A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chizor Lambert Obidigwe, is from Anyamelu/Oyi area of Anambra State. In this interview, he speaks on the state of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State and the issue of security amongst others.
Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is divided and it has been so for long. Why is that so? In which party is it well? - The thing is that the Peoples Democratic Party is a big family. Even in small hamlet, when people compete for positions, people are bound to try as much as possible to tell you that I can get this before you. And now, when people say all is not well with PDP, I ask, which party is it well with? There is crisis in APGA and other parties. But the issue is that we have to come together as a family and handle it as such. As our Baba will always say, it is a family affair.
The truth is, there is no family or human association - call it motorcycle union or any other thing - where people do not play politics. Politics is where people try as much as possible to get to the end before the next person. That is just it because it is about interest. In politics, people are selfish. So, the issue of all not being well with PDP, I don’t agree with that. It is all politics. But it is something that should be managed so that it won’t be that we are on the front pages of newspapers all the time which is not the best.
Another governorship election is due later in the year; don’t you think such internal wrangling could affect your party’s chances? - The party is doing some underground work to get our house in order but that I won’t have to say now. But I know that the party executives, both at national and state levels are working seriously to see how we can end the problem. Again, the issue of the party getting it depends on the individual that is nominated because people don’t vote for party; they vote people they believe in. I can assure you that the party is working seriously to reclaim the state.
How about the divisions among the zones on which one of them is eligible to produce the next governor? - I am from Anambra North and the truth is this, Anambra North is clamouring for a test of the seat but I am not interested in the seat. Politics is not something you compel somebody to do. So, if anybody is convinced within him, willingly to run for the election, let him come out. And like you said, we have more political heavy weights in the South and Central but power belongs to God. That is my motto. It does not really matter. Look at the present President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, nature has its own ways and there is always balance in nature.
Yes, they may have more political heavy weights but if it is the turn of the Anambra North, I tell you, somebody from nowhere can claim it. Someone you cannot even think of. I take myself for an example, I was not planning for this position but here I am today. When I was coming out, it was like hmm, who is this young man? But here I am today. It is like what the Christians say, when God says yes, no man can say no. Like I said, power belongs to God and I tell you just as it is in the Bible, God moves in a very mysterious way.
You never can tell and that is why nobody can say for sure that this is the next governor of Anambra State. It is possible that in six months time, you can say this is the likely person but as I am talking to you now, you cannot say it is this person. Even like two months to the election after knowing the candidates, it is still possible that you still cannot say for sure that this person will win the election. So, that may bring me back to the issue of who or which party will win.
In Anambra State today, we have the PDP, APGA, ACN, ANPP, LP but the major political parties in the state are just three, the PDP, APGA and the ACN. And I tell you that if it is not impossible that any of these parties can produce the next governor, everybody will be working to see that his party produces the next governor. As we are here in the House of Representatives, we have 11 members from the state: the PDP has five members, APGA has five members and the ACN, one.
In the Senate, you have two PDP members and one from ACN. So, you see, you cannot just dismiss the ACN with a wave of the hand neither can you just dismiss APGA too. Remember the present governor is APGA and when you get to the state assembly, you have majority of APGA. So, it is not a clear cut thing where you can say this is the party or the person that will win the election.
Can you assess the APGA government? - No comment on that. Things are there for people to see.
But do you share in the belief that the non-conduct of local government elections in the state is affecting development? - Knowing my background, knowing what I went through, anybody will for sure even without saying it, know that I will support the autonomy of the local government. It is a constitutional issue and it is also the third tier of government for God’s sake which is recognised by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, why can’t that tier of government operate on its own? It should operate on its own.
It is just like saying that the state government is an appendage of the Federal Government. It shouldn’t be! I would, in all honesty, suggest and subscribe to the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC). INEC should take charge of all the elections so that all the elections will be held the same period. If you have conducted local government elections in Anambra for instance, the rural man and woman who are in remote villages can get to the door of his/her councillor, knock and wake him up because the councillor of a ward lives with the people and if there is no water, he should be able to tell the people that there is no water; if there is no electricity, he should be able to tell the government that there is no electricity likewise other things.
These are the things that people in rural villages see and feel. If they have elected councillors and elected local government chairmen, things will be a lot much easier to the people because they closer to the people and they will be discharging their responsibilities, no matter how bad they do that, things will certainly improve. In fact I tell you, if an individual is elected a councillor or chairman and he performs creditably well, people will have to say we are returning you. If he performs badly in a turn of three to four years, people will say we are not voting for you because they are ones that feel it.
But what is happening to the non-conduct of the local government election is where you see the rural man moving to the assembly man to say he doesn’t need this and when that is happening, you will now find out that it is not everybody that has access to the state assembly man who is representing him or her at the state level not to talk of the federal representatives, senators or their governors. So, that is it. The non-conduct of local government is something that should be looked into.
So, has it affected development in your area and the state in general? - Not just my state, everywhere. Anywhere you see that local government elections have not been conducted, people suffer. It is affecting development negatively and there is no two ways about it.
Kidnapping is on the rise again. How can this menace be tackled? - Was there a time it left? The truth is this, security agencies are doing their best but they are undermanned. What is the population of this country and what is the staff strength of the police or all the military and Para-military personnel of this country? Now, this is where the issue of state police will come in because when you talk of state police, it goes to community policing. Everybody within the community or locality knows people who are strangers.
In my community, I know we have active vigilante group and the community is doing everything possible to sustain it so that you can sleep with both eyes closed. The central police cannot be relied upon. Like in my local government area for instance, how many police station do we have? We have one at Omasi, another at Omo and another one at Anaco and this is a local government of eight communities. If something is happening in other communities, before the police could get there would they not have gone?
So, it has to do with people policing themselves just like the advert place by the Nigerian Police, that everybody is a police of himself. Security issue starts with individual because nobody can police you than yourself. Again, it brings up the issue of, are we matured or are we really ready for this because our people abuse virtually everything. So, if the issue of community policing comes in, how do we provide checks to make sure that people recruited or appointed into it do not abuse the powers given to them? That is the main issue.