Policy Briefs

Obaze Speaks as the 18 election countdown begins 

It’s exactly one week to the election today? Are you confident that your message is being well-received by the electorate?
OHO: Affirmatively. Yes, our message is being well-received. That Anambra is broken and needs to be fixed resonates and the general responses are very much positive. At the outset, before the primaries, some people said, “see you have done your assignment but you are competing with ‘experienced’ politicians, some with very deep pockets.” In the end God granted us victory.

Today the dynamics have clearly changed, from being a disorganised political party, the PDP is clearly the party to beat. I know that has a lot to do with the quality of the candidate and that of my deputy, Lady Chidi Onyemelukwe, and the manifesto with which we hinged our campaign on. And then the combined efforts of our numerous supporters who go out of their way to make sacrifices in order to secure the future of this state. Of a truth, God is with us.

The past few weeks have seen a gale of change of alliances. Some moved into your party PDP from other parties, some left your party to other parties. In all these, when you sit back to analyse, are you gaining more supporters or are you loosing more?

OHO: Honestly, the volume of support I have continued to receive surprises me till date. But it all boils down to style. Some dole out resources, swing some big names, rent a crowd, some of whom are not eligible voters, call up media people and shout that they have been endorsed. Others do theirs quietly. Tony, we are gaining more supporters, we are just not making noise about it.

There might be some people who are still undecided as to who to cast their votes for. If I am one of them, how do you convince me to binye aka ebe esere umbrella?

OHO: My humble appeal is for the voter out there to do some deep thinking before taking the all important decision of November 18. The consequences of that decision are enormous. In the space of the four years that we will have to live with the consequences of our collective decision, think of what is going to happen?

Think of the people who are going to die from preventable diseases simply because we have stopped investing in the healthcare of our people. Think of the people who are going to die from known recurrent epidemics like lassa fever, cholera and the likes, because government have refused to take the issue of sanitation and preventive medicine seriously. Think of people whose homes will be washed away by erosion because the government is not responsive and has continued to mismanage ecological funds. Think of the children whose future will be greatly jeopardised because the state didn’t invest enough resources in the education and human capital development of our people. Think of the youth who might fall into despair and maybe criminality because of joblessness. Think of the lives and properties we will continue to loose to bad and dilapidated roads.

In the past two to three months, just along the failed Umunya to Amawbia axis of the Enugu-Onitsha, I have personally seen some tankers, containers and other articulated vehicles trip over in the bad road, damaging goods and vehicles worth millions in the process. It is painful for any business man in this period of slowed economic activities to borrow money at excruciating interest rates from the bank, import his goods, spend enormous resources to clear it from the wharf, spend same on Customs’ checkpoints scattered from Lagos all the way down to the East, only for the container carrying his goods to come to Amawbia failed axis of the road to trip over and damage his goods.

I have personally been to all the nooks and crannies of this state, talking to people and hearing directly from them. I have seen market women walk up to me shedding tears that of how they have been serially abused by unruly tax agents acting on behalf of the government. I heard the story of a man who have to agonisingly watch the daughter die because he couldn’t afford hospital bills. I have seen parents who despite their hopes of a better tomorrow for their children, withdrew those children from school because they can no longer afford school fees. I have interacted with youths who dropped out of universities because they couldn’t keep up with tuition. See this election is mainly not about me, its about the kind of future we want for ourselves, our children and children’s children. As we speak, the state continues to borrow and spends same on media hype and frivolities, pilling up debts for our unborn children.

I am not saying that I alone will provide all the answers to these issues in the four years I have undertaken to serve, but we must ask: “who among these leading candidates is best situated to give this state the kind of leadership it desperately needs and indeed deserves. If you look at it critically, the answer is Oseloka H. Obaze. So yes, ụmụnne m, I appeal to you to binye aka ebe esere umbrella.

There might also be some people who have decided to cast their votes for your opponents. How do you convince them to change their minds and support you?

