountability, credibility, capacity, frugality and the political will to do things right.   I do not believe in criticisms for the sake of it or to discredit.  I've been involved in public service at the federal, international and state levels. I was a child raised in various local government settings.  What makes a difference between one governor and the other, is accountability, policy articulation, ownership, buy in and unfettered service delivery.  When advisers and supporters have no sense of ownership of governance methods, it means they are in it for what they can get for themselves.  Policy and projects suffer and unmet needs go unattended.  As a leader, administrator and governor, I will ensure that there must be a hands-on approach to governance. The best global practices must be put into play to serve the people. When a government is doing well, the people are unlikely to grumble. Presently, I hear a lot of grumbling, and chaffing at prevalent hypocrisies, despite the clamor in the media of how good things are. 

Obaze rattles Obiano over Anambra 2017, says Anambra North is not divided over candidate Obaze rattles Obiano over Anambra 2017, says Anambra North is not divided over candidate Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 Rating: 5

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