Anambrarians should go out and vote – Ikenga Umuawulu
High Chief Christopher Ndubisi, the Ikenga Umuawulu, ranks among global personalties who place premium on selfless service to humanity rather than individual fame and honour. Importantly, for Ndubisi, this begins from home, his hometown, Umuawulu in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The Abuja-based businessman and philanthropist has not only transformed his home town, Umuawulu with numerous developmental projects cutting across road construction, renovation of schools and health facilities, among others but has also contributed in no small measure towards the promotion of his people’s cultural heritage. On the sidelines of the recent Enugwu, Umuawulu New Yam Festival, OrientDaily’s Associate Editor, SIMON NJOKU and Reporter, LAWRENCE NWIMO spoke to Ikenga Ndubisi on some burning political issues including the Anambra 2021 and the 2023 general elections, IPOB etc. Excerpts.
Man is a political animal, having served your people so glowingly, is there any likelihood you would like to serve them in other capacities, like representing them in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives or even as governor of the state, in the future?
For now, I have no such intention. As human beings, we do not know our destinations. Wherever God wants us to be, there we would be. For now, I have no political intention or ambition. All that I am doing is just to give back to my people, to show appreciation to the land that produced me.
How prepared are you to support any member of your community vying for any elective political position in Anambra State?
I’m a big stakeholder on the issues of Umuawulu and Awka South and anybody
who is coming out with good ideas would be well supported. I don’t believe
in anointing a candidate or saying this is the man. I believe in you showing what you can do.
Of course, what an average Anambra
man needs is development. We don’t need any other thing other than that. So, whoever that wants
my support must have developmental plans in place for him to
gain my support. That is my position. Now, talking about the 2023 presidency and the Igbo’s quest for this position, how prepared do you think the Igbo are to take over the mantle of leadership of this nation? Our people say that ‘A ga na-alu ogu tupu police e nwee bia’ (there would continue to be fight till police comes). What I am saying is that I do not see us not being prepared. Politics is a game and not an issue of fighting and noisemaking. It is a game that involves diplomacy.
I don’t think our people have applied enough diplomacy to what is happening now because by now, our people ought to have gone to other ethnic, sociocultural groups and geopolitical zones to seek their support because a tree does not make a forest. Nigeria is divided into the South and North and in that south exist three geopolitical zones, likewise in the north. So, left for us, we cannot do it alone. We need support of other geopolitical zones to win the race. 2023 is around the corner and I am not seeing us making the needed moves and efforts that will yield us the results we are talking about because there are supposed to be many engagements going on now and our people are not doing that. By so doing, I’m seeing many things hampering our chances of getting what is our turn. I believe it would be just, if the president can come from the Southeast and would douse the tension and cry for marginalization of the Southeast.
Igbo presidency would unite Nigeria the more because it would eliminate issue of marginalization and discrimination. We have six geopolitical zones and others have tasted it, why can’t we have a taste of it. Why are we hindered from being in Aso Rock? So, I think time will tell because we have all it takes to lead the country and also to make changes in the political equation of Nigeria because we believe there is a gift that God has given to an Igbo man and there is nothing you hand over to him that he cannot manage and make it to grow. We believe that Nigeria will be great if an Igbo man rules the country.
Some candidates from the North and Southwest are being touted for this position, why are the potential candidates for this position from Igbo land shying away from indicating their interest in the job?
We have prominent personalities in Igbo land. It is just that campaign has not started. What is being done now is consultations and at this juncture it is a welcome development but would be more justifiable if zoned to the Igbo since other geopolitical zones have tasted it.
You cannot say it is open to all when in the other dispensation it was unanimously agreed. There is no need opening the race for everybody. All the political parties should zone their presidency to the East. If it is zoned to the south, then it should be tilted towards the Southeast.
What is your opinion on the activities of IPOB and the sit-at -home order?
Igbo adage says: ‘ You don’t beat a child and stop same child from crying’. What they are doing is good. In every family, there must be fighters and peacemakers. What they are doing is good but what I am against is killing a fellow Igbo man in the name of IPOB and destroying our economic base by saying people should stay at home. This is not the best way to go about it.
There are so many ways of getting people involved in the struggle. Let them not do things that would discredit their good deeds. So, I want the IPOB to try as much as possible to change the narrative in a way that would be for the generality of the Igbo people. It would be proper to tell Igbos, both home and diaspora, that any day Nnamdi Kanu would go to court, let there be sit-at-home. It would be a good thing but not Mondays when people are supposed to go out in search of what they would eat you will now tell them to stay at home. So, if they allow people to go about their businesses and make sure they get people involved through town hall meetings, ideas and ideology would come to play. It won’t be like sectional activities.
