Chief Sunday Egbodo is a former national president of Ibilla Community Development Association, ICDA turned critical stakeholder of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Oju LGA of Benue State. In this interview with JAMES IBECHI, he explains reasons he wants Samson Okwu to continue to represent Oju/Obi federal constituency of Benue beyond 2023. He also speaks on other salient political issues. Excerpt:
You made a statement recently to the effect that the representative of Oju/Obi federal constituency at the House of Representatives hould be favored to go back to his seat in 2023. You would like to expatiate on it?
Let me introduce myself better. I am Egbodo Agana Sunday, a lawyer. I haven’t gone to law school yet, so I should not be addressed as barrister. By the grace of God, before the year runs out, I would be called to go to law school after which I will have that title of a barrister.
When you graduate as a lawyer, you become a lawyer. When you get to law school and you successfully finish from law school you are now a barrister in law.
I was a national president of Ibilla Community Development Association Worldwide.
I also was elected secretary general student union government, university of Nsukka during my time.
I am a retired director of information.
I am a preacher.
I am known for my objectivity. I do not indulge in sentiment. I am somebody that speaks what I feel it’s right whether one accepts it or not.
Without any form of contradiction I am still saying that we the Igede people have only one federal constituency in the House of Representatives. Our Tiv brothers have seven reps seats. The Idoma have three.
I have been saying without any form of contradiction that if we have only one person in the House of Reps. We should be patient to give such a person more time.
Elsewhere like the Americas and Britain, the present president of America Joe Biden had been in parliament for 35 years.
Government is not foolish to have not given the national assembly tenure. The executive has tenure, judiciary has tenure by way of retirement. If a judge is due for retirement he is retired. The legislature doesn’t have.
I feel that for the benefit of the Igede man, we needed somebody who should represent us consistently for sometimes so that he will be a ranking officer. And if you are a ranking officer there are so many benefits attached to it.
We shouldn’t be sending a person to the House of Reps, after maybe one or two tenures and discard such a person.
Am not saying that it is compulsory that one person whether measured up to the standard required or necessarilly be allowed. But I have accessed Samson Okwu, I have no political relationship with him even when I was in APC, I have always been a loner canvassing that ‘let us be patient with somebody that is representing us there in the green chamber.’
We have not gotten anybody in the senate.
This local government was created in 1976 and up till now we are not allowed to produce a senator. I felt that the one that belongs to us which is the House of Reps, we should be able to give somebody who represents us time to solidify his work in that place.
The act of lawmaking is not as easy as we think. The legislature makes law. Even if you are a professor and you are not a lawyer and you do not know the rudiment of law making, it will take you sometime for you to be able to adjust to the rudiment of law making.
So, he has been there for three years and has not failed us anyway.
Let me point it, the actual job of a lawmaker is to go and make good legislation. They are not executive, but they can influence development.
My canvassing for Samson Okwu to at least stay for sometimes is not because of any personal benefit, I have not gotten anything from him but I am a patriotic Igede man. That is why I say let us allow that gentle man.
There are so many things he has done for us. If you want me to count some of them that I know I will be able to count them.
What do you have to say about the zoning that the people of the constituency are known for?
Don’t you think that your position contravenes zoning?
Zoning is a convention “you go and chop, me I will go and chop”. That is the genesis of what is known as zoning. I am not appalled by zoning, there is nothing bad in zoning a seat.
Let us be emphatic I am not saying that Samson Okwu is the best person or has done the best. There is still room for him to improve.
I am consistently saying without any contradiction that we have only one seat in the green chamber. Anybody that occupies there let us rally round the person, let him stay for sometimes so that he will know the rudiment of legislation. By that, we will benefit better than sending somebody after four years. We say ok because of zoning, it should be an Ibilla person and after another four years Iyeche person goes. That will not help us as an Igede nation.
We should be able to exercise patience so that somebody that represents us will stay and know the rudiment of legislation so that he will legislate better for us.
He is not an executive arm which is exactly what I have been saying. So, I am not contradicting myself by appealing that the Igede people should allow him.
