Chief Joseph Anene Okonkwo, is the pioneer chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State. In this interview with some Journalists in Awka, Chief Okonkwo widely referred to the Guru of Anambra State politics, tried to assess the parties campaigning for the November 18 governorship election n the state, among other issues. NKIRU NWAGBO who was there, reports.
The November 18 governorship election in Anambra State is fast approaching; can you assess the parties participating in the election and their campaigns so far?
Let me tell you right away that the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is the only party genuinely contesting this election. It is the only party with a legitimate candidate.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are gold diggers in the November 18 governorship election. They are being sponsored by godfathers.
In the PDP, a former governor of the state who is a new joiner, a fresh member so to say brought his foster son and school mate at Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha to join him hijack PDP.
He has made him the party’s candidate in the election, but from all indications, they have not officially joined the party as I learnt.
So, but the party’s governorship candidate and his deputy including their financier hijacked the primaries of the PDP to the annoyance of original members.
They have caused the disintegration of the PDP in Anambra State as I speak.
There is now the Senator Annie Okonkwo and his group, the Dr. Alex Obiogbolu faction which have ended up in court over the same reasons.
You now see that the PDP will be going into the election factionalised and disintegrated. How can a house divided against itself stand?
As for the APC, some principal actors in that party led the burning of Anambra State during the reign of Dr. Chris Ngige as governor.
They also abducted him. By our efforts then, myself and Igwe Peter Anukwu of Mbaukwu, Ngige secured his freedom at Choice Hotel in Awka, where he was held hostage.
We were able to disperse the hoodlums and brigands who burnt the state down. Now, they are the people shamelessly aspiring to come and lead the house they burnt down. What a disaster? What an irony of fate?
There is this controversial issue of N7.5Billion which the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi now a PDP member alleged he used to make the incumbent governor, Mr Willie Obiano Governor in 2013 for which he now ask for a refund, but which Obiano was said to have dismissed. What is your take on this?
You see, shortly after he left office, former Governor Peter Obi came to my house in Abuja to complain to me how he spent the sum of N7.5 Billion on Obiano in 2013 to make him governor.
That while he needed a refund that Obiano is not yielding. I was sort of taken aback and asked him a few questions. How come this claim; I asked him. He repeated in my own house in Abuja the N7.5 Billion.
I then reminded him that when he was aspiring to be governor in 2003, I was one of the few people approached.
In fact, he visited my home in Enugu with drinks in company of one Oscar Onumdiwe from Ogbunike and Chukwudi Okafor from Enugwu-Ukwu, my home town.
He gave me his manifesto and told me his ambition while soliciting my help and advice as a political “guru” in the state as he said who know Anambra State in and out.
So, when he sought to contest, I thought he was genuine, having told me his elder brother and sister were reverend father and sister in the Catholic Church. In fact, I felt he was coming from a religious background.
But at a stage as we talked, I found out that he run out of money with which to prosecute his ambition and had to rely on friends some of whom are businessmen from Anambra resident in Lagos. It was then I also found that he was indebted to some banks.
So, when he made this claims of N7.5 Billion that he spent on Obiano to make him governor, I asked how come, knowing that before you won the election you were not buoyant again.
You see, after he was sworn-in as governor, because of his low profile style, little did we know until we got the information that he was taking a security vote of N1.5 Billion, and later N2 Billion.
Again, when he forcefully took over public lands in Onitsha and forced the original owners out with the excuse that brews “Hero Beer” in the name of the state, little did we know that it was a personal investment against what he told us.
So what I am trying to say is that he lacked the moral rectitude to attack Obiano who is clean as perfect gentleman saying he refused to repay N7.5Billion spent on him during the 2013 governorship elections if he did.
But sir, these things you just said have not explained what transpired in your house at Abuja when he complained to you about the money and Obiano’s refusal to reimburse him.
When he told me Obiano owned him N7.5 Billion and sought my help to recover it, I asked him how he got that kind of money when I know that before he became governor he was indebted to some individuals and banks.
He didn’t answer me the question but said that I was insulting him because he came to my house and stormed out.
But I told him that I won’t be a party to fleecing the people of the state with the sum of N7.5million if ever he spent it.
Obiano is using that money prudentially to build bridges in Awka and some other places which is visible, pay salaries while some states can’t, provide security, build roads and revolutionise agriculture and we are happy for that.
But I know that Obi didn’t spend that kind of money on anybody if you knew him very well.
Are these things building three fly-over’s in Awka and perhaps a bridge in Aguleri enough to earn Obiano re-election when people now say that he under performed?
See, let me tell you, Obiano has touched lives in all the 177 communities in the state. There is no town in Anambra State that has not benefited from him in the last three years.
Think about the N20million grant he gave to each of the 177 communities in the state to do any project that is dear and beneficial to their communities.
The communities through their Town Unions and Traditional rulers sat down to chose their projects, appointed contractors themselves and monitored the execution of the projects to their satisfaction.
Today, towns that were unable to build town union secretariats have down so, those without markets and parks and or civic and health centres have done so depending on their priority.
He has practically driven away armed robbers in Onitsha and people now come to do business.
Everywhere is now secured and you can drive from one part of the state to the other 24hours a day without fear of being robbed or kidnapped. Also look at what he is doing in the agriculture sector.
Obiano has touched lives in all the 177 communities in the state. There is no town in Anambra State that has not benefited from him in the last three years. Think about the N20million grant he gave to each of the 177 communities in the state to do any project that is dear and beneficial to their communities. The communities through their Town Unions and Traditional rulers sat down to chose their projects, appointed contractors themselves and monitored the execution of the projects to their satisfaction.