… says whenever a legislator wants to fight, it must be a good and justifiable fight
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Hon. Paschal Agbodike Ph.D is the lawmaker representing Ihiala 2 State Constituency in the 6th Anambra State House of Assembly. He is also the Deputy Majority Leader and Chairman House of Assembly Committee on Youth Entrepreneurship and Creative Economy. In this interview with RAYMOND OZOJI in Awka, the lawmaker explains why he has no reason whatsoever to fight Governor Willie Obiano. Agbodike also X-rayed his conquest at the primary elections and why the people of Ihiala 2 state constituency should rally round him in the 2019 general elections.
How did primary elections go in your constituency?
Thank you very much. Well, my primary election was successful. Prior to the primary elections, I granted you an interview where you inquired about the primary elections and I told you that my constituents came together and had a meeting that I should return to the House of Assembly unopposed. But you know there are other political parties in the state and my constituency too.
I am an APGA member and the majority of my constituents are mostly APGA members. Now, people from other political parties also endorsed me for a second term of office and that was the reason nobody challenged me in the field of the election proper. One of the people who picked form to challenge me was advised not to challenge me because they have unanimously agreed that I should go for a second term. And before voting commenced, he announced his withdrawal from the contest and declared total support for me.
My constituents promised that they will do it again the same way they did in 2015. I polled about 80,000 votes and the PDP candidate that challenged me didn’t get up to 10% of the votes cast. Upon my victory in 2015, I promised my constituents a lot; which in their own assessment scored me creditably having fulfilled virtually all my election campaign promises during 2015 general elections. I told them that my priority was education; to empower my people through quality education. This is why Mmiri Oma Education Foundation resonates everywhere.
Of course you know that the three major functions of a legislator are legislation, representation and oversights. In terms of representation, I have given my people quality representation; making sure that whenever budget is being passed, I ensure that the needs of my people are captured in the budget of Anambra State Government. There are massive road constructions going on in my constituency as we speak as well as other infrastructural developments. I have also made several motions intended to address the needs of my constituency and the state at large. I always support good bills as generated by my colleagues especially bills that tend to bring good governance to Anambra state.
I can never be seen in the side of trouble in the Anambra State House of Assembly, rather any decision that can promote the well-being of Anambra state; that is where you see me in the House of Assembly. In the area of oversight functions, it was the oversight functions to government ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals that opened my eyes to request for projects to be sited in my constituency. Mind you, the oversight function of a legislator is very important because it helps you interact with the heads of ministries and organisations.
I have also sunk several functional boreholes, built some markets as well as executed some other developmental cum life-changing constituency projects together with projects that my constituents have been yearning for, for so long a time; I have been able to achieve them. It is pertinent that I have to say this, that it is not the job of the legislator to construct roads but he or she can attract road construction to his constituency through cordial relations with the executive arm. It is no longer news that when some politicians are voted into power, you won’t see them again until another election year and people are not happy with such category of politicians. Ihiala town has ten communities and out of these ten communities, I am representing seven communities in the state assembly. However, the leaders of my constituency have unanimously said that I don’t have much task; that I have been campaigning since 2015 and my works speak for me. So what I owe them is nothing but quality representation at the Anambra State House of Assembly even though I am not the best but my constituents chose me again!
Why did the people of Ihiala 2 state constituency find you worthy of another term of office?
My constituents said they want continuity in office. That continuity in their own context means that the work I am doing is good and that was the reason they said I should continue with my education foundation: scholarships to indigent students of my constituency, attracting infrastructural development, respect for leaders and people of my constituency as well as support for the executive arm of government amongst other numerous things my constituents expect in 2019, if reelected.
Would you say your relationship with the state government has really impacted differently in Ihiala 2 state constituency?
Well, my good relationship with His Excellency the working governor of Anambra state Willie Obiano has brought a lot of succour to my constituency because the governor cannot do it alone; he needs the support and cooperation of the legislative arm. Be that as it may, my personal support to the governor added a lot of advantage because the governor looks at me with love and the same love extended to my constituency. My good working relationship with him has in so many ways paved way for lots of infrastructural development for my people in Ihiala 2 state constituency.
It is good for a legislator to be positive-minded as well as support the good deeds of a working governor instead of being an opposition to a governor that means well for the people. Such antagonistic tendencies may indirectly affect the constituency. Whenever a legislator wants to fight, it must be a good and justifiable fight. For me, I have no reason to fight Governor Willie Obiano because he has done nothing wrong to deserve any form of antagonism and animosity instead I will support his policies and programmes because they are people-oriented. Why should I quarrel with the governor instead of giving him accolades for his giant strides and support him with good motions and bills to enable him to maintain and sustain the tempo of his developmental strides in Anambra state.
But why do you have to bring the issue of opposition in this discourse?
You know wherever two or more assemble, there are bound to be discordant tunes and divergent views. In the Anambra State House of Assembly we have oppositions. All the members are not APGA members. The opposition parties have their manifestoes different from APGA manifesto and agenda . So for this reason, I have to work hard to protect APGA manifesto from the wiles and antics of the opposition elements because APGA manifesto is our working instrument to making Anambra state better. But people with different manifesto may try to oppose that of APGA to the disadvantage and detriment of the entire state. This is why I call them opposition!
Apart from being a lawmaker, are you chairing any committee?
Thank you very much. Yes. I am the Chairman House Committee on Youth Entrepreneurship and Creative Economy. It is a very important committee of the State House of Assembly that oversees the affairs of the state ministry of youth entrepreneurship and creative economy. The ministry is poised to minimize the rate of unemployment amongst the teeming population of unemployed youths in Anambra state. I am supporting the ministry through motions and bills making sure that youths are gainfully employed. Governor Willie Obiano has equally embarked on a lot of youth empowerment programmes and schemes especially through agriculture. Obiano is one of the the governors in Nigeria that appointed a youth as commissioner meaning that he believes so much in what youths can do to drive the economy of the state. It is a thing of joy and the governor should be appreciated, celebrated and encouraged.
Finally ,what is your advice to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2019?
INEC knows the consequences of incredible elections. I don’t think any INEC official will agree to be induced by the flimsy promises of politicians to get involved in electoral misconducts. Anambra is a peaceful state where elections are conducted like kindred meetings. So there is absolutely no cause for alarm ! We envisage very peaceful elections in 2019 . I am also canvassing for all APGA candidates to emerge victorious in the February 16th and March 2nd general elections respectively.