If we know where he has failed us we should go closer to him, call him and tell him you are failing us in this area and he should improve.
It is only when he does not want to heed to an advice or appeal then it is justifiable for us to say ok let us throw him off. But to my assessment he has not done anything wrong.
I have just decamped not up to a year from APC to PDP.
Ask my colleagues in 2019. A money was sent to me through one Honorable Eru Odigri by a contestant Ochagu K’ Idoma, Stephen Lawani. It was Eru Odigri that brought the money to me in the evening to me. He said he is mobilizing me for that Adenu convention and told I told him that no I should be the one to assist someone who is contesting a political post. I shouldn’t be given money. I am going to mobilize myself.
By the grace of God and I went to the rally and was given the opportunity to address the Igede people by Prof. George Enyi.
I told the congress that the money sent to me yesterday I didn’t pick it because I should be the person to contribute. Not that I have anything but I am contended with the little I have.
If I have been able to do like that then you will know that I don’t go into politics because of money. I go into politics so that at the appropriate time I will effect changes in the society to the benefit of my people.
How long does it take for a rep. to stay in the house to learn the rudiment of legislation?
It depends on the fellow.
Some people could go there for four years before they will be able to learn the rudiment of legislation. Some other persons may take longer time to be able to learn the rudiment of legislation.
There is no mathematical answer to that question.
What will the constituency gain when you insist that the seat should still be occupied by the old person for up to four terms?
I feel very strongly that the constituency will gain more from somebody who have been there for three tenure in the act of quality legislation because that is what we sent them to go and do for us.
Somebody who has been there for three tenures and I am canvassing for the fourth tenure for him; we learn from experience; like when I graduated from the university and I was employed I learnt the act of miniting from a clerk and it’s because that clerk was a WAEC holder. He has been there in the secret and open registry so he knew better the act of miniting and I had to go to him and appeal to him to put me through in the act of minitng. I didn’t raise my shoulder because I am a graduate.
So I felt too that someone who has been there for quite some time will know the rudiment of legislation better than someone who will get there fresh.
Someone said you took this position for the purpose of gaining political relevance. What do you say?
I am already politically, socially, economically and spiritually relevant.
I am already a relevant person by all standards of life. That is just the answer.
You are always emphasizing on Okwu’s achievements. What are they?
I am not Okwu to say what achievement he has been able to do for the Igede people.
But without any sentimentality and emotion I do know that he has imparted in his own way.
I have nothing to hide, I had hand shake with Okwu just three weeks ago.
When Adikpe was contesting for his second tenure I advised the Igede people to allow him, let him get an experience in the act of legislation.
When we started this interview, I told us that we have executive that’s taking care of the welfare of the people structurally.
If not these days that the National Assembly members are given constituency projects so to say, they are just purely for act of legislation. But because of what is called constituency project that is why we are holding them to ransome/account in the aspect of infrastructural development.
In my community, he knows me am an Ibilla person.
Okwu was able to construct block of two classrooms at Igede community secondary school Okileme located in Ibilla.
Okwu was able to pay for both NECO and WAEC of the whole of that school.
Okwu has been able to construct thirty three kilometer road tarred from Ujume junction to Edumuga.
Okwu sunk two motorized boreholes, one at Assembly of God Church, Anyiwogu Ibilla. another one at village and many others in our areas. That’s apart from other things he did without me knowing or seeing them physically. I only know of my own constituency. But many other people from other council wards have been telling us what he has done is their various council ward.
I am not saying that he has been able to cover the twenty three council wards of Oju/Obi LGAs. That is why I say let’s allow him, maybe he will be able to touch the twenty three council wards of Oji and Obi LGA’s in terms of infrastructural development.
What were you able to draw from the two recent events by APC and your party, PDP?
Since I am not in APC now but am an Igede person I will be able to say something but very skeletally.
Ogewu has been able to bring Hamza Al-Mustapha one
-time chief of staff to General Sani Abacha who looted this country.
