Buhari Has Proven To Nigerians That PDP Was A Better Husband!—Rep. Onuigbo

By Ikenga Chronicles February 14, 2018

Buhari Has Proven To Nigerians That PDP Was A Better Husband!—Rep. Onuigbo

Rep. Sam Ifeanyi Onuigbo is the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/South federal constituency at the House of Representatives. He is also the House Committee Chairman on Climate Change. A versatile and widely travelled man, Onuigbo’s outlook to leadership hinges on a profound belief that once leaders are not directly impacting positively on their people, they would have failed in their primary responsibility.

Ikenga Chronicles caught up with him and discussed several issues including the current famers-herders crises, the presumed failure of the Buhari administration, and his open city philosophy.

Excerpts:

Prior to you becoming the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change, that committee was virtually unheard of. But during your time there, one has been tremendous improvement in awareness on Climate Change issues. What did you do differently?

Rep. Onuigbo: The truth is, I take every assignment given to me seriously. When I was made the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change, it was one of those assignments nobody wanted. I didn’t let that faze me, so I prayed to God for ideas on how to effectively carry out my duties there. First of all, I called on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to find ways to deepen awareness on Climate Change. The awareness helped us realize that we need to deepen our efforts as many people were blissfully unaware of the implications of Climate Change. That was before even the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was drafted! We were already working on Climate Change issues when nations came together to draft the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. When it was drafted and signed, I had to work with MDAs to increase awareness. Ironically, most of the heads of the MDAs did not know much. So we wrote to the Budget Office and asked that they alert the heads of the affected MDAs, so they can be aware and ensure that Climate Change issues reflect in their budget proposals.

Two years or so ago, during a presentation, you linked Climate Change to some of the security issues affecting the country. That was before the escalation of the herdsmen-farmers crises which you were prescient enough to point out will escalate due to the effects of Climate Change. How exactly does Climate Change affect security?

Rep. Onuigbo: We started talking about it before it got out of control. We raised these fears, now they are real. When we raised these concerns, we were unaware that herders and farmers clashes will amount to the harvest of deaths. Climate Change affects livelihood. For instance, the drying up of Lake Chad is significantly linked to such insurgencies as Boko Haram, farmers and herders clashes, etc. I will explain. With the drying up of the Lake Chad, irrigation and fishing issues arose. So fishermen and some farmers were out of jobs, so they were easily recruited. For herders, they had to move downwards in search of where there will be grasses. So the clashes followed. We have laid this open severally, it is now up to government to take action.

The Climate Change Bill you sponsored was just recently given concurrence by the Senate, after passing through the House of Representatives last year. Congratulations. What is the importance of this bill?

Rep. Onuigbo: When assented to by the President, the Climate Change act will provide a solid foundation for pro-Climate Change bodies to build their works on. It will essentially back practitioners. When we came on, there was no law and that was not right. That was why I sponsored the bill. I believe it was necessary. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in November of 2017, and by the Senate in February, 2018. It makes provision for a National Council on Climate Change, to be chaired by the Vice President, with membership cutting across several ministries( up to twelve ministers will be part of it), representatives of states, Local Government Areas, Niger Delta Affairs, Women Affairs, Youths, Non-Governmental Organisations, etc. It will definitely open up the economy, investments, etc.

Rep. Sam Ifeanyi Onuigbo FNIM

Nigerians have lamented seriously about the harsh economic situation in the country and the seeming cluelessness of the present Federal government in fixing it. You are a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what do you think are PDP’s chances going into the general elections in 2019?

Rep. Onuigbo: Our people have a saying that when a woman marries two husbands, she is able to distinguish who is the better husband. Nigerians had the PDP for about sixteen years at the centre, and during that period, the economy was growing and life was relatively easier. Now under three years, all of the progress made under the PDP has vanished. That alone shows who is the better husband ( the PDP, or the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari). Going by this , I can confidently say that if elections are free and fair, the PDP will return to power at the centre, in 2019.

One of the things noticeable about your leadership philosophy is what one may term your love for “open cities”. You believe in the expansion of cities, instead of people clustering at a tiny area. This was evident during your stint as the Commissioner for Lands and Survey, in Abia State, during which time you set out a template for the expansion of the capital city of Umuahia. As a member of the House of Representatives, you have followed this path especially with your newest attempt at getting an alternative route to the over-burdened Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal road. Can you tell us more about this plan?

Rep. Onuigbo: I am a child of the world, and I have really been to various parts of the world. Expansion of cities help open up places, and also links people up. This helps grow the economy too. As for my plans to create an alternative to the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal round, yes, I proposed the construction of an alternative route that cuts through Okwe Oboro, through Obuohia Obi-Ibere, to Nkari, in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. This project is already in the 2018 budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In fact, as I speak to you, the company that will construct the bridge that crosses the Ehie River, and links up Abia State and Akwa Ibom on that road, has gone to collect soil samples, and should commence work soon. On the 24th of December, 2017, elders and youths from Nkari visited me in my country home, to thank me for that road. That is because they understand its social and economic implications. Again, if you have taken note, you would notice that after the palliative works we did on the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal road, some parts of it have started failing. I drew the attention of the FERMA engineer that oversaw the work, Engineer A.K Akenge to that fact, and he said they will do something about it. But, you must remember that when I was going for the palliative work, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, His Excellency Babatunde Fashola SAN promised a total reconstruction of the road. This was supposed to have been done in 2017, but budget implementation has really been awful. I hope that improves so that the road will be completely reconstructed, while we also enjoy the alternative route.

You recently flagged off the construction of a skills acquisition centre for your constituents, and one notes that you have also arranged several skills acquisition trainings for your people. What is the motivation behind that?

Rep. Onuigbo: When there is high unemployment, there is the need for youths to get more skills, so they can find a way to employ themselves. The Skills Acquisition centre that we are building has eight sections for different skills. It is mainly for the youths, so as to move them away from crime. You can imagine that members of the National Youth Service Corps in my area reached out to me to say that they carry out skills acquisition trainings under trees! Can you imagine that? How would one learn anything under such conditions? So I think that the centre we are building meets a basic need of the people.

You have been able to achieve a lot since you assumed office. In fact, even your greatest detractors agree that you have done commendably well, and so only base their arguments that you should not seek re-election on other excuses, and not non-performance. How does it feel to know this, and what really endeared you to your consituents?

Rep. Onuigbo: This is politics, where people create narratives to just benefit themselves! I am happy that people cannot say that I have underperformed. They can say other things, but not that. What endeared me to my constituents are humility, accessibility, and responsiveness. I have maintained my EAR (Effectiveness, Accessibility, and Responsiveness) ideology all through. I am certain that the people would have compared me to others, and found out that there is something that I am doing differently. They know, and I know too that I have attracted several projects that have positively affected my people.

If you are re-elected, what new things do you seek to bring to your people?

Rep. Onuigbo: I will continue with my EAR ideology. That will guide me to do well for my constituents. I also owe them the duty of hard work, care, responsiveness to their needs, etc. Whatever I can bring, I must bring to my people, because what pushes me even before I got into politics is the desire to do the best for my people. If you recall, way before politics, when I was still working with the US Embassy, I brought a secondary school to my community, thus ensuring that our children did not have to trek a combined 12km to and fro daily to get education.

It has been really enlightening talking to you sir.

Rep. Onuigbo: The pleasure is all mine.

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