The electorate in Abia State will in early 2023 move to the polls to elect the next governor of the state.
Amidst the quest for the return of power to Abia North Senatorial Zone based on the prevailing argument for change in status quo, vis-a vis, effective leadership that will transform the state better than it is today.
One of the foremost contenders from Abia North, precisely Ohafia, Chief (Dr) Chidia Maduekwe, (Ishinka Ohafia) has explained how he intends to put the state on a favourable growth and development path through the creation of job opportunities.
The Director General of Nigeria Film Corporation (NFC) also unveiled his plans to ensure the payment of workers salaries as well as gratuities which has always been a contentious issue in the present administration in the state.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he bared his mind on salient issues, making a case for good governance and laying out workable templates he will employ to transform Abia. Excerpts:
With much speculation from Ohafia clan over the right candidate to contest for the Abia Government House in 2023, can you tell us if you are contesting?
It is no longer subject to speculation because the mission to reinvent, restore and realign Abia State democratically is sacrosanct, as an elder with long trajectories in the pursuit of community care issues one can’t be a bystander to the Abia project. I have already thrown my hat in the ring, it was made official this January. The date 2-1-22, is beyond a mere date, it signifies the code to unlock Abia and move her from her current state of despondency and decrepit existence into a state of settled satisfaction as a people under law and order where jobs and justice remain the critical key pillars of good governance.
It is believed that much will need to be done to change Abia to compete with other states, are you ready for it?
I wouldn’t have indicated interest if I didn’t have what it takes to change Abia State because I have acquired a lot of experience in the cause of my political sojourn. As a good manager of men and materials over time, I know that the change we seek can only be achieved through; not necessarily fresh ideas, but doing the very basic things right for once while moving away from running an opaque government. This is what I have come to offer. We cannot continue to muse and grumble that Abia State needs redemption while the lot that can offer real solutions sit and watch from the sidelines . It is Experience, Exposure, Efficiency and Effectiveness resting on
Consistency and Proven Antecedents that should be driving our anticipation. Time has passed for sudden sprouting of Emergency Social Do-GOODERS as a mechanism to confuse the unsuspecting persons. I assure you that no stone will be left unturned till Abia is given her place in the Southeast and her pride restored in Nigeria as God’s own state.
What do you intend to do to achieve economic sustainability in Abia State, is it achievable?
It is very simple! I have had the opportunity to work at different levels in government that is aligned with bringing development to the grassroots. As a grassrooter, I’ve had the privilege to understudy the Abia State terrain. I understand that if we desire economic sustainability in the state, we must begin to exploit our youth bulge and its potentials available to us, harness them and make them productive and employers of labour. For instance, if you want economic growth, you must think of investing in the rural areas to control rural-urban drift by making the locality more attractive in terms of employment with a good standard of living. To achieve this, I will commence building new industrial clusters in each of the 17 local government areas of Abia State within the first 17 months since I will rather redirect the humongous drawings from security votes to functional cottage industries. These clusters will have steady power supplies through solar energy and compressed natural gas programmes by the state energy department. The purpose is to ensure productivity is enhanced. Take for example, with a budget as little as N500 million, one can commence building an industrial warehouse every month. Experts shall train at least 5,000 workers in each local government area. This is to say that about 10,000 youths will be pulled, commissioned into work in every LGA if the factory runs day and night. If I sustain it in the 17 LGAs, I would’ve employed an estimated 170,000 youths minimum from security votes alone within the first 18 months. What I have explained above is not rocket science, it is a simple and workable template. No leader in Abia should need N700 million as security votes monthly when it can solve half of our youth bulge earning problems monthly.
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Are you saying you will not be taking your security votes if you become the governor of Abia State?
I am saying that I don’t need all the money pushed into security votes which is a simple executive excuse to enjoy the people’s money to their detriment. I am saying that with about one quarter of the said security vote I can handle security (of course I wonder why it wouldn’t), then the remaining three parts should go into creating jobs in the rural areas to achieve economic sustainability. I have raised hopes on infertile grounds before and brought a backburner agency into the mainstream, l can easily revive Abia State with the same pragmatism.
There is this general apathy that APC is Fulani party while Abia is a PDP state, won’t it pose a challenge to your ambition?
They said party politics is not a game of sentiments, you access political success with facts and figures, not speculations. The facts and figures are there to juxtapose them and weigh APC and PDP to understand. The APC today is for the Igbo to lay claim for it considering the multitude of infrastructural largesse that has come to our people under APC Federal Government. Let me give you instances. I laugh when you say APC is a Fulani party. But tell me if those representing the Igbo under APC are Fulani men/women? Have they done better than their PDP counterparts? The statistics are out there. Orji Uzor Kalu is the Senator representing Abia-North, building over 50 roads, bringing leadership closer to the people, is he a Fulani man or did his being an APC stalwart stop all those efforts? So, I don’t agree with what people mean when they say APC is a Fulani party, APC is for everyone. On the second of January, I brought Southeast the zonal headquarters of the Nigerian Film Corporation-NFC to Ohafia. We never had it this good under PDP, but it has been made possible through some of us that have come to understand that the APC-Fulani narrative is simply emotional blackmail that has been employed on our people for a long time that they no longer believe in it now. On the other way round, I think that only a politically unconscious person can come up to say Abia is PDP while looking at the hurt, backwardness and degradation they have foisted on the state. I believe that only those that benefit from the lies will believe they are right. I assure you that a lot has changed already.
Why did you bring the Nigerian Film Corporation site to Ohafia? What motivated the action?
All my life I have been a grassroots man that believes in bringing successes and developmental strides home. While I had the opportunity to enjoy a good life as a doctor in Ibadan, I rather brought home my services in the eighties through Kesandu Rural Mobile Medicare Scheme and today some of our community health centers are the offspring of Kesandu. What you have seen me do today is not new because I got the consciousness very early in life that the only thing that will benefit your people is not the wealth you made, but the little that touched their lives. I wish Abia is to participate in capacity building and training of the youth and turn them around for productive purposes. By the time we are done with this, Ohafia will evolve into a content production empire which has become one of the highest foreign earners for Nigeria.
Can you tell us your cardinal objectives if you become Abia governor tomorrow?
My cardinal objectives and blueprint for development are centred on three Es of Education, Energy, Economy and Infrastructure (3E& I). I earlier hinted you on modalities to generate employment in the rural areas. Recall that I mentioned generating economic sustainability that will be powered by energy and driven through education. A serious government will focus on solving these three challenges if it plans to move beyond dependency of federal allocation to bridge the infrastructural deficit in the state.
What will be your approach to handling the issue of salaries, emoluments, retirement benefits, etc. Will you consider borrowing?
My first approach will be to identify those leakages and holes draining our funds into private pockets and rechannel them to solve the state’s problems. In other words plug the leakages and deploy little resources efficiently and effectively to achieve quantum output. When you pay workers, their life span will improve and they will be happy to work, when they are happy to work, production will be enhanced. Above all, a worker is worthy of his wages. I don’t believe I have any reasons to borrow money to pay workers when our allocation and internally generated revenue (IGR) can take care of that. If we are transparent and accountable, good governance will be ensured.
How would you make Abia cover the pace among Southeast and neighbouring states in terms of accelerated infrastructural development?
I will suggest you patiently wait for my manifesto that will come out at the right time so that you will understand in detail what I have in stock for Abia State. What I gave you now is a tip of the iceberg for you to have insight into the good things to come. By God’s Grace, we shall prevail. – Nkaa G’eme Kanyi Kesandu na ala Abia!