IPOB has officially lifted the Monday sit-at-home but it appears that people have refused to come out on Mondays, how can we resolve this situation?
Well, the fear of what happened previously is still in the minds of the people. They still have a duty to assure the people that the ban has been lifted and that people can go about their normal businesses pending when another directive would be given.
What’s your take on IPOB’s insistence that there would not be election in Anambra State?
Ehm! I have a different idea from that. Let me tell you, Rome was not built in a day. There are so many ways to this. If you are people of different ideology and there is a constituted authority, you can change the narrative in so many ways that would not affect the issues of constitution, breach of trust or even security.
If IPOB feels that they have the number and they mean well to the people of the Southeast, what they should do is to identify their own candidates among the aspirants, and present them for elective positions. When their own is elected, they go to another state and present their own. With that, they would start propagating their vision and in a decade or so they would take over Southeast. With this, whatever they want to do in the Southeast would be unanimously agreed by all that share their ideology. I was watching a clip recently where Cardinal Arinze was telling them the same thing, that you cannot force the government to listen to you but can technically vote in the people that will listen to you, not with force but with diplomacy.
With the power that INEC wields, would you say even if IPOB presents a candidate the government-ordained candidates would not be declared winner?
In this instance, one can only get into government by ballot. INEC is just an umpire. They are not the voters and do not decide. Our people have this feeling that INEC is all and all. INEC only administers the process which is what they are paid to do. Anambra people are not persons you can toil with because of their political and economic strength. No one can impose somebody on them. The process is still on and we are watching. I do not think that INEC has taken sides.
It is just the normal social media way of politics and I have never seen where election was not done and somebody was declared a winner. If it happens in other places, it cannot happen in Anambra State. Even if Andy Uba wins the election, it cannot be by imposition. He is working and campaigning like other candidates such that I don’t think if anybody who wins the election would be by imposition. Anambra is too big for somebody to be imposed on them.
Are you telling Anambrarians to go out and vote and that INEC will do the needful?
Yes! of course. Let them go out and vote on the election day. INEC is just about 5% of the electorate. INEC staff are very few compared to the number of persons that would go out to vote on the election day and if the people’s wish is to have a credible election, then it would prevail. I remember what happened in Kano state when Kwankwaso had his election. People voted and waited for their votes to be counted. So, I don’t see anything that would make somebody say there is an imposition of candidate on the people. It has not happened in smaller states not to talk of Anambra where we have the might and the will.
When you look at the political campaigns of candidates vying for the gubernatorial seat, would you say they are campaigning hard enough to convince the people to vote for them?
You know, a lot of litigations in this year’s Anambra election have made people not to know the right candidate for each party but INEC has, has now released the final list of candidates for the election. I believe that campaigns will now start in earnest.
Would you recommend electronic transmission of votes for the Anambra governorship election and why?
We are in a modern age where election transmission should be electronic because we have got all it takes. Federal government has spent huge sums of money in trying to make sure that elections are electronically transmitted. Ghana and Rwanda have adopted it and it is working for them, why can’t we do the same? If Anambra election would be used as a litmus test for the electronic transmission, it would be a welcome development. INEC is trying their best and I believe they would do the needful.
Assessing the performance of Obiano’s administration in Anambra State, would you say the current government has done well?
First is that the governor has tried his best. You cannot change a man or over blow someone’s intellectual capacity. He has performed to the level of his own intellectual capacity and we are happy with what he has done so far. We appreciate the airport project which so many great governors we have had in the past could not do. So, if that would be his legacy project, we would take it to be so.
He has done his best. Looking at it from a general perspective, we need to understand the circumstances the governor found himself. He cannot do much because when the oil revenue dropped and the internally generated revenue, IGR, also dropped, insecurity crept in and has eaten the biggest part of Nigeria just like the COVID-19 pandemic that befell the world. There was also the EndSARS protest. So, the government grappled with so many uncertainties in Nigeria and in the world at large. I think the governor is trying his best and we want him to try harder before he leaves.
Finally, What is your message to people of Umuawulu as the year winds down?
Well, my message to them is to be steadfast, be prayerful and embrace God the more. They should work because there is an adage that says ‘there is no food for a lazy man’. Let them work hard to ensure that the remainder of this year is well utilized and pray for the peace and progress of Umuawulu Community.