By Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

My dear South-Easterners, on behalf of myself and entire members of the National Working Committee of (APC), we are most grateful for this invitation to participate in dialogue that affects this important geo-political zone. There is no gain saying the Igbo are the most widely travelled and adaptable people in Nigeria. In fact, they are the ingredients of national integration. In addition, they are the most entrepreneurial people in Nigeria with a high degree of self-reliance in their culture.

When the colonial masters came to Nigeria, they realised that, if South Easterners are placed on the conduit of thinking, they would eventually be imaginative, creative, innovative, competitive and aggressive. These attributes make the Igbo nation the hub of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. This should be the basis of the economy of Nigeria of today.

However, since we are now in Anambra State, let us talk about Anambra. As we stand here today, one curious fact is bare for all to see: Anambra is not making the progress that a state of its means, in terms of resources in men and material, is expected to make. The diagnosis is not far-fetched. Anambra has not connected to the central government since the beginning of the government of Governor Peter Obi. This is the missing link. And this has limited its benefits from the Federal Government who is the chief custodian of our commonwealth. From Peter Obi, to Obiano and now Soludo, they have all been on the APGA platform. That has been a total of 25 years of dislocation from the centre.

Most states surrounding Anambra have not just left their original political party, they have now joined the ruling All Progressives Congress APC at the centre in efforts to improve the lot of their people and they are happy and better for it. Their governors are now using their connection to the centre to attract development to their states.

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Why should Anambra continue to live in isolation? What is the justification for this? If there had been a superlative performance and outcomes on their isolated platform, one would have said that it is a worthy isolation, but nay! Even those who governed Anambra State on the lone child APGA platform quickly abandon the party after their tenure whenever they need something from the centre. So, this is a vivid case of selfish politics. A few people have kept Anambra in chains for personal reasons. Neighbouring Imo State, which used to be PDP, has now tightly embraced APC. Cross River has also moved to join the APC. Ebonyi State was highly PDP but it has abandoned that ‘umbrella’ and received the broom to sweep clean its house. Anambra’s refusal to connect with the centre has greatly deprived its people of enormous dividends in terms of infrastructure and other benefits.

Today Imo and Ebonyi sons and daughters are appointed as ambassadors, and given other lofty portfolio and positions because of their connection to the centre. But Anambra’s failure to transit regional political sentiments has made it stuck and trapped in the mud of self-inflicted limitations and inevitable exclusion. This is a natural occurrence in line with the reality that you have to be at the table to negotiate what comes to you. If you are not at the table, nobody will speak for you when the chips are down. That has been the sorry state of Anambra since 1999 and I am saddened by this. So much mileage should have been covered by now.

Anambra is the only place where APGA is in government. The party has refused to grow and has not allowed the state to make concrete progress. You cannot continue to live in isolation, especially when you are not making any progress. At the dawn of democracy in 1999, Anambra was not the only place that embraced a regional political bloc. The South West also found shelter in its Yorubaland, under Alliance for Democracy (AD). But as the democratic journey progressed, the Westerners abandoned AD and embraced ACN. Our leader, Bola Tinubu, then Lagos Governor, embarked on a political rejuvenation transmitted into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

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It was that vehicle he used to liberate other South West states and even made incursion into Edo. That is Bola Tinubu for you. That is political sagacity. That is dynamism and that same man is the President of Nigeria today as the leader of APC. That same ACN was the pivotal seed that saw to the emergence of a new political party, having merged with the CPC, ANPP and a fraction of APGA and PDP. The product of that merger, which is the APC, took on the then giant PDP in 2015 and took down the political strength of the PDP. That is dynamic politics. But APGA and its promoters have refused to embrace political dynamism.

Someone has defined political miscalculation as continuing to do the same thing the same way and expecting a different result. For how long shall Anambra continue in sin and hope that grace may abound? No it won’t continue. So, today we are gathered here at this epoch sensitisation lecture, as APC marches forward to take over Anambra State. No more political starvation. And it is time for political salvation! Unfortunately, His Excellency, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, is my friend and brother but he must now move to the right direction at the centre. There is a large room for all in APC. No more restrictions! Anambra is the heartbeat of the South East geopolitical zone, therefore, enough of it being politically ostracised. It is time to join the progressive political family and make progress. No more retrogression! This is the essence of this lecture, it is to create an enabling environment for all Progressives In Anambra to ensure that we all team up to rescue Ndi Anambra. No more stagnation!

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We are here to make sure that Anambra is brought to the table at the centre for them to ask for whatever they want as a matter of right and not privilege. No more intimidation! Anambra is strategic to the viability of the Nigerian economy. So how can they be pushed back to the place of a second fiddle? No more relegation! Anambra has produced some of the best brains and iconic Nigerians and global citizens. The first President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, hailed from Anambra. The intellectual soldier tactician, Odumegwu Ojukwu, hailed from here. The computer wizard, Phillip Emeagwali, comes from here; globally acclaimed novelist, Chinua Achebe, was from here; retired heavyweight wrestling champion Power Mike came from here; former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyioku is from this place! How can it remain cut off from the centre like an orphan? No! The only possible reason for this is the self-centred interest of a few individuals to tighten their hold of milking the state. No more unholy extraction.

Now the people of Anambra must awake from their political slumber. They must now connect to the centre via the APC. This is my mission in Anambra. This is why I, the National Chairman of the APC, the Agu na Echamba 1 of Igboland, have come to see you all, not in the secret but openly to express our resolve to embrace you and work with you. It is time for a fresh start. Join me in this journey toward peace, progress and renewed hope for Anambra State!

Dr. Ganduje is National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC)

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