Chidozie Chukwubuike, poet and playwright, is the spokesman of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in Imo State. In this interview with CHUKS OLUIGBO, assistant editor, Chukwubuike, who is also a former chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Imo State chapter, speaks on governance in Imo State, what the ANRP has to offer, and the party’s plans to clinch victory in the 2019 governorship election in the state.
There is a general view that all political parties in the country are the same, lacking in clear-cut ideology, which is why politicians randomly cross from one to the other. Is this true of your party, the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party?
No. Our party, the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) is built on a solid ideology. Our party is rooted on the triple R of Renewal, Renaissance and Respect. I shall elaborate on that later.
In what ways would you say the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party is different from the rest of the existing political parties in the country? In other words, why should I as a politician, for instance, leave my current party to join ANRP?
Let me begin to answer your question from its corollary. As a politician, you can only leave your current party to join ANRP if you are genuinely dissatisfied with the decadence that is our present order. ANRP is the new order. We are different from the so-called ‘big’ political parties based on the fact that what gave birth to ANRP in the first place is a vehement disdain for the impunity and other acts of administrative recklessness exhibited by those political parties while in power at different times in our political history. ANRP stands for a paradigm shift. In our constitution the ideology of ‘respect’ is clearly enunciated. Through respect for God and the godly, citizens and the unborn generation, we believe the unbridled waste of our natural resources, the reckless abuse of power by political office holders and the total absence of patriotism in our country will end and a new order of national self-esteem restored. ANRP is here to end impunity and only politicians ready to be purged of that cankerworm can board the ship.
The 2019 general elections are almost here. How ready is your party for the elections, considering that many Nigerians may not even know about the existence of the party? Do you even have the structures to go into an election?
Permit me to quickly correct the erroneous impression that our party is not known by many Nigerians. Our party has presence in the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja. We held our national congress in the hallowed Eagle Square, Abuja and it was aired by all the major electronic news media in Nigeria. We have hosted some state congresses including Imo, my immediate constituency, and we have already participated impressively in the Ekiti State gubernatorial election. We are currently strategizing to win the Osun State election. We have structures and are continuously expanding them. It is not easy for any political party, let alone one that was just licensed in December 2017. We are here to stay. The saying that ideas rule the world is not only true of the business world but also of the political world. ANRP is an ideas party. The 2019 election will throw up shockers for Nigerians. I shall remind you of this foreshadowing soon.
You are the spokesman of the party in Imo State. What is the state of the party in Imo? Would you say the party is on ground?
We are totally on ground in Imo State. This was demonstrated last Saturday when we held our LGA congresses and installed LGA executives. The best minds in Imo State are moving over to our party in droves.
Politicians in Imo are falling over one another to grab the governorship ticket of the other political parties in the state. Do you have a similar experience in the ANRP? Who are your governorship aspirants?
I told you earlier that those that would naturally be attracted to ANRP are those that desire a shift from the status quo. Those you talk about, that is, those politicians falling over one another to grab the governorship ticket of the other political parties, are drowning people in a last struggle for survival. They are afraid of the revolution ANRP represents. We have more than 10 qualitative aspirants who have shown interest in contesting for our party ticket. One has made his public declaration and that is Professor Alphonsus Njoku Ekwerike. Two others have approached the state EXCO to pick a date for their own declarations. From records available to me, henceforth we shall be having declarations on weekly basis. One thing I urge you to look out for is the quality of men, women and minds we are floating.
Given that APC, PDP and APGA are very strong and very much on ground in Imo, do you think ANRP has any chances to make it to the Douglas House?
I do not think, I know we shall occupy Douglas House come May 29, 2019. We have our strategy and it is not for the public yet. Ndi Imo are intelligent people and we intend to exploit that intelligence to our advantage in the coming elections. We have our strategies. We are an ideas party.
How would you describe governance in Imo State since the return to civil rule in 1999? Do you think Imo citizens have enjoyed good governance in the last 19 years?
Governance in itself is not supposed to be qualified. It is originally positive. The idea of governance ab initio evolved to make good, to organize well for common good. So, by qualifying it with the adjective ‘good’, you even partly answered your own question because it implies that the idea of governance has been corrupted, hence we now have good governance and bad governance. However, to answer your question directly, what we have seen in Imo State since 1999 is anything but governance. In fact, it is a monstrosity. How else can you describe the treatment meted out to retirees and pensioners? The evil actually predates 1999. It only continued to get worse. Ndi Imo have suffered terribly over the years and ANRP is here to end their suffering.
Assuming Imo State citizens decide to rally around the candidate of the ANRP in 2019 and the party wins the governorship of the state, what difference is the party going to make in the governance of the state?
First, our government shall end the harassment and gross intimidation of citizens with the paraphernalia of power. We shall force the police in Imo State to stop the criminal extortion of commercial transporters together with its attendant chain effect on the economy of the common people. Again, together with the police we shall design a security network previously unknown in this part of the world to reduce crime to a manageable proportion and set in motion the machinery that will totally eradicate it. Our party understands the psychology and temperament of Ndi Imo. Those who have failed in the past did so due to lack of proper knowledge of who we are. We shall exploit that knowledge in governance to harness maximally the potentials of Ndi Imo. It is an absurdity that a state with the highest number of professors by current National Universities Commission (NUC) rating is among the worst governed in Nigeria. This is unacceptable. ANRP is here to break that jinx.
If you had an opportunity to address the generality of Imo citizens from a pulpit, what would be your message to them as we go into next year’s elections?
Vote Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party. Do not eat your tomorrow today. Imbibe the spirit of Renewal, Renaissance and Respect in order to harvest Nigeria’s abundance in human and material resources. Our slogan ends with “This is our own”. Vote ANRP. Vote ANRP. Vote ANRP.