Valentine Ozigbo, former Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp, has carved a niche for himself with a rich pedigree in the financial and investment sector.
The man, who wants to become the governor of Anambra State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contended that Nigeria can never make any progress without the Igbo. He also expressed the belief that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as a vehicle cannot take the state to the centre of national politics. In his words, the name and images of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would not save the party from suffering defeat at the November 6 polls in Anambra State. He spoke with MAGNUS EZE.
Nigeria is enmeshed in several crises on many fronts. How do we solve these unending problems, including the ones in your state, Anambra?
Well, the system is enmeshed in corruption. What then shall we do to save our people? Basically, we need to have good people in leadership; we must insist on competence, we have that person who can inspire greatness in people’s mind across board – from the federal down to local government level. Our current ugly situation requires a competent person, someone with merit, ideas, and not nepotism or indolence. We need to change our reasoning culture, elect people with mobile ideas, sound innovation, and modern creativity; to move the society forward. We need to bring in thinkers who are eager to impact positively on people’s lives, a prudent-modelled governor of a state who will change the status quo for the overall betterment of the citizenry. We need a good builder that will transform our educational system, business life and social integration – all geared towards enthroning an egalitarian society.
Nigeria is the hope of the black race in the entire world. She is the country looked upon to drive the cause of black people, the linchpin of any meaningful economic development in Africa. But sadly, the country is still slumbering. Why hasn’t the country woken up? God created us for a purpose but we are yet to discover that. There is no way Nigeria will make progress without the inspiration of an Igbo man.
Trace the history of socio-economic development so far, starting from the era of Dr. Michael Okpara and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, how Eastern State economy was transformed. Go back to the civil war era and Igbo man’s ingenuity. Even the recent turnover of Anambra State by the former governor, Mr. Peter Obi. These are pointers that the Igbo are builders of economy, and Anambra State leads the vanguard. We need to re-strategize and reintegrate, that is the only time this life will be useful to us, that is the only time we should no longer be branded criminals by the outsiders, that is the only time our mindset would be shifted and white men will be thinking of how to come to Anambra State and stay.
Anambra has been ruled for years by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). What are the chances of other parties, including PDP?
I see the PDP emerging victorious. The APC will fail irrespective of its federal might and connections, The only little threat we have is APGA simply because they are still in power in Anambra State; they have a structure, with over 1000 aides to the governor that are paid salaries. But APGA has continued to diminish and deteriorate that even within APGA, some of them have approached me, and are begging God to give me ticket in PDP, then they will know what to do. They are tired, “Nkaa bu Nke Anyi” (APGA slogan of ‘This is ours’) is no longer working. Ojukwu’s images embossed on their materials don’t work again. In fact, we’re going to immortalize Ojukwu far more than what APGA can ever do. They’ve actually seen that APGA cannot take us beyond Anambra State if at all it remains in existence after the November polls. PDP is a national party with a strong base in the South East and South South, even in the North. The PDP can open doors in Aso Rock or anywhere. I don’t believe in minority groups; we have passed that political stage.
So what will you do differently if you become governor?
I do not promise an Eldorado, I don’t promise perfection, or that once I get in there, Anambra would become another New York or Dubai. But I want to lay a solid foundation, a rebuilding process of changing the story of a Blackman, South Eastern Nigeria in particular. I am in this race because I am totally uncomfortable with what is going on in Anambra State.
Two definite conclusions hold sway here. One, there is nothing wrong with us because there are quite number of things which our people have done and excelled at. We need to build a sustainable system, a platform that will serve and last for long. How are we going to do that? Firstly, we need to own-up, we need to take responsibility for all the errors, stop blaming anybody and forge ahead with beautiful solutions. Don’t blame the politicians, ministers, governors, commissioners, civil servants and so on.
As it is now, it is shameful for a responsible person to call himself a citizen of Anambra State. I am disappointed but certainly not discouraged. I have travelled quite a lot around the world, God has blessed me with good things of life, nothing would have stopped me from staying abroad, enjoying good things of life and people-oriented leadership. But alas, I have decided to be here to serve my people, to build a befitting legacy. If things remain like this, shame is the right word to qualify the situation. We need to catch up with the rest of the world, and there are areas where we can overtake them. Technology is one area we need to focus on, our people are geniuses; what they require is the right atmosphere, a good support system and surely they will deliver. They are ready to do extraordinary things in an extraordinary manner. Already, my campaign team has developed the manifesto that would be in tandem with the moving trend; all sectors were captured in our written agenda. We are ready to make Anambra a dream land, where the Indians, Chinese would come and do business. Why is it that we are noted and respected for high intellectual business skills, yet most of our youths are in Abuja and Lagos streets hawking clothes and food items? Why do they say that our youths lack the competitive edge among their peers in Nigeria? Why is it that all governors, past and present, have refused to come together, work in unison for the betterment of the State?
Some have wondered whether you are in the race for pecuniary reasons…
If I don’t love the state, I would not be vying for the gubernatorial seat. I was privileged to come from a good background, son of a headmaster in those days, grew up in Umuomaku – Orumba South, last child of seven siblings, with right Christian values. I had the best results in primary and secondary schools. At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I made excellent result in Accounting. I had my MBA and later qualified as a chartered accountant. I had scholarship that took me to England for more advanced courses in Lancaster University. I spent 12 years as a banker, then moved to Transcorp and rose to become Chief Executive Officer, the best CEO among the subsidiaries all over the world. I became the President of Transcorp Group, and shook hands with the presidents and best CEOs in the world economy. All these achievements were God-given. I am not in the race to make money, or to service personal debts. I am very much comfortable with the blessings of the Lord. My people are suffering and languishing; that is why I have decided to come out to salvage their situation.
Some are talking of competence, and some are talking of zoning. Where do you stand?
They are twin words with almost the same meaning and relevance. One cannot operate without the other; there is competency in zoning. What is competence in the first place? It is all about character, merit, intelligence. It is not about going to school and you hate humanity, become arrogant and a demigod. Competence is ability to inspire and create the enabling environment for people to thrive. When you have all these qualities, political mathematics would be easy to solve. I am from Anambra South; we insist that it’s our turn. I am equally competent to revive the state, I have done the survey, and very much convinced to win this race.
Some have alleged that the Federal Government has a way of drawing a state’s economy backward. Do you agree?
Beautiful question that deserves beautiful answer. What can we do in the face of this imbalance? We should not wait for the Federal Government to get it right before we act, else we will fail. If the rest of Nigerians are not ready for positive change, definitely we will abandon them and move on. We have the creative minds, ingenuity and skill to achieve that purpose. The 2023 presidency is beckoning, PDP is not joking with it, and Anambra State election in November is a test case. If we win the election, the chances of winning the presidency are bright because Anambra remains a focal point. If we fix the state, the chances of fixing the South East and Nigeria as a whole is high.