'EBONYI HAS FAILED TO REAP FROM ITS RICH POTENTIALS'
Mr Halifax Nwaze, a House of Representatives contestant from Ebonyi State for 2011 spoke on the challenges confronting the people of Ebonyi in the last 11 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in the state. He spoke with ENO BASSEY. Excerpts:
AS a member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) how do you assess the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in Ebonyi?
Since Ebonyi was created 14 years ago, the potentials of the state have been wasting away due to the state government's mismanagement, neglect and nonchalance. Ebonyi used to be a major agricultural state, but today, it is dependent on imported food. The school system is a sorry sight and there is no meaningful learning taking place there. The few hospitals are poorly equipped and can be called 'death centers.' Unemployment is in almost every Nigerian city, the bulk of the hawkers in between traffic jams are indigenes of Ebonyi. The state of the infrastructure are decaying. The roads are deplorable and many lives have been wasted due to accidents on the roads. Infrequent power supply and lack of potable water is the norm, so much so that Ebonyi people have given up on expecting any good from the PDP government. This has undoubtedly resulted in many highly qualified Ebonyi indigenes fleeing the country in the quest for better lives elsewhere. Indeed, the state of Ebonyi and the poor conditions of my people of Ebonyi are the motivating factors for me in accepting to contest as a member of the House of Representatives to represent Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal Constituency.
For the past 11 years the average Nigerian cannot confidently say that his or her life has improved by any reasonable measure under the PDP administration. At the national level, it is rather disheartening to note that while the country's earnings, especially from the sale of crude oil has steadily been on the rise, the standard of living and conditions of the people of Nigeria have continued to go on a downward spiral. You are all living witnesses to the level of infrastructural decay in the country, the high unemployment, unaffordable cost of living, social discontent, insecurity of lives and properties and the general disillusionment that now pervades the land. The great expectations that Nigerians had with the restoration of democracy in the country is fast dissipating and the disappointing looks on the faces of Nigerians tell the story of the failures of the PDP government.
And what kind of change do you think you can make in the House of Representatives to benefit the state?
My mission is to be the voice of the voiceless people in Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal constituency. I will be their advocate and shout, if need be, until the Federal Government grants us what rightfully belong to us. I am going to stand up for the rights of all the impoverished and oppressed people of my constituency and Ebonyi who have for long been denied their rightful place in the scheme of things; to seek for better lives for our women, who bear the burden, not only of child birth in our sub-standard hospitals, but also shoulder the responsibilities as bread winners of their respective families.
I will adequately represent our teeming unemployed youths who have lost hope in the educational system and who see that the certificates that they laboured hard to acquire can no longer get them jobs. I will legislate to attract not just the federal presence but also private sector participation that will provide jobs for our youths.
What do you think could be done to improve the state of insecurity not only in Ebonyi but also in the South East?
I am going to seek for better condition of service for our policemen and women who have become outgunned by the criminals and the lawless. I will, through legislation, increase federal funding for our security agencies and put a stop to the menace of kidnappings and other crimes that have crippled the South East. I will restore the people's confidence in government through the sponsorship of legislations that will alleviate poverty, insecurity, unemployment and inequality.
What can be done to restore the glory of the state and boost agriculture?
I will ensure, through legislation, proper federal funding and private sector participation in the agricultural sector. I will work towards making sure that our farmers are adequately compensated for their produce and by so doing, restore farming to the pride of place it used to enjoy in Nigeria.
My message is that of hope and renewal of lives for my long-suffering people of Ebonyi in general and Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal Constituency in particular. I am bringing the wealth of management experience from the private sector that I have acquired in almost three decades to bear to bring about a difference in the lives of the people of Ebonyi. It is a thing of sadness that the PDP representative of my constituency in the House of Representatives has not made any meaning contribution since being in the House or made his impact known to the people through attracting adequate federal presence to the constituency. I have come to chart a completely new course and to restore the faith and confidence of our people in their representative. No longer are we going to put up with a representative who go and sit in Abuja and not sponsor any meaningful legislation to benefit the people.
To say the people of Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal constituency are disappointed with the quality of their representation is an understatement. They are beyond disappointed.