Chief Godwin Ezeemo is an industrialist of repute whose chains of businesses have hugely impacted Anambra State and its Economy. In this exclusive interview with Orient Editor, Charles Otu and Sunday Elom N, the PDP Aspirant who is in the race for the third time shares his views on fiendish Party politics and how it robs off to deny credible and brilliant minds the opportunity to fix the wrongs in governance. Excerpts!
Why did you decide to opt out of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) to join the governorship race in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
My decision to leave PPA is not unconnected with the strength and the structure the party had. The party obviously you know, is a smaller party and I can tell you that the people that you find in PPA and all these small parties are people who are disgruntled or who were not accommodated in the bigger parties. Because they were not accommodated in the bigger political parties, they then look for smaller parties to join. But most of them haven’t got what it takes to help even though they would say they have and they want to do it. I saw a lot of merchants. All that the people are looking at is where they are going to get money.
In PDP, it is the same thing anyway, but because they have a bigger structure and they are older and more established and they are all over the place, it is not exactly the same. But then, it was the PDP that actually came to me to ask me to join them. I didn’t just get up one day and joined PDP. They came here in my office and begged me to join them after they sent two people who spoke to me in camera, the State Exco came over and we met in my office and they asked me to join them. They promised that they can provide a platform from where I can fly to achieve my aspiration. So I looked at it and joined them and I’m here today.
What has been the experience in the PDP compared to where you are coming from?
The experience is that it is a bigger party. It is a party that has got massive structure. Many structures are existing within the party. Some of the structures are built to antagonize the main structure. In any case, they are all doing their work. So, you see this one going this way, the other one is going the other way. Every time, there is a struggle within them. So, it is like a big house that is always divided among themselves but they also try to do their own thing. When they try to a point, they still come together and do certain things together but still, when it comes to maybe Presidency or Governorship, they always struggle when they start. Particularly in Anambra State, it will always come. Once there is an election coming up, new trouble will start or a rather rested trouble will resurrect with it. So, it is an experience anyway.
One thing that has made politics here difficult is that there is no ideology. People are just after what a candidate has got. That is all they are after. But when you look at even Anambra State, I have not seen anybody that ruled Anambra State that had money before they got there; but still, they will be asking about money. It is usually difficult generally, not just with PDP. It is the same with every other party.
The politics is all about how much and it is all about fraud. It is across the parties. Go to APC (All Progressive Party), APGA (All Progressive Grand Alliance) or whatever, it is all fraud. A rule is made, a constitution is written but nobody follows the constitution. Constitution is written to guide people to run their lives so that you don’t just change the goal post when you wish but nobody goes by that constitution. Everything is fraud from beginning to the end. Just like Nigerian constitution is fraud, so it is fraud with every other political party’s constitution. So it is a very difficult thing and I’m afraid, I don’t see ourselves emancipating in any way. It is not in sight. In next 100 years, we will be worse than we are today.
What do you think is responsible for this especially among young people we think ought to have been more ideological and should have been tired of the system and be driven more by desire for change?
I don’t blame the young people too much because it is what you put in them that they are giving out. It is what they see that they are replicating. They have seen fraudsters celebrated. They have seen people who emptied the coffers of the nation celebrated. So, they feel what is wrong about it? They have seen people who committed different kinds of crime against the state being celebrated. So, they have to feel that way.
Bible says teach a child the way to go, when he grows up he will not depart from it. We are teaching them not to work hard. Just don’t worry. We will take you to a special centre where you will pass your school certificate examination. We will pay for your admission. We will get you everything. How do expect the child to learn how to work? It is not their fault. That is why when I say I’m vying for the position of governor; I know I will have to at a point take a hard decision regarding what happens to maybe four to five million people. But I said I can do this.
I am better of doing that than going to the House or Senate. Everybody is telling me why not go the Senate but I said that it is not going there and making money that is my interest. My interest is how we can change the status quo. How we can turn things around again. We started good when people were working and when you work hard you see yourself on the top. But today, you are the best but you can’t get it because maybe you haven’t got an uncle that is a Commissioner or that is influential or that has money. That is the problem.
In the midst of all these problems you have enumerated, how do want to make Anambra State different from other states in terms of youth participation and activeness?
When there is a problem, definitely there will be a solution. If I have an opportunity of serving Anambra State, I will as a matter of urgency start a programme that will involve re-orientation of the minds of the citizenry. You have to make the youth in particular know that they are the owners of the society and that couple of people will live here for a very short while but it them who have a very long time to stay. So, they need to make this place work. The reorientation is too important and public enlightenment is too important to get the people to change their mindset.
Then, we must have to reward excellence. It is a way forward. Once you reward somebody for excellence, he is going to perform better. We must have to reward people who are willing to do what is right but who are not willing to do what is right, we must be able to face them and show them that what they are doing is wrong.
While we are doing this, you who is at the helm of affairs must live that same life. You cannot give what you don’t have, and you know that is what I am made of. It is what I have that I will give. Things have to be done right. We have to follow the lay down rule to do whatever we want to do. We can’t just say that anything anyhow goes. It transcend virtually in everything we do. So, this is the way I’m going.
