To Sir Charles Okoye, a.k.a. Chidon, his aspiration to become a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly on the platform of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, is not just to serve humanity but to assuage the feeling of marginalization by his people of Isuaniocha Community in Awka North LGA, who are yet to go to the house. In this interview with Fides editor-in-chief, Jude Atupulazi and Chioma Ndife, Okoye also lays out his broad vision for his people, among other issues.
Can we meet you? Your name, your constituency and what you are aspiring for?
Okay, my name is Prince Charles Chidume Okoye (Chidon). Am a knight of Saint Mulumba in the Roman Catholic Church. I am the PDP candidate, Anambra State House of Assembly, Awka North Constituency.
We understand that you're from Isuaniocha and that your people have not been to the House of Assembly before. So is this the principal reason why you are contesting?
It's not the most principal reason why I'm contesting, but it's because of the marginalization existing in Awka North. So I want to fight to bring Awka North to a focal point. This will make Anambra State recognize that Awka North is existing.
So you said marginalization, what type of marginalization? In what ways are they marginalizing you people?
If you go through and around Awka North, you will notice that there is no development and no government input. The only government input that you can see in Awka North was during Peter Obi's administration. For five years now, nothing has been done in Awka North. So nothing like development, no roads. We used to produce agricultural products but government doesn't pay attention. People are suffering.
So the incumbent, the person currently staying in the House of Assembly in your Constituency, he is of which party?
Yes, the person that is currently in the House of Assembly is of APGA party. Before he entered the house in his first tenure, it was through PDP before he joined the APGA in his second tenure.
You know what we refer to as Power of incumbency, so how do you hope to surmount such power?
By God's Grace, the seat is open, because he is not contesting. The incumbent is not contesting. So the person I'm contesting with is in APGA. But the seat, Anambra State House of Assembly seat for Awka North Constituency, is a free seat. And I know that I am the one to enter there because PDP is taking over Nigeria and PDP is taking over Awka North.
How Strong is PDP in Awka North?
PDP is very strong in Awka North because if you look around, the quality of people and campaigns will testify to that. APGA and other parties, like APC, depend on rigging but PDP depends on what people want, people's choice.
Do you think that the candidacy of Peter Obi as Atiku Abubakar's running mate, has put you in an advantageous position?
Yes, it contributed a lot, because at the time I was coming out to contest the primary election, before I won the primary election, before the appointment of Peter Obi as the Vice Presidential candidate of Nigeria, it added more impact to my campaign because everything is turning around, many people are joining PDP, decamping from their parties to join PDP. If I start to mention them now we will take more time. The stakeholders in Awka North, all of them have joined PDP. So Awka North is now for PDP.
So if you are elected, what are the major problems you are going tackle for the people?
The problem of Awka North, at the time I was campaigning, I told that I wanted to base my promise on what I see in Awka North. To empower the youths. Many youths are graduates but they are doing nothing. I can use the constituency money to empower the youths, empower the widows, give them soft loans to enable them to set up their own businesses.
In agriculture, I will make more effort to ensure that funds are channeled to agriculture because Awka North is known as agro area.
On access roads, I will fight, not fighting with the governor, but I will do the right thing to make sure that we have access roads. The access roads will enable Awka North indigenes to have easy access to the market in order to market their agricultural products. When we produce things we sell and gain.
I heard you say, you are not going to fight the governor. The argument is that people should vote for APGA members for the House of Assembly so that they would co-operate with the Governor. Now, you are PDP; if you go there, how are you going to relate with the governor?
Yea, I will relate very well with the governor because he is the governor of Anambra State, not governor of APGA and I'm in PDP. So if I have anything to do in Awka North, I will go through due process and get it done. And when I request for something on behalf of Awka North, and I know that other LGAs are getting theirs, I know surely that Awka North will get their own.
It's not that I will go and start fighting or having secret meetings, everything that I will do to make sure that Awka North gets their share and due quota for development of Awka North, I will discuss it with the governor and we will get our own quota.
You emerged victorious from the primaries of your party, so how far have you been able to carry along the people that you defeated?
You see in PDP, if you look around how the primaries went in this election, PDP did their primaries free and fair. I defeated the person I contested with, with majority votes. I also carried him along. The coordinator of Reps was appointed by me to be the co-ordinator of the Awka North/South Rep. I appointed him and other people that attempted to contest. After the APC primaries, he joined the PDP in the Primaries, I carried him along, as well as other political parties.
I want to carry everyone along and that is what I'm practicing now, I will still do it when I get to the house.
Okay the person that was there last, who is not contesting, how would you rate his performance?
He tried a lot. I praise him because leadership is not easy. I know that he had tried and I know that with his support, I will enter there and I will do more than him. I have my laid down plans on how to surpass the achievement of the person currently representing the people of Awka North in the State House of Assembly.
Can you give us a little more of your background, you are a business man, lets know the type of business that you do?
Already I have said that I am from Isuaniocha which is in Awka North, and my mother is from Urum which is in Awka North. My grandmother is from Amanuke which is in Awka North and I married from Achalla which is in Awka North.
I'm a business man, and you know in Nigeria, if you look around now, it's the business men that are coming out to take the leadership of Nigeria. I'm a business man and I am into electronics and furnishing. I import and I do local businesses. So that's why I said, let me come and assist Awka North.
I have trained a lot of people, the people that I have empowered, the youths that I have empowered, the people that are under my scholarship scheme, I pay their fees with my personal money. I cannot mention them because they are many, scattered around Anambra, Enugu, Owerri and in Awka North. People can testify.
Alright, Thank You, we wish you luck