In this interview, MR. OSELOKA H. OBAZE, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the Anambra state governorship election slated for November 18 tells Punch Newspaper’s Tony Okafor that the state is troubled on many sides and needs to be salvaged.
Why do you think your opponents don’t deserve to be next governor of the state?
It is a matter of perspective. Personally, I don’t see them as opponents, I see them as my colleagues and I won’t say they don’t deserve to be governor. My view is that comparatively, I am better situated to offer the brand of leadership that Anambra requires at this time. Governance is about service delivery and I believe we are in this because we all want the best for our state. Anambra state is known for the genius, creativity and resourcefulness of its people. That has raised governance stakes, in terms of quality of leadership, so high that some candidates know too well that the office they seek to continue occupying or occupy is beyond their capacity.
Beyond campaign rhetorics, if you sit back to analyse individual candidates based on our visions, skill set, temperance, exposure, experience, capacity and the contact needed to move the state foward, you will arrive at the conclusion that my running mate, Lady Chidi Onyemelukwe and I represents the best option for Anambra State. I say this with all modesty and with utmost respect and civility to my fellow candidates.
What are you going to do differently?
Our major thrust is human capital development, anchored on education. In 2016, Anambra passed a budget of 101.4 billion Naira out of which only 3 billion Naira was allocated to education – that’s a paltry 2.97% of the state’s budget. Nobody has seen the details of the 2017 budget, so I will predicate my analysis on the last details released. The Obaze-Onyemelukwe PDP ticket will devote 26% of the state’s budget to education. There is a whole world of difference between 2.97% and 26%.
With the increased education funding, we will provide free, qualitative and compulsory education from kindergarten to JSS 3. We will also invest in vocational training and skills acquisition, so that a large swathe of our youthful population will be armed with different competencies to pull themselves out of unemployment. Also, the increased funding will provide for qualified and properly remunerated teachers, teacher training and retraining, access to computer and Internet facilities, teaching and learning aids, appropriately sized classrooms, as well as well-furnished laboratories. We live in a highly competitive 21st century global marketplace. The only way we can secure our future is to invest massively in the education and human capital development of our people. That’s why we approach education with an entirely different mindset; after all, education breeds confidence.
We will put in place results-based budget that is project-driven and more importantly, zero-based. We will draft our state budget after town-hall style budgetary forum. This will allow the people and stakeholders make reasonable input into the state budget making. The process will offer transparency. Government dealings ought not to be shrouded in secrecy. As against what obtains in the state now, we will make public details of our budget and keep the citizens informed of governmental activities.
On healthcare delivery, we intend to make it mandatory by law for every hospital to attend to emergencies first and ask questions later. There must be a difference between an emergency and a pre-existing ailment. We also have plans of floating a charity care fund to ensure that hospitals do not incur losses due to services rendered and that indigent citizens are offered affordable, and sometimes free but quality, healthcare services.
Our well-articulated youth packages are innovative. Our proposed streamlined and efficient tax policy and other business-friendly policies, including our plans to create a youth chamber of commerce, free Wi-Fi zones, mechanic village, computer village, prioritise mechanised agriculture and provide support to SMEs clearly shows a different level of thought process and disposition towards purposeful and adaptive leaderships.
What do you think are the deficiencies of your opponents?
Without being presumptions, one must assesses their respective capacity to add value through good governance. But the incumbent must be evaluated on his track record of over nearly four years in office. The reality is that there is really nothing to evaluate, beyond the hype. Because of his poor performance in office, his power of incumbency that ought to be working in his favour appears to be working against him. Moreso, despite the attempt to present APGA his political platform as the “Igbo party”, it is becoming increasingly obvious to the electorate that one tree cannot make a forest. Our people have since realised the need to reconnect the state to the national grid, either by being in the party at the centre or by being in the mainstream opposition.
APC the party at the centre has, however, left the Igbo man with numerous unanswered questions. Their change mantra faltered badly and cannot be the basis for wining elections in Anambra state. These outcomes have clearly presented the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the best and most credible alternative. Moreso, my experience and that of my running mate, and our manifesto clearly distinguishes us from the rest.
Can you rate your closest opponents in percentage in terms of how you think they would perform if voted into power?
I’m not clairvoyant and do not wish to engage in hypothetical situations. At the risk of proffering an answer that is biased in my favour, the truth is that the next governor of Anambra State will have a lot to fix. Anambra is badly broken and needs to be fixed. Despite the lies, hype and window dressing, Anambra is no longer working. Today, our state is in governance crisis mode; in arrested development and in deep trouble! The latest report released by BudgIT says Anambra state can no longer pay salaries without borrowing. Debt Management Office report says Anambra is already heavily indebted. Recent revelations indicate that the state future generation savings were sold off and used to pay salaries. Our current governance style is not sustainable. We are only a few months away from not being able to pay salaries, talk more of investing in infrastructure.
The state, under Gov. Obiano, has reportedly stopped remitting its pension deductions and contributory pension to PENCOM; what this means is that we are only marking time before our pensioners start dying of starvation. Our Education is in decline. Our infrastructure is crumbling before our very eyes. We have abandoned our social investment programmes. Government presence is no longer felt at the grassroots. Our people are suffering. There is increasing restiveness. Simply put, we are in deep trouble and just one fateful re-election away from total disaster! That’s why ndi Anambra need to look critically at the competencies of each of the candidates and see who is most eminently qualified to steer the affairs of the state away from the imminent danger.
At this point, Anambra must now bring back the formula that drastically reduced the cost of governance and developed all parts of the state simultaneously. The political leadership cannot afford to be flying first class, on chartered planes and maintain a 25-car convoy while the debts are pilling.