…Continued from last edition
Captain Casmir Nwafor is a retired Army Captain, a legal practitioner and a frontline House of Representatives aspirant for the Orumba North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State. In this concluding part of his interview with our correspondent, he talks about his selling points, the platform under which he hopes to actualize his dream, his contributions to his community and so much more. Excerpt;
What do you think you can do differently from every other person that is contesting the position with you?
What I will say here is that Orumba North/South Federal Constituency has not been lucky in having a good member of the House of Representatives. The only person or persons we can say that had very well represented the constituency is the former deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Okey Udeh. He was very fantastic in his achievements. Apart from moving bills, he was able to attract key projects to the constituency like education, water, electricity because there were some areas in Orumba North and South that were not electrified then but Dr. Okey Udeh was able to do that. He was able to put people in key Boards of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Nanka and some other communities.
I wouldn’t say others have not done anything but they have not been able to live up to what he achieved when he was there. The incumbent House Reps member, Ben Nwankwo who happened to be a colleague, we all worked together for Okwadike when he was the Governor, he has tried his best. My brother too who was there for one year and few months, Hon. Sopuru Ezeonwuka equally tried very well but what I am saying is that we have not been that lucky to have what we can call a quality representation that we had under Dr. Okey Udeh and that is what I want to bring back to the local governments.
Yes, we have a lot of money bags carrying money up and down but that is not what House of Reps is all about. It is not a place where you go and distribute money, House of Reps is a place where you distribute intellect, it’s a place where you make some laws for the country, you go and review the laws of the country, you go and move motions and point out something that has been happening that needs to be rectified. That is House of Reps and I have looked at those who are coming out, they don’t even understand what House of Reps means. Some of them think it’s a marketplace where you go and make money and buy Okada and buy Keke for the youth. We have gone beyond those ages of buying motorcycle and Keke NAPEP and drying machines and tailoring machines for people. We are talking about empowering people, human empowerment, and community empowerment.
If you go to our people, some people are still having light problem like in Oko my community, we don’t have light but every month, they bring NEPA bills and we pay NEPA bills which I said is one of the bills I will move on the floor of the National Assembly, if you don’t have prepaid meter, you are not supposed to pay any NEPA bill because it’s a criminal act. You don’t pay for what you don’t consume. People have paid for that meter and up till now, they have not gotten that meter, which means that the money is there to buy the meter but those in-charge don’t want to buy because they know that they are gaining from the injustice of the meter not being there.
The Igbo man is a pure industrialist; we need light in our place. If you go to Onitsha or Nnewi, they are all burning diesel even Aba because when you now produce internally in the country, when you input the cost of production, it goes higher than the ones coming from outside the country. That’s why when you see made in Nigeria products, it sells higher than the ones coming from outside because the cost of production is very high. So, am not going to play with anything that concerns electricity. I must solve power problem in Igbo land if not in Nigeria because I am not talking about Igbo land, I am talking about Nigeria. There will be a bill that will address the issue of pre-paid meter, if you don’t have pre-paid meter, if you have light, it’s your bonanza, if you don’t have light, you don’t have light. Unless you have a pre-paid meter, you are not supposed to pay for NEPA. It’s going to be a compound bill not just myself. I will involve the labour, I will involve the MAN, I will involve the maritime operators because they equally need light to move their products, to know where their containers are going, to know where they are going to stack their goods at the seaports.
The issue of light is key to my going to the National Assembly and other issues like the issue of salary payments, some governments cannot pay salaries, if you don’t pay salaries to your workers, it’s a criminal offense, you will be jailed. You see all these Lebanese, Indians and Chinese, the way they treat our Nigerian workers, some of them, they will say that they are not on statutory employment, it’s a lie, once you employ somebody for more than one day, he should be placed on salary.
Some talked about the Governors having immunity, Governors have immunity but there are those you call head of institutions, the Commissioners, we have Minister, we have Managing Directors, these are the people we are going to hold responsible. So, if you are appointed a Commissioner of a Governor who doesn’t pay salaries, you better resign and leave that place.
What is the vehicle through which you want to achieve your ambition as the law does not provide for independent candidature for now?
I told you before now that I was in APGA as an Assistant Youth Leader and I joined the Army. So, I have come back to the same party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the platform I want to use for the election. So, I am using APGA and I believe that APGA will do the right thing to allow the people to pick their candidates of their choices without interference from any angle.
I have equally gone round to see the stakeholders and they have given me that assurance that APGA as I knew it before has not changed, that they would be given the right to choose their candidates for the election and I believe that with pedigree, what I stand for and what I come to do, that the delegates will do the right thing because we should not be deceived that the governor won landslide in the last election. Yes, he won landslide but there are factors that made these things to happen. You talk about Anambra South that wanted governorship ticket to come to their zone, they wouldn’t care about whether the governor was doing well or was doing bad, what they are concerned with is that the governor should continue because if the governor did not continue, they would not think of next election.
