Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Chief Christopher Okwudili Ezenwankwo is a member representing Orumba North and South Federal Constituency of Anambra State at the House of Representatives. He said the South-East geopolitical zone deserves to produce the president of the country in 2023 for equity, justice and fairness. He spoke on various issues in this interview.
How far about the South-East Development Commission bill?
We are on it, there are processes it has to pass through before it will be finally passed into law. I’m assuring you that by the grace of God, we will pass the bill into law. It will be a reality. You are aware that apart from the North East Development Commission being passed, there is the South-East Commission; even the South-West is now clamouring for their own commission. So, it is a matter of interest and we are on it.
It is alleged that the National Assembly is a stooge to Mr. President, how true is it?
We are not a stooge to anybody. We are independent as lawmakers. People are wondering why things are happening the way they are happening in the National Assembly today. It is because of the coordination and synergy between the legislature and the executive arm of government. We are like one family. In the history of National Assembly, the 9th Assembly is the most peaceful, coordinated and articulated Assembly. People are wondering why we are not fighting one another in the chambers and why we don’t have a divided House; it’s because we are together; that is why people are criticizing what we are doing. There is no need for opposition at the National Assembly, we must move this country forward. The speedy passage of 2020 budget is the best time to pass the bill. This is the first time the National Assembly passed the appropriation bill so fast and Mr. President assented to it immediately. You will see that the budget would be put to use early enough; they will begin this January to release money to various ministries, departments and agencies for projects and jobs. The 2019 budget is still not utilised, and the zonal intervention project, they just released 30 percent of the fund. What it simply means now in 2020 is that all the projects must be executed because we have enough time to that. I must commend Mr. President and leadership of the National Assembly most especially the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Reps for the prompt passage and assent of the budget and their understanding to move the country forward.
Why did National Assembly pass the finance bill to the detriment of ordinary man in the society?
You should know the economic situation in this country. There is no fund, all of us know what is happening financially. If you go to these developed countries, they fund the budget through taxation; if you go to United Kingdom, they don’t have any petroleum products, it’s through taxation that they fund their budget. Today from 5 percent VAT to 7.5 percent is not much, considering the budget of 2020 which is over N10 trillion. I think the internally generated revenue is very important in this country and if this country actually wants to move forward, we have to endure certain things and cooperate with Mr. President; he won’t be there forever, after setting this principles within three years or more, he will leave the office and another person will take over the office; that place is not his father’s house. But what he is doing, is making policies that will help this country to thrive, that is what he’s trying to do. I believe that we have to cooperate with him and give him all necessary support he needs to succeed.
Five years down the line of Mr. President’s administration, how do you rate his performance so far?
He is doing perfectly well. Let me give an example, I’m from Anambra State, if you see the number of infrastructure that are going on in the state, you would marvel. It is something we should commend Mr. President. I can state categorically that Mr. President is developing all sectors at the same time as far as I’m concerned. Look at what is happening at Enugu-Onitsha expressway, look at from Umunya to Awkuzu, from Abba junction to Awka, work is going on there now; from Ugwuoba to Enugu, you can see what is happening there. Then, Okigwe to Arondizuogu, from Port Harcourt to Enugu, about three contractors are working there day and night; look at the Zik mausoleum that they had been playing politics with, it is being completed now; look at the second Niger bridge which the past presidents were playing politics with, but today, it has come to reality; work is going on there day and night. Look at the Enugu International airport, it is undergoing reconstruction of the runway and within two to three months, it would be completed, so we have to commend Mr. President and encourage him so that he will do more. What do we want? What we want is good governance, good roads, good infrastructure, quality education, security of lives and property. And in terms of security, we have been talking about the menace of Boko Haram, yes, insurgency is almost everywhere now; about five countries in Africa were attacked recently. Even the President of France is trying to assist some of the countries to fight the menace.
What other areas do you want Mr. President to improve in the South East?
The interconnectivity of railway lines in the South East is very important which is on the way now because I heard them discussing about it and secondly, container terminal in this zone. The container terminal in Anambra State is my brain child but today, it’s a reality because they have started the construction of container terminal in Oba, Anambra State so that all these extortion on the highway would be a thing of the last. It was my brainchild when I was the president of AMATAS in the state. We want the president to focus more on infrastructure like Otuocha-Onitsha federal road; it should be dualised, it’s very important to all of us in this part of the state and speedy construction of the second Niger bridge and construction of interconnect railway lines to link other zones and states.
We marked 50 years of the end of Civil War recently; what is your advice to the South East/Biafrans and Nigeria?
