Hon Amobi Godwin Ogah, Chairman House of Representatives committee on HIV Aids, Toubacliousis and Malaria control, representing Isuikwato and Umuneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State and hails from Uturu.
In this interview with Our Assistant Politics Editor, IGNATIUS OKOROCHA, Hon Ogah said that Igbos can’t afford to abandon their investments in Nigeria and leave for Biafra given their spread in virtually all parts of the country.
He speaks on plans by his committee to checkmate the spread of HIV Aids Tuberculosis and Malaria, insecurity in his constituency among other issues of national importance.
How do you look at the continuous detention of Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal government even after a court of competent jurisdiction had earlier granted his release?
Well , the issue of our brother Nnamdi Kanu is something all of us are concerned about and I believe that this present administration will release him.
I have firm believe that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not against Ndigbo.
The little time I have had him talk on one on one, I fell in love with him. Not just based on political party affiliation. I saw the capacity and sincerity in him. And that is why I always campaign that we should give power to those who desired for it. Those who have contested for it and not just giving it those wishing to have it.
This man contested for this presidency. He has prepared himself for today and I believe that he can not let us down. I am using this opportunity to beg Mr President to release Nnamdi Kanu for us. He meant well, he may have made some mistakes but agitation is not a crime and I am still begging our people to consider the unity of Nigeria paramount because we are the true Nigerians. Igbos are the true Nigerians. We can’t be talking about separation from Nigeria because the greatest percentage of the property in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country are own by Igbos. How can we be talking about Biafra, who will own those property. I think what we should be talking about is let the Federal character commission be working and ensuring the application of federal character principles. Let the Federal character principles be in place.
Let the national cake be judiciously shared according to the geopolitical zones of the federation. That is the most important thing that we should be talking about and once that is in place, I think no region will be talking about being on their own. It is even better we are bigger than we are smaller. So, for me I don’t subscribe to pulling out of Nigeria to become a Republic of our own rather I will prefer that we remain in Nigeria where we have built. Igbos have built this country to enviable height and I think the best we should be asking for is fairness and equity in distribution of resources and other necessities of live. We should ask for equity, fairness and justice in the distribution of resources, political appointments, job creation and infrastructural facilities among others. We can not abandoned our investments in Nigeria because we want to become Biafrans.
In your maiden media briefing, you raised alarm over the activities of bandits and kidnappers in your constituency, calling on the security chiefs to save your people from these hoodlums. What has been the response from the Army, Inspector General of Police and other security Agencies?
I thank God for the intervention of the federal and Abia State governments on the situation. I also thank God for the kind of governor God has given us in Abia State. Our governor has a listening ear. In fact, I called on him first even before making a move for a motion which by the special grace of God, the motion raised so much concern among members of the House. I must confess that within a week of sponsoring that motion, government took a lot of action. In fact at a point some people were afraid of seeing lots of security personnel in our area. For instance, over hundred police officers were deployed to Umuneochi local government area alone. In Uturu/ Isuikwato similar number of police officers were deployed. I am assuring you that within the next two months Isuikwato/Umuneochi Federal Constituency will be the safest place in Abia State.
I want to thank God for my Speaker who quickly rose to the challenge by ensuring that safety was restored in my constituency by setting up an adhoc committee to meet with all the security chiefs in the country to discuss the way forward towards restoring normalcy in my constituency. The Inspector of Police ordered the commissioner of Police in Abia State to personally relocate to my constituency to restore security in the area and I want to tell you that the commissioner of Police slept in Umuneochi local government area of Abia State. So, it shows that what our people want at this moment is security. You see when you talk of representation you ask your self what does your people want and at this point I know that people want road, they want health centers, they want this and they want that but the most pressing now for them is security. As am talking to you they can’t even go to farm. The kidnappers even go to people’s houses to kidnap them even to the extent of demanding for two hundred million and at the end they will go down to at least thousand Naira (N200,000) ransom. So, you can see how bad the situation is.
And that is my concern, I have not even try to ask where is the constituency projects my predecessor left behind but my greatest concern is how would my people be safe because it is only when they are safe that I would be relax here to think of how to improve their living conditions through availability of facilities or infrastructure.
So, my concern is to ensure that the lives of my people are secured because even if I send contractors to my constituency to commence work on some projects, the lives of the contractors will be unsafe because of incessant kidnapping and banditry in the area. And if there is no security in the area the contractors will collect your money and run away.
So, I believe so much that a lot is going on and it’s not what we will tell the world about our plans but I am assuring you that within the shortest period of time, it will be a story that there was a time people could not travel to their villages especially my constituency for any programme. Therefore if I achieve that even if it is what I achieved in first four years because I asked God for eight years in the House of Representatives I will be happy. I am not greedy and my believe is that after eight years in the House another person will come and show his or her own capacity.
Sensitization. So, anything about life, anything about health requires so much sensitization.
Sit at-home protest by the Indigenous people of Biafra(IPOB) and the likes of Simon Ikpa have continued to inflict irreparable damage on the economy of the South Easterners. What do you think should be done to stop this anti-peoples order from impoverishing the Igbo nation?
