Mr Val. Ozigbo is the former president of TRANSCORP. Before his position as the president of the group, he was there as the CEO of Transcorp Hilton Hotels and was in the league of the most respected technocrats in Nigeria. Recently, he left the plum job of TRANSCORP to pursue his ambition as the next governor of Anambra state. He spoke with ANAMBRA PEOPLE on why he wants to become the next governor of Anambra state and other issues. Excerpts;
FROM THE CORPORATE WORLD AS A TECHNOCRAT TO LIFE NOW AS A POLITICIAN VYING TO BE THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF ANAMBRA STATE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE EXPERIENCE SO FAR?
It has been an illuminating and enriching experience. You may expect me to say “a whole new world”, but not so. The principles that govern public life are the same that govern business. Essentially, it involves interacting with humans and the concepts are the same – respect, kindness, service, empathy, team building, compassion are required to do well.
Something noteworthy with my new life is the opportunity it has presented me to learn and grow. It has been intriguing meeting new people. Meeting more people in the grassroots of Anambra and travelling to every corner of my state. I have travelled a minimum of 5 times to all the 21 local government areas in my state in the past 18 months and it has been an incredible journey. I have learnt so much about my people who are the heartbeat of ndi Igbo.
LOOKING BACK AT YOUR TIME AT TRANSCORP, WHAT DO YOU MISS ABOUT THE BOARD ROOM THAT SOMETIMES YOU WISH YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE CORPORATE WORLD?
The feeling of missing something comes from a longing, a desire for what one left. In that sense, I miss nothing. My mind is set on my new goals. Quite frankly, I love my people. I love meeting with as many of them as I can, getting to know them, hear their problems, listen to them tell me their dreams, and giving them hope for a better tomorrow. Throughout my corporate years, I was never disconnected from home. When God laid it in my heart to leave my job at the top of Corporate Nigeria and come back home to serve my people, it was an easy decision to make because, you see, home is where my heart is and has always been.
EVERYBODY KNOWS POLITICS IN NIGERIA IS A CHALLENGING TERRAIN- THE RISK, THE RESOURCES, THE ENERGY, THE UNCERTAINTY AND SOMETIMES EVEN THE REJECTIONS. WHAT STRENGTHENS YOU TO KEEP FIGHTING?
This question is as interesting as it is important. You are right that politics is a challenging terrain. Not just in Nigeria. It is tough anywhere, one has to engage the grassroots and win the confidence and the mandate of the people. I stay fueled by keeping before me the reason why I stepped into the arena in the first place – my people. I am constantly pulled by the grand vision I have to make life better for Ndi Anambra.
WHAT REALLY IS SO WRONG ABOUT ANAMBRA THAT MADE YOU ABANDON THE PERKS AND COZINESS WITH YOUR JOB AS A TOP EXECUTIVE IN TRANSCORP? IS IT ABOUT SACRIFICE OR YOU WANT TO EXPLORE THE THRILLS AND FRILLS OF POLITICAL LIFE?
One of the values I hold dear is the belief in our oneness. We are all in this together and if one of us is hurting, all of us are hurting. I have mentioned earlier my connection to my roots. Giving back is a big aspect of my life. Throughout my career, I have always stayed connected with our people at home and Ndi Anambra everywhere. I established my foundation about 7 years to channel my charity work. In the process of engaging with our people widely through my foundation, I became more and more dissatisfied with the condition of our people. Basic social services have collapsed in Anambra. Our hospitals, our schools, our roads, security and so many more are nothing to write home about. We have suffered for way too long from poor governance and divisions that come from a lack of purposeful and unifying leadership. We could be so much more. I am in this race because I believe we can do better, and we will do better if the right leader with the right competence, capacity, and character is elected governor of Anambra.
WITH THE RISKINESS OF ELECTIONEERING CAMPAIGNS IN NIGERIA, HOW DO YOU STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR CAMPAIGN ITINERARY AND YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT?
