BY ANDREW ESSIEN
…..Ogbuefi Nonso Ozoemena is a gubernatorial hopeful in Anambra State under the Young Democratic Party (YDP). In this interview, he speaks on his plans for the state, should he be elected as governor in the forthcoming election.
You declared to contest Anambra State governorship election. Mentally and physically how ready are you for the race?
It is true that I want to contest for Anambra State governorship position and that is the reality on ground. I declared last weekend and I can tell you that what is about to happen in Anambra State is a revolution and an unprecedented good thing.
Considering your age, are you not scared of contesting for such position?
I keep telling people that as a good student of history we should be awakened by what is happening across the world right now. It is the trend of young men taking over the apex leadership and governance of many countries. It has now become a movement.
I have the zeal and enthusiasm towards achieving the aim of leading Anambra people as the governor. It may look obviously cumbersome but I am an incurable optimist. I don’t believe in impossibility. For one to make an impact, one must conquer that enemy called fear. As a politician, I have conquered that fear and I cannot wait to unleash what I have in stock for Ndi Anambra. I have been having very robust engagements with the people and I know that age is not a barrier. I have the capacity to lead Anambra as the governor and I am very optimistic about winning the race.
At your age you ought to be mobilizing support for the incumbent, what has he not done well that you want to fix?
In fairness to Governor Obiano, he has done his best especially in the area of security, but I believe that his best is not enough. I have a philosophy about politicking, I don’t engage in attacks. My style is to elucidate and put the cards of my policies and programs on the table and convince people to key into it. I don’t want to really care about what anyone else is doing. However, As i give the governor credit in the area of security, I will say that Anambra State needs to step up leadership. I strongly believe that the governor won’t be able to provide that leadership Ndi Anambra desire now.
As a millennium complaint politician my vision for Ndi Anambra is entirely different from what anybody envisages for them. I have a totally different platform of what I want to engage them and my major anchor point is on industrialisation. We have to step up governance by moving to the next level of industrialising the state. This is my major focus and item in my pact with Ndi Anambra.
What do you really think will stand you out from other candidates?
What will stand me out are my policies and programs. My courage, consistency on issues and the content of my character. People who know me can testify that I am a young man with very consistent character. I am a very happy family man, educated and one of the most intellectually endowed person.
My age is really my uniqueness. I represent the young people of this country who have tenant enough in their country and my declaration will kick start the movement to awaken the Nigerian youths to take their destinies into their hands.
The level of youth participation in Nigerian politics is not encouraging and I want to change that concept that have been lacking over the years. I want to take up the leadership of that movement that will spring up others from the 36 states of this country.
The trend of young men assuming governance is a breeze sweeping across the world. From France to the Republic of Ireland and even in South Africa where a young man is leading the major opposition party. Nigeria should not be left out of the trend.
I don’t believe in relegating the elders to inconsequentiality. They have done their best but in the minds of every Nigerian, their best has not been enough. The youths want to correct their mistakes and I want to act as the bridge between them and the younger generations. I have the competence and capacity to start the political revolution with the Anambra governorship election.
What are your biggest fears contesting the Anambra governorship election?
I am very much aware that election in Nigeria especially in Anambra State is capital intensive. But I strongly believe in the people. The modus operandi of my campaign is devoid of godfatherism.
My godfathers are the Almighty God and the people. I have had a robust engagement with the people and the level of contributions people are making to my campaign is shocking. The market women, people in diaspora and the youths are donating to my campaign through my website. The T-shirt for my campaign is already on sale.
I have presented myself as an open person and I have told them that I am not a money bag but a man with vision and character to change Anambra State. I strongly believe that the funds will come. They will spend their billions but the impact of the little millions I will spend will be unimaginable. That I ćan guarantee you.
What will make you pull out of the race?
It is unimaginable and if there is anything that would have made me do so, that would have been probably my mother, wife and kids. But the good thing is that they have come to realize that this is a mission that must be accomplished. I believe that one of the reasons God created me is to lead this movement and I am very optimistic about this.
