We Will Defeat PDP In Enugu, Says Ezea
The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Enugu State, Mr. Okey Ezea, shortly after unveiling his blueprint and running mate, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, spoke to some journalists. LAWRENCE NJOKU was there and reports.
HOW would you accomplish your programmes without over-taxing the residents?
The economy of Enugu State is robust and strong enough to put food on the peoples’ tables, make them attend good schools and provide good health facilities, etc. There are some countries in African that are smaller than the state.
The problem of our economy is that of corruption and lack of accountability on the part of those who lead. People who are in charge of our affairs do not have ideas on how to generate wealth and reduce poverty.
Enugu, if well harnessed, has capacity to be one of the agricultural areas in Nigeria. In our blue print, we have divided the state into areas of production capacity for different food crops, cash crops, fruits, etc.
In Enugu, over 60 per cent of our people engage in subsistence agriculture, so if you provide them with facilities and support them to earn a good living, you have empowered over 60 per cent of the population.
We talked about wealth creation and poverty reduction revolving around agriculture, industrialisation and education.
We are not thinking about a government that is going to be dependent on the fallouts from monthly federation allocation or some touts using horsewhips and machetes to chase people on the streets because they want to collect taxes and other revenues.
We will go into agricultural production to create wealth, set up agro-based industries that is labour-intensive, employ the unemployed youths and train and retrain them.
We are talking about providing enabling environment for people to become self- employed and create more jobs in society.
How would your government tackle the problems of portable water, electricity, shelter and others?
In our manifesto, we said a lot about infrastructural developments in the state that have been haphazard and uncoordinated. We will put these infrastructures in proper perspective. We will generate better data of the peoples’ actual needs and how they can be provided for them.
There are so many abandoned projects in the state, when because somebody comes, in order to award a new contract, he leaves ongoing projects.
A typical example of such is the International Conference Centre at Okpara Square. There is no reason the conference centre should not be functional by now.
If you go to Owerri, within a space of two years, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has built one, where a lot of activities take place. Several conferences that should have taken place here have been taken to other states because the facilities are not here.
In over seven and half years, the present government has collected over N500 billion from monthly federation allocation. Nobody has told us how much we got as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Valued Added Tax (VAT) and other revenues.
In the face of all this, the government has taken a lot of loans. According to the Debts Management Office (DMO), as at January last year, the state owed N12.016 billion. Later they borrowed N5 billion from a commercial bank. By November/December last year, they borrowed another N11billion.
We have been shouting but government has not reacted to our inquiries about the N11billion. They have not told us about the status of the N11billion. We want to assume that they have taken the money without following due process or to finance elections.
They don’t care about what happens to road, portable water, electricity, etc.
Are you saying the government has failed?
There have been governments in the state, but we are saying that their best is not good enough for the people. The state could be better.
It is the same problem in Nsukka. Since 2002, I have not seen any tap functioning there. If you go there on a rainy day, it is like a place with flood disaster, and it has been PDP-led government in the last 16 years.
Other state governments have gone ahead to fix federal roads, because those roads are used by the indigenes of the state.
How capable are you to wrestle power from the PDP in the state?
The PDP is not a match to the APC in the election and none of the candidates have been a match to me in elections in the state. They have all been rigging elections since they started politics and we must say that enough is enough.
If you go to the ordinary people, they will tell you they are tired of the PDP and want a change. We do not have any reason to be afraid of anybody coming from the PDP. What we are saying is that they must define their candidate, so that we know who we are meeting in the battlefield.
What they have been doing is to have multiple candidates, so that while this person is mobilising here, the other is mobilising there. While we are doing one rally, they are doing three. We will not take that.
They must define who their candidate is and the other person that is not candidate must stop campaign activities.
The law says each party must present one candidate, so if they are not capable of producing one candidate, INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) should proscribe them for not abiding by the rules of the game.
PDP is violating the electoral laws and if they are not capable of conducting their primaries, then they are not capable of being a political party.
What are your plans in the area of health?
Enugu health workers have been on strike before the federal workers joined them, because they are the least paid in Nigeria.
In our manifesto, there are 35 health institutions in the state, including general hospitals in my village in Igbo-Eze South, Udi, Ikem in Isi-Uzo, which are populated by rodents and scorpions.
Meanwhile, we have about 350 communities. Therefore, it goes to a ratio of one health institution to 10 communities. The United Nations (UN) ratio is one doctor to 10 persons, but Enugu statistics gives the ratio of one doctor to 1,000.
Health is a very serious problem in Enugu state. It is worse in Nsukka, where none exists at all except, Shanahan (the Catholic hospital).
It is our intention that every federal constituency in the state should have a referral hospital. All the general hospitals have to be revamped and staffed by well-motivated workers, so that the needs of our people at the villages can be taken care of.
Will you repay the state’s debts, if elected?
When the Sullivan Chime administration assumed office in 2007, the debt profile was zero, but it is about N30 billion today.
We would first audit these debts and find out where they were taken to and for what purpose.
We can only repay those that were used judiciously. You cannot borrow money to buy cars for your friends and want the state government to refund.
Let us leave it at that. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it.