Hon. Arch. Emeka Aforka (JP) is a one-time Transition Chairman of the Orumba North Local Government of Anambra State for a period of years and seven months under the administration of the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. Under the current administrarion, he began with the Liaison Officer to Governor Willie Obiano for Orumba North, he was to later serve as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obiano on Political Strategy and Grassroot Mobilizaton. Just recently, he was reappointed the Transition Chairman of Orumba North Local Government by Governor Obiano. Some journalists caught up with him at his office at Ajalli and engaged him in marathon interview. Our correspondent was at the parley and file in the following interview where he bares his mind on a number of issues as it affects the local government. Excerpt;
You have been here previously on acting capacity for more than 2 years and now you are here again, what do you intend to achieve this time around in this local government?
I am here to consolidate on the already existing programmes we initiated during my first coming. We recorded a lot of successes, we recorded a lot of achievements, embarked on a lot of developmental projects ranging from road constructions, we graded many rural roads in Orumba North. We also embarked on development of markets turning our rural markets to ultra-modern markets. For instance, Afor Ufuma market which is still ongoing, Eke Oko market. It is interesting to let you know that we have four major markets in Orumba North; Eke Oko, Afor Ufuma, Eke Awgbu and Afor Nanka, they are the four major markets we have in Orumba North.
So, during my first coming, we initiated and embarked on the development of Eke Oko and subsequently, Afor Ufuma markets and I thank God that whenever you are passing Ufuma, you will look at the market and say, yes, something is going on here. We were not able to embark on Afor Nanka and Eke Awgbu that period but I believe, now that I am back as the local government Chairman, that was why I said I am here just to consolidate on already existing programmes. We are going to find a way of moving into developing Afor Nanka market, Eke Awgbu market and you know, because I have been here before, this period I am here, I am not learning the job. Immediately I came in, I hit the ground running. I set up committees; Market Development Committee, I work through committees, I set up about eight committees in one day so that my work will be easy. Chairman’s work is not just to come and sit down on the table, as I am here, the committees are working, what I receive every day is progress report.
So, we did a lot of culverts during my first coming and this period, we are going to embark on the construction of more culverts. Just last week, I visited about two culverts at Ajalli because I want to start something from this host community. So, I have gone to where they have a failed culvert, my engineer is working on it, by close of work today, he will give me what the estimate is. We have booked about two culverts in Ajalli, I don’t wait until I am three months in office, I am here to do something so that the people will know that a leader is on the throne. So, I just mentioned that one.
Then I also intend to initiate some programmes that will help recognize our icons in Orumba North because any society that fails to recognize the living icons is bound to fail because in Igbo language, they say that ekene onye na nke omere, omee ozo. We have in this local government notable people, achievers and icons like the first Vice President of this federal Republic of Nigeria and he happened to be from Orumba North, from Oko community in particular, His Excellency, Chief Dr. Alex Ekwueme. This local government is proud to have somebody like that, so, we want to recognize him now that he is alive. We have somebody like Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, we all know him, Option A4, he is from this local government, from Ajalli community precisely. So, this government under my watch will recognize such people. There are many of them, I won’t mention all their names. So, what I am just trying to tell you is that we have a lot of programmes that we are going to initiate, developmental projects.
I have already embarked on community visit, visiting communities to assess the needs of the communities because you cannot sit in the office and know the need of every community. When you visit them, you do what is called community needs assessment. My administration has already embarked on what is called community needs assessment so that we identify the critical needs of every community and come back here and tackle them according to the scale of preference. If you allow me to mention everything, that means we will not go.
During your speech, you seemed to underplay the fact that during your first coming, you undertook some medical outreach to some designated communities in Orumba North, what is the place of the health sector in this your second coming as the local government helmsman?
Like I said before, I don’t want to mention everything that I did; I don’t like praising my administration. I like the people to tell more of what I did because if I keep telling you what my administration did in my first coming, that means, it will amount to self praises. But for the fact that you have mentioned the medical services we rendered when I was here, we embarked on free medical outreach; we visited communities giving free medical treatment, distributing mosquito nets free of charge, conduct medical checks for many people both young and old. So we did all these things.
As I said, I have set up many committees including Health committee and each committee has terms of reference to ensure that my administration is successful. So, my Health committee has been charged to find a way of collaborating with indigenes of Orumba North who are doing well in the health profession, we have a lot of notable pharmacistsfrom this local government. We have Nero Pharmaceutical, we have Greenlife, all these companies we see them on the pages of newspapers, they are from Orumba North, we are reaching out to them to find a way of collaborating with them. You know, the local government cannot do it all alone so that we can attract medical facilities like drugs to ensure that we move into communities.
