Exposed: Abia Govt Intentionally Frustrating Citing of Federal Projects Not Attracted by PDP in State… Rep. Onuigbo *Unveils Plans Ahead Of 2023
The member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State, Rep. Sam Onuigbo has expressed utter disappointment at the Abia State government led by Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu for the role it played in frustrating efforts to ensure that Abia State gets a Federal Secretariat. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Famous Reporters in Umuahia, the lawmaker, who is pained by the absence of a federal secretariat in the state after 31 years of its creation unlike other sister states created years later, regretted that the PDP Government of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu rejected the offer by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to erect a Federal Secretariat because the efforts to do so came from the opposition party.
In this interview also, Odozi Obodo who has since the year 2021 become a multiple award winner following his impactful contributions on the floor of the House of Representatives said emphatically that his awards were the results of his effective representation and promised to do even more.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q: Sir, there have been insinuations that there is a magical turnaround in your style of representation ever since you defected from the PDP. They say there has been an uptick in your response to the legitimate needs and aspirations of your people. What did the magic?
Resp: Well, first of all, you know that everything that I have put my hands in doing with my wife, we have always followed the word of God. God in his infinite mercy decides what he wants to use a particular person to do. For me, my representation is framed by the philosophy of EAR– Effectiveness, Accessibility and Responsiveness. The idea is to impact positively on the people who sent me to Abuja through the power of their thumbs. I am happy that overtime God has helped me to prove that the power the electorates handover to us in trust should and can be used in very many ways to impact positively on them. Whether it is in road construction, erosion control works, blocks of classrooms, electricity projects, hospitals, skills acquisition, or even empowering people through a very successful poultry programme, what is important is to pay attention to the needs of the people and address them within available resources.
So, people have seen that I have been effective both on the floor of the House, and also in the committees and they have also seen that I am accessible to them and they have seen that by His grace, I have been responding to their legitimate needs and aspirations according to resources and contacts available to me. So, it’s not magic.
You are perhaps aware that I sponsored the Climate Change Bill and it was assented to by Mr President, President Muhammadu Buhari in November, 2021 and that it has become an Act of the National Assembly. Following that, a lot of institutions around the world, international organisations like Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), Climate Parliament, and other international organisations have written too me to congratulate me for the role I played. The same thing with the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House of Representatives and so many other people, they have written to commend me. Similarly, the National Assembly Press Corps particularly the House of Representatives Press Corps also gave me an award as the “Dean of Bills and Most Dedicated Lawmaker of the Year 2021”. Also, I got awards from the Climate Change Community in Nigeria. They gave me an award as “the Climate Champion of the country”. I have also received awards from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, (UNIZIK), the University of Nigeria Nsukka, the national body of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). These awards are in recognition of my modest contributions towards the development of the country either through lawmaking or infrastructural and human capacity development.
Indeed, it is to the glory of God that these awards are pouring in.
Q: May we also join other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate you, sir. However, it seems like you now have more enemies in the state even in your own Local Government—Ikwuano–since you left the PDP for the ruling party, APC. Could you share your feelings with us, sir.
Resp: You know, I leave everything to God. You can see, in the first place, what happened in the party where people wore impunity as face masks. People wore impunity as clothes, and then they went all out and did indescribable actions, all against me. But, you know, I didn’t hold it against them, I decided to look unto God instead.
Q: So, sir, does it mean that the seemingly animosity so far doesn’t get at you and what would you say is your drive in the midst of it all, sir?
Resp: Well, it will interest you to know that so far I have gone ahead to facilitate a Federal Secretariat for Abia State 31 years after the state was created. And I followed it up with the Governor that I am shocked and roundly disappointed that because of compensation of 25 million naira the state has proven itself unable, incapable of allowing the federal government to execute a project that is in the region of sixty billion naira (N60b)! I facilitated that and I started it way back in 2019 and pursued it through. So, I don’t look back at whether Okeke or Nwakoroafor appreciates what I am doing as long as I am convinced that what I am doing is in the interest of God, and in the interest of those who have used the power of their thumbs to elevate me, I don’t look back. I instead want to do much more because I pledged to work on the acronym of ‘EAR’, Effectiveness, Accessibility and Responsiveness, and, of course, I added that I will attempt to redefine representation.
Q: Are you in any way saying that as a lawmaker, you have made frantic efforts towards ensuring that the state gets a Federal Secretariat–a 31-year-old state–yet your efforts are being impeded by the Ikpeazu-led Government of Abia State? Abia State is 31 years old already and unlike other sister states that were created after Abia, the state still does not have a Federal Secretariat. Meanwhile, there seem to be insinuations that you are not up and doing in that aspect. Please, what’s your take on that, sir?
On the 23rd of October 2019, we had a budget defence with the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and while reviewing the budget, we saw that provisions were made for the building or construction of Federal Secretariats in some other states. And as I ran through the list, I checked to see if I would see Abia State because I am aware that Abia does not have a Federal Secretariat. So, when it was question time, I now asked the Minister to explain why Abia, the number one state in alphabetical order; a state that is older than the other last six states that were created; was not included in the budget.
