APGA lacks central connection to lift Ndigbo up – Chidozie Nwankwo, CEO Wichtech Group
...Says, ‘Anambra deserves a better leadership’
A frontline aspirant in the November 6, 2021 Anambra state governorship election, APC stalwart and leading Industrialist, Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, in this interview, bares his mind on the leadership question in Anambra state, his party’s chances, among other issues.
As the primary election inches closer, what chances do you have over other aspirants to emerge as your party’s flag bearer?
My reputation in Anambra State speaks for me. My connection with the people of Anambra at different levels gives me a veritable edge over my brothers who are contesting for the same party ticket and I know that they also appreciate that fact.
Having been the head of the biggest markets in Onitsha – because Onitsha controls all the elites that are the decision-makers in all the 177 communities in our dear state, Anambra – it would be a familiar turf running Anambra. I have been a leader in Onitsha Main Market for 10 years. Within the 10 years of my reign, I brought about changes that cannot be erased in 100 years going forward. I have been in the market and our popularity is indescribable.
The legacy I left when I was the leader of the main market supersede any influence APGA or any other aspirant have in the state. It may interest you to know that I run a company that employ 4,000 people today in Nigeria. So, yes, some of them must have had their own attainment, but an average Igbo person believes in practical entrepreneurship, not theory.
It is about what can be proven without reasonable doubt; that one can manage resources; that one can actually set out from a humble beginning and be able to build a company. Mind you, I started the business with N10,000 and was able to grow it to be able to employ 4,000 people today. What does that tell you?
A visible capacity to create and manage wealth. I will bring my wealth of experience to bear in industrialising the state. I will make Anambra the industrial hub of the country and Nigeria can copy the template. I have been a catalyst throughout my life. I have always brought change to whatever I do. My records show that in every field of human endeavour I have engaged myself, I have always brought changes, not only in Nigeria but across the world.
Anambra state deserves a leadership that can create wealth and ensure a meaningful development that other states would envy.
APGA appears to be a household name in the state. Don’t you think it would be a big challenge to defeat the party?
Look, the Anambra electorate are wiser and better informed now more than ever before. Every reasonable person knows that APGA has lost steam under the current leadership. The party has failed woefully over time. The party hasn’t been able to meet the wishes and aspirations of the people who gave them the mandate to lead. People are disillusioned and hungry for a fresh initiative that promises to work for the overall good of Anambra people.
We have made that mistake of party sentiment in the past and I don’t think we are going to make it again. We cannot also chose people to lead us because they are eloquent and can win debates. What Anambra needs at the moment is result oriented leadership, not showmanship. Now, the coming election is going to be about practical competency and not about party logo. APGA will not hoodwink the people any longer with party sentiments. It is when you have used your own initiative to create something; you have to show what you have been able to do by your own initiative, that’s what is going to tell us what you can do.
As executive governor of Anambra State, you are supposed to move the state to a whole new level. You are going to basically create and run an economy, and that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to create an economy that will sustain Anambra without the federal government allocations. There is this adage that a tree can never make a forest. APGA has remained a single tree that has increasingly become unhelpful to the people.
Anambra, for instance, has eleven oil blocs with gas reserves. Yet, today, we are not able to put the state on the list of oil producing states. When we belong to the centre, it is then that Anambra will be able to sort out this issue and even our erosion problems. We are going to generate funds from the right corners in order to improve the state. There is no one tree that can make a forest. We have to be part of the centre.
So, that’s where party comes in to bridge the gap. So, we should wise up. They have sold a lot of lies to us and we have ignorantly believed them. It is what has brought us to the ditch we are in today. We need to wise up. What I’m trying to say is that for us to be where we are supposed to be, we should have a good leader; a leader who has what it takes to lead Anambra to prosperity.
Then, we also need the right party that will give us the right access to power and resources. That party is APC. Beyond belonging to the right party, it is important to have the right leader who has the prudence required to manage the resources. That is very important. And by the grace of God, I will be that leader!
So, are you saying that Anambra state government has failed in providing that kind of responsible leadership?
Absolutely! While I wouldn’t want to dwell on their failures, I believe we need a better government, and I’m sure it’s going to happen. If you go to Anambra, there are complaints everywhere. I’m not going to lay emphasis on that, but the electorate will decide, by their votes, whether they are satisfied with the administration or not.
But I can tell you for free that the people are not happy because the government in Anambra State has not been able to create industries that can employ the teeming youths. The thousands of young people coming out from universities every year are not able to find jobs. Our system is not actually what it should be.
So, people are agitating because they are asking for better life, they are asking for jobs. We have to ensure that as people are coming out from school, they are empowered. As a business owner, I’m going to approach governance differently. Believe me; we are going to set up industrial parks all over Anambra. We are going to bring in the biggest industrial managers in the world. I am assuring you that in the first four years of our administration, we will be bringing over 500 companies from Europe and Asia.
When that is done, we would have reduced unemployment drastically. We are also going to develop infrastructure, provide power source for our industries and provide conducive environment that would encourage our people to come home and invest, as well as attract foreign investment.
This is what I have been doing in the private sector; I own one of the biggest industrial parks in Ogun State today. A lot of foreign companies are there working. There is a gas turbine there, supplying power to companies that are manufacturing there. It’s the same thing that I would replicate in Anambra. By God’s grace, you will see a total change in governance in the state. The truth is that you can only give what you have.
You always speak passionately about your business, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I started my business in 1986 with only N10,000, distributing glass sheets to Oluwa Glass in Ondo State. The business grew and we began importation of the raw materials used in making the glass sheets and some other building products. I identified an opportunity in textile business, so we started importing textile from Asia, and created our own “blue ocean” to facilitate importation for other importers.
This gave birth to a shipping outlet called Global Express Shipping Services. It was this shipping business that brought the fortune. We first started in Indonesia, expanded to Hong Kong, had three offices in China, and offices all over Asian capitals. I had a partner who owned 40% of the Shipping business. Together, we partnered with Maersk Line, and became the biggest customer in Nigeria for about ten years. The business was very successful, until 2005.
So what will happen to your businesses now that you have your eyes on the governorship seat?
It is simple. We have in place a good corporate governance structure at Wichtech. As I step aside as the CEO, we have other directors. The board is going to appoint a new Managing Director who will still carry on with the activities of the company. The truth is that no-one owns a company alone. Ours is a family business, I have other directors, so the business is continuing across Nigeria, with over 200 offices. One person’s absence will never stop the business.