Accord Party governorship candidate in Anambra State, Dr Godwin Maduka, tells Nseobong Okon-Ekong that given the opportunity to govern the state, his administration would go beyond perfunctory tasks to executing transformational projects in all spheres. Excerpts:
How did you become the renowned physician that you are today?
Upon completion of my course, I went to Las Vegas where I was working as a Physiologist and doing minor surgeries. I had to leave after one year and a half to open my own practice called Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre. I was doing most of the minor surgeries, which entails pharmaceutical as well as surgical intervention to pain management. I ended up building six pain hospitals.
One of the things that helped me is that, when I was practising, I was gaining results. One thing that doesn’t discriminate in human beings is health. If you have to get good healthcare from anybody, you don’t need to don’t care about the caregiver’s skin colour. So it was a zeal and I did it very well. At one point, I had to think of home. I decided to embark on developing this place.
How did you start?
I started with my home, my brothers and sisters. All of us were living in a five-story building, which at that point was the tallest in the whole local government. Upon completion of that, I embarked on building homes for the homeless, the widows and widowers and all the less privileged of this town. When I see a thatched house it has to come down. We gave them a new home. In two weeks they have a five-bedroom house. Also, I had to go into the educational system. At that time, we didn’t have a primary school, so we built a primary school and a secondary school and we gave it to a church to manage. We also built a hospital, which we also gave to a church to manage. We embarked on building a civic centre for assembly and worship. We also built homes for resident priests for the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church in the town. We embarked on building the roads and bridges. We took a while to build this, but from 2016 to 2018, it was a serious development. We started building that 17-floor pain centre about 16 years ago. While I was building it, something came up and I had to stop, do what I had to do and continue. It was like one year, one block but within that period, we were able to finish the 16 floors. We were also able to build the police stations with their barracks, the only one we have in Anambra State.
We went on to the Magistrate Court, but the place where it was so difficult to deal with is the High Court. Nobody ever told me that you have to build a high court at the headquarters. I was designing a city, so I had to build the high court in the town of Umuchukwu and it caused crisis. The neighbouring town that was supposed to be the headquarters said “how dare you build a high court in your town.” It took almost two years to open. Can you imagine spending close to N4 billion, to build a high court with majestic looking building for the judge? With the panelling, the US procured items of furniture, it is still the best high court in Anambra. It’s just like what happened to me now in the governorship race, I was humbled. Lucky enough, we were able to open it after some months. I lost my mind because I was trying to do good; they have congestion at Ekwulobia, cases are not being dispatched fast, so I thought it wise to build a high court to ease the workload but unfortunately, it became political. Anyway, it has been opened. We built the magistrate court too. We built homes for the monarchs both the dead one and the new one. They are very happy about it and now we have 82% of graduates in this town. I grew up in a town where the majority of us were underprivileged. Funny enough, where I built our monastery was where I fell from a palm tree.
Can you walk us through your early life and educational background?
I grew up in this village, Umuchukwu in Anambra State. I was born in 1959, and in 1982, I migrated to America. I had a rough childhood. For some of us that were born around that time, we didn’t start school till age 11. I migrated to America after gaining a scholarship and I was lucky enough to finish a four-year course in one year and six months.
You finished a four-year course in one year and six months?
Yes. Because then, for WAEC, GCE, we used to read above and beyond the course of study. Upon migrating to the US it was so easy to go to class and they were able to test me from freshman to sophomore and junior. In the middle of my junior year, that was when I stopped. So within two weeks of being in the US, I’d already read two and half years. After that I was lucky enough to enter for Doctorate programme in Pharmacy and in 1988, I got my Doctorate in Pharmacy. In 1989, I entered the Doctor of Medicine programme and finished. In 1992-1993, I finished my internship. I was lucky enough to enter Harvard School of Medicine to study Medicine, which was where I did my four-year course in Anesthesiology, Critical Care, and Pain Management.
How did your sojourn into politics start?
I used to be an APGA sympathiser. I was never a member. I watched them over the years. I saw the trend of APGA when they used to take Certificate of Return from people that won an election and give it to somebody else. At that point, I was like this is not happening. So, some of the people I helped during their campaign that were supposed to make it, didn’t. That is one of the things that made me start looking into this politics. At that point, I decided that PDP is the next thing. I entered PDP, and when it was time, I started running for the position of Governor of Anambra State. I had to overcome the stereotype about being from the US, but what happened is that they forgot the fact that I grew up here in the village. They also forgot the fact that I’ve been a philanthropist for more than 20 years. I had to come home more often than ever. I think I come home more often than people that live in Abuja or Lagos because sometimes I come home two or three times a year and sometimes, I stay for one month. I started coming home in 1997 and there has always been construction or something important going on. That is what made it possible for me to coordinate this level of development in this town. So I joined PDP, and I won the primary election going by the nomination, anybody can check it out, I had the majority of the adhoc statutory delegates. We bonded, they loved the Okonkwo in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe. I made sure that I continued my philanthropy using the statutory adhoc delegates. I enlightened them on what I intend to do when I become governor.
