… Vows to demystify office of gov
…Fill all portholes in Abia in his 1st 100 days in office
….Says govt has no meaning if citizens can’t drive on good road
…Vows to publicly account for security votes
…Says EFCC, ICPC to have desk officers in his office
Dr. Samson Orji, former House of Assembly member, and former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry is one of the major contenders for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship ticket in Abia State. In this interview, he reveals how Abia under his watch will be piloted, stating why he considers himself the best material for the job.
Steve Oko reports
How can you describe yourself?
Mr name is Dr. Samson Orji also known as SCOURJ Which is my initials that have almost overshadowed my real name. I come from Idima Abam in Arochukwu LGA of Abia State. I’m a business man. I’m into construction business. I also run Investment business. My companies also do recoveries. We recover monies that are either hidden, stolen or seized.
I have three sons and a daughter who is married and has given me a grand son. My children are all Independent and doing well.
You recently declared interest in the 2023 governorship race. What is driving your ambition?
I’m in the race to serve the people and make God proud. That Governor that will make Abia truly God’s Own State has come.
There are three factors that informed my decision to run. One is my conviction in myself. That I posses the requisite qualifications in terms of training, experience and exposure; in terms of quality of character, honesty; in terms of integrity and the determination to bring about a positive change in the political land scape of of Abia State. I termed it Person and Personality.
The second factor is my understanding of the political workings of the party called PDP from1998. I have been a committed financial member of the party. One of the first people to contest election in the party in 1998 and I served out at the Abia House of Assembly up till 2003. I learnt a to whole lot of lessons – how the Executive and the legislature ought to relate going by the constitutional provisions.
The third one is the factor that deals with governance and the state. The Governor calls the shots to meet the needs of the people
How accessible is the governor? If I become the governor how accessible will I be to the people for the purposes of identifying their needs and finding solution in terms of the need of the communities which need is of priority to them?
I cannot know the priority need of the people if I’m not accessible to them. A man might be hungry and thirsty at the same time but he may say I want water first. There is no way as governor you will be able to aggregate all these except you are accessible.
What should Abians expect from you if you eventually emerge their next Governor?
The first thing I will do within my 100 days in office Is that I will demystify the office and person of the governor. I will make phones available where a trader can call, and within 24 hours he can get a response. I will make sure that I have days which I will see just anybody. Such a day won’t be for government officials just the ordinary people- anybody that wants to see the governor. I will be available to meet them. We have Michael Okpara auditorium. Let the people come in and see me. Those whose matters can’t be heard that day let them come the next week.I will do it .I call it demystifying the mystery that has always covered the office of the Governor.
Won’t it be too overwhelming?
If you are made a Governor, it is a full time job. If you manage your timing well, it is not too much dedication to the people. Out of one day probably 12 hours. The first five hours you sit down, after you go on break , serve them break also, then return and sit with them another five hours. You still have another 12 behours to rest and sleep. That means it is a whole day with their Governor. Once in a week I will be with the ordinary people.
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I am going to cut down the long convoy that governors go by. They are unnecessary waste. If you are a good Governor nobody will like to kill you. The masses will stand against anyone who wants to throw a stone at you. If you are good to the people you don’t need a battalion of soldiers as police to protect you. Peter Obi did it as governor of Anambra state. I remember one day I was traveling and I was standing in a line behind Peter Obi to board a plane in Abuja. He was travelling alone without an aide.He was carrying his bag. Why can’t I replicate that in Abia State.
Within my first 100 days in office people will see it that this is governance in action that this man has come with the fear of God and has come for his people. Secondly within my 100 days in office, I will fill up all the pot holes on the road in Abia – whether they are state or federal roads. It will be operation fill up potholes with asphalt. I will fill up all the existing roads to make them motorable. Why won’t they be filed up? What will be the duty of government If people cannot pass freely on a smooth road. I will also construct teachers’ quarters in Secondary schools.
My security vote will be accounted for publicly. Commissioner for Finance and the Accountant General will be mandated on quarterly basis to render accounts about the revenue of the state and how it is spent including my security vote. That which is not feasible with the ordinary ordinary allocations will have to be tackled with my security votes.
On the day of myself inauguration as governor, I will invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, to deploy Desk officers to my office. I want them to monitor us and see if we are going to divert a dime from official purposes. My Permanent Secretaries, Directors and civIL servants wil be under strict instructions to behave themselves because there will be zero tolerance for corruption. When those working under you discover you are not stealing money, diverting money or hiding away money they will sit up because they will know that if they are caught you will not come to their rescue.
I did it when I was Commissioner for Commerce and Industry . At the end of that that time, Gov Theodore Orji issued a certificate of commendation to me.
I was the only commissioner that got that letter. It was under me that nobody could levy the market unions.
What is the secret of this uncommon integrity?
I have the peace of God in me . I became an early seeker of God. Before the civil war my father was very wealthy but lost all in the war. My father drove two private cars. My father owned a driving school. My father managed a pharmacy. We were being taken and brought back in different vehicles by my father, but when the war struck my father became poor and lost everything.
So, I became an early seeker of God and I became born again early in my life as I began to apply the principles and tenets of a real committed Christian, God became my focus. So the morals that I have imbibed over years that is why I was able to stand up to a former Governor. The things that he suggested we do didn’t accord with my Christian principles even though some people, some of who are going about now saying they are running for governor. Many of them at that time agreed with that Governor and they benefited then. They are the same people dominating the space today.
The honour that I savour is the honour that differs from the prestige conferred by wealth. It is also the honour that differs from the material prestige bestowed by class. It is honour that is hidden by the recognition of the character as duty and function for ethical behavior that could lead to selfless service and sacrifice for public good. It’s gotten when somebody has been regenerated. I wouldn’t be saying this if I’m not born again. The Holy Spirit in me keeps me in check both in my private and public lives. That does not suggest that we are perfect but the consciousness of who we are regulates us.