Why IPOB are clamouring for Biafran State is due to high rate of marginalization being meted out to the South East. Today in the country’s political positions, the South East is not number one, we are not number two, three, four and five in the country. I can state categorically that no tribe has population more than the South East in this country. But today, we are no where to be found in political positions in the country and that is why we are still hearing about Biafra today. We don’t pray for war again, war is not good for anybody, war cannot do anybody any good and I know that what all us are saying is for us to have an Igbo president in 2023. When the next president of this country will come from Igbo extraction, I think it will douse the tension of Biafra agitation. It will give us sense of belonging; the issue of rehabilitation, reconciliation and reconstruction would be a thing of the past. What our people need now is the president of the country no matter who becomes the president from the South East zone; it’s very important for all of us; nobody is born to rule while the other person is born to serve; it’s wrong for the interest of peace, equity, fairness and good conscience. So, next president must come from the South East for equity, justice and good conscience.
Are you not aware that some people from other zones had declared interest to run for president in 2023? What is your take on that?
Let me tell you, victory comes from God. Who will be the next president of this country would be determined by God, forget about these people coming out now to contest. I so much believe in God, I believed that God will salvage this country. I know if eventually at the end of the day an Igbo man becomes the president of this country, you will see a change, economically, you will see drastic changes and Nigeria would be transformed because we are Godsent. I don’t believe that those people declaring to contest the president from the North and West will be the president because I know that the next president will come from Igbo extraction.
What is your contribution at the National Assembly as well as your achievements to your constituency?
I moved a motion on the marginalisation of Nidgbo in this country when they were talking about the June 12 election where the Federal Government honoured Abiola and declared June 12 Democracy Day and didn’t honour the electoral umpire then, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu who staked his neck to announce the result of the election. So, I moved motion that the House should write a letter to the President urging him to honour Prof. Nwosu. I then moved a motion about the massive extortion by some Customs officers on the highways. I also moved a motion for the reconstruction of federal roads most especially the Nanka-Agulu-Uga road, Oko-Agali-Umunze, Ufuma bridge and I believed these roads have been cited in 2020 budget.
I want the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to declare a state of emergency on erosion in Anambra State.
My recent motion is the erosion menace in Anambra State; one of the greatest challenges we have in this country is erosion and I keep on saying that no state government has the power to tackle erosion problem especially the type of erosion in Anambra state. And when you talk of erosion in Nigeria, you talk about South East and when you talk about erosion in the South East, you talk about Anambra State and when you talk about erosion in Anambra State because it has more than 1000 erosion sites across the state, and when you talk about erosion in Anambra State, you talk of Nanka/Oko erosion sites. Nanka/Oko erosion sites are the largest erosion sites in the whole world.
As matter of urgency, the Federal Government has to do something in tackling the erosion menace in my area because Anambra State government cannot tackle the erosion menace alone; we even need international/foreign assistance from World Bank and other agencies, I appeal to the Federal Government to prioritize tackling of erosion menace in the affected areas especially in my constituency. I also urged the House Committee on Ecological Fund to ensure compliance. One of the erosion sites in my community has swallowed over 15 houses, rendered over 100 households homeless including their farmlands and livestocks. The sites are there; you can go there to see things for yourself, Anambra State needs help, my constituency Orumba North and South needs help to tackle erosion in the state. We are dying here and the Federal Government should come to our rescue.
In 202, Anambra will go to the poll to elect another governor, do you have interest to contest?
Well, anything somebody will be in this life is God, so God first. Today, I’m watching the system, tomorrow if God tells me to go and contest, I will go and contest but for today, I’m still watching the environment and the system to know how it goes.
What type of person do you think that will succeed Obiano in 2021?
Well, when the time comes, we will see the caliber of people that are coming out to contest. I won’t say much on the issue of governorship election in the state now because I know that something very significant may happen before then.
Do you think your party APGA will still retain the governorship seat due to crisis bedeviling the party?
On the issue of crisis, there is no more crisis in APGA as far as I’m concerned. What we are doing now is to bring everybody together to ensure that we win the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State. APGA is like one family and no amount of crisis will destroy us. What we are doing now is to champion the cause to win the next governorship election.
Governor Obiano is doing his second term, how do you rate his administration so far?
The governor is doing well. Anambra State is secured, when you talk about security of lives and property; no state in the federation can compete with Anambra in terms of crime free environment. As far as I know, Governor Willie Obiano is doing well security-wise in the state and remained number one in providing security in the country; nobody can challenge him or beat him to that.