Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Dr Festus Ozioko, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is former chairman of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area in Enugu State. He is the founder and coordinator, Cozio for Gburugburu 2019, a Think-tank group that worked for the re-election of Govrernor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The PDP won all elective seats in Enugu State during the 2019 general elections. Is it healthy for multi -party democracy like ours?
The beauty of democracy is service delivery from the party in power through its candidates, in other words, the ability of the ruling party to make dividends of democracy available to the people through her candidates. That is the beauty of democracy not horse trading among political parties. Those of us who operate at the grassroots level are after dividends of democracy not competition among the political parties. I think the PDP through the governor has consistently delivered dividends of democracy to the people of Enugu State and that is why we don’t have strong opposition in the state. It is a fact that there are no opposition parties in Enugu State because all other political parties endorsed Ugwuanyi for a second tenure. Under Ugwuanyi, the people of Enugu State don’t look at the face of the opposition at all because he delivered excellently during his first term and the people want to benefit from the quality service being rendered by his administration. The people were of the opinion that there is no need for other parties in as much as they have a governor that is doing wonderfully well. You don’t have to change a winning team.
In other words you are saying Ugwuanyi’s reelection is worth it?
The re-election of Governor Ugwuanyi for a second term is worth it and no well meaning person will argue about it. I can recall that prior to 2015 election; Ugwuanyi was described as the most popular governorship candidate in Nigeria by the national leadership of the PDP. He won the 2015 election landslide proving PDP right. Since May 29, 2015, Ugwuanyi has maintained that popularity with quality service delivery to the people of Enugu State even when resources weren’t flowing. He started by constructing roads in all parts of the state. The facelift he gave to Nsukka with the reconstruction of Opi -Nsukka road is there for all to see. The construction of 9th Mile by- pass, the reconstruction of old Enugu – Awka – Onitsha road, reconstruction of Abakpa – Ibagwa Nike road and the construction of Agbani – Amuri road among other roads he delivered across all the 17 councils in Enugu State is a wonderful stride that deepened his popularity and acceptability among the people. Furthermore, he paid arrears of salary and pension to workers and pensioners. He has ensured up-to-date payment to workers and pensioners. Ugwuanyi has also ensured that there is improvement in the quality of education, health, human capital development and other sectors of governance in the state. He restored Enugu Rangers as champions after over 30 years of no trophy from the club. He brought succour to the youth with skill acquisition programme and empowered them financially. Therefore, considering his impressive performance, relevant stakeholders including traditional rulers, civil servants, church leaders, town unions, labour union, teachers, elders, women groups and youths endorsed him for a second term as far back as 2017.
What are your expectations from the governor in this second and final term in office?
We expect him to continue his wonderful service delivery. I learnt there is recruitment of new teachers in the state, that is a welcome development and this is not the first of its kind in Ugwuanyi’s administration. He has done massive recruitment in so many sectors of government. The skill acquisition programme should continue because, taking the youth off the unemployment market is also part of ensuring security and we expect the enduring security situation in Enugu State to remain intact. These are the expectations the people have in this second term. We are sure Ugwuanyi will deliver because doing good for people runs in his blood, it is his lifestyle.
You served Igbo Eze South as the chairman for four years, are there any issue there you will like the governor to attend to?
Like Oliver Twist, we always need some more. The governor has been doing a lot in Igbo Eze South. One of the giant projects he is doing there now is the construction of about 40 kilometre Asphalt Road with drainage on both sides. The road cuts across all the autonomous communities in the local government. We never take his love and delivery of democracy dividends to the area for granted and that is why we massively gave him 38,326 votes during his re-election far beyond what many other local government areas gave him. In the sense of reciprocity, we actually need some more and we are optimistic that he will do more. We don’t want to mention any particular thing because outside being the governor, he is one us, Igbo-Eze South is his home. He is our son, brother, uncle and father. He knows what his people need and what is due to his people.
You have been silent for some time now. What is your next political ambition or have you retired?
I’ve not been silent. I speak and act more through my political support group than as an individual. The group is a household name in Enugu State politics. I remain a loyal card carrying member of the PDP and whenever and wherever the party considers me fit enough to serve I will humbly accept it. I am available to serve and to continue to contribute my quota for the progress of the PDP in general and the development of Enugu State in particular.