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Ben Nworie holds a conversation with Hon. Anayo Edwin Nwonu, the member representing Ishielu and Ezza North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives as he begins his second tenure
You have successfully completed your first term and now in your second, how have you fared?
I want to thank the Almighty God for his love and benevolence to me. Indeed, power comes from God and I will remain eternally grateful to God for the successful completion of my first term. I want also to thank the leader of the Peoples Democractic Party in Ebonyi state, Governor David Umahi who is father to me.
He loves me so much that I will continue to be grateful to him. I want also to thank the good people of Ishielu and Ezza North Federal constituency for finding me worthy to represent them in the House of Representatives for the first term and also renewing my mandate in 2019. I was inaugurated in June, 2015 and I can tell you that if I had not done well, my constituents would not have re-elected me. One thing you have to know is that in politics, if you joke with your people, your problems will emanate from the home front. I am happy that I have offered effective and efficient representation to my people and they are happy for having me in the National Assembly.
I have intervened in some of the critical Infrastructural needs in Ishielu and Ezza North Federal constituency. Time may not permit me to start mentioning one by one some of the projects executed by me in the first term. You know it all and the projects are still there in the two local government area of the constituency.
But I must mention that we have addressed perennial water issues in some of the communities in the constituency. We have drilled and completed over 40 motorized boreholes and they are operational and serving my people. We have installed transformers and completed electricity projects. I have documented all the projects I have executed since 2015 in my scorecard. The benefitting communities are on the scorecard. I must mention that I have graded and some roads in Ezzagu, Azuinyaba and in Ezza North local government area.
In all these projects, I feel fulfilled that we have not abandoned the downtrodden, the sick and the poor widows and vulnerable children. Apart from regular visits to orphanage homes, I have empowered over 100 widows in my constituency. As a matter of fact, you are aware that during the last Easter celebration, I visited the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki and paid the medical bills of indigent patients who had been discharged but held back in the hospital for not paying their medical bills. Some of their bills range from N100,000 to N150,000. What informed my decision was that I can’t be celebrating any Yuletide and my constituents will be held hostage in the hospital because they were unable to offset their medical bills.
We went to the management and took the list of people with this issue. We have been doing this since 2015. Each time, we undertake this critical program because it’s a good way of appreciating God and humanity.
We have sustained these interventions since I came on board. And there’s no time, we don’t spend over N3 million, excluding transport fares back to their various locations. And we are planning to modify and increase our outreach programmes. We will be providing regular medical and welfare outreach programmes for pregnant women, vulnerable youths, aged men and women in my constituency. With the impact of the medical financial assistance, we have considered it expedient to partner with medical experts to carry out routine medical outreach programs because most times, people die out of ignorance and lack of attention to their health conditions. Through this programme, we will identify special cases and face it squarely.
In the area of employment, I must commend myself like the proverbial lizard that fell down from the high Iroko tree and on noticing that no one was around to praise it, decided to nod its head for good performance. I have secured employment for over 80 young graduates and you know some of them, including your brother from Ezzagu community. You know some of them and their names and phone numbers are on the score card.
They are around and visible. You can pick my scorecard and call any of their numbers to confirm the authenticity. Some of them are working at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Security agencies, Federal Ministries and parastatals. We have also collected many applications for jobs because it’s part of our responsibility to assist young graduates to get jobs and be meaningful in life. And of course, you know that no matter what you do, you will be rated based on the number of people you give jobs. It is important because it’s permanent and life sustaining.
Most importantly, I want to assure you that I shall redouble my efforts in this second term. All I have achieved for my people will be doubled and I want to tell you that I don’t like or engage in publicity bliss or propaganda. My account of stewardship must be real, confirmable and authentic. We have maintained it in my first term and that was why my people sent me back to the National Assembly and I won’t let them down.
Is any of your opponents challenging the outcome of the election at the tribunal?