OHO: I have not seen an election in Nigeria where 100% of the votes cast go to only one candidate. So we are not hoping to convince every voter, we are simply hoping to convince majority of the voters. But one thing is sure, if voted into office, I will not be the Executive Governor of only those who voted for me. My government will insist on equitable distribution of the state’s resources – no community will be left behind.

There are some today who have said that politicians are all the same and therefore it is of no need to come out on the 18th of November to cast their votes for candidate. What’s your message to this set of people?

OHO: Politicians are not all the same. There are good ones and there are conventional ones. And the state’s recent experience with former Gov Peter Obi goes a long way to prove that point.We can never in our lifetimes find perfect leaders, but if we diligently seek, we will find good ones. My running mate, Lady Chidi Onyemelukwe and myself will not just be good leaders, we will be great ones! And I am not saying this as a matter of self promotion. But as you know politics is a game of number and choices. Anambra can elect to stay with Willie Obiano and experience another four year of profligacy and fiscal recklessness. They may choose APC and Tony Nwoye and allow Anambra to go the way of present Imo and Kogi states. Those states are benchmarks of APC leadership in these parts. 

They say power intoxicates, and absolute power intoxicates absolutely. Well, that applies to someone who have not been exposed to it before. I have served three Presidents of the Republic of Nigeria. I have served four Secretaries-general of the United Nations. I have served two Governors of this great state. I have served, especially at the United Nations, on several high-level committees that their decisions are far reaching. I have been exposed to power at its highest level, yet I have continued to live my life quietly the way I discussed with my Creator.

In this state, we have seen and have continued to see some who go about abusing people, fermenting trouble and acting rascally simply because they were appointed as Special Advisers. My name is Oseloka H. Obaze, if voted into office, I’ll continue to lead a quiet life and keep my words like I’ve done all through my life. 

 Do you have confidence in the electoral body – INEC – and security agencies, notably the Military and the Police, to discharge their duties effectively without fear or favour.

OHO: From what we have seen in this country, desperate political actors try to bend the process to arrive at an outcome that suits their interests. It doesn’t just happen in Nigeria, it happens in several other places, but the onus is on the electoral body, the security agencies and all concerned authorities to live up to their bidding. 2019 is very much around the corner, and Anambra election is viewed as a test case to determine the preparedness of our institutions to go into that election.

It is a little more reassuring knowing that electoral observers will be represented fully on ground and the international community is very much interested to see that our democratic processes are strengthened.

What’s your attitude towards the election, to win at all costs?

OHO: My attitude is that this election is a democratic process and I am totally committed to playing the game by the rules. Our wish is for the process to be sufficiently free and fair and credible. I have also committed myself to honouring the results of the election. I have continued to campaign vigorously and present my bona fides to ndi Anambra. But if at the end of the day, ndi Anambra, in their wisdom, decide to cast their votes in favour of any of my co-contestants, including the incumbent, I will congratulate the winner and move on. On the other hand, if I win, I hope the other candidates will treat me with that same attitude of sportsmanship. To me, this and any election is not a do or die affair. I’m in this because I sincerely believe that Anambra deserves better than it currently gets, but the ultimate decision lies in the hands of ndi Anambra.

I saw a video of you two weeks ago encouraging your supporters to conduct themselves peacefully in the whole electioneering process. You said and I quote “election is not a do or die affair.” Do you still hold that view today?

OHO: Yes I still hold that view. For the sake of people who didn’t see the video you saw, I’ll repeat what I said in the video. “Ụmụnne m ndi Anambra, I need your votes so that we can embark on the process of rebuilding Anambra state. Anambra state deserves better. Presently, it is badly broken, we need to fix it. I ask you to go and cast your votes for the PDP. While you do that, I ask you also to do so peacefully. No hate speeches, no mud slinging, and no violence. It does not augur well for us to engage in any form of violence. Democracy is a peaceful process, not a do or die affair. Come November 18, go out there and cast your votes for me. And please, do so peacefully.”

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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