Ahead of the 2019 general elections, new political parties have sprung up in the bid to grab the reigns of power from the duo political parties of the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress which have been in power since the dawn of the present Democratic dispensation. One of such political parties is the African Action Congress. In this interview with CRISPNG’S JAMES OJO, the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Enugu State, Dr. Chidi Nwanyanwu speaks on his motivation to contest in the guber polls and the general ideologies of the AAC.
CRISPNG: Can you give us a little insight into your political history?
I have always occupied leadership positions right from my early school days. I was the leader of my school debate team and I also led the Theatre Arts Association in my secondary school- Dennis Memorial Grammar School. I was also president of the UNESCO club. After this, I went into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where I bagged Masters degree in Architecture to establish a company. I was the CEO of Hard Nut Designs. We started it in school, but then we reached out to the outside world, we were making models of students from other Universities. We also went into making cloths and shoes and all sorts of things, too numerous to mention. When I finished school and went for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme where I was the Platoon Commander in my Camp in Makurdi, Benue State. I went ahead to start the first NYSC road safety corps. From there, it extended to other NYSC groups in other states. After my NYSC, when I was in Abuja, I became a group leader in my church where I was coordinating Wuse and Garki Areas of the church. I later travelled to Canada. After my first year in Canada, I became the President of Enugu State Association in Canada. I went ahead to become the president of the Nigerian Canadian Association which is the umbrella Association of other Association of Nigerians in Canada. Now, I am vying for the position of the governor of Enugu State come 2019 under the platform of African Action Congress (AAC). That is the much I can say now as regards politics.
CRISPNG: What prompted your 2019 gubernatorial ambition?
I am contesting because of the lack of leadership in Nigeria as a whole and Enugu State In particular. The situation of the country is appalling and completely unacceptable by all standards and so we have been agitating and protesting the bad leadership. I have made a lot of protest matches in Canada where we challenged the government and status quo in Nigeria. You know that the trajectory that we see into Nigeria’s future is not looking good especially for the youth whose futures has already been wasted by the people in Government and so when the opportunity came to work with the ‘Take it Back’ movement which was founded by Omoyele Sowore, I had to step down as the president of Nigeri ans in Canada. I also abandon my dreams of becoming a city counselor in Toronto city of Canada to return to Nigeria to be part of a movement to change the status quo here where the leadership does not care about the lives of the youths who do not have the chance to get quality education, where the health care system has collapse, where corruption has become the other of the day and where human live has no value at all. Where the capital income of the average Nigerian is below a dollar. These issues among others motivated me to join the race.
CRISPNG: How would you access the performance of the PDP and the APC which have been in power ever since the dawn of the present democratic dispensation?
Well, we have always said that the way politics is practiced in Nigeria does not leave room for a lot of things to happen. We have been called various names on the internet because we tried to criticize the way things are going on in the political space. But the fact remains that we continued to slide into anarchy and confusion and by the time Boko Haram emerged, many people began to believe in what we have been saying. So, by my analysis, PDP and APC have not offered Nigerian the kind of leadership they deserve, they have totally failed and it is time for a new political party to take Nigerians to the future. By my assessment, the two political parties that are there right now have expired in terms of being relevant to the Nigerian situation.
CRISPNG: What is the ideological difference between your party and the parties that have been at the helm of affairs ever since?
Well, there are pretty a lot of things on board. The manifesto and agenda of our party is captured under its vision and time may not permit me to go through them one by one. But basically, our party is grass root based. While the other parties constitute of money bags and god fatharism, ours is rooted in a firm resolve to protect the rights of the disenfranchised and those who have not been treated well by the society. It is basically a party that is owned by the people. We do not have money bags as our sponsors. We mobilize students, the youth, market women, the down trodden. That is the foundation of our great party. We are a party that grows from the bottom to the top. The other parties grow from top to bottom. They are a group of people who have stolen money from the country and still come together to form a party. And then they recruit other people to become members of their party. It is the god fathers in these parties that decide who gets what political position and when they put these people in power, they only become answerable to them. But on the contrary, we are a party that is people based. It starts from ordinary people who are feeling the brunt of what the present government has handed them. It is an activism-based party. It is an agitation and a revolution that raised out of the need to try to right the wrongs I n the society. It is a conglomeration of people who are talented. Who are young and have got the zeal to go out there and take back power from those who have abused it for many years. Our movement began with the Take It Back movement. We are people who are internet savvy. We know how to use the Technology of the day. We have brought forth a lot of theories and a lot of ideas. The government has just been stealing our ideas. When our leader, Omoyele Sowore said that he was going to increase the salary of NYSC, the government came up and said they were going to increase it too. These are the kinds of ideologies and individuals our party is bringing out.
CRISPNG: What is the level of support you have at the grass roots level?
Well, the support has been tremendous. What has happened is that for so many years, the citizenry has complained a lot about the nature of leadership here. There is no political will on the part of the leaders to do what is right politicians have not been talking to the electorates and telling the people their manifestoes. They are not concerned with improving the lives of the people. They would do anything to make sure that the electorates slide more and more into poverty because they have realized that the poorer the people, the more they depend on them for handouts. That is what brought about the money politics we are talking about. They don’t try to show the people what ideas they have. They only wait after four years and then they come back and distribute money to the people, having impoverished them. They have kept them without life, without water and without food. Without functional hospitals, dying on the roads because they are bad. People have been so impoverished that they are just begging for anything they can get from the politicians. What we have realized is that the people have not had anybody talk to them. We are therefore coming out to talk to them and expose new ideologies. We want to make them see that the position where they are is not meant for them. It is beginning to work. That is why you are seeing the new urge in the people to get their PVCs. When it was just the two political parties, people did not bother to get their PVCs because nothing new was coming. But now, they want something different. When we started talking to them and rolling out what our plans really are- security, technology and infrastructure, they started seeing a little bit of hope. That is why they want to get involved actively. We believe that our old crops of politicians are totally bankrupt of ideas. They are only counting on their money. But we believe that if we can get to the people, there would be a turn around and those who are not fit to be in government can be sent packing.
CRISPNG: What is your reaction to the campaign slogan of the incumbent government in Enugu State- No vacancy in the Lion’s building?
My reaction to that is that it is a big lie. Why do I think it is a big lie? Who conducts the election? Who decides whether there is vacancy or not. That is essentially the duty of the INEC. The Federal Government has asked INEC to advise us and they have told us that there is Vacancy in Lion’s building. In some states, there is vacancy because INEC has not called for any election in those states. I will believe that there is no vacancy in the Lion’s building if I hear INEC say so. But as long as INEC has not said anything, we must stop lying to people. That is the first place to start judging the sincerity of those who are trying to lead the state. There is vacancy and that is what I want to tell everybody. If there was no vacancy here, there would not be any need to conduct an election.
CRISPNG: How can your team survive in this clime where the politics of god fatherism holds sway?
We are hoping to navigate through every stormy water. When we were operating as a movement- the take it back movement, the cabals were laughing at us and saying that we don’t have a party and as such cannot participate in the politics. They were making all kinds of statements. Most movements that were intended to stand for the rights of the masses fell to mere pennies and shut up. They sold out to the money bags. They sold out to the cabals and all of that. But we were consistent. We kept striving, till we were able to register our own party. It shocked everybody because it was on the last day that INEC asked parties to register that we did ours. Now, we have our own party that no cabal will dictate what we are going to run our policies. We are going to win this election based on our own terms. We shall raise the money from Nigerians who believe in the struggle we stand for. That is how we have been able to raise the money we have been using. We believe we can do. It has been done elsewhere before. The power of the people is greater that the power of any individual.