Well, for me the Sit-at-home is baseless, senseless and the most destructive thing we have done to our people. Whoever that has started or proposed the sit – at- home in the South East geopolitical zones, is an enemy of Ndi-Igbo. Whoever it is that conceptualized the policy of sit-at- home in our zone has no love for our people.
You are forcing our people to sit-at-home when our people are self dependent. Government does not give any relief to our people on monthly bases to sustain them while sitting at home and doing nothing. You know that an average Igbo man is a trader and those who are not in business settle for mini jobs to survive and you compelled them to sit-at-home on Mondays of every week. The Sit-at-home in the South East is it sit-at-home in Abuja.
Does this baseless order stop other ethnic nationalities from doing their businesses. Do you think that Federal government is interested with the Sit-at – home protest when it is saddled with other pressing issues.
Nigeria is so large and there are so many ways we can say we don’t like the continuous detention of our brother Nnamdi Kanu.
You say you are a Biafran, I want to tell you that you are not a Biafran because Late Ikemba of Nenwi, Odimegwu Ojukwu never killed our people in the cause of his agitation for a Biafran nation.
This is a man who sacrificed his father’s wealth in the cause of fighting for the sovereignty of Biafra.
All those claiming to love Biafra how much of their personal hard earn money have they invested in this struggle.
Ojukwu spent his father’s wealth for the sovereignty of the Igbos but that is not our plans in a Nigeria of today?
The freedom we are talking about are we going to achieve it by killing and impoverishing our people for no just course.
Today, we have so many groups under the guise of unknown gunmen, kidnappers, bandits operating in the South East and you are there compounding the insecurity of our people in that zone with your sit-at – home agenda when poverty is ravaging the entire country.
You go and kill market women doing petty trading in the market, insisting that they should not go out to look for what their families would eat.
God will never forgive those perpetuating this evil under the guise of sit – at- home and their sponsors.
I can never be part of it, I can never support it because I love my people.
We as legislators in the National Assembly have responsibility to speak out and make legislations for the well being of our people on any matter of national interest.
If you think that your representatives in the apex Parliament are not doing enough, you have the right to change or recall them and that is the essence of democracy.
If you think that our zone is being marginalized by the federal government, it is your duty to present the matter to South East lawmakers for them to present the matter at the two chambers of the National Assembly as matter of urgent national importance or by way of Bill rather than taking laws into your hands by declaring sit-at -home order and enforcing it by killing innocent Nigerians for no just course
House of Representatives has just created standing committees. In the light of this which of the committees do you belong to?
I am the chairman, House committee on HIV Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria control.
Having been saddled with this responsibility, how do you intend to eradicate the spread of HIV Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis in the country?
Well, first of all I thank God and the leadership of the House for finding me worthy and having that trust in me to avail me this privilege of chairing this committee. As a first timer to be the chairman of a standing committee of the House is not an easy one. I think the leadership must have seen the capacity, the character in me and I believe God that I will not disappoint them. As the chairman of this committee although I am not in the area of health, I read economics and I am also an expert in oil and Gas but we should not forget that every position has to do with leadership, responsibility and commitment. It is not really about what you read in the school but about leadership and sincerity. I believe that such sensitive committee is something that has to do with life and if I do well, I am doing it for myself because there is nobody in Nigeria that in a month or two doesn’t suffer malaria or go to hospital for one health issue or the other. And in most cases it has either been malaria, typhoid, HIV Aids or other related diseases. Tuberculosis is a deadly disease.
I think God has given me the opportunity to save lives and I believe that it is not an opportunity to come and look for money. In fact, I see it as an assignment from God and by the special grace of God, I will do my best as a legislator making sure that areas that we don’t have legislations that will help us reduce drastically the effect of all the deadly diseases in our country, we will do that.
We will also carry out our oversight function on the Agencies to ensure that they utilize the funds made available for eradicating these diseases to their barest minimum. So, by the special grace of God, I will do my best.
We discovered that the Nigerian medical doctors are leaving the country for greener pastures abroad in large number. What do you what the federal government to do to discourage them from leaving the country in a hurry?
Well, we will continue to plead with them to remain in Nigeria and save lives rather than living the country for greener pastures elsewhere. Leaving our country the way some of them are doing is not the best for anybody. It is like a woman who is deceived by another man with fake promises and later abandons her husband for the man with empty promises.
As far as I am concerned, there is no better place in the world today than Nigeria. The current increase in the cost of living in our country is virtually the same in most parts of the world.Every growing economy is experiencing revolution and the challenge is affecting everybody. I am not saying that Nigeria is a wonderful place but I believe that we can make Nigeria a better place. It is not by leaving the country that you will make the country better, rather it is by putting your best to improve the leaving condition of the citizenry. And so, I enjoined Nigerians leaving the country for greener pastures to have a rethink and imbibe the spirit of patriotism. Let us come back and develop our country for the betterment of all of us.