As the debate on the suitability of zoning intensifies ahead of the 2021 Anambra Governorship election, a former Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Val Ozigbo has said the zoning arrangement provides for both equity and competence, if done right.
Ozigbo gave the view in an online interaction with journalists in Anambra State.
The need for zoning came to the fore in Anambra in 2014 at the expiration of the second tenure of the then governor, Mr Peter Obi, after key stakeholders in the state agreed that the governorship seat is zoned to Anambra North Senatorial District.
As a result, the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano had emerged.
But as the 2021 governorship election nears in Anambra, some quarters have expressed the fear that zoning the seat to a particular area will encourage mediocrity and demean competence, arguing that the election should not be left for Anambra South, whose turn it is by the arrangement.
Ozigbo who is an aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is of the opinion that zoning has become popular view among stakeholders in the state and is not a single party affair.
According to him, Anambra South, where he comes from, is not a weak zone as it has the wherewithal numerically and financially to dominate politically.
“Majority of Anambra people subscribe to zoning. It is a momentum that no one can change as it is now. If done well, it will work but if done wrong, it may have dire consequences for the state. But overall, it is the trend all over the world as it promotes equity and fairness. But, aside from that, Anambra South is a dominating region. So, if there is no zoning, it will be to the betterment of Anambra South as it will always win,” Ozigbo maintained.
He, however, said he is running for the governorship position because he feels he is qualified and competent more than his co-competitors and not because he is from Anambra South, but added that the odds favour zoning and as such, any political party that wishes to make meaningful progress in the election must stick to zoning.
The Ex-Transcorp Boss revealed that he is in Anambra governorship race to change lives, as he has been living a comfortable and undisturbed life hitherto.
In his words, “If it were for money or fame, I wouldn’t have been in this game. With my agenda, I want to use Anambra to set an example that will change the story of the black man. All over the world, the black man is seen as inferior and this has worsened by the disposition of people of the race especially in governance. I believe that what Anambra has missed, they have found in me.”
The PDP Governorship aspirant expressed optimism that Anambra State can leverage on its areas of comparative advantage, opportunities, strength and skills, to develop without depending on the centre.
“It only takes our capacity to prioritize on key sectors. We can actually develop and grow our economy irrespective of what the oil price is. With the right enablement that will allow the private sector to come and invest here in full force, powered by the right leadership, we can achieve all these and more,” he said.
When asked which past governor in the state he thinks did the most in developing the state, Ozigbo was quick to choose Mr Peter Obi.
According to him, Obi brought private sector perspective in government.
“He was prudent, strategic and visionary. As a result of his vision, he worked through the development of financial institutions and the Church and in keeping with the tenets of accountability and transparency, formed a credible partnership. This partnership would later ensure that Anambra became a state to reckon with in terms of education and other positive indices of governance. But I believe we can do better, leveraging on the foundation these past governors have laid,” he reckoned.
Ozigbo regretted that despite its impressive performance in other elections in the state especially the national assembly elections, the PDP in the state has not been able to win the governorship position in the state for a long time now.
According to him, this is because, at the governorship level, the gladiators in the party do not agree with each other because of interests.
“What usually happens is that when their candidates do not emerge at the primaries, they engage in anti-party and the party eventually fails. I have identified this and have met with many of the stakeholders and it is a good thing that I have not even been in partisan politics before now. I want to be that consensus candidate that will unite the interests of the PDP gladiators for the overall interest of Anambra people. The whole mantra of ‘Ka Anambra chawapu’ is to unite our collective interests for the good of our people,” he revealed.
On the question of the money politics for which the PDP in the state is said to be known, Ozigbo maintained that he wants to bring a new thinking and new reality in the politics of the state.
He said despite not having spent much, his campaign had already gained momentum because of how he has done things differently.
Said he, “My intention is not to join the bandwagon but to do things right and get us where we want to be and if that requires spending some money, yes, we will spend that money but we are not going to be wasteful because there are repercussions to that. But, it is important to state that we will have sufficient resources to prosecute this mandate and get it done without being wasteful.”
He debunked rumours that he has godfathers but said he has the utmost respect for the Party especially its leadership.
“There are people who have laboured to get PDP to where it is today and I respect them. But, I am not the type of person that my mother will say jump into the fire and I jump just because she is my mother. But it is important to note here that in PDP, there are a handful of leaders who will align positively with my vision. God has blessed me with wisdom and I pray that he continues to shower me with such to navigate the murky waters of politics because I am not going to underestimate what is to come,” Ozigbo concluded.