INTERVIEW: I CAN NOT BE BOUGHT-Festus Chukwuyem Okoh

Festus Chuhwuyem
Okoh, aka Chuky Dandy was the candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP in
the April 2011 House of Representatives election in Ika Federal Constituency
where he pulled a surprise to many doubting Thomas as he  clinched victory in many of the  wards in the Constituency. Chuky Dandy, a
fearless and focus young politician who said that he cannot abandon his people
because of money in this exclusive interview with Ika Weekly speaks on his  vision for Ika Federal constituency, the
deplorable state of infrastructures in Ika land and other vital issues

Excerpts:

May We Meet You
Sir,”

I am Mr. Festus
Chukwuyem Okoh aka Chuky Dandy, from Ogbeisogban quarter,  Ime-Obi, Agbor. I attended Nosieri Primary School,
Ika Grammar School and Omumu Secondary School,
all in Agbor, after which I proceeded to Delta State University Abraka, where I
graduated with a degree in Economics. I did my one year National Youths Service
Corps in Port-Harcourt, Rivers
State. After my  youth corps I worked briefly in Nigeria before
travelling abroad.

You were a
candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP in the last April 2011 House of
Representatives election in Ika Federal Constituency. What is your take on the
outcome of the election?

Well, I was a
candidate of the DPP for the House of Representatives election in Ika Federal
Constituency. My experience in that election was both good and bad. The good
aspect of it was that the election was conducted in a manner that made it to be
different from other previous elections. There was a great improvement in
the  April 2011 general elections
compared to the ones we had before. If there are going to be further
improvements in our future elections, I think Nigerian democracy is going to go
a long way. The bad side of the election was that election results were
manipulated in some  quarters and also,
National Youth Service Corps members were substituted.

During the
election you were popularly refer to as pride of the youths. Does that  suggest that you have the vision of
developing the  youths if you were given
the mandate?

Pride of the
youths was the slogan used throughout my campaign for the Federal House of
Representatives. I adopted the slogan because in the past, our political
leaders will tell us that politics is not for the young ones  but when elections come, they will be
requiring the services of the young ones. For this singular reason I deemed it
fit to take up the challenge even though there are many political big weights
in Ika land. I undermined the political big weights because  I want to prove the point that youths can do
better in the area of politics. That they can contribute to development. When
you build the youths you build the society. If we do not have youths that will
come and take over from the old ones, then there will be problem in the future.
It is important that youths join in the struggle for the political emancipation
of the society  because  they are 
the ones that will face the problems created be the leaders tomorrow.
Every youth know the problem of his fellow youth, so, when we have a young
political leaders in government, their problem will be best addressed. On the
slogan,” Pride of the Youths,” I cannot say I am the best but it was borne out
of my contribution to my people. My past antecedents.

Supposed you won
the election would you have been able to live up to expectation as pride of the
youths.?

Yes, if I had won
that election I would have represented my people very effectively. Like I do
tell people, I get scared and ask questions about where we are heading to when
after eight years of representation our political leaders cannot boast of any
thing that they have been able to do for their 
people. We can remember the days of Hon Nduka Irabor in the House of
Representatives, where he was very relevant in the House, raising motions and
sponsoring bills. Today, we are having a different ting. Are they telling us
that there is no problem in Ika Federal Constituency which they should talk
about in the House. If they have forgotten, erosion has killed many people in
Ika land, there are gullies and pot holes on our roads. Government hospitals
and schools are decaying. Teachers and doctors are always going strike. Are
they telling us that we do not have any problems. When people are elected into
government it is expected that they serve the interest of those that they are
representing not their own personal interest. I am looking forward to a day
when the people representing Ika Federal constituency will take up the floor
and discuss issues relating to the development of their  constituency.

Many Ika people
never believed in you, yet you went far in the House of Reps election. To what
do we attribute that feat to?

I am a very
simple man but with a lion heart. I know that people are thinking and saying
that I will not go far but I disappointed them all. They underrated me by
saying I that I do not have money for the election. I am not that type of
politician that displays wealth. I do tell people to always be themselves. If
you know that you have the capability to make a change, all  you 
need do  is to remain focus and
you will see yourself shinning. Our people believe that it is when you are
blowing your own trumpet that is when you will be regarded as somebody. We have
some secret million-naire  and
billionaires who do not brag. It is only God that gives money, so, the way and
manner I did my election without raising fund or calling anybody for financial
assistance is just God . He knows how I financed my election even if some
people underrated me. Also, I was able to go far in my election because I made
the masses my godfathers. They are my godfathers because they believe in
me  and in my vision to develop Ika
Federal Constituency if I was elected. To some politicians, their godfathers
might be their political sponsors or  the
altokunadus in the society but I share a different view of what godfathererism
is. And because I made my friends, fathers and mothers my godfather I go to
them for advice. God is the ultimate of everything we do, hence, whether we
like it or not what He say is what will happen.

There are rumours
that you have collected money from Hon Victor Nwokolo and therefore planning to
withdraw your court case against him.?

Well, to be
candid.  I did not collect any money from
Hon Victor Nwokolo. I want to tell it to the people of Ika Federal
Constituency, Delta
State and Nigeria as a
whole that  I am not a selfish and proud
man. I can never  be bought. Those
spreading rumours that I have been settled by Hon Victor Nwokolo are not saying
the truth, It is just a political propaganda. There was also a rumour that I
collected N300m from Hon Doris Uboh in order to step down for her during the
election. I want to make it clear here that I did not collect any money from
Hon Doris Uboh. She only came to me and said please brother step down for me
and let us work together which I refused. Supposed we are in the same party I
would have considered it, but since I am in another party, it is a no go area.
That was what I told her and she left. The next day people began to say that
I  collected N30m from her. She is my
sister and town person. For Hon Victor Nwokolo, I want to ask a question, why
do people always feel that I can be settled. They underrated me when I was
coming out for election but unfortunately they do not know my capacity and
financial status. What made them feel that Hon Victor Nwokolo is richer than
me. I might be simple but you do not know me. What people call riches is not
what I call it. My classification of riches is not the  amount of money you have in your bank account
or the properties you have but the number of people you have impacted on; the
number of people you have been able to put food on their table.

I am using this
medium to tell my followers that the case challenging my election is still on
at both the tribunal in Asaba and Court of Appeal in Benin-City. If at all I
decided to withdraw my case from the court it will be at my discretion and that
of my party leaders. And even if I am going to, 
I am not going to collect money from anybody. The major thing that
matters to me in life is my integrity not money. That is why I can come out
today in public and talk to my people. Therefore, I want to say it  to the people of my federal constituency that
the rumour they are hearing that I have been settled by Hon Victor Nwokolo is a
mere political propaganda. Nobody can buy me and I am not stepping down for
anybody.

Why did you join
politics and why the House of Reps first?

We all may not
start life from the same place, it depends on your ideology. My contesting for
the House of Representatives, Ika Federal Constituency should not bother
anybody. It all depends on what you want to do for your people. I felt that the
youths are not fully represented in the National Assembly so, I should go and
cover up that vacuum. I was not trying to tell the political heavy weights in Ika Land
that I am greater than them,  no, it is
because of what I want to do for my people. Was Nduka Irabor, Hon Cairo
Ojougboh and Hon Doris Uboh council chairmen before they proceeded to the House
of Representatives. I look at people who are 
saying this as being myopic. If I feel that I will be able to represent
my area in the National Assembly effectively, why should I start from local
government council. What has the council to do with the National Assembly.

Why I joined the
PDP first during my campaign was that I was a member of the party before I
traveled out of the country. In the past, I had worked with people like late
Hon Sunny Akpenyi, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and Hon Sunny Nwaolokor before we all
pulled out to the PDP. So, when I came out to contest, I considered the PDP
first. But when I saw that they are running the party as a cabal, that is,
trying to impose candidates of their choice on the masses said no I am not
going to  be a partly to this. If I go to
an election ground and loose, so I will support whoever that wins, on the
contrary, if you ask one to step down for no good reason, I will not agree to
that because, I hate intimidation, oppression and nepotism. Those were what made
me to deflet to Democratic Peoples Party, DPP. When I got to DPP they welcomed
me and allowed me to take part in the party primary election. Where I emerged
winner. Chief Peter Eboh who contested with me in the primary election joined
me in the general election as a brother, father and leader. Supposed I was
imposed on the party Chief Eboh would not have supported me.

In your article
in Ika Weekly last week, you accused the Delta State  government of mismanaging N110.7b in seven
months. Does that suggest that the state government has not lived up to
expectation?

Yes, to me they
have not lived up to expectation. Although I do not know the view of other’s
but I am saying in the areas of education, health, infrastructure the Dealta State
government has failed. In the Delta
State of today, teachers
are being dehumanized, primary and secondary schools classrooms are like places
where pigs live. When I see problem like this I will tell you that there is no
proof on ground that such huge amount has been spent. I am not saying this
because I am in opposition but because that is the simple fact. Take a look at
what is happening in Lagos
and Edo States, even if you want to critize
their government, you will still have evidences to prove that they are doing
well. Look at what happened at the PDP Delta North meeting on Friday last week,
our political office holders were all disgraced. As God may have it, the rain
fell that day and our politicians in the PDP with their cars could not pass
through the Old Lagos/Asaba Road.
If with this development, our political leaders still conclude that there is no
problem in Ika Federal Constituency that does not tell good of them.
Personally, I have been echoing  it, if
you go to Daily Independent news paper of October Friday 14th and 19th,
2011 you will see my articles there. If you go to Ika Weekly News paper, Anioma
Watch and the Sun newspapers of last week, my articles on the ills of the
society  were also published. I am not
speaking  to project my own interest but
for the government to know the plight of our people. Ika Federal Constituency
has no good roads, pipe borne water, good infrastructures and electricity. Why
should we keep quiet when the monies being disbursed by the Delta State
government has not impacted on the lives of our people. If you say you are
going to represent the people, you do not have to create sentiments by
neglecting areas that you lost election. You cannot win in all the areas and if
you are a real democrat you have to put everything behind you and carry everybody
along. Recently, I read in the Daily Independent News paper where the Delta
State Deputy Governor, Professor Amos Utuama was appealing to  Chief Great Ogboru to join hands with Dr.
Emmanuel Uduaghan to move Delta
State forward. Yes, if he
wants people to support the government of the day, let government itself learn
how to  address the major problems in the
state. You do not expect people to be part of what is not contributing to their
well being.

