By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
The Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), on Wednesday unveiled its Governorship candidates; Dr Obiora Okonkwo and Jessie Balonwu as Deputy, as the Anambra gubernatorial race draws closer.
The National Chairman of ZLP Chief Dan Nwanyanwu in his remark at the unveiling in Abuja, stated that the party is well positioned owing to its infusion of women in all affairs of the party.
He added that ZLP is a man of integrity who has a lot to offer to Anambra people rather than embezzlement.
He therefore called for a debate, while handing over the party’s flag to the ZLP candidates, adding that a debate will avail all candidates a chance to relay to the people of Anambra, the mandates and plans they have for them.
Dr Okonkwo in his speech, stated that he and his deputy came into the race with a 10-Point Agenda anchored on rapid rural development; economic growth with jobs; revitalization of education and human capital development; youth manpower development and employment; planned urbanization, urban renewal and ecological management; peace and security.
“Skills of the future, rebuild our ethical infrastructure –value re-orientation and finally, must have value for money cost-effectiveness, efficiency, equity and integrity. We are deeply committed to the above programmes and ideas. Like I always said, we will not promise what we may not be able to deliver”, he said.
Others are improved access to basic (preventive and curative) health services; diaspora engagement; rebuilding our ethical infrastructure and social services to dutifully cater for senior citizen, the infirm and most vulnerable of our people
He added that the choice to run for the gubernatorial position was borne by deplorable state of affairs in Anambra State
According to him, in his recent letter to Anambra people, he restated the commitment of his administration to conduct local government elections within the first 12 months
Dr Okonkwo said the rural communities have 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.
“It may interest you to note that the last time Anambra people elected their leaders at the local government level was on January 11, 2014. Even then, the Anambra people have yearned to elect their local government leader and bring governance to the grassroots for rapid development of the state.
“As a result, our people have been denied the right to participate in their own governance. Basic development projects and programs that elected local government authorities should bring to their people have failed to materialize because of the decision of the current government in the state to undermine local councils by refusing to release to them their statutory allocations.
“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, ” he noted.
He expressed concern that Anambra state has not progressed in terms of infrastructural and human capacity development despite being governed by democratically elected individuals since 1999.
“We are certainly concerned that our dear Anambra state has been left behind on key development indices despite the huge sums of money that flow into the state from the federation account along with internally generated revenue by way of the various taxes and rates that our hard-working people pay.
“We are aware that the people are equally worried that our employment indices are looking downwards as evidenced by the high percentage of our youths roaming the streets for jobs that do not exist, but certainly can be created if we have a government that can foster the right synergy with the private sector to boost employment, “ he said.
He further stated that education and youth empowerment shall be two of their core priorities. He said they will embrace both formal and informal education, make the schools the models for other states to follow, enhance enrolment especially for vulnerable children and champion vocational education where young people can acquire technical and vocational skills to earn a quality living.
“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, “ he added.
He further said, “we are deeply committed to the cause of changing the current development trajectory of our state. However, we cannot do it without the people. First, we need Anambra people 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 dehumanized 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 an achievement.”