What are some of those things you intend to do as governor?
From building pharmaceutical industries without sugar pills to building roads and bridges, modernising and upgrading the airport, bringing the seaport to Onitsha, from the Atlantic Ocean straight into Onitsha so we can clear our containers easily; no more Tincan or Apapa. I’m also going to build 21 emergency rooms in 21 Local Government areas. So that whenever you have an emergency like, heart attack or stroke you would not have to run helter-skelter, you would have a place to run to where they would recognise the signs and symptoms that would save your life, because nobody is free. If you have a cut in America, they would get the wound and patch the ruptured vessels. In America, if you have a stroke, there is an emergency centre that would take care of it and you would be free. All you need to do is manage and get to the nearest local government emergency centre where there are 24 hours running staff. That is what I plan to do in terms of medicine with all other kinds of stuff that I have been doing. In terms of education, I also promised to build 21 university campuses in 21 local governments in the state by looking at what the local government is known for.
For instance, in Onitsha, I would build the department of Legal Studies; they have more lawyers than any other town in Anambra State. So, since that’s what they are known for we would build it for them. We can build a Marine Biology campus for people in Ogbaru Area such that ‘keke’ drivers can go for their formal routine in the morning and in the evening they go to a class. I promise to increase the percentage of literate people in Anambra to a level that surpasses any other state in this country, after all, that is what I’m known for. I also told them we are going to bring technology. Anambra would probably be the first state to build a phone. We all know that if you need a phone it is possible to go to Aba and get a phone coupled for you. But, why is it that our people would not do that? It is all greed-driven. I also promised that we would have religious tolerance. The white people came here and taught us that instead of going to the Umo, the shrine, instead of circumcising women, and other similar kinds of stuff, like ‘juju’, there are better ways of doing things. Our people went through all that and I feel that we need to change this country for the better. More so, I don’t like the fact that black is being painted as inferior. In as much as I attended college in the US, when George Floyd was killed like a little bird on the streets, our people should have to take note of that so that we can develop our own country. So religious tolerance should be there. You don’t have to be Catholic, Anglican, Deeper Life or traditional worshipper. As long as you are praying to God, it is all fine and one shouldn’t touch that part. There should be women and youth empowerment but how many other women and youth get that? Sometimes you feel bad for our graduates something has to be done. The next mass protest would be worse than ‘EndSars’. I’m telling you. If we don’t intervene now, this nation is going to explode. What is bothering me more is the women, they go to school do the NYSC and there is no job. What do you expect her to do? It bothers me a lot. The wastage in this country is beyond imagination. That is why I’m here to change things.
What are the strategies you have in stock to increase the publicity for yourself and Accord Party?
I’m a household name in Anambra State. One thing PDP did for me was that I fought like hell to win and I won. That gave me the experience that I needed. When they swindled the whole process. I had to find another party so that I can fulfil my mandates. I joined Accord because they accepted me. You may ask, why accord? First, that’s the number one party on the ballot paper. The winning party, anyway. Two, I went to check the personalities in Accord. I checked their chairman, their national working committee, and they are reputable persons. I also went and check one of the candidates in Action Alliance, right now I’m being supported by Action Alliance and Accord Party. Accord is a clean party, and I have the reputation. There is nobody in Anambra State that can say they have done up to what I have done for humanity in Anambra State which is my Motto “Humanity First”. You can carry out a survey, on who is the most popular candidate, I am. Right now for Accord, it is the man that makes a party, not the party that makes a man. The people of Anambra State are in favour of the Accord Party. Today, we had persons from APGA, PDP, APC coming to pay allegiance that Dr, we would follow you wherever you go.
Are you in Accord Party because it is a means to an end or it is because of its Ideology or philosophy?
Well, I checked the party closely. I read through their constitution. But by the way, all the political parties involved in this upcoming election approached me, including Zenith Labour Party, but I saw total difference in Accord. Their chairman is good and humble, just like me so I found him relatable. We had a lot of conversations so many times. For me, you have to look at what the party represents. They might end up being a major in the future.
How do you hope to increase the internally generated revenue to fund this project so it does not become mere talking points?
I want you to check the history of this country from its inception till its current state. I have not seen any politician, whether a Governor, Senator or President that has done what I’ve done before going into politics. I’m not here to do politics. I’m here to develop Nigeria not just Anambra State. I am not intending to run for president but as a Governor I can do more than most people do. Concerning, Internally Generated Revenue, the truth is that most of the resources are being wasted. If we make use of them wisely we might not need to depend on Abuja because Anambra State are the trade centre of the South-east.
There are a lot of people in Anambra who have enough resources like you and they also influence what happens in this state. Also the ‘church politics’ influences the outcome of elections in Nigeria. Are they all with you?