Balance is something that God has gifted me with. My wife will tell you if you ask that I always find a way to balance things. It is about personal effectiveness. To be an effective person you need certain tools and you truly need to live a life of respect for the individual, of seeking to understand before being understood, to live a life of compassion and consideration for others.
WE ARE VERY SURE THAT YOUR DECISION TO VIE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CONCEIVED AND CONCLUDED IN A DAY. IT COMES AFTER A DEEP HARD THINKING. WHEN ACTUALLY DID YOU CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT COME WHAT MAY, YOU WILL BE PART OF THIS POLITICAL PROCESS?
I have been part of the political process, actively, for more than ten years. I think I need to correct the misconception that I am just coming into politics. I have contributed to the growth of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party in several ways. I wouldn’t want to go into the details in this interview, but the leadership of the party at the state and the national level has acknowledged my contributions. Politics is, therefore, not something I recently came into.
What is my first time is offering myself to the electorate for a public office. And yes, you are correct, I gave this quest for governorship some deep consideration before stepping out. Some things you can’t really define. I just knew it was time. I could no longer bear the status quo. The dilapidation of public services, the degradation of our people, the reduction of the esteem of our state; all these and more propelled me to step out at this time to offer true transformational leadership to our people.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST FEAR SINCE YOU JOINED POLITICS?
I have learned how to convert my fears to fuel. I am so fired up on this quest that there’s no fear left in me. I fear nothing, I only believe. With God all things are possible.
HOW WELL ARE YOU PREPARED TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS?
Winning in a highly competitive environment is what I have been trained to do my entire career. I have the necessary experience to lead and to govern well. I have demonstrated transformational leadership in my career and if I am elected, our people will be proud of what we will achieve.
The hardest part of running for public office, for someone who occupied the kind of position that I stepped down from to dedicate the next chapter of my life to public service, is to actually step into the race. I did that in 2019. This week (April 26, 2021), I finally stepped down from the boards of Transcorp Plc, Transcorp Hotels Plc, and Transcorp Power Limited, to fully focus on our Ka Anambra Chawapu project. I wouldn’t take this decision if I didn’t understand fully what this takes and determined that I am prepared to win.
ARE THERE LEADERS YOU ADMIRE AND GET INSPIRATION FROM, LEADERS YOU WILL LIKE TO REPLICATE THEIR KIND OF ACHIEVEMENTS IN ANAMBRA STATE?
Leadership is about drawing from the experiences of others and wisdom of others who have gone before you. The popular statement, “I stand on the shoulder of giants”, acknowledges this fact of life. In my career, I have been fortunate to have meet and been coached by some of the brightest and most inspiring leaders in banking and the business world like Paschal Dozie, Mohammed Hayatudeen, Francis Atuche, and many more.
In my business life the leader who has influenced me the most is Tony O. Elumelu, CON, the Chairman of Transcorp Plc, Heirs Holdings, and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc. He inspires me in so many ways – his fearlessness, his audacious goals, his winning spirit, his leadership style, his relentless pursuit for excellence, his ability to inspire others to greatness, and many more.
Coming back home to Anambra, I admire the leadership style of His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, the immediate past governor of our state. The way he manages complex situations and is prudent with resources, and pursues evidence-based performance tracking is an inspiration. I would say that the one leader that I look up to would be a composite of all the leaders I admire.
THE CAMPAIGN PROCESS HAS THROWN UP MANY CONTENDERS, EACH MOUTHING DIFFERENT PROMISES. WHAT ACTUALLY ARE YOU BRINGING TO THE TABLE? WHAT IS YOUR STRONGEST SELLING POINT?
Thanks for this question. I bring to the table a unique combination of cognate experience, leadership qualities, and the character to lead Anambra to a new era of prosperity, peace, and possibilities. In addition to having demonstrated competence in leading organisations, delivering world-class transformation, I have the right measure of emotional intelligence required for leadership agility. I have the compassion needed to deliver the kind of governance that will protect our people, provide social safety nets for the vulnerable, care for our women and children, and inspire and empower a new generation of youth to rule their world. I am excited at our brilliant prospects.
PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY THAT NDI ANAMBRA ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO GOVERN. THEY POINT AT THEIR HIGHLY INDIVIDUALISTIC ATTITUDE AS A BANE OF PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT. HOW TRUE IS THIS ASSERTION AND HOW WILL YOU GALVANISE THEM TO SUPPORT YOU IF YOU EVENTUALLY BECOME THE GOVERNOR?
I disagree strongly with the notion that Ndi Anambra are difficult to govern. Yes, we have strong personalities among us. This comes from our high ambition and achievement. These qualities are our strengths and they should not be viewed as weaknesses. We have had governors of Anambra who did very well with delivering quality governance to our people. A case in recent history is His Excellency Peter Obi. What has been in scarce supply has been a governor with a leadership agility that could organize Ndi Anambra behind a common vision of shared prosperity. We need a leader with an abundance of emotional intelligence who would channel attention to setting an agenda that majority of our leaders can organize behind. At the end of the day, we all just want the same things. We want to be respected, to be understood, to be given the freedom to create the kind of life that we dream of.
NO LEADER SETS OUT TO PERFORM POORLY FROM THE INCEPTION OF HIS ADMINISTRATION. MANY DO HAVE BEAUTIFUL INTENTIONS. BUT THOSE INTENTIONS GET DERAILED OVER TIME, LEADING TO GROSS MISMANAGEMENT AND MONUMENTAL INCOMPETENCE ON THE PART OF THE LEADER. HAVE YOU BOTHERED TO KNOW WHY LEADERS SUCCEED AND WHY THEY FAIL?
Leaders fail because of the thing that causes all individuals to fail, something is broken with their goal setting methods. Setting a goal is just one step in the process of achieving greatness. The other aspect of it is execution. Most people fail because they didn’t master the second aspect of goal setting. The others failed because they set the wrong goals in the first place. I have the tools that have helped me to set audacious goals and walk towards my goals till I cross the finish line. I am a global Kaizen champion, a management method that cuts waste and ensures excellence in service delivery. The world is moving into the technological economy. We need to catch up with developments in the global economy. We can’t be found wanting any further. We now have a golden opportunity as a people, to not just set us on the path to catching up with the rest of the world and after catching up, we surpass them.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE PDP AS A PLATFORM FOR THE REALIZATION OF YOUR AMBITION AND NOT APC, THE RULING PARTY AT THE FEDERAL OR APGA THE RULING PARTY AT THE STATE LEVEL? WHAT INFORMED YOUR DECISION?
There are many reasons. The evolution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has delivered a party that is now more democratic and stable. The PDP has the best collection of political leaders and political achievers in the country. Leaders in Anambra like HE Peter Obi, Senator Ben Obi, Senator Joy Emodi, and many others are the reason why I joined the PDP. My party is the most popular and biggest in Anambra State and best positioned to win this November’s governorship election.
LORD ACTON OPINED THAT POWER CORRUPTS, AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. THE VERACITY OF THIS STATEMENT IS SHOWN IN THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL SPACE. EVERY DAY, WE SEE ELECTED POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS ACTING LIKE AN EMPEROR, AND BELIEVING THAT THE WORLD IS THEIRS FOR THE TAKING. HOW WILL YOU CHECKMATE THE EXCESSIVE SHOW OF POWER THAT IS PREVALENT AMONG THE POLITICAL CLASS IF YOU EVENTUALLY SUCCEED IN YOUR QUEST, STARTING WITH YOURSELF AND THEN THE MEMBERS OF YOUR TEAM?
My personal philosophy is one of service and humility. I will entrench a culture of service if I am elected governor. Service keeps us grounded and centered on what’s important.