THE candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, and his deputy Dame (Barr) Jessie Balonwu, have promised to conduct local government elections within 12 months in office.
In an open letter to the people of Anambra, Okonkwo and Balonwu said their decision to fly the flag of ZLP came from their deepest desire to change the trajectory of the state, particularly the “very sad and precipitous decline” witnessed these past seven years.
The ZLP duo said that since the return to civil rule in 1999, rural communities in the state had become even
more impoverished because of the refusal of successive administrations in the state to return power to the people through the conduct of local government elections, a constitutional requirement of state governments in Nigeria.
They, therefore, vowed to conduct local government election within their first 12 months in office as governor and deputy governor.
“At the base of political governance, independent local councils are foundational to grassroots development in Nigeria and it is in recognition of this that we pledge to conduct free and fair local government elections in Anambra state within our first 12 months in office as governor and deputy governor. This is a most solemn commitment from us never to deny you the right to elect your leaders at the local government level,” Okonkwo said.
While commending the current government on the construction of a new airport at Umuleri, Okonkwo said there were still much to be done to get the airport operational, and having been involved in the aviation industry with the launching of United Nigeria Airline, he had the capacity to get the job done.
The aspiring governor said, “I have recently become involved in the aviation sector through my founding of United Nigeria Airlines and as such, I know what next needs to be done to actually deliver a functional airport for Ndi Oma Anambra, along with the immense value chain it can create for our people. However, we are also mindful of your feeling that Anambra’s development aspiration goes way beyond an airport.
“It is in recognition of that, we have articulated a comprehensive, multifaceted development agenda anchored on wealth creation and poverty eradication under our 10 core pillars including rapid rural development, economic growths with jobs, revitalisation of education human capital development, youth manpower development and employment, planned urbanisation and urban renewal, peace and security, improved access to basic (preventive and curative) health services, Diaspora engagement, rebuilding our ethical infrastructure, social welfare and poverty eradication.”
The letter further read, “Education and youth empowerment shall be two of our core priorities. With respect to education, we commit to embrace both formal and informal education, make our schools the models for other states to follow, enhance enrollment especially for vulnerable children and champion vocational education where young people can acquire technical and vocational skills to earn a good living.
“Further, we shall set up special schools for specially gifted children with elaborate programme to enhance their talents. We have developed a blueprint that will empower Anambra youths through an apprenticeship scheme that guarantees them start-up funds. This is one area that we are deeply passionate about because of its potential to turn many of our youths into entrepreneurs and employers of labour within the shortest possible time.
“Ndi oma Anambra, we are deeply committed to this cause of changing the current development trajectory of our state. However, we cannot do it without you. First, we need you to propel us to Agu Awka and afterwards to hold us accountable every step of the way. Democracy thrives on an alert and active citizenry. Unfortunately, in Anambra as in the rest of Nigeria, our people have become so dehumanised by politicians that they now ask very little of their leaders.
“So much that today, paying salaries which our parents’ generation took for granted is now celebrated as achievement. Only if you know the enormous amount of money that enters the state government account every month and how much of it is either stolen or wasted.
“Let us reiterate that we are not in this race for ourselves but to help chart a new course for our dear state and its people. Ours is a call to service and we solemnly pledge to you to run a listening government that consults and puts you first all the time. Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) is the platform. Family is the symbol. Obiora Okonkwo and Jessie
Balonwu shall be good shepherds.”