Hon. Henry Nwawuba is a two-time legislator at the green chambers of the National Assembly. In this interview with Amby Uneze, he bares his mind on a number of issues including his rumoured defection to PDP. Excerpts:
As a ranking legislator at the National Assembly, what’s your experience been so far?
The House of Representatives is the most representative parliamentary body in Nigeria with every ethnic, religious and social tendency well represented. It is the broadest deliberative body in Africa. Being a ranking member has therefore afforded me the opportunity to experience firsthand, the thought processes and sentiments that exist across the country.
It has been an exciting experience seeing people of various backgrounds coming together to discuss Nigeria from their various perspectives with all the drama. Most importantly, my faith in the country has been rekindled seeing that every part of Nigeria has similar issues to contend with and my colleagues having a similar resolve to confront them.
You are representing one of the largest federal constituencies in the country, how have you been able to ensure effective representation?
The Mbatoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency (MBAIKE) for short is one if not the most dynamic constituencies in Nigeria and indeed one of the most enlightened. Its communities have prominent sons and daughters, who operate at the highest echelons of the public and private sectors. I have been privileged to benefit from the wise counsel of elders and youths of the constituency and I have found it easy to build consensus among them.
I have established an open channel of consultation and communication with my constituents, always briefing them of our efforts and the challenges we face. I am happy that I have been able to channel the energies of the constituency towards conversations of development. Even those who disagree with our vision restrict their viewpoints to development issues. It’s been an exciting time managing different expectations and egos.
In your candid opinion, what are your modest contributions/achievements to your constituency and Imo State?
You earlier mentioned that we are among the largest constituencies in Nigeria but regrettably, federal presence had been before now very rare in the area. Upon assumption of office, I took up the issue of this neglect with the various departments and agencies. For instance, I made sure the NDDC recognised my area in the distribution of infrastructural projects, because Imo State is part of their mandate area.
Today, there are many roads being constructed by the agency. I have also ensured an improvement in the employment of Mbaike youths in the federal civil service, the armed forces, the police and paramilitary agencies. Very important for me is the stimulation of small business through training and empowerment schemes. It gives me great joy, when I see women and youth groups, who are beneficiaries of our empowerment schemes contributing their quota to national development at that level.
Most importantly, for me, is to make laws for greater social justice and inclusivity in the affairs of Nigeria for the benefit of all. As the Chairman of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th Assembly, I shall ensure that all Nigerians including my constituency enjoy the full benefits of nationhood.
You are rumoured to be planning to join the APC to enable you run for a higher office in 2023, how far have you gone with that arrangement?
I have debunked this insinuation at several platforms. I do not know where this rumour is coming from. I can tell you categorically that I am here today, because the PDP provided a platform for me to serve my people and I therefore, have no moral justification to abandon this platform. I want to also tell you that Imo State is predominantly a PDP state in sspite of the setbacks we suffered at the Supreme Court. The people are still resolutely PDP and I have never contemplated swimming against such a tide.
Your zone, (Owerri zone) or Imo East is believed to have been treated badly in terms of the governorship of the state. Do you subscribe to the view that the people of the zone are their own problems?
Politics is a game of give and take but the most important thing is for the attainment of peace and development with justice and fairness. No constituent part of a state should feel left out as far as the affairs of the state are concerned. There have been conversations on issues of equity among the senatorial zones and there have been genuine concerns, which I am sure the elders and leaders of the state will give consideration to at the appropriate time. It is not a case of the people of Owerri being a problem but of course, there is the need for greater synergy and harmony among the leaders of the zone.
Prominent Nigerians have been calling for Restructuring of the country; do you see that option as Nigeria’s road to greatness?
Every Nigerian should be concerned about emerging tendencies that seem to weaken the federation. Even buildings are regularly renovated for them to remain. I have not seen a building that will remain intact for 100 years without renovation. The call for restructuring is a legitimate one to strengthen the basis of our union. The call is one to recalibrate and correct the areas where we have fallen short as we move forward. Nigerians should develop the habit of a constant dialogue on how to continue our coexistence as one country.
As a youth, what would be your suggestion to the federal government as a way of carrying them along to be part of the country’s desired progress?
The recent #EndSARS protest has shown the capacity of the Nigerian youths to organise in a sophisticated manner. Before the protests were hijacked by criminal elements, we saw a well-choreographed movement, where demands were articulated and submitted to the federal government.
The prompt response of the federal government is an encouraging first step and I encourage the government to leave the channels of dialogue open and emphasise less on crackdowns. Crackdowns only incubate conflicts for future escalations. I, however, wish to appeal to the youths to harvest the same passions and express them at the ballot box and not through disruptive conduct.