He was also able to bring the distinguished senator of the federal republic of Nigeria in the person of Senator Goerge Akume whom I have a very high respect for.
When he was gunning for his governorship he was able to make an Igede man his deputy. That, I drop my cap for him, because he has been able to recognize the minority like the Igede person.
The only thing that baffles me is that when he came here he promised that Oju-Awajir road would be constructed in 2023. It baffles my imagination, why not 2021?
If he is a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is in the executive. They are the people that are responsible for approving the budget of structural development in all the 36 states of the federation and Oju-Awajir road is his own constituency.
Awajir to this place is a state road and not a federal road, I don’t know how we will go about constructing that road in 2023. I was thinking that he will be talking about the federal road linking Oweto, Otukpo, Oju, Ogoja that belongs to federal government. He is serving as a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria. He didn’t mention it so I felt that he is not very serious about the construction of the road leading to the Igede nation.
Maybe you flawed regarding your statement to George Akume. He said the dilapidated Oju-Awajir road would be constructed in 2023.
That was why I asked a question. Has the federal government taken over Oju-Awajir road? Is it not state road?
The one that is in his constituency now why has he not mentioned anything about it? Let our distinguished senator of the federal republic of Nigeria which I so much respect attend to Oweto, Otukpo, Oju, Ogoja road. That road I understood belongs to Federal government.
We learnt that there was stampede resulting from the event by the opposition party last Saturday to the effect that somebody allegedly died in the stampede, but that is yet to be confirmed. And the stampede was a result of certain problems that arose. We also learnt that the venue of the event was not granted before the opposition party used it. Do these two issues have any impact or implication of on the political development of the Igede nation?
David Ogewu is preparing to represent us at the green chamber come 2023 and the job is legislation.
He was asked to meet some certain conditions before the usage of the venue and he didn’t meet up and was alleged to have forcefully used the pavilion with his guests. Then I can imagine the kind of law he will go and legislate for us. A lawmaker shouldnot be a lawbreaker.
Which area specifically will you advise Samson Okwu to focus on if he returns as you have canvassed for in 2023?
What I advise Samson Okwu to do even before 2023 is to summon the political, academic, religious, traditional stakeholders of Igede nation.
Let him as a political leader of the Igede for now unite this body to become one.
I also advise that he should arrange them so that he will lead them to a relevant ministry or parastatals to lobby for the infrastructural development in the Igede nation such as the federal road, the state road. We don’t have federal post office here, we only have a state general hospital.
The lgede is large enough for us to have federal medical center here. All of this is through lobbying.
Let him assemble the stakeholders that I earlier mentioned. Let them go to Abuja, to relevant ministry and lobby the minister and other relevant personnel so that these things are done for us.
You have canvassed for the fourth term for Samson Okwu peradventure your canvassing does not yield fruit and there must be continuity. What is your ideal candidate for the House of Reps seat for Obi and Oju incase Samon Okwu does not return.
My ideal candidate is one that is patriotic, one that will have selfless service for the Igede people.
What is your message to the Igede nation concerning 2023 election and to Rt. Hon. Samson Okwu who is your ideal candidate?
My message to the Igede people is that let us be united.
Let us remove sentiment and emotions.
Let us galvanize together to support any leader that emerge to represent us in the house of reps.
We have not gotten the senator yet. 2023 is still a little bit further so the one we have now let us come a little bit together to him.
Let us not be too focused on 2023 to the detriment of what will happen between now and then.
I am not saying we will not live to see 2023, we will see it and beyond. Life is not in our hand so let us concentrate on what can be done now and rally round the occupier of the house of reps, whether you like him or not.
As we are going on our electioneering campaign let us restrict ourselves to issue-based campaign.
Do not destroy another person for you to go any place.
That is not godly.
Everyone destiny is with God so you cannot destroy an A for you to get to that place.
If God wants you to get there surely you will get there.
That is why I have been so delighted in reading John 3: 27. There is nothing you can have except it’s given from above.
So I am advising that let our campaign be based on issues not to destroy another person’s character.
Categories: James Ibechi