Becoming the governor of Anambra State would change a whole lot in Nigeria. As I said, if I can do all I have done, without being a governor, if get into government I would do more because I’m not too big for service. If you talk about governors, the type of success that I have had in business, medical business, is what most of them would achieve by the time they finish governing. So, the standard they would reach I have already surpassed them. Secondly, Anambra being a state populated by billionaires will enjoy the benefits of these people. I’m not telling them not to invest in Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ilorin, Abuja or Lagos but sensitisinhg them of the need to put something in your hometown. I love the Anambra billionaires. I am going to call on them to come and help. Some of them we would partner with to build institutions. For some of them, we would ask them to help us do this or that, we would pay later. So my strategy is in different forms. I would try to maintain that friendship with them. I have not seen any Anambra billionaire that has seen not seen me in their house. One of them admonished and said, ‘stop, don’t belittle yourself because you are running for Governor’. They respect me and I respect them.
At present, Lagos is the leading state in terms when it comes to IGR. How do you intend to compete with or even supersede Lagos without putting pressure on the people of Anambra?
I can tell you that 30-40% of that Internally Generation Revenue in Lagos is from the Igbos. The point is that our people that are the Igbos are taking over the trade in Lagos. That’s why I am trying to encourage our people to come home here and start building the factories here. Let’s start building Anambra. I’m sick and tired of all of us not realising the fact that the more you put the factory elsewhere, yet our children; siblings; parents, and grandparents; everybody suffers. Give me the microphone and you would see our people coming back. I don’t mind going from doorstep to doorstep, kneeling and saying ‘please we need you, come back home’.
I also plan on building medical tourism. No more cases of people going to India and dying over there or going to the UK and dying on the plane or in America. The problem is that most of the people that leave Nigeria to America to seek specialist care, I’m one of those that attend to them. I have many Nigerians that come to my hospitals. So that’s why I intend to increase this. From improving trade to making healthcare accessible, and improving medical tourism to Nigeria. In addition, I, Dr Godwin Maduka, have vowed that as long I continue to live in the country, I’m going to have 24hours light.
You might want to talk about adequate security and infrastructure. How do hope to curb the insecurity in the state or at least change the narrative?
Let everybody know that insecurity is birthed from a lack of job and money. Just as women can go into prostitution when they are jobless, men could carry guns when there is nothing else to do. By the time I encourage development in this state, create infrastructures that nobody has ever seen, the kind of IGR we would get from Nnewi, Onitsha is quite enough plus that of Abuja. I already told you that I would get some foreign investors into this country. So when they come and all these things are combined insecurity would go down because people would have jobs to do. These boys joining all these cults do so out of hopelessness. Have you seen people who are gainfully employed enter cult? The answer to the insecurity issue is to increase the literacy level, give people jobs when they are done with school, create decency in politics so that people would not have to idolise thuggery. A grown man and a woman trying to convince us that apple is orange. With my emergence, we are going to change the narrative.
What are your thoughts about godfatherism in Nigerian politics? Winning a governorship election is much more about competence. You would have to go to the grassroots and all. How are you carrying alone all of those people that matter, the stakeholders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, student union… because Accord is almost an unknown party in Anambra State? What are plans to outsmart these ‘career politicians’?
I’m am one of the main godfathers in Anambra State. Probably, if you count six of them, I’m one of them. But it does not do me any good, so I stepped down from being a godfather to being a father; from kingmaking to be a king. The unique qualities about me are rare to come by in the history of Nigerian politics. I never knew that I would go into politics. Until things started going wrong and instead of sitting down there in the U.S and criticising people, I decided to come in here to do better. Simple. That is what drove me into this. I don’t have anything against godfathers, but I put it to the godfathers that they should, please, do the right thing. Don’t support the wrong candidate. If you attain the ‘godfather’ level, you’re supposed to be a caretaker of the people. You have to be people conscious because one day you would die. I Godwin Maduka, would fight with the last breathe in me until the system would receive a change.
Concerning medical tourism which is one of your agendas, we know that outside Nigeria, in places like Dubai, we know that tourism is where they generate funds like no other. How do you intend to generate or revive tourism in Anambra State?
When you go to places like Ogbaru and all other riverine areas. We have a very cool weather, one of the best in the world. We would invite foreigners to come and tour this beautiful African country. Instead of the flood carrying these people away every rainy season we would divert that flood to a place, and we would have world-class hotels and casinos in those devastated areas. Once we have our mind positioned to development we would grow. We would build beautiful resorts and create an environment where we would have foreigners and fun-seekers, who have come for leisure and relaxation unexposed to risks. Once we get Anambra State to a stable position, we would be able to encourage tourism. We would build the kind of structures they would like to come and stay in.
Our casinos like what we have in Las Vegas would be sought after. I plan on bringing some of these engineers and casino owners to come and invest in Anambra State. We would build parks, build modern homes. Plan our city for the better. You can’t be driving through Onitsha only to be seeing dirt everywhere. We would have better waste management. I just need the firm support of the people of Anambra State to bring the dream alive.
I can tell you that 30-40 percent of that Internally Generation Revenue in Lagos is from the Igbos. The point is that our people that are the Igbos are taking over the trade in Lagos. That’s why I am trying to encourage our people to come home here and start building the factories. Let’s start building Anambra