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Since the advent of the current democratic
dispensation in 1999, the issue of poor representation at all levels of
government and the non utilization of constituency projects funds by the
representatives of the people has remained at the front burners of national
discourse. There has been series of allegations against many elective public
office holders, of appropriating monies meant for the development of their
areas and empowerment of their people, for themselves. This issue has rebounded
into public consciousness as another election year draws close, with elective office
seekers taking the electorate on another circus drive.


However, a prominent Ika son, who is in the race to
represent Ika federal constituency at the Federal House of Representatives,
Abuja, Mr. Festus Chukwuyem Okoh (aka Chuky Dandy) has promised that he will
not tamper with money meant for constituency projects in Ikaland, if elected to
represent the people of Ika nation at the federal level.


Mr. Okoh who was responding to questions from Ika
Weekly during a personality of the week interview at his family compound along
Alisimie road, Ogbeisogban, Ika South Local Government Area maintained that he
was not vying for the position of a federal legislator, to amass wealth but to
contribute to the general well-being of the people of Ika nation who he said
deserves quality representation, from the local to the national level.


“The constituency fund we are talking about is not
meant for any single individual but is earmarked and made available for vital
projects and programmes in each constituency. It is not for any representative
to divert into his or her account or for private use. If I am given the
opportunity to serve my people at the House of Representatives, I will ensure
that such monies are properly utilized for the benefit of my people, whom I am
going there to speak on their behalf. It is not in my power to single handedly
decide on how the money should be spent. When such funds are disbursed by the
government through me, for my constituency, I will come before the leaders and
stakeholders and we will all jointly decide areas the money should be put into.
We will ensure it is spent wisely to benefit the people of Ikaland. Every
decision I will take will emanate from the Think Tank that will be put into
place through the input of leaders in both local government areas. These are
the people that will assist me to give effective representation to Ika nation”
he explained.


Explaining further, Mr. Okoh said that being at the
Federal House of Representatives will give him more opportunity to expand his scholarship
and market women empowerment programme, which he disclosed has been on for many
years. He stated that he has already incorporated the programme into his
proposed three point agenda of scholarship/education grant, market women grant
and Agricultural Training for both the youths and adults. He revealed that the
agricultural training programme will entail the training and establishment for
successful trainees, who will be given fund to set up on their own.


“I will focus primarily on education because it is the
bedrock and sustaining strength of any society. No society can experience
meaningful development when its human resource are not well educated.
Agricultural training will also be vigorously pursued as it will create
employment opportunities for the youths and adults. Supporting our mothers with
grants to engage in petty trading will assist them to contribute meaningfully
to family upkeep. These are the major plank on which my sojourn in politics is
going to rest. I have been involved in scholarship to students, providing
grants to market women for sometime now, and I hope to add the agricultural
training to it,” he stated.


When asked how he hope to achieve all these
considering the penchant of politicians to abandon their promises immediately
they get into office, the House of Representatives hopeful said he will
definitely fulfill all he is saying, noting that “I have been involved in
reaching out to my people before ever thinking of vying for any elective
office. If I can do all I have been doing with my personal money, I believe I
will do more with support from government. I am clearly interested in the
educational advancement and the general well- being of my people.”


Mr. Okoh who said Ika people should hold him
accountable if he fails to deliver on his campaign promises observed that he
was going to Abuja
to speak for the people on whose mandate he is hoping to be at the House of
Representatives. He promised that he will ensure that all projects and
entitlements for Ikaland will be pursued with all sense of seriousness and
commitment. He admitted that Ika nation has not really benefited the dividends
of democracy since the return to civil rule in 1999, saying that it was one of
the major reasons he has chosen to be the voice of the people at Abuja. “In his words “I
am presenting myself as a willing horse for my people to ride on, as a
functional and reliable tool for them to use to achieve the desired goals.
Those who have represented us at whatever level have done well to the best of
their ability and I truly commend them. They have contributed their quota, it
is the foundation they have laid that we are hoping to build on, and to improve
upon their efforts. I am not out to criticize anybody but to make my input
towards the sustainable development of Ikaland,” adding that “I have all it
takes to give quality representation to my people. I am not going to Abuja to speak for myself
but to speak for the people who are sending me. I want to be their reliable


He said he will endeavour to work with all the leaders
and stakeholders in Ikaland to achieve the desired success for the people, as
according to him “we can achieve a great deal when we work collectively.” He
therefore charged Ika people particularly the political class to see themselves
as one people with one destiny, opining that politics was not a do or die
affair and should therefore not be allowed to cause disunity and mutual
suspicion between the people. “I call on the political class and indeed the
entire people of Ika nation to engage in decent politics that will bring
development to Ikaland. Let us play politics as educated and enlightened
people. We should not allow it to tear us apart but instead see it as a
unifying factor for the emancipation of the suffering masses. I do not believe
in politics of intimidation or thuggery, let us put the interest of Ika nation
ahead of other parochial interest that in the long run will not benefit us.”


Mr. Festus Chukwuyem Okoh was born on the 29th of
February, 1971 to the family of late Mr. Anthony Dandy Okoh of Ogbeisogban and
Mrs. Agnes Okoh of Ogbemudem both in Ika South Local Government Area. He
attended Nosiere Primary
School, Ime-Obi and Ika
Grammar School, Boji
Boji, Owa, between 1977 and 1988. After a brief 
stinct in business, he proceeded to the Delta State
University, where he
obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1998. He did his National Youth
Service Corp assignment in 1999, after which he traveled to the Republic of Ireland.


Mr. Okoh who is happily married to Mrs. Faith Alalor
Okoh, with 4 children (3 boys and a girl) is the Director of Chuky Dandy
Limited and CND Vending International Limited both based in Ireland. He is
also Director, Trust Limited and CDL Nigeria which are based in Nigeria, where
he has a number of Ika indigenes under his employment. He is currently a board
member of the Steel Raw Material Exploration Agency, Kaduna. He is presently running a Masters
degree programme in Economic at the University
of Benin.


According to him, he has so far awarded scholarship to
about 15 Ika students studying in different tertiary institutions across the
country. He has also assisted in setting up businesses for some persons and
equally facilitated the traveling to overseas of many Ika indigenes, who he
said are doing well in their respective countries of resident. He stated that
he feels a sense of satisfaction knowing that, he has contributed in his own
modest way, to the empowerment of these individuals.


Mr. Okoh has been recognized for his philanthropy,
having been honoured with a Merit Award by All Niger Delta Tertiary Students in
October 2009, for assisting students with scholarship.


Also, in February 2010 he was honoured by the
Dominican Centre of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ime-Obi for single handedly building
the Church’s grotto. The National Association of Ika Students, NAIS has equally
appreciated him for his educational empowerment programme.

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