In this interview with newsmen Hon. Chidi Mark Obetta, Labour Party candidate for Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency of Enugu state dissects the governance trajectory in Enugu state under the Peoples Democratic Party since the inception of the current democratic, problems of his immediate constituency and the solutions he intends to apply to reverse the lamentable situation. BONIFACE OKECHUKWU was there.
Can you tell us your chances of victory contesting in the election considering the general perception that your party, the Labour Party doesn’t have any structure?
I can tell you without blinking an eye that my chances of victory in the election are more than one hundred percent guaranteed. My candidacy has the support of over 90 percent of the eligible voters in my constituency. These are people who will determine the ultimate winner of the election. And if you are talking about the entire people in the constituency, more than 95 percent of the people want me to go and represent them in the House of Representatives.
I know that the structure you are talking about is like the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) which had been ruling the state since about twenty-four years now. So, it has a former governor and incumbent governor, several former senators and incumbent senators, the same thing in terms of House of Representatives and State Assembly, local government chairmen and councilors. But I can tell you that these structures will work against the party and its candidates in the elections. The PDP has used the structure to hold Enugu state down since past 24 years now. The structure had been a cabal. And that is what Labour Party is coming to dismantle, and replace with a people-oriented democratic governance structure.
And just like I pointed out earlier, the real structure that will determine the outcome of the election are the voters, those who have PVCs. Over 90 percent of those who have PVCs in Enugu state, and, in Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency are behind the Labour Party and her candidates in the coming general election.
The PDP government claims that it has extended due development to Nsukka zone. What is your view.
Well, this is the most laughable claim, anybody could make, to say the least.
We are all witnesses to the situation in Nsukka in all sectors.
Most communities in Nsukka zone lack virtually any infrastructure you can think of in this modern society. For instance, during every rain season every community in our area will always become flooded because of heavy flood water flowing from the Enugu road. Some of such communities, include Alor-Uno, Obimo, etc.
The multi- million naira Ada Rice project if it had been completed would have given hundreds of jobs to our people apart from turning Nsukka into a food- basket of Enugu state. So, tell me what anybody who is claiming that PDP government has done well in Nsukka is pointing at?
Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency is relatively lacking in terms of physical infrastructure. What is your plan when you are elected.
Well, I hope that you know that the job I am asking the people of my constituency to hire me to do for them is legislative. Which is basically a job of lawmaking, oversighting the executive and serving as their veritable voice on any issue affecting them for the attention of the federal government and the world at large.
However, if you were present at the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka Justice, Development and Peace/Carita’s Commission political enlightenment programme, I stated clearly in my presentation and, during the question and answer sessions, the major problems facing my people of Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency, and, how I intend to solve them.
I will just state briefly what I said during the engagement here. For instance, I made it clear that among the greatest challenges my people are grappling with are poverty, unemployment, especially among the youth, dearth of physical infrastructure like roads and health facilities which I noted is responsible for the high rate of death among our women during child-births, increased child-mortality rate, challenges of acquiring quality education, environmental hazards like flooding, as well as, high waive of insecurity.
As part of the solutions, I pointed out the need to assist our women form co-operatives under which they will be linked to accessing loan facilities of the federal government from institution like Bank of Industry, Central Bank of Nigeria through designated commercial banks to help improve their agricultural practices. I also emphasized the need to encourage construction of dams where the flood water flowing from the Enugu road and submerging our communities will be channeled into. Then Ponds will be constructed and youth who may have interest in fish farming will be selected and trained on fish farming techniques so that they will later be empowered with necessary facilities to use the ponds for fish farming. That way, our people will not only be self-sufficient in producing enough fish for our consumption but also for sale to people outside our constituency.
I also said that the health centres constructed in our constituency under the National Primary Health Scheme will be made functional to provide efficient health services to our people by making sure that they are properly equipped with facilities and manpower employed to provide prompt services, especially to pregnant women and children. On roads, we shall lobby both state and federal government agencies using our contacts to attract roads and also strengthen security in our area. I made it clear that as a youth, with age at my advantage, full of strength, bobbling with fresh blood, and passionate about the affairs of my people, l will make sure that I bring anything due for my people from Abuja.
What is the chances of your party in the national election.
It is clear that Labour Party will sweep the poll in the national election coming up in February 25. It will also be a walk over my my party in Enugu state during the March polls because of the quality candidates we have for the Governorship in the person of Hon Chijioke Edeoga and candidates for the state Assembly constituencies.
