In this interview with some journalists in Awka, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, who was an aspirant on the platform of the Maxi Okwuâ€™s faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the last governorship election in Anambra State, maintains he was the partyâ€™s authentic candidate in that election. Anayo Okolie was there
You filed a petition at the Anambra Governorship Election Petition Tribunal; why?
Well, I am at the election tribunal to assert my right as the authentic flag bearer of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) in the last gubernatorial election. And it may interest you to know that for inexplicable reasons, I was not given the certificate of return by INEC (the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) as winner of the election. That informed my decision to approach the tribunal to register my complaint and canvass for the remediation of the anomaly. Part of the reasons for my petition is that after winning the primary election of our great party, APGA; I duly submitted my nomination forms to INEC. The nomination forms were duly acknowledged by the same INEC. So for INEC to turn around and hand over the certificate of return to a person who is a total stranger to APGA is to say the least, embarrassing to me. As a firm believer in the rule of law, I decided to go to the tribunal in search for justice; my demand is for fairness and equity at the tribunal. I am not under any illusion that the mandate to govern Anambra State was given to me, so I expect the tribunal to look at the issues and do the right thing by redressing the anomalies.
You talk with confidence as if you believe in the nationâ€™s judicial system to give justice without fear or favour?
I believe in the rule of law, which is at the bedrock of popular democracy. To me, without justice and equity, Nigeria would be seen to be playing mere lip service to the practice of democracy. Looking back at the various judicial pronouncements in the present dispensation, I can proudly say that Nigeriaâ€™s judiciary has proved itself as the bastion of our practice of democracy. The judiciary has been doing its best and it has a rich history of commitment to the protection and defence of the tenets of democracy as they relate to good governance. I am particularly excited by the crucial role the judiciary is playing in the country even in the face of mounting challenges thrown up by the exigencies of a growing democracy. My petition to the governorship election tribunal reinforces my confidence that the judiciary will remain the key driving force in Nigeriaâ€™s efforts at attaining lofty socio-political heights. I believe the tribunal will do the right thing and justify the confidence of Nigerians who are hopeful that justice will be done.
But many people look at the nationâ€™s electoral process and wonder at INECâ€™s ability to guide and guard the democratic process; with what happened during the Anambra governorship election, how would you assess INEC?
Well, there is no doubt that INEC has the capacity to midwife a transparent electoral process and conduct credible elections. The electoral umpire has its own scars from the long period of military interregnum in the country. I think they are improving with each passing electoral contest. Against that background, one can give kudos to INEC if for nothing else, its commitment to the democratic process. I also believe that it tried to give its best during the Anambra gubernatorial election especially when it acknowledged its own shortcomings. INEC won my admiration for that singular demonstration of courage by accepting some noticeable shortcomings in that outing. However, despite the shortcomings, APGA was able to win the election clearly because the party was on ground in Anambra State. We worked hard, mobilized effectively and the result was a resounding victory as a people and as a party.
What gives you hope that you will be sworn in as the next governor of Anambra?
Of all the things one can lose in life, hope should not be one of them. I have absolute trust that God, who in his infinite wisdom gave me the courage to run for the election, will make it possible for me to serve and effect the needed changes on the lives of the people of Anambra State. Having come thus far, I can say it is Godâ€™s will that I would mount the saddle as the next governor of Anambra state. I also respect the commitment of the people of Anambra who believe in the vision of our great party. I know that my programme, tailored towards the uplift of the living standard of Anambra people was at the heart of the people during the election. If the governorship election is held hundred times again, Anambra people would still vote for me and if this massive support receives the final endorsement of the Almighty, I will be in the position, very soon, to impact positively on their lives. My hope rests in the Lord Almighty who made heaven and earth, who is all knowing, who raises the lowly and plans for his people. I also trust the judiciary and its commitment to equity and fairness. I believe that in all circumstances, the truth will always triumph over falsehood. I know that my petition will be seen in the light of the truth and the justifiability of its legality. It would be upheld to the glory of God!
If fortunately you are sworn into office as governor, what would be your governmentâ€™s priority areas of attention?
Donâ€™t forget that I have a programme and our party has a manifesto; there is a template. Above all, the essence of government is the provision of security of lives and property and to cater to the welfare of the citizens. All these are some of the primary things I intend to pursue with vigour immediately if am sworn in. Virtually everybody in Nigeria acknowledges the fact that Anambra people are resourceful and energetic. And one great quality of our people is that they are ever willing to cooperate with government for the development of the state. So my immediate attention is to create the enabling environment to encourage our people bring in their goodwill and contribute to lift our state to greater heights as an â€˜Aâ€™ state.