‘…Why I’m the candidate to beat in Owerri senatorial zone’
By Mike Ebonugwo
Call him a political evangelist, you will not be wrong. This is because Mr Nick Opara-Ndudu comes across strongly as a preacher of a new and refreshing brand of politics anchored on responsible leadership employing the benefits of transformative ideas to provide development-oriented governance to the people. Not only is he articulate and erudite, he is always brimming with ideas which he readily ventilates with the burning zeal of a born again preacher at any given opportunity.
The Imo State-born accountant/banker-turned politician was certainly at his best in this regard during an encounter with Sunday Vanguard in Lagos. Until recently he was the Commissioner in charge of Internally Generated Revenue and Pension Matters in Imo State. Before then he was the Commissioner for Works and Transport. Prior to his foray in politics and governance, he had more or less paid his dues in the private sector where he last held the position of Deputy Managing Director of Assurance Bank.
But after three and half years of serving in the government of Imo State, Mr Opara-Ndudu who hails from Ezeogba Emekuku in Owerri North LGA recently resigned to enable him actualise his political ambition of seeking election into the Nigerian Senate to represent Owerri senatorial zone. But what considerations informed this decision? “My decision to run for the Senate was informed by the fact that it is a place I have always desired to be.
In 2011 I was privileged to run for the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, ticket for the Owerri senatorial zone. But unfortunately a couple of things happened that prevented me from realising my ambition. On the day of the primary, the materials were all taken away and the primary declared inconclusive. Three days later we learnt that the National Working Committee had settled for Chris Anyanwu, as the party’s candidate for the Senate. She was with the PDP at the time, but joined APGA and was handed the APGA ticket on a platter of gold,” he informed.
Not to be discouraged by that experience, he feels the time is now ripe for him to try again.And he also feels very strongly that the experience he has garnered serving in the government of Imo State will stand him in good stead to succeed this time around. “My getting involved in the government of Imo State was to learn the ropes, as it were, about the politics of the state. I believe that God’s time is the best because if you try the last time it didn’t work, nothing stops you from trying again. I’m determined this time to do my best to get the ticket to run for the Senate. I’m not at this time interested in the governorship of Imo State because I believe the Senate will provide me the platform to ventilate some of the ideas I have about how to move our country forward. I want to go to the Senate because that is where the skills, the ideas I possess will find expression as far as the Nigerian project is concerned,” he said.
Okorocha, APC and Imo
But how realistic is his ambition given the thinking in some quarters that Imo is essentially a Peoples Democratic Party state even though it presently has an All Progressives Congress Governor? It was a question that brought out the fire in him. As far as he is concerned, Imo belongs to the APC by reason what the governor has been able to achieve in the past three and half years. “Well, let me tell you something: People can say anything they like on the pages of newspapers. But the APC is the party to beat in Imo State.
With the extraordinary and exemplary performance of his Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, it’s clear to Imo people that governance is about performance, the provision of dividends of democracy, not just talk. If you go to Imo today you will see what Okorocha has put down in the last three and half years. Forget about propaganda, the people of Imo have seen that the 12 years of the PDP made no sense to them in terms of what this government has been able to accomplish within a short time. Over the past three and half years, Imo people have been enjoying free education, right from the primary, secondary to tertiary levels. Practically every family has a beneficiary of this free education.
If you look at the infrastructural transformation that has taken place, you find that what was done under 12 years of PDP pales into insignificance compared with what Okorocha has done. “APC remains the most credible platform as far as performance is concerned to run for office.
The people of Imo State are not just ready to be taken back to to Egypt. As somebody who is exposed working in the private sector, I believe that if you want to take over from the government in power, what you have to do is tell the people what you will do to match and even do better than that government, not propaganda. There’s no need to keep on saying Oh, APC is a religious party, oh it is a Northern party. That’s is nonsense. When, for instance, I become the senator for Owerri, am I going to use my skill or expertise to work for others?
If there’s an APC government in Imo State come 2015, which I know will come to pass, are they going to use the resources of the state to work for anyone other than the people of Imo State? “These are things we need to situate properly. As far as I’m concerned, APC remains the most credible platform.. on account what the people have experienced in terms of infrastructural development and the involvement of the rural communities in the way things are done. The CDCs, community development committees, have been set up in virtually every community and government is even making money available directly to these communities, in some cases up to N1 million at a time. The communities are seeing this money, feeling the money. You think they will abandon that for a government that was not doing anything in the past?
Elite conspiracy against Okorocha
“What is happening is that there is an elite conspiracy against the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. And this conspiracy stems from the fact that he has refused to share the resources of the state the way it was being shared in the past. It was when I got into government from the private sector that I learned that there were people called stakeholders in every local government. And what they do every month is that the local government funds are shared to them. Some get N50,000 and N200,000; some get N1 million and some get half a million. That is how they share the resources of the local government. But today we have a government in Imo State that says, ‘Enough of that, I’m not going to share the resources of the people in the manner you are used to; I will rather use the resources to develop Imo State. And they are up in arms against him.
His chances at the APC primaries
“My chances in the the primaries are good because I have looked at it. I have served Imo State for the past three and half years. There are other contestants in this race. But I know that given what one has been able to achieve working under Owelle Rochas Okorocha, my chances are very good. As a matter of fact, I believe I’m the candidate to beat as far as APC primaries is concerned. This is something you can find out because the people are beginning to hear of fresh ideas about governance; how to do things. Not just experience. The point is that many people who seek for elective positions do so because they believe they have been there before and they need to go back there again. I believe that come November 29, by God’s grace I will get the APC ticket and by God’s grace I will win the Senate seat for Owerri because I believe there is no other party that will be able to stand APC as far as that election is concerned.
Making a difference in the Senate
“Every senator is entitled to some constituency project. So when you bring it to your area, you’ve not done anything unusual or extraordinary. I think what Nigerians need now are transformative ideas that will move this country forward and change the course of our history.