Because you are
not happy with the way political leaders are doing their things, is that why
you chose to remain fearless and focus?

I cannot be
intimidated by money because I am not a respecter of it. Riches to me is not
how much you have in your bank coffers but how many people you have  been able to put food on their table. When
you say that I am fearless, I think it is only God that we should be afraid of.
I will not allow people to intimidate me because they are not my God and I know
that God will not intimidate anybody except you want yourself to be
intimidated. So, I am not afraid of people because I am not a slave to anybody.
It is only a slave that will see things going wrong and keep quiet. Time of
slavery is gone, I can freely express how I feel about the government and the
people representing us. If we do not ask our leaders questions how can they be
accountable to us. As representatives of their people, our political leaders
must account for their stewardship. If you want people to respect you as a
leader you must be accountable to them.

There was crisis
in your party in Ika South sometime ago. has it been resolved?

In every
political organization, there is always crises because we are not of the same
parent or background. There is bound to be diverse interests. It is true that
we had  issues  in the LGA chairmanship but it is being
handled by my party and in no distant time it will finally be resolved. When
your party tells you that the status quo remain, you obey because the party is
supreme. For you to be a good party man you must abide by the rules of the
party.

How prepared is
the DPP towards the local government election of next year?

We are prepared
for the challenge. There is what we call revolution, that is what we are
expecting in Ika South local government because if you see what people in
government are doing neglecting their people why can’t we revolt and our vote
in the right people. Our revolution is not going to be violent or fight but to
express our feelings. We have been marginalized and for that reason, we are
going to vote against any bad government which does not want to take care of
us. He that is down, need not fear again. We have been shortchanged, we do not
need to fear anymore, instead, we will keep asking questions until the right
answers are given. In the next local government election, DPP is going to
produce a credible candidate and we will win just as we won in the last general
elections.

Do you have any
regret contesting in the last National Assembly election.

No, why should I
have regret. I will not regret because I created impact and my people have
realized that this is the man to follow that he will not mislead  them. I will not take money from anybody and
mislead my people. All I am telling them is to remain calm, because by the
Grace of God, we will win one day.

Outside politics,
have you been  able to assist people from
your constituency?

Yes, I have been
helping people before I contested for the 
House of Reps. I do not like blowing my own trumpet rather, my
antecedents speaks for me. That was why people voted for me enmasse in the
elections. I have given empowerment as well as scholarship to many Ika students
and youths and if God bless me the more, I will help more people.

What is your
philosophy about life.?

I do not look at
life as amassing wealth but what you can do for your people Because if one
dies, he is not going to be remembered for his 
selfish rich life but for his achievements for his people.

Ika land is now
more enlightened than before, do you think that the local media like Ika Weekly
and others operating in the area should be commended?

The media deserve
commendation. It cannot be disputed that the local media have exposed our
people a lot. We are encouraging and thanking 
God for their lives. But the most important thing I want to beg them is
that they should always be objective. If somebody brings article for
publication, they should publish it the way it is. If they can keep sentiment
out of their work, the sky will be their limit.

What is your
message to the people of Ika.?

I am calling on
all my supporters to be calm. You should not be deceived by people who are
saying that I have collected money from Hon Victor Nwokolo. I have not
collected money from anybody. My case in the court is going on well and with
God on our side, we will surely emerge victorious. I want to assure that for
supporting me in the time of need, I will never abandon you all.

What are your
hobbies and how do you relax?

                         My hobby is meeting
people. Sometime, I go out with friends or I stay with my family. But I do not
think this is the time for relaxation. This is our youthful age, we have to
utilize it. We will be thinking more of relaxing when we are  sixty and above. Now that we  are youths, let us see how we can make life
better for our people and the society so that when we are growing old we will
have a good place to relax.

Are you a
Christian?

To God be the
glory, I am a Catholic and happily married with children

Awards?

I have gotten a
lot of awards. The Catholic Community, National Association of Delta State Students,
DELSU Students Union Government, National Association of Ika Students, NAIS,
and some media houses have given me awards.

Who are your role
models? My role models are Nelson Mandela, Martin Lurther King and Malcom.

 

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