Senator Mao Ohuabunwa is the federal lawmaker representing Abia North. In this revealing interview, he speaks on the danger of re-electing the All Progressives Congress (APC), challenge before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and his achievements, just as he gives verdict on the performance of his state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu among other national issues.
Would you say that your party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), has been vindicated considering the disenchantment among Nigerians with the All Progressives Congress (APC) style of governance?
I wouldn’t want to look at it from the point of vindication because what happened for me was what was supposed to come at that time because I believe that the PDP took many things for granted, there were some level of impunity, disorganization etc., so this led to what happened. I thank God that the PDP too knew and felt that what has happened should happen and they handed over which most people thought was impossible because people felt that– it would have been difficult to win an incumbent and secondly that even if you win, to hand over may be difficult but it happened and PDP handed over. But unfortunately, for the government that took over, from the beginning APC showed that they didn’t have the capacity, it was like a government in disarray. I talk from the perspective of the parliament because from the first day we resumed till today, that, they have not recovered from the problem shows that they were disorganized and, expectedly, PDP quickly cashed on that disorganization and that lack of seriousness and capacity to govern Nigeria. And you can see that everything is falling apart. But I think PDP has learnt and now God is giving them a second chance to see what they can do.
I know that we in the PDP has also learnt, especially looking at the transparent primaries that we had, it is very clear that we have learnt. Prior to now it wouldn’t have been like that. This time even at the lower level you could see there was no impunity or at best where it happened it was quite minimal, a negligible one. I believe that with that alone we in the PDP have learnt our lessens and, if the PDP takes over again, as we are already seeing the signs, Nigeria will be a better place. You can see that we have declined from where PDP left the country. We have gone several years behind. If PDP had been there, we would not be in this sorry condition. Now, we have gone several years behind and you can see it from the deplorable condition of Nigerians.
Are you optimistic that INEC will deliver a free and credible election?
We are still looking at INEC and watching closely. It would be improper to score them (INEC) now but as an optimistic person by nature, I believe that INEC will do well but they need some guidance and I also want to urge them to write their name in the sands of time because this is an individual thing. Profs Jega and Iwu have done their own part and gone, so this is Prof Mahmoud’s time, he is the chairman, though I know he has commissioners and others, but he is the head, it will be an opportunity for him to write his name in gold on the sands of time. He should know that whatever you do will live after you, so having been appointed to see the electoral activity and programme of this country, and this is the first election, his first task, he must ensure everything is seen to be free and fair. He should have it behind his mind that whatever he does today there is prosperity, he has his children and others that will benefit positively or negatively depending on his action. So, I want to say that I will expect INEC to perform their duty very well and deliver.
Seriously speaking, are you optimistic that the PDPP will be back to power in 2019?
Like I said earlier the signs are there but we don’t need to go sleeping. We need to still work hard but the signs are there, you could see it and feel it. The signs are there and everything is working in our favour.
What type of signs are you talking about?
The economy has gone down and still going down, security problems are increasing, crisis here and there. In Nigeria now killing has become the order of the day. What strikes people now is—how many people died or were killed? Things we never heard off before now, the country is disintegrating along religious lines, along ethnic lines, they are becoming obvious. Not that they were not there before but not with the audacity we are witnessing it today. In fact, this seem to be a time, worst time, that Nigerians are deeply divided with so much hate being propagated. Nigerians are really seeing all this and are complaining, all they are asking is that PDP should put its ass together. Nigerians are now saying that when the PDP was there (in power) things were not as terrible as it is now, so they are saying: let’s give them (PDP) chance again bearing in mind that the PDP era was better and could not be compared to the hunger, killings, violence, destruction of the economy and total mess, politically, economically and otherwise being experienced today.
What new grounds on performance will your constituency expect that you deliver to them?
First and foremost, I want to use this forum to thank God and to thank my people of Abia North whom God has used to bring me to this position and their patience. I want to say that honestly, what God has done with me in terms of bringing up the name of Abia North, and bringing development I marvel. This is because I was in the House of Representatives for 8 years and now in the Senate just barely 3 years. You know at a point my election was truncated and I had to go back for a re-run and came back, so I lost time. But within the period, today if you point out bills assented, less than 75 or there about, 2 are my bills that have become Act. You talk about motions, so many, you talk about petitions, name them, I think to a large extent I have tried to make sure that the name of Abia North is among the names that must be mentioned positively in the history of 8thSenate. But that apart, the area that I am enthused is the area that I have been able to attract so many infrastructural developments to our area and key ones. The one that I have been thanking God and praising Him, which in fact, became an albatross, so to speak, is the Arochukwu/Ohafia road. Today, you can go there and see, not just that the job has started but the quality of the job being done by a reputable company excites me. That, for me is the clincher because I have always told people that I know one of the reasons why God brought me or gave me the opportunity for me to be a senator is also to use me to fix the road. I believe that not just that road because in the 2017/18 budget I was able to realign it to Bende/Arochukwu/Ohafia road, so what we are doing now is first section, it’s a longer road, 2 sections, so the first section is awarded and is going on. I believe that in the next 12-24 months we will realize that road and several other infrastructures, primary healthcare centers, water projects here and there, school buildings, rural roads name them, I want people to go and see so as to appreciate what one is doing. My constituency is getting effective representation, the reason they still want me back. Some of these projects have not gotten to their level of completion but the projects on on-going at different stages. So, there is the need for continuity and I urge my people not to be distracted by those that are making empty promises. My people need to ensure they support me, guide their votes to enable us finish all the laudable projects we have started bearing in mind the time of completion and they need more budget years than 2018 to complete them. I believe that seeing those projects that I have started, some are completed, some have reached different levels of completion and some on going, so if there are some that are ongoing, you need the person that started them, who knows the history to be there to complete them. What has happened is a tip of the iceberg, more is coming. If I have been there for just, let’s say 3 years and we are recording such achievement, it means if I am there in the next 4 years what will be on ground will be astronomical and massive development.
How would you rate the performance of your governor, Okezie Ikpeazu?
As I have always said, in Abia state there is a foundation led by former governor Orji Uzor Kalu, which was a devilish, satanic foundation. It was a foundation of darkness which needed a lot of light in all ramifications to clear it, we needed prayers to sanctify Abia state completely. We need it for God to completely take over the state. At a point they handed Abia state to worship of idol, you remember the Okija shrine horrors. God is a jealous God and God could be angry and He did. But thank God that Ochendo (Governor Theodore Orji) towards the end of his second term exonerated himself and after that we could see some levels of development. You can point out today what Ochendo did. The present governor, Ikpeazu understood what governance and development is all about. The truth is that Abia state is blessed, the reason we answer God’s Own State. Aba is the commercial nerve center of the South East and one of the major commercial nerve centers of this country. Aba is the China of Nigeria, Aba is the Japan and the governor knew that if he can get Aba right then we would have gotten Abia 60 percent right. He is fixing the infrastructures, he is doing the roads and taking up challenges in other sectors. Remember the level of litigation the governor went through? That could be a distraction but for me I will say he is trying, he is doing well and I am sure he will also do better with another second term opportunity. I urge Abians to be patient, we have seen signs that things will be better looking at the steps taken so far by governor Ikpeazu.