Hon. Dozie Ferdinand Nwankwo is a member of the House of Representatives representing Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia federal constituency of Anambra State. The lawmaker is also the founder, Dozie Ferdinand Nwankwo Foundation. In this interview with Saturday Sun, Nwankwo, went down memory lane to talk about his growing up, how he abandoned business for politics, why Nigeria needs healing among other interesting issues.
How was your growing up like, tell us a bit about your background?
Well, I was born in 1975, I come from Enugu-ukwu in Njikoka local government area of Anambra State. I grew up from a humble background, and I’m an accountant by profession. I attended University of Port Harcourt, where I studied accounting. Thereafter, I started my own business. Of course, going into private business wasn’t easy. My dream was to start working after graduation, but I couldn’t, so I embarked on setting up my own business. Today, I am married with four children, to my beautiful wife, Mrs. Fabia Nwankwo.
You are a member of the House of Representatives, how did you start the journey into politics?
I started politics at the University of Port Harcourt. I was the chairman of the biggest hall, called Aminu Kano in the University. I actually contested for that position and won. However, most people don’t believe that politics is connected to religion or God. But, I had a calling and I obeyed after hearing God telling me: “My son, I want to make you a leader”. So, my election to the National Assembly is a mystery. I don’t even know how it happened. I contested in 2011 under the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and I lost. In 2013, Dora Akunyili contested with Chris Ngige, but she lost. After the election, she called me on phone and advised me to work with her in APGA, because she was convinced about my strength. So, I accepted after Mr. Peter Obi also supported my candidature in All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In 2015, I contested under the banner of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Exactly, January 12, 2015, I was sworn into the 8th Assembly.
What has been your experience as a member of federal parliament?
It’s a very tough one. First, you have to abandon what you are doing to serve your people. So, I left my private businesses to serve, because legislative work requires lots of time, it’s not an easy job. You have to sacrifice everything, since you cannot combine them. Legislative work involves researching; you have to be informed by studying to understand the laws that border on good governance in our country. You have to be conversant with current affairs to enable you bring issues to the house for further discussion.
How would you describe Nigerian politics?
It’s not straightforward! I call it a rough terrain. The more you look, the less you see. Honestly, Nigerian politics is not a child’s play, but a tough one. As it concerns elections, you find it difficult to understand why the people you sacrifice everything for choose money, by selling their votes. Painfully, most people don’t talk about it. Imagine, young men and women selling or exchanging their future for money. Regrettably, some politicians who do this end up not delivering to the masses, because they have bought their votes. Talking about the structure of Nigerian politics, Southeast doesn’t have the majority, we have to work together with the west and north to play politics. As an advice, Southeast needs to change their style by connecting to the centre.
What would you say about the state of the nation?
I have reservation on the issues of security. At the last 8th Assembly, we invited the heads of security agencies and they briefed us. Honestly, our country needs to change leadership style. We need redirection on how to fight insecurity urgently. The security agencies are doing their best, but there is need for pro-active measures. President Buhari cannot do it alone, because it’s not party issues, but national issues.
Which method do you think will work in the fight against insecurity?
We talk about community policing, it’s commendable. But, there is a problem with community policing, because the President is in charge,and he comes before the governor s of the states. Sometimes, we are afraid that the governors will witch-hunt their political enemies with it. So, there is need to discuss the way forward.
Southeast is clamouring for own security system, since South-West came up with Amotekun, what is your take on this?
I have not thought about that, but it should be done state by state regardless of ethnicity. For example, their welfare cannot be the same, so I don’t believe in Bakassi or Amotekun, but legalizing community policing after discussion.
What do you think is the solution to Nigeria’s problems?
We have a lot of problems. There is a motion, I presented in the House, on how some caterers or food vendors are using paracetamol to cook meat. Is it normal? The country has so many problems, so it’s left for us as leaders to find the solution.
What are the solutions?
It’s for the agencies or government to do what they are supposed to do. When people are dying and hardly feed, how will they work? You give birth today; the government doesn’t even care about your child’s welfare. You don’t have shelter or even paid your salary yet the government doesn’t show concern. Sincerely, Nigeria needs healing, everybody wants to get rich; everything has a process in life, but Nigerians want to be rich over night. Though, we have a failed system of government, but the rot didn’t start now. Immediately, Mr. President started his administration by fighting corruption, corruption fought him back. The government needs to listen to the cry of our people to enable them know how to solve their problems.
What did it take you to get to your present level in politics?
I got to this level through the grace of God. When I contested election, it was rigged, I went to court, and I lost the case, but when I contested the second time, I won. The second time, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate’s name wasn’t on INEC list, but, after the election he was declared winner. Surprisingly, after few days his name appeared and the person manipulated his way and received certificate of return from Abuja. I went to court, got my evidences presented before the court. The first court didn’t agree with me, and then I proceeded to appeal court with my evidences, where I won the case and I was sworn into office.
How is the ease of doing politics in Anambra state?
It’s hasn’t been easy. Honestly, voters or followers are the problem. But, when you work for your people it makes it easy, painfully, they prefer the person that will share money to them. So, doing politics in Anambra state is just like doing it elsewhere in Nigeria.
Could you assess the present administration?
The President is doing well, but he needs to change his formula or system to tackle insecurity, like I said earlier, because our people are dying. Though, he met a bastardized system, he needs our support and prayers to heal Nigeria.
Why does it take long time for the House of Representatives members to pass bills presented to them?
Imagine where you have over two hundred people to pass bills. I have just submitted two bills. It takes the first reading, second reading and third, then it comes for public hearing. I have many motions passed, but when it gets to your turn you will be attended to. When I submitted mine, I was told by the Speaker that there are over two hundred bills. So, it takes time and processes to pass bills at the assembly.
Would you subscribe to slashing of salaries and allowances of the National Assembly members to cater for other areas of importance?
I am preparing a bill to encourage legislature where we do a part-time lawmaking.
How is that possible?
I will try and bring it to the House for people to support it. Of course, we left our businesses and professions to become lawmakers to serve our people. Why should you talk about salary and allowances? It is not even enough. When I travelled to the village on December 21, 2019, I hadn’t received my salary or allowances, but people occupied my house like Mecca; over one thousand people asking for assistance, where do I get the money from? Honestly, at the 8th Assembly, I came out with just N30,000 because I spent my earnings to empower people. I have a town hall I am building in my community. I spent three and half years in the 8th Assembly, while, I’m just few weeks at the 9th Assembly. I came from the private sector where my company has over three hundred staff, we deal in oil and gas among others, but I resigned to serve my people. So, if we are allowed to do part-time legislature, the issue of allowances and salary will be reduced.
What do you expect the federal government to do to ensure peace, unity and trust among Nigerians?
The President has done well to give hope to the less privileged in the society in the area of agriculture. In Anambra state, where I come from, there is a lot of rice production going on. We need to visit the area of welfare of our citizens to provide food for our people and provide infrastructure. We should also introduce more manufacturing companies to create jobs.
What are your expectations on the forthcoming guber election in Anambra state?
We want the best for our state. We want the best candidate to emerge. We need a God chosen candidate that will liberate, transform and change Anambra state for good. The person that will continue the good work that our pass leaders have done in Anambra state, especially in the area of security, agriculture, youth empowerment among other areas vital to the economy of the state. We need young visionary men and women to govern the state.
Could you assess Anambra State under Governor Willie Obiano?
My governor is a good man. He came as a director from Fidelity bank. I give him excellent mark for working as governor. I pray that he remains strong in health. I advise that he leaves the seat open for the young ordained one to take over.