We are going to do more, what I did in my first coming was just a tip of the iceberg but what we are going to do now will marvel everybody. I challenge you to call me in the next two month and say Chairman, how many communities have you given free medical services free of charge?
What are your plans for the youths of Orumba North as regards employment creation?
The youths are the beacons of hope of any nation and they are future leaders. I am also a young man, so I can also classify myself as a youth and because I am a youth, I have passion for my fellow youths and that is why I involve youths in my administration. I have not less than ten youths working with me and if I have the opportunity, I will get more.
So, my intention towards creation of jobs because you said creation of jobs, this is a local government, this is not federal government, within our own ability, youths are paramount and they should be taken as number one in any employment opportunity that we have.
Sir, looking at your blueprint for the development of the local government, you seemed to have your hands full but remembering that you were appointed to act in this capacity for a period of three months which may be renewed or denied. Now tell us, how do you intend to achieve all these looking at time?
Well, power belongs to God. We were given the initial three months but my appointment here is subject to renewal by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Anambra State, if the Governor feels that from his own assessment that we are doing well, he will allow us to continue for the next three months. When I was here before, it was just the same process, every three months and by that three months, I spent two year and seven months here as a local government Chairman. So, I am an optimistic person, I am a positive thinking person, I believe that we are going to do well, I don’t accept self-defeat, I don’t associate myself with failure. I believe that I am here to render service and perform.
There seems to be a crack in the walls of your party APGA in the local government with two or three factions. How do you intend as the number one party man in this local government to unite the factions under one umbrella?
Let me quickly disagree with you, APGA in Orumba North has no faction and I want to clear you on that. We have only one local government party Chairman, one local government executive and members of APGA in this local government. There is no faction in the wards, there is no political ward you go to and find two persons operating as factional Chairmen. So, that was why I said that I disagreed with you.
But when you come to Orumba North here, you always find one group claiming allegiance to Chief Okey Ezeibe and another group claiming allegiance to Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwor and the interest of these two people seems to be clashing in anything that has to do with Orumba North…(cuts in)
No, no, no! I disagree with you, that is not faction. When you see a party that is growing like APGA, when big men are in the party, they will try to make sure that the party members are happy. They make the party alive, it is not faction Okey Ezeibe is the BoT member of APGA, we have two BoT members of APGA in Orumba North. This local government is a very lucky local government and it is a thing of joy that we have two person from this local government in APGA BoT, there are some local governments in Anambra state that has not produced a single person in the national executive of the party but in Orumba North alone, we have two BoT members, Okey Ezeibe is one of them, Hon. Dr. Okey Udeh is another BoT member.
Okwudili Ezenwankwor is a major stakeholder of APGA, mind you, he is the Chairman of the traders in Anambra State, he is also the Chairman of traders in the South East and there was a time he was appointed the acting National President of all the traders in this country. So, for him to be a member of this party, every weekend, every of our party members will go to his house, Nanka people will go to his place, you can’t call it faction.
Okey Ezeibe as a BoT member of APGA is a rich man, if he is around, APGA members will go to his house, people will go to his house, eat and drink. So, it is making our party alive in the local government, I don’t see it as a faction. We have only one party structure, the local government party Chairman is one, we don’t have two. So, when you see our big men showing generosity, people classify that as faction, it is not faction. Okey Ezeibe and Ewepudike have never for one day exchanged words, they have never for one day quarrel, they have never for one day tell anybody that this person is against him,
Orumba North is rated as one of the agricultural producers in this state, how do you intend to promote Orumba North Rice project and farmers t do more?
I think you are a soothsayer, you saw what we have in mind because even before you people came this morning, I have already had a meeting with my Supervisor for Agriculture, we have made consultations with the Ministry of Agriculture, Awka on how to improve the agricultural development of Orumba North. We had already done that meeting, the first thing I did this morning. The Supervisor for Agriculture and the Supervisor for Works, they came here and we made contact with the Ministry of Agriculture, my Supervisor for Agriculture has left this local government to Awka just to find a way of the local government collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that we have good seedlings for our farmers, both rice, cassava or whatever you may call it.
