NWODO NOT PROBLEM IN ENUGU – UGWU
Twenty years after an opportunity to represent his people in the House of Representatives was scuttled by the administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha, Hon Frank Ugwu, a businessman and philanthropist says its time to come back.
Ugwu, a soft-spoken businessman from Oba in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State says the 2011 general election has presented another opportunity for him to serve his people.
In a chat with Sunday Sun, the senatorial aspirant bemoaned the level of waste in the National Assembly which he said is worsened by the duplication of duties between the Senate and House of Representatives. Excerpts…
Duplication of duties at the National Assembly
We need smaller government so that we can shed the weight of government which currently is too enormous. At the end of the day, our resources go to servicing our office holders; we need to shed the weight of government so that a lot of these funds could be channeled to life changing projects for our people.
Frankly, I am recommending something very fundamental; I don't see why Nigeria cannot go for a unicameral system of legislature whereby we have just one legislature instead of the duplication we have now. The amount of money that goes into servicing these government functionaries especially our brothers in the legislature is huge. Now, I want to tell you on good authority that a legislator in Nigeria earns three times what President Obama of America earns; and eight times what their counterparts earn in America. A congress man in America earns N21 million annually; the counterpart in United Kingdom earns about N16 million, but here our senators earn up to N240 million or N250 million annually, that's outrageous, that's ridiculous.
What I am saying is that a strategy to reduce the size of government would result to a lot of savings for Nigeria that can be diverted to infrastructural development. So, I am a strong advocate of that; and we have to reduce tolerance of corruption; corruption is stifling this society and that is why I think that the National Assembly should step up the issue of oversight function. A behemoth like Power Holdings Plc hasn't been audited for over five years; that is unpardonable.
Also, this issue of our legislature being retrospective in investigations into some of these corrupt practices in the Ministries should come to a halt. We should rather be right on time to investigate things; let me tell you also that the committee on power spent almost N100 million to investigate the so called popular power probe; and it went into a cul-de-sac and today, nothing has come out of the investigation whereas N100 million has gone down the drain in investigation.
Issues like Universal Healthcare should be free, at least, let's start from senior citizens; it should be there; free, entirely free healthcare. Then issues of education should also be taken seriously; so these are issues I want to tackle as a matter of fact on the floor of the National Assembly. True federalism and state creation. Because over centralization is over centralization of all the major sectors of Nigeria; it doesn't give way to competition. When we have competition, then things will now start to work in Nigeria because one state will be competing with the other and then there will be development. So, competition is a very solid ingredient in the co-existence of any entity; that's also what I want to pursue by the time I get to the National Assembly.
My people have been marginalized and honestly, successive occupants of public positions in Enugu North Senatorial Zone haven't really addressed issues properly and today offers opportunity to really deal with issues that are very pertinent to our people.
Starting from Adada State; Adada state is the dream of any Nsukka citizen or indigene of Nsukka; and Adada state is non-negotiable and we would strive to get that state for our people because that is the only way Nsukka can be developed. Let me say that Adada state comes with a lot of other advantages to our people; because the state has to produce a governor, Adada State has to produce Ministers, commissioners, permanent secretaries and of-course, it will come with additional Local Governments and other advantages; so, Adada state is something we must pursue vigorously. And that I have to pursue with unremitting campaigns.
I know it requires a lot of lobby, a lot of advocacy, horse trading, networking, media propaganda. It's a challenge that I must address squarely and we must get it; unless no state is created in Nigeria, otherwise Adada must be one of the states to be created. Also we have a dearth of federal projects in Enugu North senatorial zone; we need roads, we need water, we need dualization of the few roads we have. The single lane we have that traverses Enugu North senatorial zone has constituted itself to a death trap and that has to stop. So, we really have to network with a lot of ministries; we have to network with contractors, and stakeholders to make sure that we attract federal government projects to our people.
Enugu PDP crisis
The problem has been there and I am very hopeful it's going to be sorted out either through harmonization if INEC is going to allow that. The issue is that nobody is sure of the terms placed on the table by INEC; but from what we are hearing; INEC is not even interested in harmonization; INEC has made it clear that it has to be by congress.
So if that is going to be, then congress has to take place; but honestly, I am so perturbed because I don't favour situations of chicanery; I favour the process of peace; evolving through peaceful method and atmosphere; that is on-going, that is a peaceful process of resolving the problem; but if INEC is insisting on a fresh congress, then once a day is fixed, we all go for congress. My plea is that everybody should be involved in the congress also and that at the end of the day, we can elect men and women that are capable at ward, local government and state levels to pilot the affairs of the party in the state.
And by the time that is done, it will now be time for other congresses to select men and women to fly the flag of the party. So, quite frankly I'm so perturbed and I hope at the end of the day, there is always a mechanism in these political parties to resolve problems. I know it's on-going; it's a dialogue; my plea is that the people should attach this dialogue with a lot of caution and with spirit of God so that we can come out from the woods and come out as one united, strong party; no matter who is the winner or looser. It's not a do or die affair, the most important thing is for the party to come out of the crisis stronger and win the general election and then deliver service to our people.