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IMMEDIATE past Secretary to the Anambra State Government and a former diplomat, Mr Osaloka Obaze recently indicated his intention to contest for the governorship of the state expected to take place later this year. Indeed, Obaze was a frontrunner in the race for Mr. Peter Obi’s successor, but he was later shoved aside by the leadership of APGA. He later continued as the SSG under Governor Obiano, until a cabinet reshuffle. He is presently running a consultancy firm in Awka.

In this interview, Obaze, who is from the same senatorial zone as Governor Obiano, spoke on why he wants to be the governor of the state, among other issues. Excerpts:

What are your political plans concerning the forthcoming governorship election?

I left government in June 2015 and returned to private life. However, I remained a member of Nigeria’s attentive public. The nature of my policy and governance consultancy meant that I was involved in every aspect of the governance discourse at the national level, but purposely not on Anambra State. I have addressed many critical national issues in my policy op-eds. On Anambra politics, I only broke my silence in mid-November 2016, when I said “Anambra has been hijacked “and hinted that I might re-enter the political fray, if that was the only way to salvage Anambra and save the Anambra North political mandate. With 2017 on the roll, it means that I’m constructively engaged and fully involved.

If you have interest to run for the Anambra governorship election in 2017, on which political platform will you be doing that?

I have said publicly that consultations on the platform are ongoing. There exists a very cogent basis for my candidacy. Be assured that almost every registered party on this side of the political terrain will field a candidate or adopt one.  This time around, which platform or party a candidate belongs to may not matter so much.

Incidental  leadership

I believe our people and Nigerians as a whole, have learnt some hard and harsh lessons about incidental leadership. Anambra deserves better leadership and the people know it and will decide. I doubt that there will be a repeat of past mistakes this time around; if that happens we will have ourselves to blame in the medium and long term, and not just for Anambra State, but for the entire Southeast geopolitical zone and the Igbo nation.

It is being speculated that you are part of the proposed mega party, which the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, is also part of. Can you confirm that?

As a pragmatic politician, I’m obligated to consulting broadly. I’m doing that and speaking to every stakeholder who is willing to interface with me. Open dialogue is a vital tenet and essence of democracy. As to the party, that will come, where there is convergence of mission, vision, policy planks and mutual accommodation. The primary consideration and driving impetus is what is best for Anambra State in the long run.

Why the desire to serve in governorship capacity?

In every capacity that I have served as a public servant, I have always put in my best and added value. So, a governorship slot, or foray into that realm can’t be any different. But then, leadership is about vision, exposure, capacity and the wherewithal to deliver the required governance values and services.  Besides developing a forward looking blueprint, one must also have the experience and institutional knowledge of how government establishments are run. In Anambra, our potentialities remain high, but we are underperforming and underachieving because we are contented with a state that is just working, rather than aiming to be the best state that every other state emulates and aspire to catch up with or surpass.

The general opinion is that the incumbent governor has done well and that the north senatorial zone was lucky to occupy the position for now. Why the quest to replace him; is it in the interest of the generality of Anambra people?

What are the parameters of doing well? Routine governance obligations like paying salaries and pension hardly constitute critical good governance benchmarks; except of course, if you are comparing your state to near-failed or unviable states. Don’t get me wrong.

Credit must be given where due. Anambra has progressed with each successive administration. But then, if one goes to the Olympic Games, the ultimate goal is not just to get beyond the first round, but to win the gold medal.  On the core question, every incumbent must run on his record while in office; the challengers will run on the basis of being credible alternatives with far better services to deliver. In the end, the electorate will decide.

Stellar  performance

Any leader with a stellar performance will not be at risk of being openly challenged. Those who are openly challenged have obvious chinks in their armour; such inadequacies are not lost to the generality of the people. Moreover, there’s a vast difference in concrete achievements and hyped accomplishments.

Why do you think Anambra needs a change of guard at the Government House this 2017?

The last two years of the Peter Obi administration was used to set the foundation and trajectory that would have set Anambra State well ahead of every other state in Nigeria. I was part of that endeavour and we finished strong. Unfortunately, the momentum was lost, our development partners left; is premium quality philosophy research paper writing website . Our custom written papers are original. Our writers are able to provide you with the writing help you have been looking for. the continuity promise was totally abandoned and the enormous saved resources were frittered away.  Those who were not part of the grand design hijacked the mantle of leadership and reins of governance without any recourse to the game plan.

The reality is that you cannot implement an idea which you are not the author or one for which you do not know the genesis or have a full buy in.  Those from the North who really campaigned and worked assiduously for the government house had a clear vision and determination. But those who arrived later scuttled the plan.

A second tenure should be predicated on performance and full accountability. As far as I can see there is a performance shortfall and an accountability deficit. So I belong to the cadre of those who believe that Anambra deserves better and that there are ample and plausible reasons for desirable change in 2017/18.

Those outside government always criticize as if to say that when they are in charge, they will do magic. How do you think you can make a difference as a Governor?

There is no magic wand to governance; but there must be accountability, credibility, capacity, frugality and the political will to do things right.   I do not believe in criticisms for the sake of it or to discredit.  I’ve been involved in public service at the federal, international and state levels. I was a child raised in various local government settings.  What makes a difference between one governor and the other, is accountability, policy articulation, ownership, buy in and unfettered service delivery.  When advisers and supporters have no sense of ownership of governance methods, it means they are in it for what they can get for themselves.  Policy and projects suffer and unmet needs go unattended.  As a leader, administrator and governor, I will ensure that there must be a hands-on approach to governance. The best global practices must be put into play to serve the people. When a government is doing well, the people are unlikely to grumble. Presently, I hear a lot of grumbling, and chaffing at prevalent hypocrisies, despite the clamor in the media of how good things are.

Elombah Television