And then you talk about the governor performing, the governor was performing very well because Anambra has not had a very good governor until we had Ngige, Peter Obi came in and did very well and this current governor came in and is equally doing very well. So, he did not win because it was APGA, he won because he was doing very well. So, we should not think that any person will just wear APGA cloth to go and win election. That is not going to work.
So, I think I have talked with APGA stakeholders and they have assured me that they are not going to do that because we are having SDP coming up strongly, we have ADC and there is a lot of contending parties coming up. So I don’t believe that APGA will make that mistake of thinking that any person will wear the coat of APGA to win election. What APGA should do now is to bring out their best eleven which I strongly believe that I will be one of them.
Money politics has been the bane of your zone and your local government. How do you want to go about this knowing that you are not buoyant enough for this election?
Money politics is not just in my zone, it’s a Nigerian problem and the little time I have gone round the constituency, I have seen it. So, you are very correct but at the same time, I am able to talk to them that why we have problem in Nigeria is that because we normally request for this issue of money and other things and it has always been having negative effects on us because if I have given you money, if I eventually get it, I will feel that I have to recoup my money which I spent and eventually, I may not be able to anything much for you.
So, I think it’s a big problem for people like us coming from salaried employment; either you don’t have much money. So, I am calling on Nigerians, those who value good governance, this is the time for them to come out and talk to our people that money is not everything. Yes, we will spend money, I have goodwill, people that can come out to assist me financially at the same time, I beg Nigerians, I beg my constituency that they should not expect so much money from me because I don’t have money to give to them but I know that the little I have at least for them to work, go to the polling booths, to go and commit people, we will provide the money for them to do that but in terms of the kind of money they share in Nigerian politics, I beg them that we should try and look at that issue because that is one of Nigeria’s problem.
If a member of the House of Reps spends so much money on you that means he is not going there to work because he is not a contractor, he is just going there for law making. He will only go there to compromise himself, to collect money and enrich himself. So, I think our people should look at that money politics and the National Assembly has equally come out with some Acts. If you look at the electoral Act, you will still see some measures to checkmate those things because it’s a problem and it’s a problem that you can link to the current federal government of Nigeria because people are so impoverished. If federal government was working very well, the issue of money politics will not be there, people will not be hungry, people will not be looking for money.
Let me take you back a little bit sir, when you were in the military, I learnt that you rose to the rank of Captain which is considered to be in the regime of senior officers and can influence one or two things. Could you let us know what you used the office to do for the people you now seek to represent in the National Assembly?
As a Captain, there’s little or nothing you can do but I thank God I wasn’t just a Captain, I had goodwill of senior and young officers, during that period, I was able to influence one or two intake into the Nigerian Army and Navy. I wasn’t able to get the Air force and I was equally able to assist my people in terms of the National Youth Service Corps and employment. Then another thing was that, in terms of what we were able to do, before I joined the Army, in my community, Oko in particular, we were nowhere in the Police, Army. So, my joining the Army was a kind of motivation. I have to tour round some branches of the town union to encourage them to allow their children to join the Army and other paramilitary agencies. Since I came into the Army in 2007, at least, in Orumba now, we have a lot of Oko indigenes in the Army, Navy, and Police. So my coming in was a kind of open door for my people. So, I can count myself lucky because there are some men that when they enter into a business, they will crash down the business but I entered the force and open the gate for many people to enter.
That means that if I am able to enter this political wing that I am going into now, my people will equally enter because for now, it’s like we are nowhere after the death of our father, Dr. Alex Ekwueme in the political setting of Anambra and Orumba, it’s like Oko is nowhere. So, I want to replicate what I did in the military by opening the door for our people the same way in politics. I believe I have that key to that political freedom of my people in Oko, Orumba, Anambra and Nigeria.
What is your last word for your constituents?
My last word for them is to keep hope alive and believe that everything that happens in life happens for a reason. Yes, things are not going on right but they should not lose hope, they should shun money politics because what kills a man is when you sell your conscience. So they should protect their conscience, vote for the right candidate because it is that right candidate that will be able to open the way for them.
And for my party APGA, my advice for them is that they have to be very careful because if they bring out wrong candidate, other parties are waiting. I know what they did in Benue state that made the PDP to lose the governorship seat of the state. So, APGA should be very watchful because if they make any mistake, other parties will just utilize that opportunity to bring out better candidates and I am telling you that people are not going to vote party now, people are going to vote for individual credibility.
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