In Aguata federal constituency, there is nothing like zoning system----Hon Dr Ikechukwu Umenwa

Hon. Dr Ikechukwu Umenwa is the Member representing Aguata 1 constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly.

For his quality representation to his people, Umenwa is currently serving his second term as a state lawmaker in the hallowed chamber.

During his first term, he was the Chief Whip and House Committee chairman on Commerce and Industry and at present, he superintends Works Committee as well as a member of other committees at the State Assembly.

In this exclusive interview with ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU for after his Aguata Federal Constituents endorsed him to run for House of Representatives, the legislator laid bare his score card in his eight years term and his intention to aspire for a higher position as well as his life time experience in Russia where he resides before relocating to Nigeria.

Hon Dr Umenwa is ready for the 2019 election and no stone according to him would be left unturned even as he looked into the Metallurgical Institutions in Nigeria and why Ajaokuta Steel Mill needs to be revived for a prosperous Nigeria.  Excerpts:

People think you are not doing much in the state Assembly, can you give me your scorecard?

It is very wrong for me to rate myself but people saying that are enemies of progress. Good constituents who understood what the legislative responsibilities is all about, do commend me for what I have been able to do so far. From the look of things, my people understood me, we live together, I hear them and they hear me, they complain to me and I listen to them. I promise on the ones, I can do and tell them the ones I can’t do on my own.

You just declared interest to represent Aguata Federal constituency at the House of Representatives and the person already there is angling to come back, what do you think you will do better if elected?

You know, people have been representing my people at the state House of Assembly before I came in and now, they are seeing the difference because I have a way of doing things in unique ways. I attracted the construction of some roads in my constituency, I renovated so many schools and hospitals. I drilled boreholes and all that. You can see an abridged list of over 200 projects and interventions I attracted for my constituency. There is no need reeling them out as my constituents are happy.

Now, getting to the National Assembly, I cannot say exactly what I can get when I get there to determine what I will do for the people at this stage but I will ensure that whatever that belongs to my people get to them, quality representation is my watch word. We have done it before and this time, we will do it better, so we are tested and trusted. I am going to the Federal House of Representatives because people in there are not doing exactly what they supposed to do. Some of them are not even visible, they are not always around. The people they are representing don’t even know them. But if you go round my constituency now and ask of Iyke Russia, everybody will tell you about me and the little we have been able to do for them.

How often do you hold a town hall meeting with your constituents as a lawmaker?

I often consult my people in decision making through town hall meetings. Sometimes, you may have a fine idea of what you want to do but that may not be the priority need of the people and if you go ahead to do that without consulting them, it will be in vain. So, you can’t go to people and give them what they don’t want, give them what they want and they will be happy with you. So, I meet my constituents regularly.

During your first tenure in the state Assembly, you defeated some die hard politicians against all odds; do you think you still have that might to defeat Goliath in the 2019 election?

Truly, I am a fighter. I am a cool person and I hate violence but that does not mean that I am afraid of fighting especially when I am fighting a just course. If the people give me their mandate and somebody wants to manipulate it, do you think I will fold my hands and allow it happen? I will fight what belongs to me with the last drop of my blood to recover my mandate because if I leave it, the people that gave it to me will not be happy with me. So, I have to do my best to get it back and I hope that if such repeats itself, I will fight to collect back my mandate as usual. My people voted me and some people believed they could hijack the results but we resisted them and today the rest is history.

We are very ready for this election on a free and fair contest, and whoever wins should be congratulated, but whoever tries to manipulate the result would see hell no matter the political party of the person in question. We are ready to defend our votes. They know the kind of person I have been that I don’t give up easily in anything I believe in. They are now using a lot of tactics to stop me but nobody can play God.

But your people are saying they have to follow the zoning system?

That is one of the ploys they are introducing to stop me. In Aguata, there is nothing like zoning system and I have not heard about it and you cannot change the goal post at the centre of the match. I am not against zoning system but it ought to be in place before the match starts. It is not done anywhere that a law will be made at the middle of a transition. So, any law they are making now will be for the next election. They can do zoning system but not in this election, after this election, they can come up with the zoning system.

Do you have faith in APGA, your party?

APGA is the party that I love so much. It is a party for the common man. It is a party that has direction and people piloting the affairs of the party both at state and national level are doing wonderfully well because there is no high jump for you to get to where you are going. If you have the people and people give you support, you win your elections. So my brother, I have faith in my party APGA. We shall win the election by God’s grace because we are set for it.

Is it true that Governor Willie Obiano promised all the state lawmakers automatic ticket in APGA as a compensation for your support for his re-election in November 2017?

Governor Obiano is a straight forward person. There was never a time the governor promised us automatic ticket. APGA is everybody’s party. If you are there, the grassroots will support you to win an election. Governor cannot give automatic ticket to somebody that is not liked by his people. It’s the people that will vote and not the governor. So, anyone that is telling you that is lying.  Governor asked us to support him in his election and we supported him and he was saying that anyone that campaigns for him is campaigning for himself and that does not translate to issuance of automatic ticket. We ought to fight for our ticket by going closer to the grassroots and get the people’s mandate before going for the general elections. I and my team are with the people and we are sure of the mandate and nobody can tamper with it in a free and fair primary and as well during the general election.

What are the basic needs of Aguata constituents that you want to use your position to attract for them at the federal level if elected?

Right now in Aguata, there are a lot of lapses like now, we need water and roads. There are federal roads in Aguata that have not been touched and I don’t know what is holding the roads because I wasn’t at the federal but as soon as I get there, I will find out why Okigwe-Nnewi-Onitsha road is at deplorable state. I will also find out why educational facilities are not being giving to my constituents from the federal level. I am aware that federal government does give subventions but Aguata doesn’t have any due to poor representation. Some towns like Uga in the constituency need to have sub-stations but all these things are not coming and we need to have them. There are so many things and let me not expose my blue print too early before someone starts claiming it. What I know is that Aguata would get quality representation as never before in my time as I did and still doing in the state House.

