Industrialist, philanthropist, principal entrepreneur, and politician, Godwin ChukwunenyeEzeemo, is the governorship candidate of PPA in the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State. A youth development enthusiast, his vision, according to him, is to lead a government that would be truly for the people.
In this interview, Ezeemo, who is also the Chairman of Orient Group of companies, tells CHUKS EZE in Enugu that he is willing, ready and poised to receive the mandate of the people of Anambra State to be their “servant-leader” in the next four years, adding that his assurance is that he will transform the state within two years.
How ready are you to face both Anambra electorate and your co-contenders at the polls on Saturday, November 18, as you seek a shot at Awka Government House as Anambra governor?
I feel great, with a sense of utmost gratitude to God that we are alive, hail, hearty and ready to receive my mandate from my people, on Saturday, by the special grace of God. God has been exceptionally awesome unto us through and through. It is God that gives victory and we believe that He will allow us victory, this time around, through the good people Anambra State.
What makes you think that you have what it takes to create the needed change in Anambra State?
My character is my first confidence – the character that I have from the beginning of my life. Then, my exposure, belief and my trust in the way I think that God wants me to live. I have existing things that I have been doing as a show of love to my people because God Himself has shown me enormous love.
I love my people and if you love somebody, there is no way you cannot respond to his needs, his welfare and things that concern him. I am a devoted Christian, who desires to lead my people by the word of God and in a humane, transparent and accountable manner. God has enabled me the grace to succeed creditably in all my endeavours and I am certain that if elected by my people,
I will change the story of Anambra State for better, as governor of the state. I lived in England for over 20 years, within which I got established and observed how thing were being run there. So, I desire to replicate what I have been privileged to enjoy over there, and what I have created to ease life for me, my family, business and community in the entire Anambra State for my people. My assurance is that we will definitely change the story of our state two years into office as governor.
Political office seekers usually make bogus promises about how they would massively develop infrastructure if elected to power. Why do politicians in this clime make unrealisable campaign promises?
My take is that inadequate infrastructure or complete absence of it, are the major challenges facing the public. So, politicians usually know where it pinches every segment of the Nigerian populace most. They fish out those spots and use it to play on their intelligence, even when they are certain that those promises are unrealisable.
But one thing is that we must realise that inasmuch as infrastructure are vital, they could wear out over time, no matter how bogus or sophisticated. One of our problems as a society is that many citizens do not know their right and how to defend such rights. Our leaders emphasise infrastructural development so much, and like I said, we know that infrastructural development is important and key to development.
But the truth is that if you do not develop human beings and you develop infrastructure, you are just going to give infrastructure time and it decays. So, we have to seek ways to develop the human beings, after all, democracy is made for man and not for the road. And one of the illustrations that I often use is that if you construct a wonderful road and people are afraid to drive on it due to fear of police men extorting money from them on the road or impounding their vehicles, you find that people ply your road amidst fear and intimidation.
What are the key dividends of democracy, in your view?
One is the power to hire or fire your leader; to choose how you should be led. But by extension, democratic nations hold leaders accountable to issues such as human rights, which is another dividend. The power to choose how we live is also another one, such that if a leader fails to give us what we want and tries to trample upon our rights, we sack him.
That is how democracy should be and that is what we will propagate when we assume office. I want to make bold to say that tarring roads is not a dividend of democracy. Under the regime of General SaniAbacha, Lagos-Benin-Onitsha federal roads, was better than it was under democracy. Despots also tar roads; they also provide infrastructures.
The reason that Libyans revolted against Ghadaffi, their leader, was not because he was not providing infrastructure. In fact, Libyans under were the most cared for in the whole world. But he was very poor in terms of respect for human rights, and you know that when your freedom is removed, your humanity reduces. It is like locking a bird inside a cage.
No matter what you do for the bird, it will naturally want to fly. So, our leaders do not understand the place of human rights and unfortunately, the electorates do not too. So, nobody talks about human rights during election – nobody makes it a campaign issue. And so, after elections, you see agents of government harassing the electorates, subjecting them to extortion of money, multiple revenue collection and several other forms of human right violation, and they begin to grumble.
How would your administration ensure that people’s rights are not trampled if you are elected as the governor of Anambra State?
