Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
In recent time, the campaign for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 has been on the front burner. However, a member of the House of Representatives representing Ezza South/ Ikwo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State, Chinedu Ogah, has said those championing the campaign are not being realistic.
Ogah, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the Igbo nation must first reintegrate itself fully into national politics, before it can begin to talk about producing a president.
The lawmaker also bared his mind on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and other issues.
The Igbo presidency in 2023, have been at the front burner in recent time, where do you stand on this?
We are not prepared for Igbo presidency. Nobody should deceive himself. How many states do we have? We should all tell ourselves the truth. For me, let us get to the national grid first. How many governors do we have in APC. Let us not talk what is not possible. I don’t want to deceive myself.
We need to come together, unite, have a common front. If we are able to have two governors from the South East, we will now have a good bargain talking about Igbo presidency.
What if the PDP fields an Igbo man as its presidential candidate in 2023?
How do you think they will do that, when some people are already saying that the PDP should go back to the North? So, we should not deceive ourselves.
I tell every visionary leader, that we should stand up to say what is the truth. The Igbo presidency will come but not now. Let us, Igbo, go back and unite ourselves and have a common front. By the time we have a common front, we can present a candidate and we will have alliances with the North and other parts of the South. That is how it works.
In your view, what is the future of the Igbo nation, politically?
Definitely, we have a future in the sense that in Abia State, we have representative in the ruling party; in Imo State, same thing. In Ebonyi, we have one person. By God’s Grace before 2023, we are going to get more states. Those things will project us in the national politics. That is when we will have a bargain for the Igbo presidency.
There have been varied opinions about the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; some say he has not done well, others say otherwise, where do you stand?
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has done well for this country. Our problem in this country is that we believe so much on fake. Farmers in the villages are now able to pay the school fees of their children, courtesy of President Muhammadu Buhari. Because he closed the borders, a little production of their farms can yield something.
Now, you can see that tailoring is booming in Aba. In South East, you see the second Niger bridge. You see Onitsha -Enugu expressway. You see our airport(Enugu), despite the billion released under PDP, no work was done. But now, they have awarded the contract for the runway and the work is ongoing.
We have to pay a price for Nigeria to stand. A price in the sense that we have to endure. We have to be patient with President Muhammadu Buhari. A lot of things went wrong. If you have a leaking house, to correct a leaking house is more difficult than building a new one. Building a new one is easier.
Nigeria is a leaking house. When you place a roofing pan, you will find out that there are other parts that are leaking. And you will still need to correct them. That is what President Buhari is doing. We need to be patient with him. President Buhari has done so much for this country, we have to commend him.
But the present administration has plunged the country into more debts
The loans he is taking are not for himself. They are for the country. He is deploying them in areas that will benefit us. Look at the railway, see some roads. The loans he is taking will benefit us in this country. They are not for himself. And I support that.
Is it better for us to sell the assets Nigeria has or to take loans; which one do you prefer? Is it not better we borrow to build this country? So, I support the loans
A few days back, you were sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ezza South/ Ikwo Federal constituency, after your victory at the Court of Appeal. What is your agenda for your constituents?
It is an act of God and the votes of the masses that made me to be here as the member representing good people of Ezza South/ Ikwo federal constituency. For me, being here is because of the efforts of the masses. And definitely, there is already an opinion in my constituency, what they want; what they need. Already, the 31 electoral ward, they have met and submitted all what they need.
My team and I, we are working on it , to make sure we meet their needs. We have to make sure what we can do to support those that have got their BSC get Masters degree. Most of them that have their masters, to PhD to have that human capacity building. And most of them that graduated with no job, we will do what we can to make sure, we get some job for them.
Also, some of these amenities in rural areas, like electricity, water, good healthcare centres, it is the duty of a good representative to look into them; by making sure those things are put in the Appropriation Act, in the capital budget, to make such things get to the grassroots.
Also, those rural dwellers, that are unable to access formal education, we should be able to train them in skills and entrepreneurship, that will help them to stand firm. So, at least they should be able to be independent; for farmers giving them little financial assistance, so that they will be able to cultivate crops or other things that can help them.
We will try to bring out a bill that will harness the growth of our people. And equally, being here as a member of the National Assembly, my constituency is in a border. We have to make sure that those clashes between Ikwo in Ebonyi State and Cross River State is resolved.
We are going to meet the representative of those constituencies, so that we have a unanimous agreement to bring about lasting peace, by meeting with the boundary commission and other people we know that matter in that process.
We are already putting up a motion for relief materials to be provided for my people. A lot of them are displaced. And I cannot be here as their representative, without speaking for them. Because if not for their votes, I would not be here. Whatever I will do to improve their living conditions, I will do that.
You are the only National Assembly member from Ebonyi State elected on the platform of the APC, what does your victory portray for the party in your state?
It portrays that power belongs to the people. It portrays that the judiciary can still stand to speak the truth. We appreciate the effort of the judiciary. They have shown that they cannot be bought over. They are the only hope of the common man. The people voted for me, I won, but those that feel they have the power, robbed it; but the judiciary restored the mandate of the people. It is left for me to reciprocate the support of my people by doing what is right.
Now, we ( Ebonyi APC) are coming together. For having me as a member of the National Assembly, I am going to carry everybody along.
There is going to be unity. We are going to ensure that there is unity and understanding in our party in Ebonyi State.
We are going to win so many polls, we are going to win in Ebonyi. But the most important thing is for us to come together, to unite to fight. We are going to do that.
My concern is for us to come together. Now, there are no factions in Ebonyi APC. What we want to do is to reconcile individuals, so that all the APC members can come together.
You used to be a member of the PDP, and most times when politicians win elections in one party, they jump to another, are we likely to see you return to your former party?
I will remain in APC. I am even urging the governor of Ebonyi State (Dave Umahi) to come into APC. I am even urging all the governors of the South East to come into APC.
It is only when we connect to the national grid that we can see the light. I am not going anywhere. I will remain in APC. I will stand for APC and I will continue to work for the APC.
What is your take on the move for financial autonomy for local government administration?
I stand for financial and full autonomy for the local government areas. I want a situation where INEC can conduct local government elections. A situation the local government will be able to do the things the people need and not being tele-guided by one person.
So that when somebody is elected as a local government chairman, he will do the things the masses want.
But a situation where one person sits in a hotel to write names of local government chairmen, they go and whatever they wish. That is why I support local government autonomy. I support what the NFIU is doing, for making sure that, that local government money goes directly to local government accounts.