How would you react to a school of thought that doesn’t believe born again Christians can be in partisan politics?
That position is borne out of ignorance. it’s an error. Such people are not well grounded in the word of God. Why was I able to stand for God when I was a member of the House of Assembly if not for my sound Christian background? I said I would not take oath for anybody. I refused to be held like a cow in toe to a shrine and pledge obeisance to a demigod, something the bible refers to as idolatry? My resistance was rooted in my Christian values and avowals. God gave me the protection I needed during the struggle otherwise I would have been dead because several things were planted to eliminate me.
What plans do you have for Aba, the economic honey-pot of Abia State?
I will open up all the spaces in Aba for investment to flow in. I will constitute Elders Council that will be peopled by men of veritable quality who have all it takes to reach and engage the Presidency to fix the federal roads in the state. They will be a pressure group exploring their rich contacts to pull the Federal Government to play its part in developing Abia. It’s the federal government that has the resources to tackle some of the federal roads in Aba but besides that we shall tackle we should.
We will enter the markets in Aba and make sure every Kobo collected as levies in the markets are deployed in rebuilding the markets. We will use it to provide access roads to the markets and the necessary amenities for traders and visitors.
I will make Aba the center of commence once again the this region. People were coming from the North, Cameroon and far places to Aba. I will restore the glory of Aba. When you fix Aba you would have fixed Abia State just like the saying that: You take care of the pennies, the pounds will gather itself.
Arrears of workers’salary and pension have become issues of concern in Abia. How will you be dealing with this?
The crux of the matter is the absence of profound discussion that is borne out of genuineness of purpose. Government will sit together with labour and agree on how to clear the backlog based on what is available which will be made open to all. My openness and transparency will restore the confidence of workers. I will do biometric capturing of pensioners to weed out ghost pensioners. Same will be done for civil servants and with that we will know the exact number of workers and pensioners.
How would you tackle education?
One of the things affecting education is the eroded value of education system which is hingqed primarily on the inconsistencies of teachers as a result of lack of care by the system. It is lack of attention by Government that has led to the eroded value in education system. This has spiral effect on the teachers not being willing any more.
To solve this, under my watch, primary school teacher will teach in their communites or neighbouring community. In secondary schools there will be staff quarters.
If we come to tertiary institutions, I will ensure that their fees are accounted for by the management so that we will know how much we are giving them as subvention to make up. Lecturers will also be made to sit up.
How would you handle the critical sectors of infrastructure and industry?
I’m going to change the infrastructural landscape of Abia. My performance in the first 100 days in office will make Abians know that God has brought a Messiah. Abia under my watch will witness durable infrastructural transformation.
I pass through roads that are not up to one kilometer in the cities particularly Aba, and such roads are not passable. I see places where the drainage is completely blocked. Why would anybody construct drainage without covering it only to blame residents?
I also see that some people build on places mapped out for drainages. Good leadership requires good determination and political will be enforce certain things. If we see you build on drainage, either you take it out or we take it out for you!
On industry, we will revamp the moribund industries to provide job for the youths. My discoveries when I was Commissioner for Commerce and Industry were shocking. What I discovered about International Glass Industry Aba, Enyimba Hotels, Mordern Ceramic Umuahia and others was alarming.
I know these problems and I Know the solutions. Beyond rejuvenating the moribund ones, I will build industrial clusters, and Ariaria International Market as well as other markets Aba will be relieved. I will bring first class machines to assist the artisans in Aba. Government will install the machines and the people will go there and pay a token and give finishing touches to their products.
My Government will also provide real power – solar power to help our enterprising people.
What is your plan for the youth?
I will engage a number of youths through Agriculture. With the sampling I did when I engaged in farming in my community I realised that the youths can be meaningful engaged through Agriculture. We will explore the huge Agriculture potentials in the state.
We will use the best graduating students in Agriculture from Abia State University and, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, to teach our youths mordern Agriculture. Afterwards, we will provide loan facility for those who have been taught. The loan won’t be cash but equipment to avoid abuse.
Under my watch, Abia youths will no longer be insulted with Keke ( tricycle) or Okada (motorcycle) empowerment. We will engage our youths in meaningful production because this Keke thing has turned our youths into mere quacks. I will take them away from Keke mentality. Keke is an open acceptance of poverty. It is not a business that every youth should go look for N1.5 million and begin to stress himself everyday on hire purchase. KEKE retards the brain. It makes you a poor man. The moment you begin it, you become poor from that day because you begin to struggle even with security agents. When I pass on the roads I see how they are extorted and I weep for them. So, I will encourage Abia youths to come out of the bondage of KEKE.
Do you think you have bright chances at the primaries?
Yes. I will pick PDP ticket by divine fiat! The earthquake in my party now will end in my favour. What is happening today in Abia PDP is a pointer that the only solution will come from beyond man. The party that has held sway in the state for years is at the edge of losing grips. The solution is the divine fiat, and that’s where my own strength is anchored.
God is the God of equity. It’s the turn of Abia North. I won’t be running if it’s not our turn. When the divine hand comes everybody will know that it’s not the turn of Abia South nor Abia Central but Abia North, and that Abia North candidate is I.
Will you leave PDP if you lose the ticket?
No, I will simply go back to my business which is my second address. For me, it’s not do or die.
What’s your message to delegates?
To our party delegates: I don’t have money to buy your votes. If I have billions and trillions I won’t be dishing it out in order to buy your conscience. But those who will give you such monies which by extension is our common patrimony. They want to keep you perpetually poor by asking you to collect what rightly belong to you as a consideration to do the wrong thing. That’s double tragedy! The money is meant for our roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.