Good governance means much and there are a lot of ingredients that must be there before we can say that it is in place. Roads and social amenities are not the only thing about good governance. Human rights should also come strong.
Why it should come strong is that it helps to allow the citizenry to exercise their civic responsibilities, their freedom to live within a society without being molested, without being denied their rights and without being intimidated. It is a thing of concern to me that our people, especially in the south east, do not know their rights, and that is a major problem that we have.
People are only concerned about physical things they see, such as roads, school buildings, hospital beds and all that. They however, do not ask questions when, for instance, somebody wants to collect tax from them. But to answer your question, my administration will run best human rights-based government in Africa. Our shot at the leadership of Anambra State would be a model for other states in the county to emulate.
There would be no case of human rights violation under my watch and we shall embark on special education and sensitisation of our people about how to know their rights and defend them in event of attempt to trample on them. We shall make our people to realise that human rights is their entitlements and a freedom that that they should enjoy and not a favour. So, people should be able to hold their leaders accountable when their rights are violated.
Is it possible to hold leaders accountable in Nigeria?
It is very possible, but that will depend on the citizenry.We have alwaysencouraged our people to always consider the most essential factors before choosing their leaders. But the problem is that most times, factors that electorates consider before voting in an election are factors that should not even come in at all.
For instance, if a leader or political office holder comes out and shares one thousand naira each to the electorates, ahead of election, he will go home with the mind-set that he has settled them upfront and does not owe anybody anything again. But how many electorates consider that? The implication is that those electorates have mortgaged their rights fully, to that politician.
When you accept peanuts as upfront payment for your vote, you have sold your future and it would be difficult for you to call the person to order or hold him accountable if he misbehaves.
There have been several cases where political office holders, who were great philanthropists and looked so good before election but end up as near disasters in office. What is your view about such scenario?
The thing is that people should always ask the right questions and not seat back and take everything for granted. There are various means through which you can get information about an individual. If we can do that effectively during marriage processes in Igboland, why can’t we do it on seekers of elective political positions?
The question is, where did the money for some of the philanthropy that people talk about come from? Riches cannot change who you are and the source of your money marks your money. So, we must be able to ask, how did this person that wants to be our governor, make his money? What is his antecedent, his pedigree? We should begin to hold them accountable and that is why church leaders and traditional rulers who we approach for blessings have a huge role to play.
You cannot be a President in America without the entire story of your life coming out. During Obama’s time, even story about how he attempted to smoke Indian hemp came out and became an issue, even though it was mere attempt not that he actually smoked it.
Another thing is to check the basic attitude of those who are aspiring to lead, to the rule of law. For instance, if a man that is aspiring to run for an office drives his convoy in such a way that run into the bush whenever he is passing by, to avoid being hit or manhandled by his security aids, you do not need a soothsayer to tell you what would happen when he eventually grabs power. This is simple wisdom. So, we must look at individual behaviour of those that seek to be our leaders before electing them to power.
The governor of Anambra State once said that Awka, the state capital now looks like Dubai; do you agree with him?
It was an overstatement because Awka is more than one million miles far from Dubai. Three flyovers that cannot even withstand the weight of lorries and articulated vehicles cannot transform Awka to Dubai. I think it was a casual statement, which the governor should not have engaged in because words of leaders carry a lot of weight. Truth is that Awka can be like Dubai but presently, it is nowhere new the Asian city.
What is your view on the alleged human rights violations by security agents in the South East?
It is appalling and gives me serious concern. I say this because I have travelled to various parts of the country and you cannot see what is happening on various south east roads in the north. There is massive extortion, harassment and intimidation of our people on various roads in the southeast by the police and army. And if you imagine how much money of the economy of the south east being lost through such extortion on hourly bases, you would be sorry for our people.
Across all states in the north, policemen do not disturb road users, especially commercial transport operators. It is mild in the west and south-south. But in the south east, commercial transport operators and other road users are subjected to stringent scrutiny, delay and frustration just to ensure that they part with various sums of money as tip and illegal charges.
It is unfortunate. It is appalling, like I said, and that is among the cardinal things that our government would look into when we are elected into office. Our people must be purged of any sort of calculated impoverishment.