The senator representing Ebonyi North district and Deputy Chairman committee on public account, Senator Onyekachi Peter Nwebonyi has congratulated his people as the country marked her 63rd and Ebonyi 27th anniversary of independence and stated that despite the impressing and sincere steps taking so far by the fourth Executive Governor of the state,Rt Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru that the people are yet to see his best.
Consequently, the Ebonyi North senator debunked the rumour of federal lawmakers receiving100million naira as there was nothing like such palliative given to them.
Senator Nwebonyi in this exclusive interview gave account of his stewardship within the period of office and explained that he had sponsored four motions and two bills to his credit, “I have four motions and two bills to my credit which is geared towards the development of not just Ebonyi North zone but the entire Nigeria”.
How do you access Nigeria at 63?
63 years of Independence is not 63 days, and I must tell you that politically we have made progress, economically, we have made progress. The only area we need to make progress and more meaningful progress is on the area of leadership. Nigeria has all it takes to be the leader of the world but our challenge is bad leadership.
But now, we have a President that understands the economy that he wants to run, a President with the understanding as to how things work, a President that has a vision for his nation. At times people want to be President for the sake of being a President but Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a man with plans. He did it as the Governor of Lagos. Today, Lagos State is the leading state in Nigeria economically because of that same man. He has set Lagos State on auto pilot economically to the extent that the successive governments in 100 years will have focus, will have a mission, this is a development plan. So, we are happy that we have such a man as President of the country.
Look at the bold step he has taken so far on assumption of office including the removal of fuel subsidy. We all know that this was a conduit pipe to siphon all our resources to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians but he came on board and removed it. Now, our credit is growing, our revenue is growing. The government can now embark on meaningful projects.
I commend the President for the team he Assembled, going by the Ministers he appointed to help him work. They are men of capacity, they are men of proving integrity, ranging from the Minister of Works. You can see his steps so far; moving from site to site, checking the jobs to make sure it is done according to specification and you can see the revelation he is making, a job of N40bn is jacked up to over N100bn. Who will pay? At the end of it, the job will not be done and in most cases shabbily done.
But I believe that with Umahi coming on board as the Minister of Works, it will actually add value to the federal government. So, I believe that as a nation we are getting it right, we are on the right track now. All that is required is the spirit of patriotism from all Nigerians, we must support the federal government, we must support the President.
You said that at times people want to be President for the sake of being a President. Are you by this referring to former Vice President of the country, Atiku Abubakar who contested against Tinubu under PDP and former Governor of Anambra State who contested under Labour Party?
It is left for them. But I am telling you that my own President is not just a President for the sake of being a President. He has something in stock. He is a visionary person and we are seeing it. Among the people you mentioned, those people have held positions and you and I can access them. Talk of Peter Obi, he was a former Governor of Anambra State but Anambra State as I speak to you has the poorest road network in the entire South East. Even Ebonyi of yesterday has bypassed Anambra in terms of infrastructural development. So, when people grammatically try to convince you, you should judge them from their past. In Law, we call it precedence, because if you are unable to perform that miracle as a governor, you can’t convince me that you will do the miracle as a President because you should have performed at the lower level to qualify you to go to a higher level. Atiku Abubakar like you know, was the Vice President of Nigeria and you know what happened, you know the story. So, what are we talking about? So, Tinubu as you can see is the best among this three in view of what he has done and Lagos is a case study.
What is your opinion on the 25 percent salary increase for workers by the President?
I want to use this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria Labour Congress to rethink of going into strike. About 25 percent increment has been done in the workers’ salary. That is a man who thinks for his people, that is a man who feels the pains with his people. So, with this, I am convinced that Bola Ahmed Tinubu will actually lead Nigeria to the desired destination.
Do you think that the 25 percent salary increment for workers will be enough for them giving the present economic realities occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal which has increased the cost of living?
