Incumbency has no place in Anambra Guber election – Umenzekwe

Chief Modestus Umenzekwe, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is undoubtedly unassuming, honest, focused and visionary; not known for rigmarole and prevarications as many do. In this interview with CYRIACUS NNAJI in Lagos, he spoke on critical national issues including the forthcoming Anambra Gubernatorial Election, how Tinubu enthroned good governance in Lagos State, among others. Excerpts:

As a chieftain of APC, in no distant time Sanwo-Olu will be two years in office, having assessed his performance, can you say he has actually performed?

One thing I can tell you, Lagos is blessed. We keep on having credible and dedicated governors, from the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he started with one state and covered so many states; he tried as much as possible to develop Lagos despite the fact that he had a running battle with Obasanjo Administration. He liberated the state, developed it the much he could despite all the political squabbles.

After Tinubu, the revered national leader of APC, we had Fashola. Then Fashola transformed Lagos. He did a lot of things; the surprising thing was the demolition of a building that caved in, in Marina, where he used the implosion technique, the first of its kind in this nation. Bridges and under bridges were reclaimed, he constructed and rehabilitated many roads, look at Oshodi, it was a litany of achievements by that man, then he started Lagos/Badagry Expressway. From there he moved on to Abuja.

After him we had Ambode. When you go round Lagos you will see all the landmark roads Ambode did, even though his tenure was short, just four years. Now we have Sanwo-Olu, a young man. In short I pitied him when the #endSARS saga erupted, I pitied the young man.

But I must congratulate him at least for handling that situation the way he handled it. Look at all the destructions in Lagos State, still he held himself with his deputy and all the members of his cabinet. Then this covid-19, I pitied him too. So he came in when there was so much trouble, and today he has been able to withstand, look at the way he handled Covid-19, look at his weekly briefing to his people, but the thing is we don’t listen, we don’t want to listen, but I am pleading with him to follow human beings gradually.

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So Lagos is blessed, Sanwo-Olu is a very wonderful governor, he is doing very well, businesses are thriving, there is free movement, security is assured, all the potholes are being rehabilitated, he is now working on traffic at least my route that used to be blocked now is easing off, all the potholes are been patched, new roads are being reconstructed. So it is a litany of achievements by him.

I want to tell you, interview or speech on Sanwo-Olu and Lagos will be for another day. Look at when we had explosion at Abu-Lado, he was able to handle the situation very well, it did not escalate, and so many other thing like that. And I want to call on all Lagosians to please give him their maximum support, give him all that it takes to take us to great height.

Some parties are talking tough as Anambra Governorship Election draws near, many of them saying that it is all over for APGA, where is APC in all these?

What do you mean by talking tough, are they talking tough that heaven will fall, are they talking tough that they will do magic? I don’t understand. However on the question of APC, APC is more than ready and the party is seriously strategizing, getting all materials ready for the election that will come on November 6, 2021. And I can assure you that whether Mr. A is talking tough or B is talking, APC is going to win Anambra State in a free, fair and credible election. We have very credible candidates, the eggheads in politics are all in APC, and they are coming together to make sure that we win and we are mobilizing our members, doing registration revalidation in all the states of the federation including FCT of which recently the president himself flagged it off in Katsina State where he revalidated his membership. And that is what we are doing, massive mobilization of members, after that we now sit down and talk, the plans I am not going to disclose to you now. By the grace of God, Anambra will be APC come November 6, 2021.

There is also the incumbency factor waiting to play out in the Anambra election, there is also Ojukwu factor, how does APC strategizing to overcome these two political ingredients which APGA has always enjoyed to win elections in Anambra State?

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I take you back to 2015, the power of incumbency was there and the name of Azikiwe was even introduced along the line, you see those things don’t play out this time, those things should be dropped by any person hinging on them. What happened in 2015 is going to happen in Anambra. The issue of using Ojukwu’s name or power of incumbency is not there. In as much as Ojukwu till tomorrow is well respected, has my respect and nobody is going to rubbish him, in anyway, in any form, he remains a true son of Igbo who we cherish, but then anybody riding on Ojukwu’s shoulders should behave like Ojukwu. He had a peculiar character, he was a mover; he could convince you to do something. If you want to use Ojukwu’s name behave like Ojukwu. So the power of incumbency doesn’t hold water any longer.

Recall that when Ojukwu returned in 1982, he identified with the national party. He always asked us to hook up to the national grid. When he came back he didn’t join NPP assumed to be Igbo party, rather he joined NPN.

Part of the strategy, many allege, is to use Federal might to conquer Anambra…

What do you mean by federal might, explain it let me understand you?

By deploying heavily armed men during election to scare away opponents’ supporters…  

Have you forgotten that in 2015 APC was not in power and they won the presidency and they are now talking about Federal might, was there anything like Federal might that time? So the way they won in 2015, it is going to be the way in Anambra State in 2021.It is as clear as ABC.

Anambra is known to inhabit billionaires, in fact the state that has the highest number of billionaires in Nigeria should be Anambra, there is the fear that the election will go to the highest bidder, how is this going to play out in the coming election in Anambra State?

What do you mean by highest bidder? Is it only in Anambra that you witness such a thing, it is all over the federation, politics is about convincing people, service, ability to run the election, ability to provide for the electorate, for the people. It is not just Anambra, it is all over the Federation. All candidates, everybody is strategizing to win the election, and all strategies are aimed at convincing the expectant voter to vote a particular candidate. So whatever they are doing that is within the ambit of the law is correct.

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Igbos are talking about president of Igbo extraction on one hand, and Biafra, on the other, and now other ethnic groups that have plans to support the Igbos are saying that Igbo are not speaking with one voice, is it true that Igbos are not united?

Igbos are united, it happens in every other tribe, go to Yoruba, you would see all splinter groups all talking about one thing, but then there must be an alliance with other ethnic groups, power is not given,  it is taken, but in taking that we must align with southwest, south-south, north-east, west, north central, and  all that. There must be an alliance, Igbos are over qualified. The presidency is important to us as a race, so that the principle of reconciliation, rehabilitation and all what not will be sealed, there is no victor no vanquished, and I am advising all Igbo people to please calm down, let’s go into serious negotiation to engage other political zones, that is the only way we are going to get it, because it is a game of number.

Your message for Ndigbo and Nigerians in general, message of hope.

I am telling Igbos and Nigerians congratulations for the life so far. It has not been easy for both the Igbos and Nigerians, but I thank God we are trudging and trying to overcome the problems. The problem is not for us alone, it is all over the world. Every country in the world has their tale of woes, and tale of successes, it is happening everywhere. So my advice is that they should calm down, pray to God, try to have change of attitude in so many things and be our brother’s keeper.

What are your thoughts?

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