State Assemblies Deserves Financial Autonomy – Agabiga

Hon. Uche Agabiga is the House member representing Orsu State Constituency in Imo State House of Assembly. This petroleum Engineer turned politician is a rising Political strategist to watch in the nation’s unfolding political dispensations. He spoke to EVEREST EZIHE on several issues affecting the state of Imo and why it is optimally necessary for the Federal Government to grant financial autonomy to the state’s House of Assemblies. It is a must read.

WHO IS HON. ENGR. UCHE AGABIGA?  

I am the Honourable member representing Orsu Local Government Area at Imo State 8th House of Assembly, the House Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Vice-Chairman House Committee on Chieftaincy and Autonomous communities, member, House Committee on Internally Generated Revenue, a member of House Committee on Transport and a member of many ad-hoc committees of the State Assembly.

What was your profile before your emergence as the Honourable member representing Orsu state constituency?

I graduated from Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) supposedly in 2014 as a Petroleum Engineer, thereafter, I was engaged in off-shore Petroleum activities job in Port-Harcourt, later on I developed some business interests because my family background is business, the family business interests took me to Nnewi, Anambra state and later I diversified into agriculture when I realized that agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. This made me establish in Oguta, Imo State. I managed and own one of the biggest farms in Imo state – Agatech.

Integrated Farms we are into life stock productions, like eggs, broilers piggery etc in commercial quantity, we operate with the latest technology in our agricultural products and we are considered the best so far in Imo State. Since 2012 till date we established the farm, we are yet to be beaten by any competitor. Honestly, it was due to the success of the farm that earned me the Chairmanship position of the House, Agriculture Committee. It is not by politics but by the true practice and findings of the House. To be honest with you, Agriculture Committee has become one of the enviable committees of the house; we have remained focused, result oriented and steadfast in pursuit of our objectives.

What are your realistic assessment of Imo state House of Assembly as presently constituted?

To be sincere with you, the Imo House of Assembly 8th session is one of the best House of Assembly ever produced by the state. In terms of vibrancy and people oriented. We have been very objective and committetoin carrying out of duties. One thing unique about the House is that majority of the lawmakers are vibrant young men and majority of us is new, thus there is an English cliché that new is an asset. I see it as an act of God as we exhibit respect, brotherly love, commitment, and patriotism despite that many of us are new. The House has been very vibrant and many of us are grass root based.

We have the mandate of our people and we are under obligation to justify their expectations. Many of us are popular in our constituency and we cannot afford to fail them. I am always in touch with them.

During your electioneering campaign, you promised your constituents effective and qualitative representations, can you, in all honesty, beat your chest and say I have done well considering that in a few days from now you will be taking stock of 2 years anniversary?

Sincerely speaking, I can tell you that, this interview is timely like you rightly said, in the next two weeks we will be marking our second year’s anniversary. Yes, during the electioneering campaign, I made some promises to my people but I can boldly tell you that if you put side by side my promises to them, what I have been able to attract for them, you will be overwhelmed and give all the glory to God Almighty. My people are happy and impressed with the quality of representation they have so far received from me. The reality is that I am not in this business of law making for politics but to feel the pulse of happy people which if you go to Orsu today, they treat me like a demi-god.

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Based on the dividends of democracy, I have attracted to them and my sagacious opinions in the House, they are saying that truly I have given them quality and effective representations. One of the things I promised my people is running for all inconclusive representations. All my people have unfiltered access to me. I am part of them and they are part of me that is the synergy and secret of my responsiveness to them. The other day, I was riding with my colleague who asked me why is my official car mileage is higher than others, I told him, that it is because I use it for the work for which it was given to me, I am always in Orsu for one public or social function to another. I always attend to their invitations either burial, marriage or even naming ceremonies. My people love me because I am always in touch with them. I am there for them and I have carried everybody along. My greatest surprise is that during my election there were those who bluntly refused to support me but today they are my greatest supporter. I run an all inconclusive representation. I called them meetings regularly and apart from infrastructural developments and transformations, I have added things different from the usual. Moreso, as a way of giving back to the society I have introduced a pet project called OSED – ORSU Scheme for Empowerment and Development. The essence is to teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish; the level of unemployment in my constituency is high; people must not make a living by begging. We are just empowering people for development and to be self-independence. Under OSED our interest is to discover the area you have interest and can fit in. most of the youths are not gainfully employed and they rely on politicians and friends whose stays in towns to beggar for money for their daily living. Based on their areas of interest in terms of skills acquisition, you send them for training and take financial responsibilities of the training and after the training, we buy them started packs for them to start practicing the trade and earn their living independently.