What is your take on this issue of disarmament?

I will put my voice in condemnation of issues or policies that is against the common man, especially an Igbo man. You know Anambra state is rated as one of the most secure state in Nigeria as at today because of the collaborative way the vigilante is working with the police. There are some criminals that police may not know or identify their hide out easily. If they were asked to submit the arms, there will be serious security challenges in most states. For instance, if the herdsmen attack local farmers, how will the armless farmers be defended? I don’t know the reason why police wants to disarm the vigilante and I will not support that, I will fight that.

PDP and APC have been throwing banters over the release of looters list, due you think such is healthy for our democracy?

Nigeria has been a corrupt society and they know each other. The noise is not whether it’s true or not but they just want to distract and confuse us. They all know the people that looted the treasury of this nation and what they are saying is the truth. Let us know the treasury looters so that we can deal with it once and for all. I wonder how much one will consume at his life time that an individual will divert or loot the money that belong to the entire Nigerians and stash it abroad and those people will be using it to develop their economy. When I was in Russia, the then president urged Russians to bring home their money so that they can together stabilise the Russian economy. In the same vain, let the looters bring back the money so that our economy will start working.

You studied in Russia as a meteorological Engineer, can you tell us what is wrong with Ajaokuta Steel Industry and our metallurgical institutions?

Metallurgy is the bedrock of every industrialized society, without it, no country can claim to be industrialized. Metallurgy is the root of any industrialisation because you have to produce the big iron from cold and iron ore and these things are being mined in Nigeria. We are not going to buy them. In Nigeria, you get the gold mine, the iron ore, longer the black burns, you develop big iron and with the big iron, we get the steel and with that, we can produce anything that we want and these products will be very cheap.

Secondly, we will not pay for the costly transportation of these metals from abroad to Nigeria. So, we need the metals for Nigeria to develop for without it, Nigeria cannot develop. For example, Innoson is producing cars but his cars are costly because you have to bring the metals from abroad and the transportation is very costly.

Only transportation and import duties can sky rocket the end product but if we source the raw materials locally and use local workers with less on transportation the product will be very cheap. Innoson’s cars can cause 10 times lower the cost today if we have our iron produced in Nigeria.

What happens to Ajaokute steel complex?

Many of our leaders don’t understand what they are doing and secondly, the international politics, a lot of international countries don’t want Nigeria to have metallurgical industry because their economy is dependent on the product we buy from them. If we have our own metal, we reduce the price of importation 50 percent you will see that Nigerians will stop buying any car abroad. To me the highest thing this government can do for this nation is to revive Ajaokuta steel industry.

It can be revived because when they handed it over to Indians they stole a lot of products from there but we can still call back the companies that installed the machines to come back and revive them and they will start working. The machine are so heavy that you can’t carry everything out. They can bring the components and couple it and it starts working but it’s on ground there. It was almost 90 per cent completed before they brought it back

Can we say that enough manpower and facilities are the major challenge of metallurgical institutes in Nigeria?

It’s a very big challenge. When government is interested in some things, they start producing the materials to do those things. Metallurgical industry is something that an Engineer will be looking at, you have to be working on that. It’s not about theories but pure practical. For students of metallurgical institute to be proficient and effective, teachers have to bring the machine and show them all workabilities of the machines. You have to put the iron ore and see it working. Metallurgy is a chemistry of high temperature.

You were trained in Russia and you are now in Nigeria, how can you distinguished Nigerian educational system and that of Russia in the area of practical aspect of learning?

In Russia for example when we were studying. We have first to third courses, from the third Course in Russia, you already know the company where you will work and the student’s practical will be based on that company’s policies and in a week, we do two days lectures and two days practical. We do practical for some weeks and in the next week, we work in industries. When we are in class, we are more intelligent than even the Caucasians because in Russia they have well equipped library and other learning facilities unlike here in Nigeria where people struggle to study. From year three, you are already working in an industry and before you could work there for three years, you are already an expert.

Out of the members of the state House of Assembly. We learnt you are the only one that has sponsored people in skill acquisitions?

Yes, I have a skill acquisition centre where I train people. I train them in batches and we are in a lot of fields, computer, soap making, fish farming etc. I also give people scholarship. I pump water every day for people living around me with my generator and that takes more money from me, than anything. I do things that I could do to make life better for my people.

2019 is in sight, what do you want to say about it?

I am going to the Federal House of Representatives and I want people to support me and a lot of people are supporting me already to actualize the dream.

Do you think there is internal democracy in APGA?

I believe that the APGA primary will be free and fair and relatively APGA is the best party in Nigeria now because we know what is obtainable in other political parties. I didn’t know anybody when I joined APGA and I contested for an election and won. I came in as a free person and contested for an election and I won without any godfather. Relatively, APGA is far better than all these parties.

Do you have any regret since you joined politics?

I will not say that I have any regret but some of the politicians are deceivers. People, sometimes lie and tell people what they cannot do. Don’t give people false hopes. I don’t like giving promises that I can’t fulfil in the name of politics.

Do you think you have the financial muscles to go for the election considering the caliber of others that want to go to the poll with you?

We are not going to war but for an election. One thing I have not done is to ask anybody to give me money for any election.  I have always fought and won an election on my own. We are ready my brother and we have committed everything to God for His will.

In Aguata federal constituency, there is nothing like zoning system----Hon Dr Ikechukwu Umenwa In Aguata federal constituency, there is nothing like zoning system----Hon Dr Ikechukwu Umenwa   Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, June 11, 2018 Rating: 5

No comments: