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Nigeria needs to devolve power to states, restructure and make LGs autonomous – Onuoha

Chief Dr. David Ogba Onuoha, Ugoena Nde Abiriba is one politician the people of Abia North Senatorial District and the entire Abia State have never elected. On Saturday September 30, 2017 at his Ameke ward in Abiriba, the telecoms guru formally registered as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The foremost philanthropist and founder, Bourdex Foundation spoke with The Daily Times’ SUNDAY NWAKANMA in his Abiriba country home, stating the need to restructure Nigeria, devolve power to states and the need to make local governments autonomous in the country.

You recently made some remarks about the country’s 8th National Assembly, what was your comments on that?
I recall saying something about the amendment they are supposed to carry out as far as the constitution is concerned and which involves devolving powers to the state as well as making those amendments that would ensure that the dividend of democracy gets to the grassroots.

They are active but during the last voting period to amend the constitution, there were certain provisions that they were supposed to address which they did not.

Then what is your take on restructuring and power devolution in Nigeria?
I think that Nigeria needs to be restructured. The type of government we are running today is too unwieldy and too expensive and you can see that from what is happening today, our economy cannot continue to carry this form of government and we need to restructure such that there is less power concentration at the centre.

Left for me, Nigeria should switch over to the regions. If we cannot go back to the regional system, then let the geo-political zones be the federating units in which case they must also come together to agree on resource control.

If the geo-political zones constitutes the federating units, then they will develop at their own pace with less power at the centre, then all the geo-political zones will contribute to maintain the centre. We need to restructure the country. The way it is presently will not work and has not worked.

You intend to run for the senatorial seat to representing Abia North come 2019, what are the attributes you have that will make you win as the senator?
I have the goodwill of the people and I have the privilege of having not held any political office. So, I am not carrying any baggage.

Also, I have the uniqueness of not being one of those politicians who are looking for food. Most of the people we voted into office today are people who don’t have anything to show as far as success is concerned, whether in business or whatever,

but they became politicians because they are professional politicians and that is the only way they look after themselves. I don’t have that problem and God has blessed me.

I want to go to the Senate to help my people, to make a change and to show that things can be done differently. People know that Bourdex is not a hungry politician.

You were sometimes particular about local government autonomy, when you get to the Senate, what will you do about that?
Local government should be autonomous. The way we are practicing the local government system is wrong and that is not what it is intended to be.

So, we have to restructure. If I were in the National Assembly, I would have fought for local government autonomy and I would have fought also for the devolution of more powers to the states so that the states will function the way it is supposed to.

Right now, states are appropriating the money meant for local governments and using it for other things and that is wrong. That is why you cannot see any local government that is doing anything at all.

So, What Are We Expecting Come 2019 in Abia North Senatorial District?
Victory, the people will speak. The victory spoke before but was robbed, but this time, it will not happen again.

You have that confidence on the judiciary in the country?
Yes, I have that confidence in the judiciary and in the electoral system that is evolving now, as a lot of changes are going on and you may have heard that the National Assembly has recognised the use of Card Reader and also serious with electronic voting.

If all those things happen, it will now become an issue of how popular you are, how much people love you and vote for you and is no longer somebody, because he is at the corridors of power, or because he has some leverage over you, because he is in governance and sitting in his house and writing the results of election.

You see what has happened to the judiciary where most of the judges are facing corruption charges and the walls are no longer the same as we had it back in 2015.

So, it is my hope that given what has happened, the judiciary you will see in 2019 will be different from the one we saw in 2015. A lot of money changed hands in 2015.

What party are you going to contest under and how stable is the party?
First, the party is very important. Again, the individual that is behind the mask, running in whichever party is also a key. With the way our electoral system is evolving, I don’t think we need put a lot of emphasis on parties.

The emphasis should now be on the man who is now running for an election. Before March next year, it is possible that the independent candidacy that we have been canvassing for a long time may become a reality.

If that happens, we will have a lot of independent candidates who will run and the only thing they would depend on is on their goodwill and on what they have done for the people.

Today you convened the members of your foundation, what was it all about?
I called them for them to go back and build a formidable force in the various ABSIEC wards in Abia North because I am running for the Senate in 2019.

To be able to do that and win the election which I must this time, I need a formidable foundation and I need the support of the grassroots.

Like an army general going for war, I need to have a formidable force if I hope to win the war and I have an army of men and women. That is why I called the meeting.

I called the executives of the foundation to meet them for the first time, interact with them and congratulate them for winning their positions in the contested elections for them, as well as tell them what I want them to do.

What actually have you done for your people to actually get their minds?
I have touched their lives in various ways, including water projects, renovation of schools, on-going scholarships, assisting indigent women and other less-privileged, empowerment of promising youths to keep them moving, sponsorship of unity football competition to showcase athletes in Abia North and lots more.

I am the only politician who did not win any election and yet for the past one year, I have been establishing offices in each local government and am there to help people and I keep paying hospital bills, helping the widows, paying school fees.

It is not my nature to blow my trumpet when I am doing anything.

I do my thing silently and I have people employed in each of those local government offices where I solve people’s problems without letting anyone know, galvanising the grassroots where the votes come from.

Farmers also come for my assistance. I am the only politician who is not in government doing that.

Quote
Nigeria needs to be restructured. The type of government we are running today is too unwieldy and too expensive and you can see that from what is happening today, our economy cannot continue to carry this form of government and we need to restructure such that there is less power concentration at the centre. Left for me, Nigeria should switch over to the regions. If we cannot go back to the regional system, then let the geo-political zones be the federating units

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