By Afam Ilounoh.
If Senator Chris Ngige eventually fails to be elected the next Governor of Anambra state, he should blame it on “VIP Toilets”. That was the issue that hobbled him during the Channels Television organised Town-hall meeting in Awka on Sunday where the questions were asked by ordinary Anambra folks – youths, professionals, market women etc.
Someone in the audience raised his hand to ask a question. He was recognized. He directed a rather harmless question at the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for the November 16 governorship election, and he asked about Ngige’s constituency projects. Ngige’s answer: “in 2012 for example, I was given N250 million allocation for constituency projects. I sited projects and built luxury classroom blocks with VIP toilets… (the audience began to chuckle as Ngige began to stammer)…I sited projects, the same projects at Umunnachi, VIP toilets, (the general laughter turned into booing” and Ngige, having nothing to add, asked the moderator to check if his time was up. To save him, the Moderator said yes, and a relieved Ngige threw up his hand and returned to his seat, as the crowd booed him.
In contrast with Ngige, Labour Party’s Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was in quick witted with his answers; he said “I want to set standards for governance”. On recouping his expenditures, he said :”Leadership is about sacrifice, so I am willing to sacrifice for my people. It is their welfare that matters, not mine; if not I would not have come out seeking their mandate to serve them as governor. Sincerely, I want to set a standard for other future leaders to follow”.
When another person asked how he would raise the funds needed to meet all he has promised in his manifesto, he answered: “I will get the money from the big companies who only take the money they make in Anambra state away from the state and refuse to give something back. In the past, instead of facing such giant companies, the state has been bearing down on the market women, oppressing them over market rates and tolls. Some of that women could have only N5, 000 in their businesses and they just struggle to make ends meet for their families and to help train their children. My government will support such women; I’ll not join in suppressing them. To suppress them or load terrible taxes on their bent backs is inhuman.”
From here, questions were now directed to Ubah, leaving Ngige. A trader asked Ubah whether he has plans to construct a sea port in Onitsha. Obah explained that problem of dredging and re-dredging the River Niger will always mitigate against such a port; instead, he would cooperate with a State Governor of one of the South-South littoral states such as Akwa-Ibom to construct a deep sea port, and from such proximity, containers will be transported to an in-land port in Oba, near Onitsha.
On security, Ubah said he will enhance communication network between communities and cities and beef up police capabilities.
Only Ubah and Ngige were present for the Town-hall meeting, and since Ngige’s disappointing “toilet” answer, Ubah became a the centre of attraction and questions were being directed to him disregarding Ngige – as though Ubah had already won the election.
All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Willie Obiano stayed away; just a day earlier, he was widely booed when he failed to name “three agricultural produce from Anambra state”. PDP’s Tony Nwoye could not attend because his campaign was flagged off that same Saturday.
By Afam Ilounoh
Director Media and Publicity
Ifeanyi Ubah Campaign Organization