No indigene of Ngor Opkalla in Imo State has been opportune to serve in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly. Barrister Oji Clement Chinaka, who has been in several businesses but settled into legal practice, wants to change this narratives as he seeks to serve his people in the Senate. In this chat with Stanley Nkwazema in Abuja, Chinaka puts forward reasons the area must be supported to produce the best candidate for the zone
Why do you want to delve into the murky waters of politics from the comfort zone of your law practice and businesses?
You must understand that it is through governance and quality representation at every level that people can feel the impact of government. The difference that I intend to make is that I want to be a Senator for the good of the people. What we have been having in the past is senator for themselves and their families. But I want to be senator for the people; the people will count; the people will be represented while working for the interest of the people. Some other persons have been there like I did mention, highly qualified, put up representation, but the benefit went more to themselves and their families, but the community did not benefit much.
What is important is that Charity must begin at home and what is trending is the agitation for rotation of the office of governor. It is on record that Orlu people of Imo State have held sway for 15 years now going to 16. Okigwe people have been there for 9 years but since the current dispensation in 1999, the Owerri man has not been there as governor of the state occupying Douglas House and that is really agitating the minds of the Owerre people.Â Let us localise it. At the Senatorial level, all other components of the Owerri zone, the Mbaise sector, the Mbaike sector, even the Owerri federal Constituency sector, they have at one time or the other produced Senators, but the Ngor Okpalla sector where I come from have not occupied the position. What I am saying also is that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. If we talk about equity, equity must be generalised. He who wants equity to be done must also come clean with equity. My point and craving is that Owerri people should support an Ngor Okpalla candidate. If we do that, then we have the moral standing, and jointly and collectively ask Orlu people to do equity.
Are you sure Orlu people will be willing to discuss the equity issue and the Owerri people equally matured enough to support the emergence of an Ngor Okpalla Senatorial candidate?
What is important to us is that we have shown interest and we also expect our brothers from Owerri zone to also show interest and have some understanding with us. You cannot make us an orphan and expect us to be with you. There is this common proverb that when the bird is alive, it comes down and feed on some ants. But when the bird dies, the ants feed on it. If you need us to work collectively, we must carry each other along. You cannot denigrate us and expect us to be on the same page with you. We are committed to an Owerri man occupying the Government House but we are also more committed that an Ngor Okpalla person also representing Owerri zone at the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly; the Red Chambers
Under which political party do you intend to actualise this dream of becoming a senator?
I am an APC person. I belong to the All Progressives Peopleâ€™s Congress. APC emerged from the misrule of the PDP. The people trusted PDP, the PDP was flourishing but somehow, along the line, the party derailed. Corruption became the order of the day. You needed to have observed their primaries. The last primary of PDP in Imo was a complete disaster. I donâ€™t think some persons would have finished paying their liabilities arising from that election in the next seven years. I donâ€™t want that. It is not healthy because representation should not go to the highest bidder. It is not trading; it is not you have money you buy. Leadership is inculcated. It is those who have the ability. As a lawyer, I think I am in a better position to represent our people well because it is law-making, it is not trading or who speaks louder. It is who has the substance; it is he who has the ability to represent his people
What I intend to do is to seek the support of the people to represent them. We are not buying, we are not doing the usual things; we are not running to the bigwigs, giving money and gift items. We are mobilising the people; the youths and the women who are the core voters. I have intimated my primary constituency, people of court areas. In Ngor Okpalla, we have five court areas. I happen to come from the one called Mbaishi court area. I have intimated them and I have their support, very soon, after the APC ward and LG and also other congresses, I shall be going officially to the ward to declare before my people and party officials. We will move the train from there to the LGA and to the zone and ultimately to the state
Why did you say that APC is not like PDP??
APC is not like PDP. PDP, more or less, was an enterprise owned by some â€˜big menâ€™ that you must have to go and pay allegiances if you must run. The APC is the party of Nigerians who are ready to offer selfless service and that is why I embraced APCs philosophy. The way they have conducted themselves and their affairs show that they are the party of the people. APC is not a commercial enterprise. The party is willing and able to receive all those who have something to offer. We have come to work for to uplift the common people and not those who have come to pack money from the people they are meant to serve in the first place.
For me, like I have observed in all APC primaries, you donâ€™t get to hear mind-boggling cash carried and cash transactions. The party has the interest of the people at heart. By APCs structuring, I know that the contest will be peaceful; it will be devoid of those transactions like you normally have in the PDP primaries. I have asked God for support and as humans too, I shall be seeking the support of all party leaders at every level because right now, it is a matter that is concentrated around party politics before we can begin to talk about the generality of the Nigerian people. On the state of governance, you will have to put it in proper perspective. If you go to a house that is partly constructed and there is a defect that touches on the foundation, firstly, you have to do a lot of readjustments and realignments to see what people complain about. As much as I cannot say everything is totally good, efforts are being made to change governance. The rule of law is beginning to return to government transactions.
I want my people, Owerri people to support me for Owerri Zone, Imo East Senatorial; that a vote for me will be a vote for better representation. It will be a vote for equity and fairness that an Ngor Okpala person has never occupied the seat and should be given the opportunity.
