APC well positioned to win Anambra 2021 polls – Chairman 

Ejidike

Sir Basil Ejidike is the Anambra State Caretaker Committee Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC). In this interview with OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU, the state chairman listed the challenges confronting the party in the state and how they wish to overcome it as the 2021 gubernatorial poll beckons. 

Excerpt:

INEC recently published date for Anambra 2021 gubernatorial poll. How prepared is APC and its members for the Nov. 6 2021 polls?

We are a law abiding group. We will diligently follow INEC’s programme according to the timetable. APC is fully prepared this time around for the election. For those living in Anambra state, they all know that since late last year that we have been doing all that we need to do to ensure that nothing stands between us and victory at the governorship poll in the state. We don’t want any stories. Because in any election there is no value for second best. Anyone who come second in election has failed. We won’t want a repeat of what happened to us in 2017.
However, you know that immediately after the last general election, the first thing my party did was to set up a fact- finding committee to find out what actually went wrong. After all, like I often point out that any political party that is incapable of winning elections is not supposed to exist. Rather it should be seen as a social organisation. Ours is a political party and we must always be ready to win elections.That committee we set up immediately after the last governorship election has turned in its report and we are committed to implementing its findings and recommendations in order to reshape and reposition every aspect of our party.

What could be the committee’s findings and ways forward? 

We discovered that the major challenges confronting our party in Anambra is lack of understanding and mistrust amongst the key leaders of our party. And any house divided against itself cannot progress. So we are already tackling that aspect. That was main reason we invited and had the Vice President in the state in July 2020. That visit was aimed at helping us unify and bring peace among the leaders of our party in Anambra state. He admitted that he understood out problems, and expressed readiness to assist us to overcome them. I can say openly that we have not really actualised the benefits of that visit. It has not paid off the way we wished. But that did not mean we did not achieve anything. The second issue we discovered is that the party has no reward system in APC. People who had been working for the party have always lost out in party patronages. The people who benefit were discovered to be only those in a position to go to Abuja. It all means that after working for the party and you are unable to go to Abuja running from one office to another, you will be forgotten. And that has not paid us off in any way. Unfortunately, it has in a way demoralized a lot of our members. Imagine those at the Wards’ polling units after toiling for the party are forgotten. How would we expect them to work in the interest of the party next time. It’s not likely such persons will accept to work conscientiously and perform miracle for us again. Not likely. That was part of the reason most of them ended up disappearing with the money given to them to work for the party at the polling units during the elections. We have discovered all these things.

Another issue was lack of funds. The party has not been funding us at all. This was also linked to the situation where those who had been getting juicy appointments are not those on ground in the state. The Federal Government needs to be helping the party at the states by contacting us before giving out appointments. So those who went to Abuja to secure appointment now see such as coming to them through their personal efforts, connection or ability, hence that they have nothing to do with the party. These are veritable avenues of raising funds, but were lost because of the mode being adopted. A situation where the party chairman has to use his money to carry on with the day-to-day running of the party does not in any way augur well with the party. These are the three key areas that we are working hard on right now. Once we recognize the need to appreciate and compensate those who have worked for the party and once the party is funded, the sky will be our limit. We are currently working to remedy the situation. We have hosted several meetings with our stakeholders. All have resolved to work together. The Sen. Ngiges, Tony Nwoyes, Chief George Moghalus, Senator Andy Ubah, Sen Margery Okadigbo, are our backbones. They are not relenting to see us to victory. We are working so hard and it is paying. Last month the Ubom Nibo, Okelekwe joined the party with a lot of his supporters. At the last weekend’s stakeholders meeting, he brought more, while the entire structure of the United People’s Party (UPP) joined us. So, with all these heavy duties and machineries, what will stop us from taking Anambra state in the Nov 6, 2021 election? Few days ago, all the Ministers and other top FG functionaries of the party joined the Imo state governor -Hope Uzodinma to come to mobilize our members.

The INEC Chairman said there would be new changes and guidelines to be introduced in Anambra state guber polls. Are you confident in the commission in handling the poll? 

Well if you are not optimistic, you cannot move further. We are optimistic. Though no system is perfect. So on the coming election, we will wait until we get to the bridge before thinking of how to cross it. For now, we don’t have any issue with the INEC.

How many governorship aspirants have so far indicated interest to run under your party?

They are nine so far. They are very qualified by any standard. And anyone who wins the primary carries the mandate and support of all others. Like I said earlier, this time around, we are not leaving any stone unturned. We must belong to the mainstream. You can only change the system by belonging within the system and not from outside the system. If you refuse to belong inside but chose to be talking from outside, no one would even listen to you. A situation where the governor turns to APC whenever he reaches Lokoja, but on his way back, reaching Niger Bridge, he turns to APGA, doesn’t augur well for the state and our people. That is pure deceit and we can no longer tolerate that in Anambra. It’s either you are APC or APGA. You must distinguish clearly where you belong.

What’s your greatest worry in the forthcoming governorship election?

I would have been worried if the FG failed to live up to its expectation. The APC led FG has done more than expected in Anambra state. It cannot in any way be compared with the sixteen locust years of the PDP. Are you talking of the roads construction, Zik’s Mausoleum, the Second Niger Bridge, monthly school feeding of thousands of students in the state, Trader Moni, etc. These are things we were not used to, but the FG has brought them down to us. Also inclusive is the Onitsha seaport which is now functional and containers have been arriving and discharged there with ease. In view of these and others I couldn’t mention, there is need for us to belong to the mainstream politics of the nation.

What is the party doing to update its membership register?

The state committee on that exercise has been inaugurated. We are hopeful that the exercise will kick off first week or next month (February 2021).

Any words of advice to Anambra to join APC?

I am happy that our people have realise the need to join our party. The surge into APC, our fold recently, is a proof. Our people should come in and stop playing second fiddle. The need to be in the mainstream is paramount because there’s no second winner in any election. If you fail that first position, then you have lost woefully. I am quite sure that Anambra electorate are now a lot wiser. Consider a situation where the governors are meeting and twenty-six of them -from the APC stock meeting, then the PDP team meeting in a corner, and then you find our dear lone child idling away in one dark corner. Come to think of it, are we supposed to be alone in Nigeria? Can one governor be said to be holding a meeting by himself alone?  We must belong where the majority are, that is at the centre. We cannot be made to hang by the window instead of being in the front row inside. We belong to the high table. 

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