INTERVIEW: “We must review our budgetary system”

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FRI, JUNE 16 2017-CHIKE JOHN OKAFOR: Chike John Okafor is an elected member of the federal House of Representative. He Represents Obowo, Ihitte-Uboma and Ehime-Mbano LGAs and he is currently serving as the House Chairman on Health. He spoke exclusively to theG&BJournal on an array of issues including his passion for developing human capital in the country and his constituency in particular. This is the conclusion of the interview that we have been running since Monday JUNE 12. The interview was conducted by Nwaodu Lawrence Chukwuemeka     

What’s your take on our budgetary processes?

Our budgetary processes was bad before now. But if one really want to thinker with budgetary processes, you really have to go and thinker with the constitution, because these thing are all in the laws of the nation. We (the national assembly) sit down and appropriate when the president brings these thing (the budget) to us. We do a proposal. Here in Imo, I don’t know if you know when the governor ‘came in’ and said he doesn’t want any yearly budget. So we have to change the law. We had a four year plan budget where each year will dovetail into the next. You now can look at the deliverables into the current year, before you look at the next year, you have to look at the project in the current year which you were not able to deliver hundred percent and you take it into the next year and then complete it.

But what we have now is a situation where you just jump into a new budget every year. We have uncompleted projects littered everywhere and we do not see them resonating in the next year’s budget. So that is it. I am in health and somebody comes to you and say I have this primary health care centre which we started 2007 and have been abandoned, why can’t we finish it. And why is it not captured in the next year’s budget, why? So the resources you put in that project in the previous year is actually wasted because you have not been able to realize the objective for that budget.

For instance in the health sector for this year 2017, we did have a storming section with the ministry of health. We said, we are not going to construct any new primary health care centre, rather we will go and do mapping and identify abandoned projects and let’s put money to revitalize them and make them functional. So there will be no construction because the uncompleted, unfinished and abandoned projects litter all over. Assuming that every MDA does that, we will be looking at subsequent budget that are not only ambitious, but developmental. That means we need to go back and look at the law and think of what to do to allow us have that kind of budget that will not just start and terminate in twelve months, but a budget document that will be a development and working plan for the nation, designed strategically in medium to long term tenures.

You have talked so much about representing your people. Now what is the essence of that?

The essence of representation in whatever capacity (especially in government) is about dedication to the cause of bringing the benefits of government and governance down to the ones whose mandate is being carried by ensuring that key developmental projects are attracted from various sources such as the government, collaborative efforts of development partners and the bearer’s personal contribution.

It is a divine privilege for service, a high level of calling held in trust for the people. It is about feeling and understanding the heart beat of the people being represented by being very close to them and responding appropriately for the glorious advancement of their collective good for which the mandate was laid upon such a one in the first place. I think I have proved my mettle in this regard.

Anything short of bringing development to your people while serving is a disservice to the people. So if I understand that very well, then that summarises it. I will widen my spectrum and search for developmental dividends and bring them home. As a person I have identified a couple of things that would add value to the lives of my people in Okigwe South.

All through his career in public service I have ensured that the trust reposed on me by my constituents is not betrayed. I have engaged every resource available to me to ensure that no area of need is left without impact so long as my constituents enjoy the benefits of quality representation.

How do you weave the huge task you have the House of Representative around the task you set for yourself to deliver goodies to your constituency?

As a true reflection of my commitment I have remained dedicated and regular to the sittings in the Green Chamber and has not allowed my commitment to my people overshadow other responsibilities of constant personal connection with my constituents. I try by the grace of God to utilise every moment available for constituency outreaches and briefings, creating accessibility and easy reach for people of my constituency.

I am glad to say that my hard work and resilience has not only benefitted my direct constituents (the people of Okigwe South), but all over Imo State there abound testimonies that prove that there are no barriers or limitations to how far we can go to ensure the empowerment and betterment of the lot of Imo people and mankind in general. As you can see, the reward is underscored by the several recognitions and awards acknowledging these profound contributions to the welfare of humanity.