Ogun: Not the Critic that Counts
O gun has shed the toga of a Civil Service State and is now robed as an â€œIndustrial Hubâ€. The unenviable appellation has now been supplanted with â€œInvestorsâ€™ destination of Choice.â€
There is no point counting the number of industries that berthed in Ogun in the last seven years of the Ibikunle Amosun administration. It is a lot easier to count those yet to make their presence felt in the state. The trend now is, if your business is not in Ogun State, itâ€™s probably not in Nigeria.
Thanks to the humongous investment in security, road, power, education, health, agriculture, housing, etc. by the current government.
So much has been written and said about how the Amosun government turned around the fortunes of Ogun State industrially.
It moved the state from 35th position in 2010 to one of the first five among the 36 states of the federation in 2014, according to the World Bank Doing Business in Nigeria Report.
The World Bank, Doing Business in Nigeria 2014, rates Ogun as one of the five states â€œthatÂ made the biggest strides towards the national frontier of good practices.â€
The same World Bank, in the 2008 and 2010 reports, ranked Ogun State as among the lowest overall performers among the 36 states in Nigeria in terms of Ease of Doing Business.
According to the 2014 Report, â€œOgun improved on three of the four Doing Business indicators benchmarked. The construction permitting system was radically overhauled, with the state government authorities decentralising the approval system and a new committee monitoring delays. Building permit applications and payments can now be made simultaneously in district offices. Private professionals issue environmental-impact assessments in accordance with the conditions and templates set out in a framework agreement. The certificate of completion is issued on the spot, immediately following the final inspection.â€
To begin a business in the current Ogun State, according to World Bank, â€œentrepreneurs no longer need to travel to Ibadan or Lagos, thanks to the Federal Inland Revenue Serviceâ€™s new stamp duty office in Abeokuta. In addition, the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry abolished the requirement for a physical inspection of the business premises – today, a proof of company address, such as a utility bill, is sufficient. A business premises permit is issued on the spot upon payment of the fee. Finally, Ogunâ€™s Bureau of Lands digitalised property records with the aim of enabling electronic title searches and making property registration more efficient.â€
Achieving all this within a space of three years could only have been a product of vision, meticulous planning and dedication. Governor Amosun deserves the plaudits of everyone.
From the data collated by the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), 75 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment into the sector came to Ogun State between 2014 and 2016. This is no mean achievement considering the trajectory of the state in industrial development.
As recent as 2017, Ogun was rated the second most viable state in Nigeria in the Fiscal Sustainability Report of BudgIT, â€˜a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change.â€™ A leading financial newspaper, Business Day, had, in the same year, carried a report on its front page on the landmark progress under the Ibikunle Amosun administration:
â€œLagos and Ogun states are fast moving away from other states in the country in financial capacity, following their ability to generate over 60 per cent of their revenue internally. The two states generated 73 per cent and 63 per cent of their revenue internally in 2016. This means that in the event of a failure or shortfall in allocation from the Federation Account, the two states can internally generate at least N63 out of every N100 needed monthly. Lagos and Ogun are closely followed by Rivers, Kano and Edo States, which generated 43 perÂ cent, 38 per cent and 35 per cent respectively of their total internal revenue…â€
The ramification of the report by the Bussiness Day could be better appreciated with the fact that Ogun State is placed Number 26 out of 36 states in terms of allocation it receives from the Federation Account. The progress of Ogun can, therefore, be described as phenomenal because you also need money to make money!
Beyond the creation of an enabling environment for both local and foreign businesses to thrive, Amosunâ€™s personal commitment and sacrifice to turn Ogun into an industrial hub is exceptional.
Governor Amosun not only has the names of â€œwho is whoâ€ in the business community in Nigeria, he sometimes calls them up, urging them to come and invest in Ogun. This is beside the biennial Investorsâ€™ Forum or the yearly Breakfast Forum, when he sits face-to-face with investors and interact at close quarters. Sometimes during a conversation, he discovers an industrialist is an indigene of Ogun, his eyes glow. He reminds them of home, the need to contribute their own quota to the socio-economic advancement of the state.
Having a governor personally calling you up is an added impetus. It shows personal commitment. Itâ€™s a sign of an helmsman genuinely concerned with the need to develop his state. Itâ€™s a win-win situation for both the investor and the state. This is one unsung aspect of Amosunâ€™s personal contribution to the Mission to Rebuild Ogun State.
And so when you read these uncharitable attacks by some opposition elements, you simply wonder: Must politics degenerate to this level? Is there no line between playing politics and development of our dear state?
But then the immortal words of Theodore RooseveltÂ sometimes come to lift up the spirit.
â€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs… because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause… so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.â€
And the reader should make no mistake about it. Amosun believes thereâ€™s still much to be done. Thatâ€™s why heâ€™s gripped by development fever rather than 2019 elections. His place in the history of this state is already assured.
Hear the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, at the recently-concluded Ogun African Drums Festival: â€œI commend his vision… He doesnâ€™t just pull down but constructs, builds, not just the tangible but the intangible such as culture.â€
Amosun has again pioneered the revival of a major aspectÂ of our culture through the African Drums Festival. It is not the critic that counts…
â€“ Soyombo sent this piece from Abeokuta firstname.lastname@example.org