The Ebonyi State APC guber candidate, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji on Sunday flagged off his campaign for the state government house.
At the inaugural press conference to mark the event, Ogbuoji who delivered a speech that was like his mini manifesto promised Ebonyi of his willingness to show leadership that would involve the people and also render service.
He faulted the present government for micro managing the state and appropriating leadership and management of the state to himself and family.
He lamented that Governor David Umahi administration has redefined deomocracy to mean; Government of Umahi, by Umahi and for Umahi.’
The full statement that was a bombshell, he revealed the lapses of the government and his plans to turn things around.
The statement is reproduced below;
Members of our great party, all well-wishers here, respected Ebonyians, gentlemen of the press, and all lovers of democracy and the freedom of the people to express themselves and freely decide who leads them.
I need no introduction as one of yours and I am here to declare, beyond rumour and speculation, that I am in the race for the number one seat of our dear state. And that I am in the race, not just to run, but to win and to win through the people’s mandate.
When situations start getting out of hand, there is an obligation on all stakeholders not to keep quiet and wait rather than offering rescue. Our world has lived with the wisdom that the elders don’t sit idle and watch a goat labour and deliver her kids while tethered. Therefore, something has to be done when the need arises.
For the case in hand regarding our state, Ebonyi, the need is already staring us in the face to stand up and rescue the state from a slide into dictatorship, privatization of governance and threat to our unity and fabric of our essence. Whatever action that must be taken must be taken now.
In the beginning, I was one of those that worked to bring the present government of the state into being, believing that we were dealing with forthrightness and integrity. Regretfully, however, it did not take long after Governor David Umahi came into power that we started noticing this pernicious tendency for the self and self alone.
Whereas we had laboured to institute a democratic administration in our state, we were quickly confronted with an administration that redefined democracy to mean: Government of Dave Umahi, by Dave Umahi and for Dave Umahi.
This culture and new normal has been sustained for the last three and half years. It is simply the culture and policy of exclusion of the people of the state from deciding their own fate, having a say in the governance of the state, intentional impoverishment of the masses and electorate as state policy, emasculation of organised labour and the sharing of state patronage among the governor and his family members.
These led to the micromanagement of our state, retardation and slide towards doom and darkness.
I state that the creation and sustenance of this pattern of rulership rather than leadership is what prompted me to join the fray and say enough to this trend that is fast making our people poorer, scaring them into hiding, stuffing their mouths and forcing them to be manacled in intimidation while stealing away the resources they should live on, for outsiders. You all witnessed part of it on November 27 when a visitor to the state, who had been an old ally in dispensing toxic loans to run campaigns to our governor, called again with more gag, bait and dragnet to mortgage and alienate our state. These cannot be watched helplessly. We would lose our essence if we keep wringing our cold hands in helplessness over these threats.
This is a state that came into being as a child of circumstance to correct the errors of deprivation meted in the past to the people in their several fates. Those that laboured to forge the state did so in the belief that unity and oneness would always remain the definition of our being. But today, the government of Dave Umahi has put a bold question mark on what our tomorrow shall be, and the time to call this abnormality to order is just now.
Dear Ebonyians, the foundation of your unity, dignity, future, cohesion, aspiration, progress etc has been shaken and unless something is done now, the future remains very uncertain.
I therefore call on you to join forces and rescue yourself now because if we wait longer, Umahi would return us to where we left in 1996 to become Ebonyi State. After we were pulled out from degradation and segregation, Umahi is fast putting us in reverse gear to the same plunderers who have joined forces with him to mismanage the state to his personal benefit.
Today, we have a state where organised labour is gagged, where no worker is promoted, where no retired officers are paid their benefits to ensure their tomorrow and rest from their toil to build the state. Instead of enjoying the benefits of their toils, they are forced to endure through retirement. Ours is a government that runs without permanent secretaries as statutorily provided.
Today, we have Ebonyi State that works for one man and his family members alone and local governments are coerced into merger with the state at the dictates of the governor whom alone has the right to live in affluence while others slave for him and his family members and pick crumbs from his table.
As natives, you would have observed from billboards all over the state that the governor rules the state with his wife and not with the deputy governor as constitutionally stated. Umahi has talked down on everyone for these years and none matters to him because the instruments of power to him constitute intimidation, arrogance, disregard for your being and dignity.
In every government, there is what is commonly called a KITCHEN CABINET, even at the federal level. We had it in the past in Ebonyi. This doesn’t connote derision or prejudice. It simply means the tight and inner circle that guides a leader, tells him or her, the hard truth inside and directs leadership in its course. Please, kindly tell me who you know as a member of the Dave Umahi KITCHEN CABINET apart from his immediate family members? That is the exclusion policy I am talking about. That is the compelling reason that you need to rescue your state and yourself from this modern slavery.
LET’S LIBERATE OURSELVES
I have decided to do so myself. I enjoin you to be part of this brave task. That is why I invited you here to stand with me, work with me, fight with me, engage with me, align with me and present yourself for service like I have done. Together, we will lead the state again because we all own the state. After I had stayed in office and gone, I will become the former governor or the rest, but nobody, including you can ever be a former Ebonyian. So, if this permanent status and inclusiveness is our patrimony to be Ebonyians forever, we have a compelling duty to act right and take back our state because with me in power as God Almighty has decreed come May 2019, you will also be in power and together we will manage our state to greatness and freedom again.
