ONAHI GIFT OMENKA is the United Progressives Party, UPP candidate for the 2019 Oju State constituency of the Benue Assembly election. In this interview with JAMESIBECHI.COM, she unveils her agenda for her constituents. She also speaks on salient state and national issues.
Why did you decide to run for House of Assembly seat of your district?
I do not only have a dream to represent my Oju 1 constituency in the Benue State House of Assembly, but shall bring to bear in total practicality the Biblical Queen Esther theory of defense of her people.
This project was totally my vision. You know a lot of people are picked and called to come and contest by their godfather or party excos. Mine was not like that. I got the vision, prayed about it and received direction to go ahead.
The seat has been occupied by male legislators for decades. Why do you think as a female you have what it takes to fit into the big shoes of the men?
As a female, I have what it takes to step into the big shoes of men because I am not coming to compete with them. I am only coming to add to what they have done. I will do things differently. Men care for solid things while women care for human things. As a female, what give my people unity, happiness and joy is my priority and so the happiness of the people of Oju1 is going to be my top most priority.
I hold the truth that what men can do, women can do sweeter. Let the people of Oju1 give me a chance and see that nothing can be complete and beautiful without the input of a woman.
What are the critical areas you will concentrate your efforts if elected?
The following shall be my concentration if elected:
a. I shall make inroads to create formidable and realistic platforms for youth and women empowerment.
b. I shall create a link using my office if elected with agricultural agencies at home and abroad for improved and mechanized agricultural activities for my people. By that, wealth distribution will be decentralized and poverty reduced.
c. Women/youths are left behind in politics. If I am elected, I will create opportunities for more political offices and participation for women and youths.
d. I will also build a home for aged women who do not have people to take care of them. And this will create job opportunity.
e. I will upgrade and standardize the abattoir so that veterinary personnel can be employed to check the health condition of animals being slaughtered for sale to the public
In what way would you say you are better qualified than other candidates in other parties and why do you think you will defeat them at the poll?
I am not better. I am only different. I am a woman and I have compassion. I don’t compete unfairly and I am not corrupt. I know I will defeat them because the people of Oju 1 need a different person that will do things differently.
Why do you think you had an upper hand over your opponents in the primary of your party?
We were three aspirants from Oju1 in my party, the UPP, and the party felt I have advantage over them so they had a consensus arrangement and I was chosen.
How do you see Governor Samuel Ortom’s second term plan against the backdrop of his performance in his first term?
Considering these seven (7) yardsticks for measuring Governor Ortom, the electorate will most likely vote him out.
1. The issue of salaries and pension which was his biggest promise during campaign and in which area he failed woefully. Based on his speeches on salaries and pension, he has already scored himself low. There are always errors around the much publicized payments The influence of workers and pensioners cannot be wished away, even if salaries and pensions are cleared up to date.
2. Poverty rate in Benue state is too high. The people are too idle. At some point he was going to sell all the industries put in place by late Aper Aku which means he doesn’t have a clue as to what development entails or he lacks the political will to invest in the local economy. More youths are being produced from our schools straight into joblessness.
3. Disunity is increasing instead of decreasing and Governor Ortom is not doing enough to reunite the different ethnic groups and clans.
4. Under performance in the implementation of the anti-open grazing law. He didn’t do enough initial advocacies on the law and by that the Fulani thought that the law was to punish them. I don’t hate Governor Ortom; he’s my Governor and I like him for finally accepting the idea of the law, but he should have put up a pilot ranch to avoid the problem Benue state had with the federal government, Miyeti Allah, and the international community as a result of the misgivings. He did well by signing and implementing the bill but his approach was not practical enough to cancel the fear of Benue chasing out Fulani.
5. Unpredictable figures for salaries, pensions, and internally generated revenue IGR He is permanently shifting the figures and we are confused. He said over the radio on 13th November, 2018 that “there was a miscalculation on the salary figures that is why the money could not reach local government and teachers. That’s confusion! At this stage in the life of the Administration figures should not be mysterious any longer.
6. Ghost workers were retained and real workers were removed from payroll. How can you call a visible human being ghost? The workers he removed and tagged ‘ghost’ will vote against him. Also nobody has been punished for creating ghost workers and stealing billion s of scarce Benue money.
7. He is clearly living for self interest. No wonder he said over the radio on 13th November, 2018 “politics is a game of personal interest”. However politics can not be a game of personal interest but the interest of ones community, interest of voters, and interest of the masses. If he wants a game of personal interest then let him remain in business and leave politics. His moving from PDP to APC and back to PDP has cost Benue State billions of Naira. Corruption cases that gave indication that Benue can be saved from the jaws of corruption cabals have been swept under the carpet. The famous Kpojime Report is a major case in point.
What does the recent defection among top politicians tell you about party politics and Nigerian Democracy?
Party politics is not yet developed. So far, the emphasis is not on ideology but on money and power.
Could you give an assessment of the Eighth Benue State Assembly?
The major area I can remember the Eighth Benue state Assembly for is the final passage of the anti open grazing law, and I commend them for that. Apart from the anti open grazing law I can’t see any dramatic thing they have done. If the Assembly worked well the issue of salary and pension would have almost been settled by now. Also cases of corruption would have made progress in recovery of loot.
Would you say President Donald Trump was right when he described President Muhammadu Buhari as a lifeless President?
Smile….. I am not aware of that comment. Laugh! But whether or not, Donald Trump is not the one to tell us if our president is alive or not.
Looking at the formidable presidential candidates in Nigeria, who among them do you think would make the first three during the election why?
The first three…. Hmm… You can see it clearly. In no particular order, Donald Duke (SDP), Atiku Abubakar (PDP), and Mohammadu Buhari (APC). For now Donald Duke campaign publicity is still low however Presidential election is about suitability and national coverage and not just the level of propaganda. The three mentioned presidential candidates are the ones that can cover Nigeria as at 2019. There is little difference between Atiku and Buhari, even in the area of corruption. Donald Duke comes with a higher moral leadership attraction. His track record is about performance not just power display, religion, or region.