Honourable Ojukwu N. Ojukwu, an indigene of Alor town in Idemili South Local Government Area is a household name in Anambra State politics. To him, Anambarians deserves the best and the future they are yearning for is now and not tomorrow. Economic Times, Nigeria’s Factual Economic Magazine, caught up with the November 17th, 2017, Anambra State governorship aspirant under the platform of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) at his Abuja office. Ojukwu, an economist and a business man of high repute, opened up on his aspirations and vision to make Anambra State an economic hub through industrialization, youth empowerment, job creation, poverty eradication and sustainable growth. His enthusiasm about establishment of ‘Anambra Trust Fund’ if he is elected governor, to tackle abject poverty and what he described as hopelessness in the State are here captured by the Managing Editor, Yusuf Issa An-Nuphawi. Excerpts:
You are in the governorship race and in this part of the world, people believe that to make quick money is to join politics. What is the force pushing you into the governorship race?
In fact, a lot of errors have been done in the past, I’m not joining the race for monetary gain, it’s not about money, it’s about passion. Our people have gone through a lot of deficiencies in the state; infrastructure deficiency, high youth unemployment, poverty ravaging the people and so many errors are actually going on in the state. These old men have not been able to do enough. These are the factors that provoked my passion. It’s my desire to correct the errors, to make some changes thereby making life better for my people. Imagine most Anambarian graduates, still solely dependent on there parents and or guardian, these are one of the things that spurred me in joining the contest. I have the passion to correct, to emancipate and to deliver our people by giving quality governance to our people and make them to understand that, it is not just about some politicians taking advantage of their destiny, it is all about making sure that things are rightly done.
What are the differences you’ll want to make if you are elected Anambra State Governor in November, 2017?
A lot, a whole lot. Let me start with the issues of youth unemployment, imagine 70% of the youths in the state are unemployed and the incumbent governor has not done enough to get these youths out of the street. He is not doing anything to get them properly engaged into the real sector of the economy. There are a lot of areas that should be fully corrected. The few interviews I have granted in the past, I told them I will create ‘’Anambra trust fund’’ for the youths. This trust fund will be targeted towards creating an enabling environment for youths; some of them who are skilled, who are good in one thing or the other; should be able to tap into the fund. By doing so, they will not just be useful to themselves but to there families. When that is achieved, you’ll find out that this will also reduce considerably, the crime rate in the state and also improve the economy of the state. I intend to put in four billion naira in four years; one billion naira will be given out annually to both young men and women including the market women accross the state. I believe that when the family is empowered, the society is empowered and when the society is empowered, the state is empowered. Secondly, the health sector in Anambra is nothing to write home about. Our general hospitals are all dilapidated, no facilities, no medical personnel. You’ll agree with me that the incumbent governor has performed below expectation in such an important sector. If elected, I’ll ensure that every community in Anambra have at least one funtional health facility.
As regards agriculture, we will help the farmers by empowering them with the requisite skills, provide each local government in the state with modern agricultural equipments. Anambrians who are farmers can actually feed Anambra State, there won’t be any need to leave Anambra to import food, because our agenda will attract private investors into the agricultural sector of the state. I make bold to say that after the expiration of our tenure, Anambra will become the one of best and the biggest in terms of agriculture in Nigeria.
I have observed the tourism sector brings a lot of money to some states, look at Cross River and look at Akwa Ibom making a lot of money. I intend to fully explore the tourism sector and also develop the Ogbunike cave, the water front in Onitsha and alot of other neglected tourist attractions in our state.
A look at the industry and some of the factories that were established few years ago, shows that this administration is not doing enough. And I tell you, if the industries are properly managed, we are going to get our youths out of the street and improve the economy of our state. Imagine if the health sector is working, agriculture and power sector is properly taking care of, when private investors come into the state, with all these efforts, I tell you, Anambra State will be great again.
One of the easiest thing to do as a newly elected Governor is to hire and attract smart policy advisors, how do we know that you know enough to not just accept everything they say?
If elected governor, apart from the fact that I have the contacts of so many experts and technocrats who have all it takes to help us bring back the lost glory of our dear state, I’m a well trained economist, well exposed in the private sector, having gotten so many recognitions. I should be able to distinguish between my right from left, I should be able to tell when i have been given a wrong advice. This is beyond political party or political job, it’s a movement of concerned citizens, friends who actually want our state to shine. Anambra is the light of the nation, it should not only be in theory but also in practical.
You participated in the past election for the House of Representative seat but didn’t hit your target. What do you think went wrong in that election?
