Barr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, is among the gubernatorial aspirants of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Anambra state. Even when his party, insists that it’s not planning to zone its ticket to either of the three senatorial zones in Anambra, the Nnewi-born lawyer whose zone, Anambra South is clamouring for an opportunity to govern the state is still optimistic that he would obtain the ticket and ‘dethrone’ the government of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). He spoke with our correspondent, OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU on the recent fuel hike and increase in electricity tariff as well as the power shift in one of the South East states.
How would you assess the administration of governor Willie Obiano, who you intend to succeed?
The mere fact that we are having this interview in my home in Nnewi is a demonstration that he has done well. Because under his watch, the state has become the safest state in Nigeria. I am not holding forth for the incumbent governor but I must let you know that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria places security as the number one priority, while all other things are secondary.
The 2021 poll is by the corner and you’re among those in the race. Can you tell us what you intend to do differently if voted into power?
You know the election we are talking about would hold in November next year. It is therefore still too early to be talking about my manifesto. We are presently at the intra-party thing and, of course, getting the party’s nomination. I have seen aspirants copying one another on what they want to do if they win the election. I can’t do that. Perhaps they have less to do right now. I am a very busy person, a lawyer. I am sure you know that. It’s after getting the party’s ticket that I will roll out my programme for the state. Be that as it may, I wish to commend all those that have governed the state. They have all done well. I just have to put it on record that I will entrench a higher level of governance in Anambra state if I get the mandate to pilot the affairs of the state.
The issue of zoning has become a topical and your party appeared undecided on it. Some reports even claimed that the party leadership said it has not zoned it to the South senatorial zone. What is your take?
The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) has come out to deny that report. They clearly stated that the topic was never discussed in any of their meetings so far. Again, the governorship aspirants from Anambra South senatorial zone met and reaffirmed the need to respect the zoning norm in the politics of Anambra state as it regards governorship. I don’t want to be seen as being afraid of competition from other aspirants from other zones. But I must let you know that any serious political party will not joke with the zoning issue. This is because I don’t think any person in the Anambra South senatorial zone will vote for a candidate from other zones outside the South senatorial zone.
Nnewi appears to be presenting many aspirants for the governorship contest. Won’t this affect your chances?
It’s not a problem, let everyone exercise their right to vote and be voted for. By 2021, we will know who are really in the race. There are diverse reasons why people come out for elections.
Local government election is another sore issue that has occupied the front burner in political discourse in Anambra state. Will you conduct local government elections if voted in as governor of the state?
I will conduct free and fair local government elections in Anambra state if I become the governor though I must tell you that I know why it is difficult to conduct the election presently. There is a court order restraining the conduct of LG polls in the state. But as a governor, I will make efforts to set aside the restraining court order.
What are the chances of PDP regaining power in Anambra state?
The only challenge is for PDP to get their acts together. The party would have been in power now if the right things were done in the last election. But I am optimistic that we will get it right this time around. Afterall, we produced two of the three senators representing Anambra state in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly. The third slot was lost by default. More so, the PDP has six members of the House of Representatives. That should tell you the strength of the PDP in the state.
Many people are of the view that Nigeria as presently constituted is not working. What’s your take on this?
It doesn’t matter who is saying it. Nigeria is not working. It’s absurd for President Muhamadu Buhari to be flying to Mali to foster peace with the barrage of security issues confronting the nation. The only thing that would help Nigeria is to have a structure that will actualize equity and balance. You may not believe this but the Igbo presidency thing cannot help Nigeria except the needful is done. That is restructuring. This does not however mean that I don’t want an Igboman to become the President of Nigeria.
What’s your take on the hikes in fuel prices and electricity tariffs in the country?
The government of President Buhari made a lot of promises during the 2015 general elections. It was on the basis of those promises that Dr Goodluck Jonathan was humiliated out of office. For example, the APC government has not been able to repair any of the four petroleum refineries in Nigeria six years down the line. That is a clear summersault. They promised to allow forces of demand and supply to determine the price of petroleum products. That may not be a bad idea but other structures like enhanced transportation systems, rail systems and other things must be on ground. For me the government of the day at the center has shortchanged Nigerians. I have always said that I will take Anambra state to the next level but I can’t use that word again, APC copied my slogan and bastardized it. I will have to think of a better option, as nobody wants to hear “next level” in Nigeria again.
But it appears PDP is not performing its roles as the leading opposition political party effectively; at least to put the APC-led FG in its toes.
No, the PDP has been outspoken against the maladministration of the incumbent APC government. The National chairman of the PDP and other officials have always been in the news criticizing the bad policies of this APC administration. The only difference is that the PDP is decent. The party is not churning out fallacious items to discredit the government in power as APC did when they were in opposition. I’m sure you won’t blame PDP for being civil and realistic while playing the role of opposition political party.