I don’t think anything will make me pull out of the race. Clearly only God can, since nobody knows tomorrow. But no amount of intimidation, harassment, blackmail and conspiracy will stop me. I strongly believe that my manifesto will sweep any doubter off his or her feet.
Nobody has offered my people what I am offering them. I believe in the wisdom and intellectual level of Ndi Anambra to make the right judgement come November this year. I believe that even the so-called godfathers that will be probably missing something somewhere will key into the program and I am very certain about this.
Have you been intimidated and harassed to chicken out of the race?
I have been actively involved in politics at least since 2007 when I graduated from the University and I know what it means to be in the opposition. I actually know what it means not to have the financial war-chest to bankroll the financially-involving political campaigns.
Intimidation is part of the political game in Nigeria politics but it is left for me not to succumb to the intimidation. I am convinced that you can never underrate the power of the people. You can have all the instrument of intimidation and coercion but you can never underrate the power of the people. I totally believe in my people and they are my backbone in the project Nigeria. With the people behind me, I cannot be intimidated.
Are you then under any form of pressure to pull out of the governorship race?
I have certainly been under severe pressure to pull out of the race. I have received calls from kingmakers, from my village and up to the federal government level. However, the good thing is that I have been able to convince those pressurising out of the race after 10 minutes discussions.
I have been able to change the minds of all of them and they have equally commended me as a young man with vision. I am happy that I have been able to convince the hardliners that have initially insisted that I wait for my time. We will insist on a civilized manner their strategies for their kids to take over from them.
How are you sure that they will not hijack your platform, the Young Democratic Party (YDP)?
It is a possibility because it is part of politics. However, YDP is a party we have nurtured for several years and I am a founding member of the Board of Trustees (BoT). We took a lot of time to change the way politics should be played in this country. What we have in our party constitution is entirely defferent from the brand of politics we play in this country.
We are approaching the election from a different perspective and our selling point is the energy and what the young people can offer. I don’t believe that our party can be hijacked because every member knows what it means for young men to stake a claim in the Nigeria political terrain.
We have overgrown the psyche of selling our future for just pot of portage. The party is very firm to checkmate such attempts and I assure you that we will come out strong.
What is your take on the speculation in Anambra that you are looking for settlement?
(Laughs). Only recently my classmates in the university invited me for a meeting and asked the same question of settlement but I reminded them that I have not changed from the consistent character they knew me way back in school.
By God’s grace, I have the basic needs a man of my age can achieved. I know that God created people for different reasons with some ending up as Bill Gates. But, I don’t want to be a Bill Gate. My passion is not to make the Guinness Book of records as the richest man in the world but to be read in the history book of Nigeria.
My views are different from what an average man will desire in Nigeria as his priority. Mine is to make an impact and move on. We have short time to stay on this earth and what matters is what one is able to achieve.
How much of endorsements have you received from the Anambra political godfathers?
I am aware that nobody can do without them and I am also aware that stakeholders deserve respect. I said earlier that many of them have called me but after some interactions with me, they have actually changed their minds. Don’t also forget that there is no political party in Anambra State that doesn’t have one problem or the other. All of them are enmeshed in crisis and YDP certainly seems to be the easiest platform.
In fact, what I am even scared of is the influx of people into the party because we want the party to remain a composition of brand new politicians not the recycled ones that would infiltrate the party with recycled policies. Many stakeholders that have seen my vision have endorsed me. They believe in my determination to change the political configuration of Anambra politics.
I have made it clear that I am not going to discard the old people, they will still form part of the government but I want to run a Millennium compliant government whereby the people around me think the way I think. So, with their age, the elders will be able to direct me more.
How much of zoning does your party, YDP, believe in?
The other reason I am in this race is because the zoning favours the people of Anambra North Senatorial district where I came from. I came from the same zone and even the same LGA with the incumbent governor.
There is another good friend of mine and a vibrant youth activist running from the APC platform, Hon Tony Nwoye, from the same Local government. Since the zoning favours us, the power must remain in Anambra North irrespective of who wins among the three of us. The campaign is that power must remain in Anambra North