Twelve days to the 2019 General Election, candidates of the different political parties are doing their best to sell their proposed policies to the electorates. In this interview with Ebonyi News Network, the Social Democratic Party candidate for the Ebonyi North Senatorial seat reveals how he would work towards the advancement of his people when elected into office. He explains that Ebonyi people are tired of electing representatives who only go to sleep in the red chambers.
Why did you decide to run for Senate at this particular time?
I have nursed the ambition of running for Senate since 2014. This propelled me to meet the former Governor, Prof Sam Egwu. I informed him of my intention to run. He promised me his full support. But midway into the process, he called me back and advised me to suspend my initial quest for Senate and proceed, instead, with consultations for House of Representatives. He told me that he was seeing some green lights and might want to run himself. As a party loyalist, I accepted the arrangement and proceeded to pick a House of Rep form for ₦3.7 million. Precisely two weeks before the primaries, Egwu alongside the current Deputy Governor, Barr Kelechi Igwe and Evang. Ephraim Ononye invited me over, again, and pleaded with me to step down for the then Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku. Their reason then was that my stepping down would enable Nwazunku to join the Divine Mandate project. He had actually mentioned that as the condition for his joining the train. If not, being the Speaker of the State House, he would have met with the then Governor, Chief Martin Elechi, to have the Deputy Governor, Engr Dave Umahi, impeached, and this would have made nonsense of the Divine Mandate Project. I agreed to step down because I did not want the Divine Mandate project to fall apart because of me. There and then, Nwazunku promised to give me a refund of the ₦3.7 million Naira I used to purchase the form. (Smile) You know politicians, they even promised me a ministerial appointment should Goodluck Jonathan be returned to office. After we won the State election, everyone was jostling for office. His Excellency, Umahi, offered me a seat in the exco. But I chose to be in the LGA because I wanted to be closer to my people. I knew would run for Senate come 2019. Even His Excellency, the former Governor, Egwu, promised to do only one term. But when the time came, he decided to go against the initial arrangement. Moreover, in my Senatorial zone nobody serves for two tenures in the Senate. Izzi people are the majority in the area among the three LGAs making up the district. Late Andrew Nwankwo, Chris Nwankwo, Polycap, Late Nshi, Senator Ngele all went once each. Politics is Local and we the people decide what happens. The people have asked me to go and represent them and that is what I am out to do.
Being that you have never been in the Senate before, what different programs do you have for the people of Ebonyi North Senatorial District?
Well, if not for the people, I would have accepted the offer made by His Excellency for me to become one of his SAs. But I said no choosing to rather run for office. My programs will affect everyone, especially the youth. You know they say that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow but I say they are the leaders of today. Our youth have been shortchanged too many times. We have a program of empowerment for them. Now empowerment is not just about distributing “keke” to youth. It goes beyond that. Sometime last year, I went to Federal Character Commission, I was shocked to discover that at NIMASSA, only one Ebonyi man is there. The man is from Ikwo. Look at customs, Road Safety, EFCC and so on, all these people recruit. But how many Ebonyi people are there? I feel the people representing us now at the national assembly have not done enough. We can do more. We also have plans of helping youth who do not have past criminal records to travel abroad and begin to work there and to further gain residency in the overseas.
What about education, do you have plans for grants, scholarships and bursary?
Well, the truth is that we will make education a top priority when elected. I will give students who are exceptional scholarships and grants. If elected as a Senator, I will ensure that I pay students from my constituency bursary for each of the four years I will be spending in office. As a Barrister, those who major in law will always be paid a little more than others.
The failure of most visionary politicians in Nigeria has been attributed to godfatherism. Do you have a godfather?
I don’t have a godfather. Incidentally, all the fund we use are willingly contributed by the people. We do not really have money, but we have enough to help us win the election. And we are not really into money politics. In fact, we are against it because it has dealt a fatal blow on our people. Now this is what our politicians have used to deceive our people overtime. They would give ₦5,000 to the youth and make them do unimaginable things for them to win. At the end, they would travel to Abuja only to return when next it’s time for election. I mean, we are wiser now, that’s why we’re saying no to that old system. Thank God for the signing of the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill into law.
PDP and APC are to Nigeria what the Democrats and the Republicans are to America. SDP is not particularly a popular party in the State, do you sincerely believe you can win running under the party?
Well let me remind you that SDP is one of the oldest political parties in Nigeria. Recall that late Abiola won the presidential election under SDP. Our logo is quite clear for all to see, a white horse. But make no mistake about it, this time around, people will be voting individuals and not political parties. Candidates will be assessed against the backdrop of their last contributions to the people and not their parties. Our people are tired of electing representatives who would go there only to sleep.