Basically,Nigerians are tired of the leadership failure they have been passing through since past 24 years in the hands of the PDP and APC in particular. And they have made it clear that they want a new Nigeria where there is unity among the various people of the country irrespective of their ethnic, geographical and religious differences; where there is security, employment, strong economy, no corruption where the rule of law prevails, etc. And they have made it clear that they have found the hope in Labour Party where Mr. Peter Obi will be president and his running mate, Dr. Yusuf Baba Datti-Ahmed, and who will be supported in the National Assembly by legislators who are also elected under the Labour Party platform in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
How do you assess constituency projects delivered in your constituency by the parliamentarians.
Well, I will simply say that I am not satisfied. And that is why I am vying to make sure that my people enjoy adequate federal presence. However, those who have represented us and who currently representing us are doing their best within their capacity. But as far as I am concerned they have not done enough. I will do better if I am elected.
How do you access preparations already put in place by the INEC ahead of the polls to ensure that the exercise produces credible outcome?
So far, I will say that the Commission has done enough to convince us that the election will be conducted free, fair and that the result will reflect the votes cast by the electorates. I commend particularly the introduction of BVAS and the policy that the results will be transmitted electronically from the polling units to the INEC’s central server in the presence of political party agents who will also be given hard copies of the transmitted results.
Does it not give you concern that Nsukka zone, otherwise, known politically as Enugu North Senatorial district is relatively underdeveloped when compared to her other sister senatorial zones in the state.
It is obvious that I am worried. And that is the reason of my vying to represent the senatorial zone in the House of Representatives. It really hurts me that Nsukka zone, politically known as Enugu North Senatorial zone has remained this backward. The senatorial zone is older than her other two counterparts in the state: Enugu East senatorial zone and Enugu West Senatorial zone. So, my reason for seeking to represent part of the senatorial zone in the National Assembly, that is Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal Constituency is to have an opportunity to contribute my own quota in making sure that the zone experiences the needed development. It is my passion for the development of the zone that compelled me to site a Five-Star hotel in our area, the Jerry Marriot Hotel and Suites. In addition to providing about 100 direct jobs to our people and about 150 indirect jobs, the facility has the capacity to host any social event you may wish to host in any city in the world.
How do you address the leadership inequality in Enugu state as it relates to Nsukka zone.
I am not really bothered about where the person occupying a leadership position comes from. I am more concerned about the kind of leadership such person is providing to the component parts of the state.
What worries me is that Nsukka has not benefitted what is due to it from the various governments in the state, particularly since the inception of the current democratic era in 1999. Nsukka zone had given the PDP the highest votes that made it the sole ruling party in the state since about 24 consecutive years, but, if you look around the zone it is clear that the zone is abandoned in terms of provision of infrastructural development facilities. Today, there is no pipe born water in any part of Nsukka, no tarred road networks linking neighbouring communities, virtually all the communities are darkness due to lack of electricity; health sector is in comatose in the zone, the same applies to the education sector. Most of the primary schools and secondary school are have dilapidated structures. So, for me, it is not necessarily who many leadership positions we have occupied or occupying both in the state and at the federal level. After all our bother has been on the saddle as the Executive governor of our state for close to eight years now. Has far has he developed the zone? If you ask some people among our people they will even tell you that our area saw more development during the regime of Governor Sullivam Chime who hails from Udi in Enugu West senatorial zone than under the incumbent regime of our own brother, His Excellency IfeanyiUgwuanyi.
What are your plans for youth development in your constituency.
The youth in my constituency are part of my priority. As you can see, I am a youth. It pains me the number of unemployed youth I see around. . Already, I have provided opportunities to many. I have been in involved in organizing football tournament where those of them who have soccer talents are selected, and, I have been making plans to send them Overseas to become professional players. I have gotten jobs for so many of the at the federal level. I have provided scholarship to many. If you come to Jerry Marriot Hotel, you will notice that all the staff members are youth. That is also how I engaged them in my other ventures outside Nsukka here because I have other businesses located in Abuja and other states in the country.
This why I said in my social contract with my Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency that my reason for seeking their mandate is to have a pedestal that will afford me the opportunity to touch more lives.
What are your developmental policies for your constituency?
I think that I have given sufficient insight into what I will do when I narrated above my presentation at the Nsukka Catholic Diocese Justice Development and Peace/Caritas’s political enlightenment programme I attended about two days ago.