INTERVIEW: "I did not disregard my people" – Hon Uboh

For sometime now, there has been barrage of criticisms against the member representing Ika Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Abuja, over what some persons termed " below average performance in the last three years as a federal legislator". The virulent criticism, which became intensified, shortly after her suspension from the House, some few months ago, came to a head during the just concluded Ogwa Ikawhich was hosted by Onu Ika, where she was alleged to have snubbed Ika Progressive Union in Abuja, when they tried to seek audience with her. In this interview with Ika Weekly at her country home in Agbor, the amiable and soft spoken, lawmaker denied the allegation and used the opportunity to touch on other issues. She spoke to Ika Weekly Editor, Jonathan Onwuka and Augustine Ekamagule. Below is excerpt.

Ika Weekly: You were alleged to have of snubbed Ika Union in Abuja.

Uboh: That is not true. There is no way I could have done such a thing. You know many people have called me regarding the publication in Ika Weekly, that I did not honour the request of Ika Union in Abuja to have audience with me. I have told them, I am innocent in whatever they alleged in that publication. Ika Union in Abuja has never, I say that unequivocally, reached out to me, for any meeting. They never sent a delegation to me. I received Umunede Progressive Union, in my house. Why would I rebuff Ika Progressive Union. When Ika Day was held in London, I bought myself a plane ticket and went to London for the event. Why would I not attend Ika Day in Abuja where I reside? Whoever that published that , I heard it is one Mr. Emmanuel Ehikwe, whom I have never met in my life. When I spoke with him, yesterday night (2/9/10) he denied saying anything of such. He said he never called me. In fact, he admitted that he does not even know where I live, that what he said was that he only sent me invitation and I did not reply, that he invited me to Ika Day in 2008, I did not attend. I said if you invited me and I was unable to make it, is that a enough reason for you to start maligning my name. I made him to understand that even if he doesn’t like me, it is okay, as everybody cannot like me, just like I do not like everybody also. The man crossed the line when he started making negative utterances against me. I tell you honestly, there is no way an Ika person will come to me in Abuja and I will refuse the visit. If you come to my office, I will show you files of letters of recommendations that I gave to people. I think everything he said is just a figment of his imagination. I am really disappointed. We are even from the same place, and part of what I am doing, I am taking to Agbor Alidinma and Owa-Alidinma. I do not discriminate, so why should I be vilified because I was invited to an occasion and I did not attend, Does that make me a bad person? So everything written in that publication were not true. I believe if Emmanuel Ehikwe wasin touch with his people and brothers, like Elder John Ehikwe at home, he would not have been saying that. Politics is not running anyone down but to project your people’s interest, to the government.

Ika Weekly: There is the widely held belief that you have not performed to the expectations of Ika?

Uboh: That is a misplaced submission. It is not true that I have not done anything for my constituency. Anybody who lives in Ika land, and believes in the truth, cannot make that baseless allegation. If I may say,no representative has done as much, developmental wise, as I have done. The development that I did is fashioned towards our governor, Dr. Emmanuel Udughan’s 3 point agenda. I did infrastructural development, through the provision of water scheme in five communities. I provided science equipment to about 10 schools and provided drugs, free, to 15 Health Centres. I think what I provided to each health centre were so much that they called me that instead of leaving them there, and they would be unable to utilize them, I should give them permission to extend them to other Health Centres, that did not benefit. In the area of human capital development, I made some impact. Right now, we are training some persons in computer school, to be able to establish mini cyber café in each ward. I don’t think that has ever been done in Ika land. I empowered young women in tailoring and hair dressing, by setting up a shop for each of them in every ward. We did many more things. For anybody who is actually from Ika land to come out and say that I have not done anything, shows that the person is obviously not from Ika . It is not contestable that I have attracted development. I have refurbished schools, the 7.5 KVA Transformer in Ekuku-Agbor was brought single handedly by me, and that is the biggest in Ika land. How can anybody say that I have not done much? I did even, in the medical area, cervical test for women to detect those who were exposed to early cervical cancer symptoms. Out of almost 1000 people that were screened, we were able to save the lives of 43 women, who have been exposed to early stage of carnival cancer. We also did free eye test and gave out glasses, free to almost 1000 people. None of these things I am talking about are on paper. They are on ground for our people to see. So for anybody to say nothing has been done, obviously does not belong here or probably the person is not in touch with his or her community. We distributed fertitizers to over 1000 farmers. It was done in the open field at Agbor, even the deputy governor, Prof Amos Utuama was there.We also shared fertilizers both in 2008 and 2009. We did micro-credit, where 10 groups of women benefitted. Each group consist of 13-15 women. We assisted the Delta Micro Credit Programme headed by Dr. Anthonia Ashiedu, at Agbor. We gave N50, 000 for starters. When we will do the second phase, they will be qualified for N500.000. These were done by me, not with money from my constituency projects. We have bought school desks and chairs for primary and secondary schools. Over 10 schools have benefited so far, It was distributed both in Ika North east and Ika South. If you have the intension of representing your people well, it is not difficult to do because projects have been put in the budget, it is left for you to use it for your people or not. The Ekuku-Agbor- Abavo road, the stage 1 is going to be flagged off very soon, in the next one or two months for rehabilitation and construction. So what are they talking about?

