Chief Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo represents Njiikoka/Dunukofia/Anaocha Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the House of Representatives. He was sworn in January 2016, after a one year legal tussle. He speaks on his experiences so far.
It’s been three years since you recovered your mandate and took your seat in the National Assembly. How has it been like?
It’s been interesting and challenging really, because it’s a big honour to carry the full weight of all the needs, expectations and demands of your constituents on your shoulders because that’s why they chose me. They have implicit confidence in me. It’s a heartwarming experience when viewed from the bills and motions I articulated and presented on the floor of the House. It’s these Bills and Motions the legislators use to bring to the notice of Federal Government and public certain necessities or things that need correction. Or things that are not functioning well within the different agencies of government that need to be looked into. Within this period, I have tackled quite a lot. It also availed me opportunity to participate in the oversight function in quite a number of agencies and parastatals of the Federal Government as a member of Committees on Environment, Federal Character, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Airforce, and Oil/Gas-Upstream among others.
You have just conducted three separate interactive stakeholders’ meetings at Dunukofia, Njikoka and Anaocha councils that constituted your constituency. From their responses and comments what new did you learn from the opportunity?
It was awesome and heartwarming interactive family meetings. It held first at Dunukofia, then Njikoka and Anaocha respectively in three successive days. I used the opportunity to brief them on present trend of things in the country especially as it relates to National Assembly, my achievements so far and to urge them to go collect their voter’s cards. They know I have been there for them and I am using the springboard which the National Assembly presents to expand and consolidate on all the poverty alleviation and life enhancing programmes I have been doing for them. I listed most of the projects including the Internet Communication Technology (ICT) Centre which I am building, boreholes, renovation of schools at Ifite-dunu, Ukpo, Ukwulu, etc. Even within the coming national budget of 2019 I have projects that will benefit most of my Federal constituency. I am not relenting. I also told them that we are not making only laws; that we also scrutinise, appropriate, capture and lobby for some projects, programmes to be cited within our constituencies. They acknowledged I have done well within these three years of my stay in the National Assembly. I lost one year which was spent at the different stages of the Election Petitions Tribunals before I eventually recovered my stolen mandate. It cheering and reassuring to hear my constituents acknowledge and appreciate my efforts in constantly striving to improve their lives.
The erosion menace remains a very big challenge in Anambra State generally; with more than 1000 active dangerous sites still swallowing family dwelling homes, schools, roads, bridges, hospitals. Even the base of your own home has been eaten up. What are you doing about it?
The reality is that when I got into the National Assembly the first thing I did was to sponsor a motion drawing the attention of the Federal Government to the sad situation within my constituency. I sustained the outcry which necessitated the House to send a 15-man Committee, led by Obinna Chidoka (Chairman, House Committee on Environment)which came and toured most major sites in the state. They spent about two very busy days and were marveled at the level of devastation. But sad that with all the Motions and Bills and outcries, even backed by well documented pictorials and videos the government had kept saying there’s no money. The absence of immediate action often aggravates the situations. For example, places where about four houses were swallowed up the previous year would with more rains progressively widen through landslides and keep consuming more and more houses until it’s checked. The government will give all manners of excuses, saying they are on top of it, that the Ecological funds office is the one handling it and on and on. That’s what you continue to hear while your people suffer, your community is swept away like you can see here around my house. If nothing serious is done here within next few months, all my effort in building this house would be wasted as landslide has ebbed away the base of the house, leaving it hanging dangerously. My house is almost gone. I have not rested. I have written to many government agencies, ministries and offices to see that something was done.
But for the interest of the community I left the issue of my house and concentrated on the road which links my community to the church which has now cut into two. So I started some remedial and recovery efforts from there to save the road and houses of other citizens. That’s why my house is left like this.
I believe that all my leg works, letters, applications and contacts would one day soon yield result and attention. The documents are in my office in Abuja I would have shown you the response from the Federal Government where they said they are working on my request. They said the Due Process and Procurement Law was taking its course. I am not relenting. I will continue to push until we get result. It’s really disturbing as what we need here is an urgent intervention; an SOS situation because erosion remains our biggest nightmare in the South- East
What is your message to the people as we approach the elections?
I wish to appeal to all eligible citizens to go collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) in readiness to cast their votes in the forthcoming general election. APGA government in the state has been doing well. So I won’t hesitate to urge them to vote APGA all the way because we have a standard of excellence. They should vote for me. They should make the right choice, vote wisely.