As I present myself for service, I would urge you to look back at my political history and find that while I have never lost any election in the past, a contrary tradition won’t start now. I didn’t win in the past through bullying and arm-twisting of the voter. I have always won by persuasion and appealing to your conscience. I remain steadfast on that same leadership philosophy that I, SONNI OGBUOJI, one of your own, is here again to assure you that I would not disappoint you in my tradition of giving leadership to Ebonyi.
Please go back to my records as chairman of two LGAs, the old Afikpo and Afikpo South LGAs, my days as commissioner, member of board of agencies, head of the state secondary education board and today as senator for two terms.
All the LGAs in my senatorial constituency have felt my impact for good. The higher institutions in Ebonyi State have footprints of my presence – I mean:
i. Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ikwo;
ii. Akanu Ibiam Federal Polythecnic, Unwana;
iii. Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu;
iv. Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki;
v. National Institute of Obstetrics and Fistula Centre, Abakaliki; and
vi. Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo.
I have also made sure one more federal institution is added to the old list with the Federal Institute of Transport Technology.
Soon, we will publish leaflets of all those projects your mandate to me as senator attracted. I do it not for self-praise, but to set the records straight. You will have copies of it in your hands and bear witness to whether I justified the mandate you gave me in the past. And if I did, like I am so sure of, I promise to do it again and even better now.
Our state is one with abundant natural resources with oil and gas yet to be tapped in the Edda and Afikpo axis, and the first oil find in Nigeria that dates back to February 1927. The first time Governor Sam Egwu hosted President Olusegun Obasanjo in the first week of December 1999, he had urged him to list Ebonyi among oil producing states and also that the federal government should commence tapping oil and gas in Ebonyi. We want to actualize this task and make our state generate revenue that sustains it.
Ebonyi has at least 26 solid minerals in commercial quantity, but not up on the list of states that benefit from solid minerals extraction and revenue from a NEITI report two weeks ago.
Ebonyi has farmlands. Ebonyi can feed the nation and export food deploying the right skills and today’s available technology.
Ebonyi has the old Nigercem that needs full revival to provide jobs and sustenance for our people
Ebonyi has trainable and talented young population that needs incentives to grow and raise the status of our collective identity.
TAKING RIGHT STEPS
I will ensure that Ebonyi has an ICT skills acquisition centre that will train our young ones in IT and harness their dormant potentials and in addition, we will run skills acquisition in diverse ways. Through that, we will raise a generation that will make and deploy simple drones to hover over their rice fields and spray herbicides and scare away birds, and monitor farming from ICT data hubs down to tracking sales and tastes of the consumer of their products. These things are already in use in some worlds, and some parts of Nigeria, and we will create them here with the right manpower.
I promise to run an Ebonyi that can say bye to power shortage by tapping into our solar energy potential
The real estate sector in Nigeria has the finishing sub-sector dominated by foreigners from our neighbour West African states. They reap billions in capital flight from Nigeria handling plastering of houses nationwide, including our state, fixing POP, tiling and fittings and plumbing, roofing and landscaping.
We will engage the right hands when in power to build skills centres where our young ones that can’t afford higher education, after their basic education, train in these areas and skills and make sure Ebonyi takes over that billion naira sector and make fame and wealth from such engagements.
NEW EBONYI BECKONS
We will together build Ebonyi into economic prosperity and raise the literacy rate and stand proud among our great Igbo brothers and sisters. If the great leaders of the Chinese reforms and opening up and those of Singapore can do that through creative leadership, I assure you I also can, with your support. If our founding fathers could bring us this far with visionary leadership that liberated Ebonyi, I assure you committing my conscience, that I will take Ebonyi further and justify their labour in unity and prosperity with a common destiny.
Ebonyi has most of all, human capital that needs to be tapped. That is the reason without discrimination, I made impact on all the higher institutions in the state and also fought to add to the list.
With the right leadership, we would pull our young ones from the streets of the big cities where they hawk snacks, handkerchief and toys and ride okada to redirect their efforts to skilled hands and ensure their future. If with your help I succeed in government to re-write the status of Ebonyi as the weakling among her Igbo sister states and take it away from the state where others run to, to hire house helps and maids and menial labourers, I would go home in retirement happy and fulfilled.
I promise Ebonyi never to alienate or mortgage the future of the state or take it back to Egypt and the plunderers and slave drivers from Egypt it left through the labour of our founding fathers in 1996. You can see they have started stepping back, no thanks to Dave Umahi.
In summation, my great people of Ebonyi; I state again that:
• Whatever is the agreed National Minimum Wage shall be paid by my government;
• Ebonyi Workers’ salaries shall be restored in full and workers shall be promoted adequately;
• Retirees and Pensioners shall have their entitlements paid as and when due;
• Oppressive taxation that has crippled businesses and families shall be abolished;
• Permanent Secretaries shall be appointed as soon as we assume office;
• Local Government funds shall be released to them;
• Employment opportunities shall be created.
My administration shall be open, all-inclusive, consultative, transparent and people-oriented.
For the umpteenth time, I want to state that I, Sunday Ogbuoji, shall spend only one term of four years, as governor.
• I present myself for service;
• I present myself for the unity of Ebonyi;
• I present myself for the economic prosperity of our state;
• I present myself to hand over your leadership and freedom back to you;
• I present myself to lead the state and to wrest it from the privatisation of one man;
• I present myself to you so that you can regain your voice and have a say in your own state.
GOD BLESS EBONYI STATE
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
Senator Sonni Ogbuoji
APC gubernatorial candidate
December 2, 2019