Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu is a two-time governorship candidate in Enugu State, a former National Secretary of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) and current National Coordinator, South East Renaissance Assembly (SERA). In this interview, the APC chieftain bares his mind on the 2023 presidency, especially the issue of zoning.
Barring any last minute changes, your party, the APC, will announce its presidential candidate for the 2023 polls at the end of its presidential primary on June 1. What are your expectations?
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My advice to Mr President, who is the leader of the party, and the leadership of the party is to remain focused. The president has an unfinished project. Remember, there was a time he was sick and God gave him a second chance. He said he had never been sick before. Part of the second chance God gave him is to make sure that the South East of Nigeria produces the president of this country in 2023.
I was equally given a second chance. I died thrice in 2013, but God gave me a second chance for a time like this; to speak for the South East.
Buhari was given a second chance for Nigeria. I think that second chance for him is to make sure equity, justice and fair play are done; and that is making sure the president that will succeed him in 2023 comes from the South East.
There are many South East presidential aspirants in the race across party lines. Is there any plan for a consensus among them?
That aspect is ongoing. As an APC member, I won’t speak for PDP. But I know that the PDP contenders and membership are as vocal as we are. So the issue of narrowing down to a candidate; we are working on that.
Some politicians from the South East have submitted that Buhari’s administration has favoured the zone. What will a president of Igbo extraction do for the North if elected?
One thing I give to my people, the Igbo, is the ability to develop individually wherever they find themselves. There is no ethnic group in this country that has the potential and capacity for development like the Igbo. If we can do it as individuals, with our resources, then we can do it for every section of this country with our common wealth and resources.
Many have argued that competence should be placed above zoning. What do you make of this?
It amuses me when for altruistic or personal reasons people say we should de-emphasise zoning now, but in their respective states and local governments they are emphasising zoning. Now that it is the turn of the South East to produce the president, people are saying we should not talk about zoning. If we don’t talk about zoning, then don’t talk about zoning down the ladder, de-emphasise zoning at all levels.
There are speculations that the APC is considering consensus for the emergence of its presidential candidate. What is your take?
I support consensus anytime any day. I will give you an example; if you don’t have a consensus, individuals are ready to spend N100bn each to win the primary; just the primary. They may not be the best materials, but they have the money to buy the delegates, and delegates are waiting with their handbags to come to Abuja and go back home with money. They don’t even bother about the character and quality of that candidate. Consensus will take care of that and give Nigerians the best.