Political Profile:

9th of June 2017 makes it two years Deacon Chike Okafor was inaugurated with his colleagues in the 8th National Assembly where he has became a leading voice in the Green Chambers having the first day seconded the motion that led to the emergence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. In commemoration of this event, headded scores to his card by commissioning school blocks he constructed across Ehime-mbano, Ihitte Uboma and Obowo LGAs

As a Lawmaker, he has since gone ahead to sponsor over 10 vital bills which are currently at various stages of legislation alongside other co-sponsored bills and 14 motions.

In spite of these, he recognizes that while the bills he has sponsored will affect the country, there is yet the yearning to impact directly and “selfishly” on the very people that defied all odds and gave him an enviable mandate to represent them, even as a greenhorn politician back then. He was propelled to initiate a seemingly interminable chain of life changing programmes and projects aimed at making his people the envy of other constituents who continue to wish they could have him represent them even for a day.

Hon. Deacon Chike John Okafor has organised series of empowerment programmes for women and youths in the tripod Local Government Areas of Okigwe South Federal constituency. This empowerment included but not limited to building houses for indigent women and widows as well as giving them seed money to float a viable business.

He has donated over 200 vehicles to youths in the Federal constituency to help them eke out a living. He donated a transformer to almost all communities in the Federal constituency and gave them money to energise it. This is apart from communities that hitherto had no light that benefitted from his rural electrification programme.

 Commissiong-a-school-project.

Commissiong-a-school-project.

Hon Okafor

Community family function

Between October 2016 and April 2017, he ran one of the biggest free medical outreach in the country that saw so many surgeries and child births take place. The free medical care was also extended to inmates in Owerri prisons and Obowo LGA, where he made health care services permanently free for pregnant women. The free medical outreach was flagged off by the wife of the Governor, Nneoma Nkechi Rochas Okorocha, Ph.D.

He has consistently paid the enrolment fees for WAEC and NECO for students in the Federal constituency till date, even as he has built and donated several classroom blocks to some schools in the constituency. He built the Comprehensive Secondary school, Ikenanzizi, Obowo, donated 13 classroom blocks to the secondary school in Amainyi-nta, Ihitte Uboma among others.

On the 9th of June, 2017, the Administrative block he reconstructed in Okenanlogho Secondary Technical School, Obowo was commissioned by the Executive Secretary of Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB), Sir Cyprian Emeka Chukwuemeka, and was witnessed by a teaming and appreciative crowd including Rev. Fr. Eric Muoneke, Parish Priest, St. Peters Catholic Parish, Umulogho, Msgnr, Kelvin Ikpa, Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church, umuokeh, Rev’d Godwin Anyanwu, Vicar in charge of St. Marks Anglican Church, Umuokeh, Hon. Barr. Kennedy Ibeh, member Representing Obowo state constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, Sir Emma Bukar, APC chairman, Ehime-mbano, Chief Friday Obasi, APC chairman, Ihitte-Uboma, Chief Lawrence Osuagwu, APC chairman, Obowo, Hon Ukaegbu Fidelis, representing the Senator for Imo North, Ben Uwajumogu, the principal of the school, Mrs. C.I. Ukanyirioha, And host of others. Hon. Okafor was represented by his wife.

His impact on the floor of the National Assembly since his entrance has been nothing short of overwhelming within a short space of time. From the Word-Go, he did not leave anyone in doubt that he meant business in the house; throwing his weight in amongst his colleagues positively and was instrumental to the emergence and stability of the house leadership notwithstanding the fact that he is a first timer. Where others have been struggling to move one motion since the inception of the Eighth Assembly, he has moved several motions that have direct bearing on Nigerians targeted at alleviating their miseries; a proof of his in-touch stance with the imminent needs of all. By his always calm and calculated disposition he has exhibited an exemplary lifestyle worthy of a Child of God and a true son of Okigwe South a legacy for future generations aspiring to such exalted positions of responsibility to understand that you do not throw bricks to make laws.