The Minister in his response said that he was aware that the state once provided a piece of land for the building of a Federal Secretariat but then that the land was encroached upon. He then challenged me to work with my Governor, to be able to provide land so that Abia can have a Federal Secretariat. From there, I did a letter on the 23rd of October, that same day and that letter got to the Governor on the 25th of October. I handed it over to him personally and after reading my letter, he appeared impressed and interested and he then did his own letter, telling the Minister that, okay, he would like to provide land or would have the intention to provide land whenever the Federal Ministry of Works was ready and that letter was delivered to the Minister two weeks after, in fact, to be precise, on November 6. But, then, the Minister said the Governor should not talk about intention rather he should provide the land and I came back to the Governor. It was from there that the Governor called Suleman Ukandu who was the then Commissioner for Lands and I took over from there calling Suleman all through.
It took over a year for them to find seven hectares of land and like I said, this encounter started on the 23rd of October, 2019. It was not only until September, 2020 that they were able to allocate it and that was nearly a year after I started the process. Then I followed up to know if everything was written to ensure that this was included in the Appropriation Bill. And when I went to the Minister, the Minister said and I quote: “Your State was still unable to provide the title documents to enable the Ministry take possession because you need the title documents–a Survey Plan, Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), to prove that the property is not encumbered in anyway”. So, I wrote a letter based on my meeting with the Minister on the 11th of March, 2021. I wrote that letter to the Governor on the 12 of March, 2021, appealing to him to ensure that this was done.
Subsequently, I met the Governor at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, and I raised the issue again, and he said he had given marching orders to the SSG and his other staff to ensure that this was done. I later found out that even the traditional ruler of the area where the land is located, Eze Nwokonna had written a letter, saying that instead of paying the 35 million naira that was originally calculated as compensation, that the community was prepared to take N25 million to ensure that the project proceeds.
You asked whether they refused or declined or whatever, but I am surprised that a 31-year old state which does not have a federal secretariat saw an opportunity to actualize this, and the state Government still has not done the needful. And you know I raised this, in one of my interviews and they came attacking me, until we now asked that they should provide evidence that they have handed over the title documents to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and they could not do it. So, from 2019 up until now, this state government has not deemed it fit to pay that tiny compensation of N25 million and then issue the relevant title documents to enable the federal government to come in, build and equip the Secretariat. Remember, they will build and equip the federal secretariat at no cost to the state Government.
Q: So in any case, sir, what you are trying to say is that the state Government has, because of 25 million naira compensation that should be paid to the host community, denied Abia a federal secretariat? Or is it more political?
Resp: Up until now, they haven’t done it. In fact I have written three letters to the Governor in respect of this. I wrote the first letter on the 23rd of October, 2019, and then I wrote a second letter when I found out that they had not provided the title documents, on the 12th of March 2021. And, of course, I did the third letter on the 25th of February, 2022, all on this matter.
It is therefore not logical for the state government to just say that they are not bringing them federal projects. This one now has been brought and you can see there is a coordinated effort to frustrate it.
Q: Would you say all of this happened because you dumped the ruling party in the state?
Resp: I wouldn’t know what their reasons really are. If you build a federal secretariat now, it is for the good of the people of Abia State. One there would be automatic employment for people living within the state, at least from levels 1-6. You also talk of the money that would be spent in carrying out such a gigantic project and how the building process will provide contractual opportunities for Abia artesans. Then you talk of how that is going to save the state government the plots of lands that they are allocating to different Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies for them to establish offices. If you have a federal secretariat, then every federal agency would try and squeeze in there as against allocating plots of land to each of them. So, when you put all this together you discover that Abia stands to benefit from this, and therefore there should be no need to deny Abians something good because of party affiliations. Except of course your drive is to hurt Abians.. So, I don’t think it makes any sense for anybody to react based on the fact that I am now in APC and because of that you want to deny the people what is due to them.
Q: So what is your charge to the Government of Abia State with regards to building a Federal Secretariat in the state?
Resp: I don’t know which other charge now because I have done three letters appealing to the Governor–2019, 2021, 2022. I also continued to put pressure on the Minister, and the Minister is willing and on each occasion, he will call the Department of Housing only to find out that the Abia State Government still has not brought the documents. He has called about two or how many times in my presence.
In fact, we have a Federal Director here, his name is Victor George, and he is the Federal Director of Housing. He has been going to the SSG and different Departments and we have been doing that now for two years plus to get this document and the State Government is busy frustrating that. So, I don’t know which charge or what I am going to tell them again. It’s up to them, they have to check what they think they are doing and when they think that they are giving good governance. So, it is up to them to check and know whether it’s the right thing they are doing.
I feel very disappointed, very sad because it’s not coming to my compound, it’s just for the good and growth and development of the state. 31 or so years after its creation we still don’t have a federal secretariat and you have the opportunity to get one free of charge and you are busy frustrating it and telling different stories.
Watch out for Part 2