By Tony Nwankwo
A PDP chieftain, Chief Thompson Nwojo, alias Popular, is a grassroots politician. From Idima Abam, Arochukwu LGA, Nwojo has been in politics from the days of the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP). He has been Youths Secretary for Arochukwu LGA, Ward Chairman, Chairman for Markets, and today, an Executive Member, Urban Market, Umuahia. In this interview, he says the continuous trading at Isi Gate, Umuahia defaces the state capital. Excerpts:
Senator T.A. Orji seems the powerful politician in Umuahia at the moment?
Well, he is a good politician, because that is his job. And I believe it was former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu that made him what he became. Of course, one of the problems we are facing in Umuahia is that the successor to T.A. Orji, did not follow his footsteps. T.A. Orji tried to create a facelift for Umuahia.
He relocated the Umuahia Main Market to Urban Market, Ibeku, which is important. Yet, instead of the present government to allow all traders to go there, the government under Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu refused to allow that market to exist, rather they allowed people to continue to trade at Isi Gate. And today, if you go to Isi Gate, with the trading going on there, the place no longer looks like a state capital. Hoodlums, touts, all manner of atrocities are committed at Isi Gate because of the market there. So, I am calling on the present government at Umuahia here, to do something, to do the needful, to make sure that they relocate the market to Urban Ibeku.
That should be the market, to enable them redesign Umuahia to look like other state capitals. But Ikpeazu is trying in other areas, but this Isi Gate market has defaced Umuahia and its image now does not depict that of a state capital. I am not castigating, I am only telling them the truth, that people are not happy. We traders are not happy, because they have abandoned the main market and made people to continue to loiter and trade illegally at Isi Gate.
You are on ground here. How do you assess Ikpeazu’s government in Abia?
Well, he is trying his best. Okezie Ikpeazu as a person, as a governor is trying. At least, when you go to Aba, you will see what he has done. Those who go there say he has tried. He has turned Aba to be the Japan of Africa. But I still emphasize that he neglected Umuahia, because of Isi Gate We at Urban, we are suffering. We are not selling. People are not coming to patronise us. Everyone runs to Isi Gate. Those who returned from outside the state for Christmas, didn’t come to Urban to patronise us, rather, they went to Isi Gate. And majority of those who go to Isi Gate, complain because hoodlums are the order of the day there. Either, they snatch their phones or they snatch their bags, or even lynch people. Even Keke operators are becoming part of the problem there. So, we traders are not happy at the turn of events.
You are from Abam, so, Abam politics should be on your mind now. What would you say about Orji Uzor Kalu as an APC senatorial candidate for Abia North?
As a stakeholder in Abam / Arochukwu, I can say that Okezie Ikpeazu does not need much campaign there, because he has tried to build the Bende – Idima Road, also the Ndi Okereke Akpanabo bridge. But the Ndi Oji – Ozu Abam road is not motorable. Even the Bende – Idima Road is not motorable, because the governor has allegedly refused to release funds to Sampson Orji, the contractor handling the road.
Sampson said he has not been paid, the reason he has not completed the about 6-kilometre road. The road was expected to link Ndi Ememe Health Centre, but due to lack of funds, the road was stopped abruptly. I would appeal to Okezie Ikpeazu, as a peace loving governor, to ensure that sufficient funds are made available so that the road can be completed. The Idima – Bende – Ndi Ememe Health Centre is a very important Abam link road.
Are you saying the contract is a Bende – Idima – Health Centre Road or was awarded to terminate at Sampson’s Assemblies of God Church in Idima Abam.
It was awarded to terminate at the Sampson Orji’s Assemblies of God Church in Idima Abam, and another is expected to be awarded to Health Centre at Ndi Ememe. But the contractor is yet to receive the funds for the first phase and then for the second phase.
You are a PDP man, how do you see the Buhari government?
Buhari government is trying its best. But Buhari has done his best to try to marginalize the Igbo people in terms of political appointments and even in the provision of infrastructure. Buhari is not even delivering on security in the country because many innocent people have died during his tenure; both Christians and Muslims. And he is not serious about checking such killings and deaths across the country. He talks about checking corruption, yet he is being sectional about that too. The most recent is that he is sacking CJN Onnoghen to replace him with his own crony Muslim judge at the Supreme Court.
What do you say about the Biafra agitations. Umuahia is a core Igbo state, and the Biafra agitation is truly alive here?
On the agitations by IPOB, we believe the Igbo is free to express his or her views. But it is unfortunate that when other agitators arise from other parts of the country they are treated with kid gloves, like the Boko Haram, Herdsmen, etc. These groups have been killing people, yet nobody bans them, nobody labels them, but when it concerns the Igbo, the government comes with its full military force to silence them. The government has labelled IPOB as a terrorist group. That is not acceptable to our people. Again, to allow the Operation Python Dance to come here and kill our people, maim and destroy the people, dislodge the father of Nnamdi Kanu is not acceptable. Till date, Nnamdi Kanu’s father is no longer living in their ancestral home and nobody is rebuilding his house to enable him return home from forced exile. The herdsmen are killing, but nobody has so far arrested or prosecuted them or banned them as a terrorist group. We are not happy about this.