By Clifford Ndujihe
Chief Azuka Okwuosa, who unsuccessfully aspired for the Anambra South Senatorial seat 11 years ago is back in the race on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Lamenting that all the socio-economic challenges that made him aspire 11 years ago have remained unattended to, Chief Okwuosa, in this interview, outlines his vision and mission for the senatorial zone, saying the South-East must give the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government a chance tom cement its good works in the South-East.
On what is motivating his aspiration
My motivation is propelled by the same issues that drove me to aspire for this same Anambra South Senatorial seat 11years ago. I contested for the seat in 2007 because of the high level of underdevelopment not just in Anambra South Senatorial Zone but also the entire Anambra State. The issue of rampaging erosion menace is more than what the communities, local councils and state governments could tackle. It requires policy which could be done through the ecological fund that needed proper political engineering to be able to get the federal government to do it.
Again the federal infrastructure especially roads within the senatorial zone, the state and geopolitical zone are in a state of disrepair. The infrastructure can rightly be said to have collapsed to the extent hat one would wonder whether we have representatives at the National Assembly from this zone.
Look at the burgeoning level of youth unemployment which has generated negative pressure on social harmony and security in the entire geopolitical zone. These are able bodied energetic youths, graduates, skilled, semi-skilled and the unskilled who have remained idle and jobless for up to 10 years. Yet more are joining them annually.
This has become an unemployment epidemic. There are a whole lot of other nagging issues. From the time I took a shot at the senatorial election to the time I spent at the elections petitions tribunal for two years to the time of the re-run poll, more social challenges have mounted in the senatorial zone.
I had vowed not to contest ever again because of the high insincerity of the operators of the system, especially the electoral umpire- the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. However, within the dispensation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, I feel we now have an unbiased umpire to a reasonable extent. All their conducts so far have been commended by not just the ruling party and the opposition parties but also by the international community.
It is sad that those issues that motivated me to come out in 2007 have remained unattended to. In fact, issues like the erosion menace have assumed a frightening dimension because it was left unchecked for long. Today it has spread to nearly all communities within the senatorial zone-Nanka, Oko, Ekwulobia, Ezinifite, Nnewi, Oraifite, Ozubulu, Ihiala, Ukpor, Azia, Okija, and in fact all the communities within the seven local councils in the zone.
It is very disturbing and shocking that little or nothing is happening. Look at the state of the roads-like Oba-Nnewi- Okigwe federal highway, constructed in 1979 during the era of President Shehu Shagari. Till now, no one has given that road any form of facelift. It has been begging for attention. It is a link road between the South-East and South-South linking the areas to the South-West and all other parts of the North. Through Okigwe you link up to Enugu, Ebonyi and all other states of Southern Nigeria.
The inability to fix that road has literally strangulated the economic life of the people of the areas it connects. It has also created a monumental problem that bothers on industries not working.
How can these problems be tackled, would you subscribe to a charter of demands?
I think the solution is not presenting charter of demand, it is basically a leadership failure. Anyone who aspires to be a senator, a member of the House of Representatives or comes forward to represent his people must know what he/she is going there to do. Your inability to do it automatically means that you are a failure.
I have a 21-point agenda that I will unveil in full later. One of them is the restructuring of INEC so that electoral fraud would be eradicated. There are countries where electoral fraud offences carry capital punishment. We need such in this country. Because if you don’t solve electoral fraud, you cannot solve economic fraud. We need to propagate bills that would make sure that right things are done. So it is not a matter of charter of demand, it is a matter of having the right leadership with commitment to go and effect a positive change.
Your party, the APC, promised change. Critics say they are yet to see positive change. What is your take?
I believe that those who have eyes to see are seeing them. The changes are already there. We inherited a monumental disaster. President Buhari has been stoically tackling the huge decay. Before now, it was difficult to travel to any part of the country, for example in the South East because all the roads were virtually gullies.
But today the changes are there for all to see. Consider the Enugu-Onitsha Federal dual carriageway which one lane has been almost completed within APC’s first three years. But for 16 years the PDP was in power and not one shovel of sand was poured on any such road, yet they were the one that awarded the reconstruction contract years ago. Go and see the Enugu- Port Harcourt highway, a massive reconstruction work is also going on there right now. Same at the Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe Highway and other sectors of the economy.
Consider the feed-the-poor and school children programmes and the N-Power programme; a lot of money has been pumped into them with positive economic and social effects nationwide. It is marvellous that the administration has been able to effect these far reaching impact in just three years. The Buhari administration needs to be given more time to consolidate and finish it is doing.
On allegations that President excluded the South-East from the distribution of the nation’s commonwealth and appointments
Yes, I will agree with you to some extent in terms of political representation but not in terms of infrastructural development. I stated earlier that in three years of this administration we in the South-East have had the type of infrastructural development that were never seen in the 16 years of PDP even with a lot of our people in prominent positions. So to that extent I see it as a massive departure from the ignoble past. If it is sustained we will get to a greater height.