By Olalekan Bilesanmi
Charles Agbala, a surveyor and retired Director in Anambra State Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning/Development, was elected by the Uke community in Idemili North LGA of Anambra State as the new traditional ruler. He succeeded Igwe Nwabufo Ezeude who joined his ancestors in 2011. Agbala, during a thanksgiving, held at St Dominic Catholic Church, Uke, took out time to speak to Sunday Vanguard on his emergence as monarch, motivation and programme for the development of Uke.
My emergence as the new traditional ruler of Uke was act of God and the will of the people. It was the people that voted me in. They clamoured for me.I retired from Anambra State Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, having worked for thirty-five years, in April 2011.
Road to election
After the last Ofala for our late Igwe on Nov 14,2015, the seat was officially declared vacant. And, in accordance with the town’s Constitution, the next village to produce the Igwe, Uruabor, was expected to present three candidates to the leadership of the Uke community for consideration. I am from Uruezeani quarters of Uruabor and was among the three candidates who emerged and presented to the Uke Town Union leadership. After due diligence, election was then fixed for December 19, 2015 and, at the end of the day, I emerged victorious.
Development road map
I see my ascension to the throne as a challenge to tackle the problems facing the community. The biggest challenges facing us include peace, unity and reconciliation. Their absence over a long period of time has weighed the community down. The challenges are multi-faceted but we shall overcome. I wish to galvanize the rich, the learned, the experienced and hardworking indigenes to fashion out ways to progress. Decayed infrastructure, comatose health facilities, and education policy of the community must be addressed. Our youth would be attracted back to school(education). Cultural and social life needs to be rejuvenated. Eke Market, the most popular community market in Idemili North council area and beyond before and after the civil war, has remained a shadow of itself due to lack of care.
Water, roads, electricity and other utility services are non- existent in Uke. Each community needs to have rapport with government at all levels in order to benefit from democracy dividends. Providing the utilities capital intensive. I commend the state government for helping to fix our roads. Though more is still needs to be done. Having been in government over the years from where I retired as Director, I hope to use my experience, contacts and goodwill to partner government for the benefit of my community and her citizens.
My motivation is service to God and humanity. I intend to take Uke to a level where all her citizens will be happy and proud to say they are from Uke, and looking forward to coming home annually to meet and interact with their kith and kin in a peaceful, secure and friendly environment.
MASSOB/IPOB/Niger Delta Avengers agitation
There is need for dialogue. Use of force on the agitators would have additional damages and consequences. The Federal Government should also endeavor to keep to the agreement it entered into. This is because the previous agreement with the militants of the Niger Delta was reported not to have been well implemented. So, the FG needs to be seen as sincere so as to earn the militants trust. That was alleged to be part of the reason for the return of militancy in the Niger Delta. Also, I think the FG must create jobs to absorb the teeming unemployed youths in the country as a way of tackling the restiveness and anti-social conducts by youths. There’s also need for government to critically look into the challenges in the economy.
The economic policies need to be reviewed; they need to be given human face. It is not a good policy to ban the importation of some foods, especially rice, which is the staple food for Nigerian families, when the local production cannot adequately satisfy local consumption. A bag now sells for as high as N18,500 and that’s too high for many citizens. Again, the poor power supply and burgeoning unemployment must be tackled.
It’s welcome and should be commended by all. However, other aspects of the economy must be taken care of. There’s need to stimulate production and export of non-oil production.
I commend our governor, Chief Willie Obiano, for initiating what has come to be known as “the Anambra model”. The governor had, long before the herdsmen issue became a national security topic, set up a special peace committee chaired by the Commissioner of Police to handle any such crisis between communities, farmers and herdsmen. It has been working perfectly well. So I urge the FG to get all states to adopt the Anambra model.
I am married with four children. I trained as a quantity surveyor. I am a member of the Nigerian Institute of Construction, Industry Arbitrator of Nigeria; a former Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (Anambra) and the incumbent Chairman of the Awka Chapter of Uke Development Union.
I am the principal partner of Awka-based Procost Consultants. I relax by jogging, doing exercises, listening to music and watching documentaries.