Ika Weekly: But the allegation of non-performance is high…

Uboh: What are they talking about? Is Ehikwe sure he is from Ika land? When was the last time he went to his ward? I think killing people’s image is the worst way of playing politics. I think if you want to play politics, you do it in a way that people’s integrity will not be stained or damaged. Our people should concentrate on what they are going to do for Ika land not by encouraging negative propaganda against opponents or people who are there. If anybody is having any interest in politics, they should come out boldly and say so, and I believe people will support them. When I contested in 2006/2007 I did not smear the image of people who were there before me. I did not pay attention to that. I just concentrated on selling myself to my people. I think that is the proper way to play politics.

Ika Weekly: What about the much talked about constituency allowance to Legislators, which is alleged to be about N27m?

Uboh: We do receive allowances for our constituencies but it is not up to N27m. And part of what we receive, I used in doing all that I am doing in Ika land. My achievements are all there for our people to see.

Ika Weekly: There have been defferent version on what happened at the floor of the House, which led to your suspension. Can you tell the people what actually happened.

Uboh: Well, what happened in the House of Representative was part of my service. I believe in action. If I am there, warming the benches, it is not to the benefit of the people. I am there to represent Ika Federal Constituency. I am there to speak for my people. I am there to make sure that the constituency projects due to my people reach them. I am not there to beautify the scenery of the House. So when we got to the point where we said certain things were supposed to get to our constituencies and we felt the need to dialogue among ourselves. What you saw, was a fall-out of our rights, for some of us in thewhy National House, who were not able to stomarch the fact that we are supposed to have attracted more things by now, and we were trying to do it among ourselves and it did not work. Our disagreeing to agree is part of legislating. What we do is talk and argue.

Ika Weekly: But it is alleged in some quarters that the fight was as a result of the exclusion of some of you from juicy chairmanship appointments?

Uboh: That is all propaganda. It is all bloody lie. I am not fighting for any chairmanship position. We have 85 Standing Committees, in the House and 360 members, even if you have Chairman and Deputy Chairman, that will amount to 130 or 140 persons maximum. Everybody cannot be chairman at the same time. There is no magic that one will perform for positions to get to everybody. Hence, to say that we were excluded is not true, because if it is not your turn today, it may be your turn tomorrow. Chairmanship comes and goes. My involvement in the House saga has nothing to do with being a chairman or not. I am a sub-committee chairman and I was not fighting for chairmanship when that happened. What we did was, Mr. Speaker, this fund, N9 billion should go to everybody, for their various constituency projects.

Ika Weekly: How did you feel seeing women and youths and organizations besieging the National Assembly, to protest your suspension?

Uboh: I was really taken aback and felt very nostalgic seeing people that I have not even met in my life identifying with me, at Abuja. They came from all walks of life to support me. Apart from those came from Agbor, I don’t know others. I don’t know about Market Women Association, I don’t know about FIDA Group, the International Federation of Female Lawyers and so on. But they reached out for me, from what they saw on television. It touched them that somebody or same group the National Assembly was speaking for the common man. It was a very humbling for me and I acknowledged it immensely. It encouraged me and by the time we are back from suspension, I will do more and that is exactly what I will do. I got involved because I was trying to make the House, through the Speaker, do the right thing. If you are trying to accuse someone, they say, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. If people are not following due process in what they are doing, you should not violate due process, by correcting them. So I was busy shouting to Mr. Speaker, that we must follow due process.And which is due process, you cannot be an accuse and at the same time be a judge by yourself. So we figured he should do the right thing, by stepping aside, and putting a Speaker Temporee and set up a committee that will look into it. If you are found guilty or not, fine. After all, we are law makers, we should not be seen, as though, we have disregard for law. By trying to persuade the Speaker to do the right thing, his followers in the House unleashed on me. I was slapped, got pulled down, beaten and dragged on the floor. It is all part of the process. We are in court to seek redress from the judiciary and looking to the party leadership to make decision that will be balanced, for everybody and before you know it, we will be back in the House.

Ika Weekly: Have you attended OgwaIka?

Uboh: The one held at Owa-Oyibu, I was there. When I started giving account of my stewardship, I was told that it was enough. May be they thought I did not have anything to say. The one at Umunede, I was not around. I was actually invited but was not convenient for me to attend because the president’s wife was visiting and I was in her entourage. I did apologize to them. I spoke to my Daddy Sir. ForuneEbie and Dan Usifoh.

Ika Weekly: Are you running in 2011?

Uboh: I am definitely recontesting my position. I am going back to the House. This is my first outing. I believe it is a learning experience for me. My second term will give me the opportunity to showcase what I have learnt so far and I wish my people will give me their mandate to represent them a second time. I am still putting my manifesto together. When the time comes, people will know. I am asking every Ika person to support me. I don’t think I have disappointed them so far and I will not disappoint them.

Ika Weekly: Your relationship with the State Government?.

Uboh: I cannot represent Ika in abeyance. I have to represent them through the state, so my relationship with the state governor is very very cordial. It is like that of a sister and a brother. Our First Lady, Rolly Sheila Uduaghan is like my aunty, even the state executive Council, we maintain good relationship.

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