Some notable achievements

EDUATION:

–       Built and donated a Secondary School at Ekeala Amuzi, Obowo

–       Built and donated a 4 Classroom block at Amainyi High School  Ihitte Uboma LGA

–       Built and donated another 4 classroom block at Community Secondary School Amainyi-Nta in Ihitte Uboma

–       Working with Community Government Councils (CGCs) and religious leaders, he has identified a minimum of two indigent undergraduates per autonomous community from the Okigwe South Federal constituency in their first year across various tertiary institutions under his sponsorship. Given that there are 32 autonomous communities in Ehime Mbano, 22 in Ihitte Uboma and 22 in Obowo LGAs, this effectively gives a minimum of 152 such beneficiaries under his yearly education sponsorship.

–       He has been paying the WAEC, NECO and JAMB/UTME fees for a minimum of 150 indigent students drawn from various Secondary Schools in Obowo LGA yearly.

HEALTH:

–       As House committee chairman on Health, his decisive and prompt intervention brought about the needed resolution to a lingering crisis that had rocked the Federal Medical Center, Owerri to its base. This necessitated the invitation of the Hon. Minister for Health who spent a couple of days in Imo State amid extensive deliberations aimed at dousing the growing destructive tensions. The outcome of this propitious move is the present and new interim management of the facility now running peacefully with a son from Okigwe South, Prof. Ndu Eke at the helm.

–       In the same vein, he has been instrumental in the resolution of a similar melee at the UNTH Enugu where

–       Another landmark achievement in the Health Sector is his influence in attracting the South East Regional Office of NAFDAC located at New Owerri which will provide jobs to indigenes of the State with indigenes from Okigwe South definitely not excluded from this.

–       Notwithstanding the above, he has influenced and facilitated the employment of several sons and daughters of Okigwe South Federal constituency into several agencies and parastatals within the Health Sector.

–       This free medical/empowerment outreach witnessed today to the three LGAs that make up the Okigwe South Federal Constituency is a clear testament of his unflinching magnanimity and benevolence.

POWER AND ELECTRIFICATION:

–       Distribution of 42 transformers to various communities in Obowo

–       Distribution of 11 transformers to various communities in Ihitte Uboma

–       Distribution of 25 transformers to communities in Ehime Mbano

–       Carried out a full scale electricity projects to some communities like  Ukwuohia, Umunachi, Umuosochie, Umuochichieze Amuzi, Umuokeh all in Obowo,

–       Carried out full scale electricity project in Dioka Nzerem  in Ehime Mbano

OTHER INFRASTRUTURAL PROJECTS:

–       Immortalized Dee Sam Mbakwe by building an ultra modern 2500 capacity Dee Sam Mbakwe pavilion at Otoko

–       Built and donated an ultra modern police station to Obowo LGA located in Umuokeh autonomous community with a Hilux Van to aid patrol.

Hon. Dcn. Chike Okafor’s MOTIONS in the House of Representatives – 

– MOTIONS MOVED IN THE HOUSE:

–        A motion of urgent importance on the need for intervention of the Federal Government on the abandoned Owerri-Port Harcourt road and the need to complete its rehabilitation.

–       A motion for the urgent need to check illegal Routes into Nigeria in order to reduce acts of Terrorism.

–       A motion for the urgent need to stop the embarrassing outbreak of Lassa Fever virus in Nigeria and the need to step up the fight against further spread and loss of lives.

–       A motion for the urgent need to investigate the unpaid contracts by the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies, to local contractors.

–       A motion for the need to investigate the alleged non-transparent and fraudulent sale of power assets by the bureau for public enterprise (BPE).

–       A motion for the urgent need to encourage voluntary Blood donation to the National Blood Bank and to avoid continuous loss of lives as a result of non-availability of Blood in Emergency situations.

–       A motion for the urgent need to treat accident victims as emergency without subjecting them to hospital protocols.

–       A motion for investigation of the alleged unremitting of funds into the Federation Account and the looted funds by Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals.

–       A motion for the need to establish Military Training Schools in all the Geo-political zones in Nigeria

Concluded-theG&BJournal exclusive.

 

DCSL 90X780

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