No. My election was credible, free and fair. But, there’s something I want to tell Nigerians, especially politicians. It doesn’t mean that the outcome of every election must be challenged in the court. It doesn’t show that one is a serious politician or not. In every election, only one person will emerge.
It’s either me or you and whoever wins, God takes the glory. If you didn’t win today, the next time might be your turn. Most of the post- elections struggle and litigations also heighten tension, crises and heating up the polity in the country. Unless in an obvious case of manipulation or victory denial, one can seek redress.
However, I must commend the Independent National Electoral Commission for the credibility of the 2019 general elections in Ebonyi state. And I must commend the maturity and decision of my opponents not to challenge the outcome of my election and for not going into another round of struggle and litigation. I have no court case challenging the outcome of my election.
You and your populous Ezza clan campaigned vigorously for the re-election of Governor David Umahi, was the support in expectation of the supposed 2023 permutation?
How do you see Ebonyi state today? Are you not proud to be an Ebonyi man now? If the re-election of Governor David Umahi had entailed laying down our lives, we would have laid down our lives.
There’s a reward for hard work. The governor deserves our support. He is a transformer, unifier, achiever, peace advocate, developer. We are proud of him. The greatest task you can give me is to enumerate his achievements in the state. I am sure you can’t go there. Ebonyi state is now a reference point of a fastest growing city in Nigeria. At a time other states are suffocating in huge debts, unpaid salaries, Ebonyi state under governor David Umahi has become a shining example to all.
No right thinking person from Abakaliki bloc ( Ebonyi Central and North) would have jettisoned the second term bid of Governor Umahi. He has performed creditably well. So, it would have amounted to shooting ourselves in the leg. Even members of the opposition parties abandoned their candidates to support Umahi because he has done well in all the sectors.
So, asking me why we vigorously campaigned for him is like doubting if we are happy with the governor’s achievements in the first term. We campaigned vigorously for him because he’s the pride of the present generation and am sure the future generations in the state will have little developmental burdens to face in the state.
All my programmes are to complement the efforts of the governor’s wife, Rachel in giving succour and to families in the state. Through Mrs Umahi’s pet projects, many lives have been saved, touched and uplifted.
Is your generosity pandering to higher ambition in 2023?
My brother, if you are wishing me anything bigger in 2023, may it be done to me according to your words. It will be most uncharitable for me to start thinking of 2023 when I have just spent some days in my second term.
My major concern now is to use my second term to further advance the welfare of my constituents. They sent me to the National Assembly to represent them and bring home goodies and dividends not to start thinking of 2023. When we get to the bridge, we shall definitely cross it. We should not be obsessed with power. Anyone thinking about 2023 now simply wants to distract the good works of our governor and we will not allow that.
What’s your opinion on the prevelence of cultism in some part of the state?
It’s barbaric and condemnable, the wave of cult activities in some part of the state is something to be frowned at. I must commend the efforts of the security agencies and our Governor, David Umahi, in confronting the menace of cultism in the state.
I also urge security agents to intensify efforts to track down all cultists spilling bloods in the state. They must be brought to book. Ebonyi state is very peaceful and we can’t allow cultism to run down our dear state. I receive with great shock the recent murder of one youth in Ezza North.
I have also engaged community leaders on that. Nobody should shield any murderer. We must get rid of bad elements anywhere in the state and I will do anything possible at my disposal to protect the lives of my people. People should take the sanctity of human lives seriously. In the weeks ahead, I will organise youths summit for the people of Ezza North and Ishielu federal constituency. The summit will dwell on entrepreneurship and shunning cultism.
What are the expectations from you in this second term?
I want to assure the good people of Ishielu and Ezza North Federal constituency that I will continue you offer efficient and effective representation to them. Our empowerment programmes will be intensified. We will continue to secure employment opportunities for our youths and unemployed graduates. I want to urge the youths to shun cultism and be rest assured of employment opportunities. We have to be law abiding citizens. We have to sustain the peace and other legacies of the Umahi administration. This way, we will continue to focus and struggle to keep our campaign promises.