Andy Uba of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were the only three candidates who participated in the Arise News-organised debate, out of the 18 that have been cleared for the November 6 election.
IPOB agitation in Anambra and other South-east states has led to several killings and destruction, with the attendant militarisation of the region.
All the three candidates showed reluctance at the debate to condemn the activities of IPOB which has been proscribed by the Nigerian government. The three said it was necessary for the government to dialogue with IPOB.
“In life, I have seen good men do wrong thing, and I have seen wrong men do good things. So, it’s always good to get to the activities of any group or any person, and support what is good and condemn what’s bad,” said the PDP candidate, Mr Ozigbo.
“There are certain things IPOB does, through agitation and on things that happened, that I support. But when they get to some extreme, then I condemn,” he added.
Mr Ozigbo said insecurity in Anambra was caused by the way the APC-led government at the centre and the APGA-led government in Anambra were doing things.
He said those who “created” the insecurity cannot be the ones to mediate in any dialogue with IPOB.
“That’s why you need a Valentine (Ozigbo), a useful person to deal with the issue of IPOB,” he said.
The APGA candidate, Mr Soludo, who described himself as a “pan-Nigerian”, said he does not support the agitation for an independent republic.
Just like the other two candidates, Mr Soludo said IPOB “deserves to be heard”.
“The agitation cannot be shut down with a gun. We need to have a dialogue, bring everyone to the table and discus specific issues that are their agitations,” he said.
The candidates’ reluctance to condemn IPOB at the debate is perhaps to avoid a backlash at the poll which is just a few days away. It also underscores the complexities of the security challenges in the state and the South-east region.
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