The Anambra State election has come and gone and the win was landslide for the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano while the losers have been very gallant in their loss. All in all, Anambrarians are happy that life has returned to normal and at the same time, expectant that the second journey our governor just embarked on will yield better fruits for the entire state. It is based on this that I took it upon myself to speak with none other than the man who is not only in charge of special duties in this dispensation, but also the scribe of Governor Obiano's Re-election Campaign Organisation. He goes by the name, Primus Odili. I had a most exhilarating time listening to him talk extensively about issues as they concerned the election, the intrigues surrounding it and the way forward for APGA as a party and our dear state, Anambra. Kindly enjoy this most interesting interview…
Sir, kindly introduce yourself and describe your job specification in the Anambra State government.
Primus Ugochukwu Odili is my name and by the grace of God, I happen to be the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties and as well, the secretary to the Governor Willie Obiano 2017 Re-election campaign.
Let's go straight to the election. What was the secret behind Governor Obiano’s victory? Why do you think he won the election?
Well, it is work, work, work and hardwork. I believe that Gov Willie Obiano won the election because he delivered the dividends of democracy to the people. The people saw what he did and appreciated it and they wanted him to continue. You see, during campaigns you hear a whole lot of stuffs. Past administrations will invite people to come and say what they have done. Governor Willie Obiano never did that. He never went out there calling people to come and see that he is working because he is working within communities. He is working among men. He is working for people, so they know. They see it. He doesn't need anybody to come and witness to the truth that he is doing the work and that is just the hallmark of it. When people went about with their campaign of calumny that he is not doing anything, they know they were lying and the people know that they were lying because you cannot come to someone's house and say that they have finished building the house and you try to convince the person that there is no structure on ground. They will laugh at you. That's what happened.
What challenges did you face during the campaign? Were there any low periods?
Honestly, I will tell you as the secretary of the Willie Obiano campaign and as someone who has known the people in the former administration too well, I never had any doubts that we would win. We never had any low points during the campaign. The only challenge we had during the campaign was how to secure our votes. How to safeguard our votes. It may sound like I am being over confident about this because we've won. No. It was never the case. The issue is not just with the campaign office, but a generality of the masses. If you were in Anambra, you would know that the slogan is, 'how are we going to secure our votes?' That can only come from the confidence of someone who knows that he has won already. Even our opponents knew that we were going to win the election. That was why they were making alternative plans which of course is rigging. So, we were battling with how to secure our votes because we know we already have them while they were busy battling on how to scuttle our efforts to protect our votes so that they can rig. So, you see confidence at work in what we did. So, with this instance, you cannot talk about a low point. Our opponents tried so hard to make efforts to disenfranchise the people but we fought so hard to see that people were not disenfranchised. We were ready to accept whatever results of the election either way it goes. Gov Obiano is a hardcore politician even though people think he is not a politician. He knows what needs to be done to get results and I must have to tell you sincerely that from the onset when we started planning the elections, campaigns and planning everything, in his speeches he always said we came prepared. That is why you are seeing the result you are seeing. We came prepared, so it is not taking us unawares, as a matter of fact our opponents were taken unawares.
That's the problem, you talk about being confident and then the way you won the election got the electorates suspicious. Kindly react to the allegations that you guys did something funny to amass all the votes. So, how could you win in all the local government areas, that's almost impossible?
It's not almost impossible, its hard work. First, we played the underdogs. That is a solid strategy, knowing your strengths and weaknesses. When president Obama in the United States of America emerged as the first black president, during his campaign, nobody believed that Obama will emerge as a candidate not to talk of winning the election. He scaled through the primaries, went to the campaigns. The beauty of Obama's win is not that he became the first black president in America but that he became also the first president to become the president of America without results from Florida, Ohio, California and Michigan. These are the great states that decide who wins the presidency in America because of their delegate votes. Nobody has ever won the presidency in America without winning these states first. So when they announced the result of Obama's presidency, he was at 278 but when all these other states came out, that put him to 326 delegate votes. So, he shut up the entire Americans. They think they know that there is something in the bloodline. So, when we came winning, the question became, how do we replicate the Obama strategy because they said that they are from America so they do not know what is happening here, how to get this town. So, we pulled our structure from the onset, meaning that we came prepared, asked ourselves different fundamental questions. Where do we have our strength and weaknesses? In our areas of strength where do we have our strength? In our areas of weaknesses, what are the weaknesses? What are the challenges? What are the possible areas we must lose? Why are we convinced that we must lose them and how do we get them back? Who and who are the people here that are making waves for the opponents? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? How do we approach the situation? By the time we finished our assessments and evaluations, we were able to have in black and white on the table, where we have religious problems and we set out to solve them. Where we have PG problems, we set out to resolve them. Where we have political problems, we set out to resolve them. And where we cannot, we know that we have a real problem here, we set up our own parallel structure that will counter them. We did this within the 326 wards in Anambra state for two years and six months. That's how long it took us. So by the time the election proper came up, we were convinced that we knew what we were doing because I will sit here as a novice that just came back from America who has never run any election in Nigeria, not to talk of Anambra state and get results filtering in from my opponents on their strategies and their plans from their hard men. So, what does that tell you? If that is what you guys call rigging, then it's a good rigging. I will sit here and they will come in and tell me, 'they have given us N10,000 ; they have told us to appoint two or three men. They have told us to appoint Ward Chairmen for them, so who do you want me to appoint for them.' I'll say, 'give them this one'. And they will appoint those people and they will write their name and go and give them. This is because the people are already convinced that this is where the structure is and this is what we want. These people are delivering, but these other guys are trying to deceive us. They are tired of being deceived. So, it might interest you to know that we also ran the campaign of our opponents by giving them the people that will help them to salvage the future of Anambra state without asking for it. I will sit here and they'll walk in and ask me, 'Sir, my party told me to come and do this and I don't think it is right, so how do we do that? Go ahead and do it. Use this money and use this money. Sir, thank you. 'Sir, they have called us to come for flag-off. Should we go? 'Yes, go, because if you don't go they will know that you are not supporting them anymore. Sir, this are the uniforms they gave us. They have shared it 40 uniforms/50 and even 100. Should we wear it? Yes. Go and wear it. We know where we are going'. At the end of the day, the voice of the people was heard. The beauty of the win in Anambra state is that it is not just Anambra. The entire federation saw it as the liberation of the Igbo man. That if Anambra state had lost the election to any other party, that would have meant the end of the Igbo man. What does that tell you? That if this election were held in Imo or Enugu state, the same thing will happen because it is no longer in the interest of APGA as a political party but a movement that is trying to emancipate the Igbo man. It is towards total liberation. It was a self-conviction by the people who felt left out and segregated and felt that there was a need to redefine themselves. These are people who felt that what they had was not working and therefore, they needed to take stock. The Anambra election was a stock taking for the Igbo man and the Igbo man decided that if this time eludes him, it will take me over 120years to redefine myself within the Nigerian polity. So, like the Obama slogan of YesWeCan, the Anambra election for the Igbo man became NowWeCanLetsDoIt. Now We Can. In the spirit of NowWeCan, the Igbo man responded to the north and to the west. To be cont'd…