Well, it is not enough because we must be honest to ourselves. We all know what inflation is all about today. So, even for a civil servant to earn not less than N100,000 is still not enough., even above N100,000 is not enough. However, we must start somewhere and I believe that through negotiation between labour and government, things will get better. Of cause, Rome was not built in a day. The fact is that Mr. President understands that the situation is biting hard on the citizens and the need to increase workers salaries.
It is rumoured that part of the grouse of NLC is that National Assembly members are going home with N100million each as their own palliatives while families are getting N10,000. How do you reconcile this because it is part of the reasons why it seems that there is unrest or grievances among the Nigerian populace especially the workers?
Journalists should also help in building the society. When people throw up rumour that is unfounded, before a journalist should pronounce such rumour, he is expected to do an investigative journalism before coming out to even speak it out. When somebody tells you that Lawmakers were given N100milloin, I believe that the budget office or account department under the freedom of informatics Act, you can as well access the information in less than 48 hours. I expected that such would have been done so that as you are asking me, you will now tell me, you received this, not that it is rumoured. So, we shouldn’t work with rumour for us to develop as a nation and I must tell you point blank, there was nothing like that.
What is the National Assembly doing to look into the areas that the country has lacuna so as to begin to have a normal selection in election process that every Nigerian will be proud of?
In terms of process of selecting leaders which of cause is by election, I believe that we have actually advanced that process. You will agree with me that the last election, the 2023 general election and to me, I don’t know for you is the most credible election in the country. Having taking steps on that, we are going to improve on our election process. We can even go into E-voting; America is doing it, other big nations are doing it but you know, a journey of mile starts with a step. We can advance to that level so that after our elections, there won’t be any need for litigation. So, that is that.
How will you access the over 150 days in office of Chief Francis Nwifuru the governor of you state Ebonyi?
Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, the 4th executive Governor of Ebonyi State is one of the blessings Ebonyians have see because this is a young man that is very passionate about the development of the state. If you listen to his address on Nigeria at 63 and Ebonyi at 27, you can see the wonderful programmes that he has rolled out especially on road infrastructural development, human capital development, social services among other. I am very happy with him and I am not surprised because I know him from Adams as kind hearted man and I believe that the people of the state are yet to see his best aspects.
There is this insinuation that the former Governor of the state and Minister of Works, Dave Umahi is still in charge of administration in the state. What is your impression about this and why do you follow him around anywhere he goes?
Just for the fact that we are all politicians if not, I would have simply answered this question with a question. What is wrong with a son being close to his father? Is it not learn more? It is to learn more and you cannot remove the fact that His Excellency Senator David Nweze Umahi is the grand father of new Ebonyi State and nobody can take that away from him. He laid the foundation and I can proudly tell you that he is my god-father politically.
He is my mentor, he is my king and he is my pastor. He is a man I enjoin you to around because he must learn one thing from him, he is an epitome of knowledge. I am always proud to be around him because I must learn one thing or the other each time I am around him . I am a Lawyer by profession but this is a man that has made me an Engineer. There is no type of infrastructural development that I cannot supervise having worked under him just in one year as the state Commissioner for Capital Territory, of course I have been with him as the state party Chairman for seven solid years and I must tell you that whatever I am today, I will be unfair if I didn’t say it came through Umahi.
What have you been able to achieve within your few months in the Senate?
As a person, this is my first time of going to the National Assembly but I must tell you that through the people’s mandate, God actually equipped me to go there and that is why on the first legislative day, I am the Senator that moved the first motion in the 10th Assembly. This to me is very outstanding because no new comer has ever done that. Not just that I moved a motion, it was a people oriented motion that dealt on major problems we have regarding the abuse of people by security operatives and I must tell you that the motion has started yielding results and curing those old vices to the extent that police cannot boldly ask you of money on the road even though they are still there but I believe that with tgat, they are aware that the public are not happy.
However in summary, I have sponsored four bills, I have four motions and two bills to my credit which is geared towards the development of not just Ebonyi North zone but the entire Nigeria and as we progress, I will still have a day to address you on them in seriatim.