As one of the pilots of Rescue Mission Administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha can you candidly assess the vision and mission of the government so far?

So far so good, the Rescue Mission government has performed creditably very well. Even in the last edition of News Break Newspapers (Vol.2 No 260 May 15th – 16th, 2017) I said, Rochas has rediscovered Imo. The Governor has done so much, even his critics are applauding him. If you know Owerri, infant Imo State six years ago and today, you will attest for the tremendous transformation and development of the state. Today, Imo State is one of the fasted growing economy Nationwide and this is the courtesy of the governor. It surprises all that a man who is on the last lap of his second term tenure is working assiduously as if he is gunning for another chance. We have appreciated his legacies and developmental strides thus why in the House he has received our maximum co-operation and support for the upliftment of the state. We lawmakers are proud of him. There is no ward or autonomous community that have not benefited immensely from the Governor’s transformational agenda and initiative. We have given him all the needed leverage to improve the state internally generated revenue because we are witnesses and beneficiaries of his legacy projects.

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Honourable, probably due to these your praises that some people perceive the State Assembly as a rubber stamp of Imo State executive government, what is your take?

Ladies and gentlemen, sincerely speaking. that impression is erroneous and can never be substantiated. Like I earlier said in the course of this interview that Imo State House of Assembly is constituted by young vibrant politicians. It is a pity that some people feel that it is only when the House members are quarreling with the executive that the House is said to be vibrant. In whatever you do, you must take the interest of the people. You don’t achieve legislative and executive harmony by quarreling with each other arm. Unfortunately, people are ignorant of the fact that most often when the legislators quarrel with the executive, it is for selfish reason and the people never benefits. They don’t actually fight for the people they quarrel over their individual selfish interest. It is only based on senseless heart you see some people supporting an innocent course and they see it as an execute arm. Honourable members are selfless persons that believe in the interest of their people. It is obvious that sometimes we cannot get by 100%, the truth is that the government of the day is making serious efforts to improve the lots of the people.

You must not lose sight of the fact that we are swimming in an economic recession. Ordinary our duty as legislators is to make laws but that is not the only expectations of the people. The people expect much welfare needs satisfaction in terms of infrastructural development and transformation. They still look up to us to their financial needs not minding that our duties are to make laws and appropriation. It is not within our duties to tar roads but we can attract it by convincing the executive arm. So people have erroneous great expectations from us. Like the road in my area is bad, what the people expects from is to see the road tarred forgetting that I am not a Commissioner nor the Executive Governor. Part of the challenges is that people have high and great expectations and they mount unnecessary pressure. It is always problem to somebody like me who is deeply

Grassroot oriented to justify what I said during my election I scored more than 95% of the votes cast in all the polling booths within my constituency. The implication is that I have a lot of supporters in all nook and crannies of the state.

Another problem we have is not peculiar to Imo State House of Assembly but to all the State Assemblies within the Federation. The issue is the lack of financial autonomy, a situation where the House depends on the Executive arms for its funding is bad and dangerous. It boils down to he who plays the piper dictates the tune. That is why we are clamoring for financial autonomy so that our dependence on the executive will be a thing of the past.

As a frontline lawmaker, what is your message to your constituents and people of Imo State?

I pray they keep faith with APC-led Government I am aware the government has been passionate to ensure positive change for overall benefits of the masses. The government is so much worried over the economic woes and efforts are being geared towards its cushioning. This APC government means well to the people, today’s sacrifice, is for tomorrow’s bountiful harvest.