I have chosen not to talk about my last election for some few reasons, but I will do that here. I contested under the Peoples democratic party (PDP), there was a lot of abnormality in that election and that contributed largely to the collapse of the party in the state. I told the then National Chairman of the party that if we disallow free, fair and credible election, especially in the area of electing the real candidates that will represent doom for the party in the general election . Some came from nowhere to the party, with little knowledge of how we started the journey, they just came from Abuja and all of a sudden they emerged flag bearers of the party.You have to understand the fact that these people, have no connection with the grass root. I won the primary election, but from nowhere they brought another candidate, we had to resort to court. Thereafter, i made my supporters see the need to form an alternative platform, move at our own pace and touch the life of the average Anambra youth with the youth party. These are among the many things that made us to leave the PDP for the YDP.
You are wining the hearts of the masses already, especially youths and market women across the State, what is the attractive force?
Our people say that a good product displayed for sale in the market sales it self as little or no effort is requred to attract buyer. I enjoy a lot of support because a lot of our people have seen potentials in me. They have seen that it takes a determined set of people to achieve a determined goal. I have had time to sit with the traders and their respective traders union executives in Ochanga market, Main market and Eke Awka market. I can boldly say that I understand their challenges. They have seen me fullfil my promises in the past where, i provided infrastructure in some of the markets across the state especially at Ochanga market where we constructed some drainage. They saw the vision and they also believe that if they elect me as there governor, I owe them a duty to do more. And these are what birth different support groups. Currently I have over a thousand support groups and NGOs backing this movement.
You are contesting an election with perennial actors in Anambra politics, Do you think your dream realisable?
Offcourse, the dream is 101% realizable, realizable in the sense that people are tired, people are angry, people want change. The slogan is change the change. If you look at my bill boards and posters it boldly shows ‘the future is now’ . Many years ago, I knew that I’ll someday be a leader, as a primary school pupil, we were referred to as the leaders of tomorrow. I remember my teacher then, encouraged us to work hard so as we can take over from General Muhammadu Buhari who was then the Military head of state. Thirty years later, General Muhammadu Buhari is the President today. Did my teacher lie to me or the future is yet to come? Based on these I believe that this movement is a success already. A success in the sense that if you look at the people involved in the movement, they are over 90% youths. we also have market women and elderly men. For instance, few days ago in Owusi community, the community leader gave me a wonderful blessing apparently because he believes in me. He said he saw in me, a young man taking this state to the promise land. Let me tell you something, all these people you call perennial actors who have been contesting, some of them only come into contest without intention to alleviate the sufferings of the people. They are part of the old machinery of political saboteurs who have no goodwill for the state. Last week, i was addressing youths at a convention, i made them understand that the problem of the youths, can only be tackled head on by a youth. If the youths come together, and put all hands on deck, with the vision we have, certainly we’ll achieve the desired success at the polls and that is already in place. I Honourable Ojukwu is determined to make a change, determined to deliver our state from political saboteurs, from economic deficiency, from high rate of unemployment, from poverty and also helping youth and children roaming the streets. Today, there’s nothing like free education, there is nothing like free Medicare in the State. In my capacity by the grace of God, these things should be solved. I told them in one of the meetings i had with youths in Ekwulobia, we held that if I’m elected governor, I’m going to run a free and sustainable education from nursery to secondary school level. It is realizable, I have shown them how it will be realized. The new era is a new music, a music of change, a music of newness and a music of bringing dividends of democracy and dividends of good governance to our people and that is the truth. Let me tell you, if God willing, I emerge as Governor on November 17th, 2017, with this sustainable manifesto in the public domain and my personal website, every single Anambrian should hold me accountable for every promise I made. I have promised and I will fulfill it
Have you received endorsement of any political godfather? And how do you relate with the political heavyweights in the state?
My answer is clear. I have cordial relationship with some of them, but the kind of relationship I have with them does not change my passion for my people. I’ve been able to sustain the relationship because I respect them as elders and stakeholders. Some few weeks ago, I was with a Former Governor of our State, he gave me some advice and words of encouragement. I appreciate it and I will continue to pay homage and appreciate some of them. The fact is that, they should allow peace to enable good things to happen to us. Some people believe that when you relate with some of these men, they tend to finance you, I’ll like to state categorically that, no single politician has ever financed this movement. This movement is financed by the poorest citizens of Anambra state. The fact is that this movement is beyond any individual, politician and also beyond any godfather. Infact, God fatherism is dead in Anambra State and it has been completely forgotten courtesy of Dr chris Ngige.