Be sure that the Orumba North Local Government wants to establish Orumba North farm under my watch. You are aware that in recent time, the Governor of Anambra State, just commissioned Josam farm situated at Enugwu-Abor Ufuma, it is a very big project second to the largest farm in Anambra state. So, we want to consolidate on the programmes of the Governor, his four points agenda, you know agriculture is part of it to ensue that we improve the agricultural development of this local government and to ensure that our farmers are getting the necessary facilities to improve their farming even if it is at subsistent level or commercial level, we are trying to do everything necessary as a local government to assist our local farmers.
Recently you visited some Orumba North stakeholders, Sir, we want to know the message you are giving to them?
My message is very simple, if you have watched and followed my programmes before Easter and throughout the Easter period, I embarked on visitation to all the major stakeholders that we have in this local government consulting them, seeking their advice and their support and also giving them the message that Orumba North belongs to all of us. We cannot do it alone; we need their support so that we can move Oumba North forward.
For instance, two days ago, I was with Prof. Humphrey Nwosu at his residence at Ajalli. Just yesterday evening, I was with His Excellency, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and a lot of them. I visited many communities, so the message for all the stakeholders both those I have visited and those I am still planning to visit because I have not finished my visitation, I will embark on community visit very soon but my message to the stakeholders of Orumba North is that Orumba North local government must move forward. We must develop Orumba North and make it an investment destination. Only then will the economic fortunes of this local government will improve.
Very soon because the moment you put things in order, for instance Ok, I regard Oko community as an economic centre of Orumba North for now because of the presence of a Federal higher institution, we planned to organize the traffic movement in Oko and to ensure that everything is orderly.
How can you rate the performance of His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano led administration in Anambra State as it affects Orumba North?
His Excellency the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano has done creditably well for the entire Anambra state and particularly Orumba North and I can challenge anybody to say contrary. I have mentioned Josam farms at Ufuma, it is through his programmes and initiative that he attracted investors into Anambra state and one of the investors has situated his farm at Ufuma and that farm has created a lot of job opportunities both direct and indirect for our young people and for the local farmers. So, it is part of the achievements of his Excellency.
He also embarked on construction of roads in Orumba especially the roads that traverse Ufuma junction to Amansea, how many communities in Orumba North are affected by that road? Ufuma, Awa, Okpeze/Ndiukwuenu even Awgbu because there is a spur to Awgbu, Amaetiti, it is a very big project. He has also awarded road construction of the road that connects Oko to Ndiowu, there is one from Nanka that connects to Umuona, they are all ongoing projects, they were recently awarded and some of the ongoing projects he inherited for instance, the one the former Governor awarded at Ndiowu, about 5 kilometer road, Governor Obiano completed the road. There are other ones at Ndike, Ufuma campus has been completed, even Afor-Udo Nanka to Isuofia has been completed, he inherited those ones from the former administration.
So, he is doing a lot of thing but the most important thing I don’t want to fail to say is security, he is the only one that has the magic, he knew what he had done to make sure that there is security in Anambra State because without security in Anambra State, there is no development that can thrive here. I can sleep in my house now with my two eyes closed, I can go to anywhere at night but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have all these small miscreants doing one thing or the other, even in America, you still see some social crime everywhere.
So, he has done very well. I don’t want to continue because if you allow me, I will keep on telling you, should I go on? (…laughs).
How do you push the philosophy of Akuluo uno in Orumba North so as to ensure massive development of the local government?
Thank you. It is part of my programme, even in my first administration; we intended to talk to our people who are developing other states. There are a lot of our people who are importers, they are doing their importation, based in Lagos, developing Lagos, Abuja. So, when we were doing market development, we listed some of our industrious sons of Orumba North that we want to approach them so that they start to bring those imported products to our local government so that our people will no longer be going to Onitsha, Lagos to go and get those things. They can establish those things in our local government.
So, we intend to also consolidate on that agenda “akuluo uno”, it is a good message and I thank you for that. Our people should remember that we must develop our own society. Ndigbo si na onye be ya na-agba oku anaghi achu oke, na ana ebido n’uno were maba mma puo ezi. So, I want to drive the culture and I am available, you know I am still a young man and I am not even intending to fall sick, so I won’t be sick, I am ready, I have a lot of vitality to move. So, I am ready to drive the process even if it will warrant travelling to Abuja, Lagos or to any part of Nigeria to talk to our people to think home , I am ever ready to do just that. I have started talking to some of our stakeholders to start bringing their products home.
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