By Chesa Chesa
As the jostle for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023 intensifies, Ndigbo have been advised to place the Southeast geopolitical zone in priority reckoning by rejigging their political strategies to play mainstream politics rather than only lament marginalisation.
The advice came from the House of Representatives member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/South Federal Constituency of Abia State, Hon Sam Onuigbo, during a virtual interview session at the weekend with Abia Media Forum, comprising journalists from the state.
The lawmaker, who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), stressed that a Nigerian president of Southeast origin was achievable in 2023 if Ndigbo play smart politics and collaborate with other geo-political zones.
While commending the integrity and capacity of the new leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Onuigbo pointed out that “Ndigbo must lay the ghost of marginalization to rest. It is time to restrategize; Ndigbo must play smart politics and collaborate with other tribes and align themselves properly to be able to progress and assume leadership at the center.”
He added that “there is appearance that Ndigbo have a duty to do their politics better, to reposition well; and to see it that by special grace of God and the support of other nationalities that make up Nigeria to be better placed.
“Today, Ndigbo are not very well placed. We have not moved away from the clouds of the civil war. But we are making very good efforts and we need to continue to reposition.
“Also, the political party is important. It is the channel you follow to contest for power in the absence of independent candidates. So running the party objectively and fairly for meaningful development, is equally important and not doing so for personal aggrandisement or for those who just want to do ‘shine-shine’
“If the party is not run to bring out those who are well intended to contribute to development instead of just merely for power and money, then there is need to take a second look at how some of these political parties are managed.”
On his contributions to the development of his constituency and Abia State since he was elected in 2015, Onuigbo said he had performed excellently using his personal philosophy of ‘EAR’ – “EFFECTIVENESS in performing my duties as a Federal lawmaker; ACCESSIBLE to my person and office; and RESPONSIVENESS to the needs and aspirations of my constituency”.
He disclosed that he had attracted several multi-million projects spread across the nine clans of his constituency, including the Amachara Erosion works in Umuahia North and at Okwe in Ikwuano, amongst others.
Responding to questions on the slow modernisation of the State capital, Umuahia, particularly, Onuigbo said: “I have made moves to attract the construction of a new Federal Secretariat in Umuahia, and we are currently working on the construction of an interchange at Abia Tower which will be part of a new dualization project that will go from Amachara through Ossah, Umuahia North, ending in Amawom, Ikwuano.
“This is is of course different from the ongoing reconstruction of Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene road. The actualization of these projects will help in the infrastructural development of Umuahia.
“If other political leaders commit to doing things the way I have, the infrastructural decay in Umuahia will be fixed. There are several persons from Umuahia main town who influence decisions in the State government or are/were part of the State government, if everyone plays their part, the infrastructural decay will be a thing of the past.”
He explained that the new Federal Secretariat in Umuahia, which he initiated by convincing the Minister of Works and Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu to secure a seven-hectare piece of land at Eke-oba housing layout, will cost no less than N20 billion.
Owing to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and other delays, the project missed being captured in the 2021 Budget, but Onuigbo expressed confidence that work on the project will start in earnest by 2022.
“By being able to provide the land, the Ministry of Works can go ahead with fencing of the land; with the belief that the communities involved will continue to cooperate, and we consolidate on the relationship we are building with the Federal Government, I am very hopeful confident that by 2022, the project will commence fully,” he stated.
Also, funding constraints had been responsible for the slow pace of works on the reconstruction of the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Road, but assured Abians that he had reached an understanding with the Minister of Works for adequate continuous funding of the project, henceforth.
On youth empowerment projects, the lawmaker said: “I am always interested in human capital development. I have been doing training. Last November, I trained over 1,500 youth and women. If you ask questions about the outcome from those involved, you will be impressed. There is another training on animal husbandry later this month. The beneficiaries will even be given starter packs.
“I founded a secondary school in my constituency in 2001. I have been involved in several projects to lay foundation for the youth to be independent and productive to society. Without empowering the youth, it means you are not preparing those that will succeed you.”