Youths are many and they all there and they are not doing anything. They don’t have anything doing. You have to find a way of engaging them at least to reduce their restiveness. For the young once coming up, our education have to change. We must have a time for our children to take off from school. It is not when a child is 2 years you send the child to school. There is a parental care that is too important for the child and so, a child must get to a certain age before he/she starts going to primary school. We must have to change the curriculum. There are certain things that have to be taught in school. It is very important that at that formation age, as Bible says, we must teach the children patriotism, morals with strong emphasis, how to share with others and not winner takes it all, not only me because I am stronger than you. We are not in a jungle. We are trying to build a zoo. If we can make a zoo, our life will be better. In a jungle, stronger animals prey on the weaker ones but in a zoo, they are organized and each of them is living in their colonies without any molestation. That is why I say that those who are calling Nigeria a zoo don’t know what they are saying. A zoo is very organized and no python eats any other animals except their food. Western world are zoo because they are organized and everybody’s right is preserved but where we are is a jungle.
That is why when I talk of free education; I mean it for the people and just for politics. It is more important than sharing them money. It is more important than living ostentatious and false live. We must also have to dignify every labour. These are the things that must be done and that is why I said it is doable.
In your 2017 campaign, your agenda came in acronym, S-H-A-P-E-E-E. Has anything changed from that your 2017 vision?
It is still S-H-A-P-E-E-E we are looking at: Security, Health, Agriculture, Power, Education, Economic growth and Environment. Each of these areas is very important. What I talked about is still what I’m talking about now. We have to make sure that these areas are working simultaneously. None of them will be abandoned. If all of them are working, then we have something to hold onto. For instance, whatever we do here revolve around power (electricity). If we must survive as a nation, power must always be available.
How will you achieve constant power supply in Anambra State knowing fully well that some other states that have had their own power grids eventually failed to make it work?
I don’t need to tell you what I’m going to dobut those ones will not work because it is all fraud. What will cost N5, they budget N500, 000 for it. So, how will it work? We have to face the reality. What will cost N100, 000, they will use N1 million for it. Why will it not fail? But it will work here because I have told you that I will be the driver of my team. I have a team and it is where I direct it that it will go. We will take hard decisions. If it is working in other parts of the world, why will it not work here? Despite our claim that we are too intelligent and that we are better than the pink-coloured people, where are we? Where is that ingenuity we claim? That is when it will come to play.
There are a lot of Anambrarians and Nigerians who are knowledgeable out there who can come and give those services free. It is a charity work and they are ready to do it. I have spoken to a lot of them. They know it, they can do it and they are ready to come and give it free once you involve them but they are not happy with the way their own promise lands, the Africans are doing. They are willing to do what is right for the people but they need a leader that will stand by them. When they say this will go this way, that leader will enforce it, not the leader that will do what will go against what they are planning.
It is not going to be easy but it can still be done. Even within Nigeria here, there are people who have gone through the system and they are interested in making things work well but they can’t have their way. They can’t even talk. If they see a governor that they can talk to and who will evaluate what they are saying whether it is for the good of the people, they will agree. People come to me to talk about how to make things work.
Giving listening ears to everyone that has an idea is very important. You must have to listen. When you listen, it is not everything that you will take because you must have your own ideas, then you listen to people that will give you more ideas and you sieve and take the ones you want to work with and add to what you have. Possibly those people that I have spoken to might have the power to implement, you must involve them and guide them and then, you make sure that what they are doing will bring out the best.
Are you satisfied with the opposition role that your Party- the PDP is playing in Anambra State?
One thing is, how can you play that role when the party is not together? How can you play proper role as opposition party when Mr. A is talking one thing and Mr. B is talking a different thing? For instance, when you say something, somebody from the same party will say you are antagonizing the government, and the entire populace will say the same thing. They don’t know that they are being criticized constructively. That constructive criticism is what will make them to retrace their steps and correct their mistakes and certain steps they have taken that do not favour the state. The entire populace, I mean, the man in the street will become your enemy as the man who attacks the government.
That is why I said that there is a lot of enlightenment and teaching to be done for the citizenry. Once there is a government in power, there must be criticism to guide that government because even in our normal life when you are with your parents, they criticize you, scold you and tell you what you are doing wrong and that is what will help in bringing you up the right way. Then why wouldn’t we do it in our government but once you do it, they will describe you as the enemy of government.
If you become Anambra governor, will you tolerate opposing views?
Yes, I will. It is a good thing. It helps to cultivate the ground you have lost. As I am, I ask my people to criticize me. Tell me what I’m not doing well. But when you criticize and it is not objective, I will tell you that is not criticism but sentiment. Don’t bring sentiment because I don’t like sentiment. You have to be objective and factual. When you bring empirical figures, I will follow it. But if you bring sentiment that this one is a non-indigene, this one is Hausa and the other one is Igbo, I will not accept that. You can’t tell me that an Igbo man in his land is a non-indigene because he is not an Anambrarian. You can call him Imolite or non- Anambrarian but you shouldn’t call him none indigene. It is not acceptable. I’m telling you out of experience. Why should we call them that? It is wrong!
There are a lots of bigwigs in your party. Are you confident that you will get the ticket to be the flag bearer of the party?
Yes, I am. I am very, very, hopeful. My hopefulness is based on the fact that I have got what it takes. I am a party man. I joined PDP and I started building PDP. What their stakeholders-including those in the National Assembly didn’t do, I came in and started doing it. I bought vehicles for them that bear the face of PDP. I pay for the offices but the people who are holding their positions in their Houses of Assembly and National Assembly did not do that. But myself who is an ordinary member started doing it. I give them money to run the vehicles and maintain the vehicles. I pay rent of their secretariats in many Local Government Area and beyond. So, I am a Party person more than any other contestant. There is no other contestant that is a Party person. They have all come as emergency philanthropists!
(To be continued…)