Shortly after his party, Action Alliance( AA) held a solidarity march in the capital city of Port Harcourt, ahead of the forthcoming general elections, the house of assembly candidate for Obio/Akpor Constituency 11, Rivers State, Chimenem Mbata, spoke with TNN’s EDITH CHUKU.
He addressed many issues, including his arrest when he contested the councillorship position of ward 14, what he will do differently if he wins the election, unemployment and the state government’s recruitment of about 200,000 SAs, among others.
This is the second time you will be contesting for a political position aside the student union body. What was it like when you contested the councillorship position?
Yes, last time people came together; youths came together and asked me to contest for councillorship. By the grace of God, I won the election but issues came up. I was arrested a day to the election, a lot of things happened but I let them go because there are some things you have to overlook.
Overlook? If your arrest, according to you, was unjust, why didn’t you sue, or seek compensation over the purported injustice?
Like I said, I’m a Christian so I just left everything in the hands of God.
February 25 and March elections are very near. What will you do differently if you win?
You know, the major problem we are having in this country is that firstly, our youths are doing drugs, unemployment is very high, even the ladies are doing ‘hook-ups’ selling their body for money. So, before now, we were having poor representatives in the house of assembly and they cannot pass a bill that can create jobs for the youths. The number one thing in my campaign agenda is youth empowerment and employment. So, my major reason for contesting this election is to see how I can help my fellow youths and create a working environment for all through employment, self employment and other things.
I’m surprised you mentioned unemployment in Rivers State. Recall that the governor had promised 5,000 Rivers youths employment but currently, about 200,000 people have been engaged as SAs to the governor. Why are you not applauding him?
(laughs) if you come to, let me use my own ward, Obio/Akpor ward 14, and I happen to be a youth president of this community before now. Obio/Akpor ward 14, Rukpokwu and Eneka, we have 97 per cent unemployed youths, I challenge any youth to come out and say that he is employed. This is my community. So, who and who were employed? The governor came the other time and they brought employment; UST employment, how many persons got it in Rukpokwu? Nobody got it here, they picked their people. We still have 97 per cent unemployed youths. What do you mean by SA? After election will you… in fact, the SAs have they even paid them? They paid them only ones and not even all that received that money. After election, will they pay them again? We are talking about self employed, not all these per time employment.
Some of these SAs are youths, people from your ward, how do you convince them?
You see, today, my happiness is that the youths of today, we are now wise. All those persons that you are seeing as SA, SA, all of them are my people, SAs, SAs, just imagine, if you are the one for eight years, a governor, from Obio/Akpor, eight years, as a governor, now that you are going out, you are paying people, 20, 20 thousand, 10, 10 thousand for SA, they will just take it, they will just say this is what we have gained for the eight years, they will vote their conscience. So this is not time of sharing money because the masses know that giving money now is for the votes; so they know their own persons, they know their people that they are going to vote for, it’s not about the money.
You sound very confident that you are going to win the election.
I will win the election, very well. I won before and I will still win.
You keep saying you won before, but the result stated otherwise.
But that is it now, that is Nigeria for you, but this time votes must count.
While we hope on INEC to deliver a free, fair and credible election, let’s quickly address the issue of vote buying.
Last time, my unit, unit 10, I won PDP. I did not give anybody any money. In fact, that election, I challenge everybody, anybody should come out and say I gave him money. They voted me because of the love they have for me. You know, I have served Ikwerre students as their president, I have served Apara as their president, and even when I was in NDDC, after I left NDDC, I helped a lot of people, both widows, I renovated their houses, I tried. You can just go and make your research, they will tell you about me, I don’t need to give anybody money to vote for me.
Hunger in the land is a common saying. What if the election is about the highest bidder?
I will not throw money, I will not do that. By the Grace of God, I have faithful polling unit agents, we are going to resist anything like that, nobody will try it, just that day, come and vote and go home, and you know today, thank God for the new Electoral Act, nothing like thumb printing, going to a corner to thumb print, now it’s one man, one vote.
Imagine that you are before the entire people of Obio/Akpor Constituency 11, what will you say to them concerning your ambition, ahead of the election?
You know like, if you see, one thing about politics that people don’t know is that number one, a politician will come and meet you, vote for me, I will do this, I will do this, I will do this, after winning, you will not see them again, after next four years again, they will appear again, now, I will not say it’s their fault, you know, for example, as you are Edith now, I said come I have a job for you at let me say Chevron, I took you to Chevron and they gave you employment through me, me and you know that Nigeria today I will be asking you for something every month. These persons they have godfather, if they win, every month they will have their own quota, so you cannot be free to help people. Like me, I don’t have any godfather, I came out on my own, through the support of my fellow youths, and till today they are still supporting me. God help me and I win election, we will sit like this, and discuss on what we will do. You can see today that no company is employing again, talking about agriculture, take for example now, let me say fish farming for example and if you go to market and you want to buy fish now, it’s from N1,200 above. So, as a youth, you have a fish farm, fish pond, that is where I come in, we are going to create a platform for agricultural support for the youths. Imagine you have 2000 fishes in your pond, now calculate N1,200 times 2000 fishes, it’s giving you close to two point four million every six months, okay let me say, remove 300,000 for the feeding and maintenance, you are still having close to two million, believe me my sister, if as a youth, you are earning two million naira in agriculture every six months, I don’t think you need any government employment, you have empowered yourself, from there you can train other persons, so, they should forget about this big name, big party, it’s all about person, like today, see Labour Party, nobody knows Labour Party, but immediately they gave Peter Obi that presidential flag you see today Labour Party is everywhere, people are voting Labour Party because of Peter Obi, so, let them forget about big name, it’s all about the person, they need leaders that is down to earth, people are suffering my sister, people are really suffering.
This is ward 14, in Obio/Akpor, the LGA of the sitting governor, who is of the ruling party, PDP, are you not threatened by these realities, again they appear to have the crowd?
See, me I will tell you this today, PDP is just like a farm, where people just see that platform to enrich themselves, yes, they use it to enrich themselves. You see somebody from APC will leave APC and join PDP, it’s because of hunger, hunger, nothing more, hunger, but it’s not supposed to be like that, whether the governor is from, even if Wike is from my own ward, ward 14 here. In fact, even in that Rumuepirikom, you will not tell me that everybody in Rumuepirikom bow down to him, no, there is still some opposition parties there, so, Wike is not contesting election, he is not contesting for any election. I have hundred per cent belief that I will win my election through God, because we know that power belongs to God, so I will win my election whether the governor is from ward 14 or he is from the same local government with me, I will win my election, we are talking about the people’s voice, people will determine who they will vote for, not your money.