Hon. Ofumelu Vincent Ekene is a member of the PDP and he represents Oyi/Ayamelum Federal Constituency of Anambra State in the House of Representatives. In this interview with ERNEST NZOR, the lawmaker queries the inadequate allocation of funds to the agricultural and health sectors in the proposed 2021 budget, among other issues.
As a first-time lawmaker in the National Assembly, how can you describe your experience so far?
My experience has been so wonderful. To me, it’s a welcome development, I have done so much for my people, a lot of good things have been happening through me since I came to the National Assembly. I have presented a lot of good Motions and Bills that have to do with the wellbeing of my people and the country at large. More especially, I have embarked on so many constituency projects in my area. So, my experience in the National Assembly has been a very good one and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve my people.
President Buhari had few days presented the proposed 2021 budget to the National Assembly. How can you describe the budget estimates?
The truth is that President Buhari has done well in presenting the budget timely in line with the constitutional provision of Federal Republic of Nigeria, which says that budget should be presented on or before December 31 of every year. He has done it and he has done it timely even though there are some areas I am not comfortable with. Areas like agriculture, the money that has been allocated to that ministry is too minimal, a lot of people are hungry in Nigeria and I feel that the executive arm of government should have concentrated more on agriculture. I am a farmer I know what I am talking. If Nigeria should concentrate more on this sector, hunger in Nigeria will come to an end. Then coming to the health sector, the money allocated to the health sector is too minimal too and it’s not commensurate to what I expected, but they have done good things about works, housing and so many other areas like power. I am happy when I heard Mr. President saying that he wants to concentrate more on power supply so that Nigerians can have a steady power supply. But to me I stand to be corrected, I want to suggest to the executive arm of government to concentrate more on agriculture and health, because he or she who is hungry can never be happy with good roads and others. And if your health is down, you can’t be happy even if the whole village is being tarred with asphalt. The person will not be happy, so I feel that health and agriculture should be given adequate priorities above other ministries.
What are the Motions and Bills you have been able to present so far on the floor of the House?
There are so many of them. I have done Motions in respect to the roads in my area, federal roads that were abandoned since, with the name Ezuanaku, Otuocha, Adani road, that connects some agrarian parts of Anambra State to agrarian parts of Enugu State. I have done Motion on rehabilitation of irrigation project in my place which was launched by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for cultivation of a very large rice farm, the irrigation will enable my people to cultivate during rainy and dry seasons, but since it has been abandoned and everything was in dilapidated form, so my people cannot do their dry season farming again, so after the Motion, I followed it up, which yielded a good fruit.
What is your Legislative Agenda for your people?
Just like I said, number one is to create job opportunities for the youths, the unemployed in the society, it is something that I have been clamouring for. Secondly, I want to use this period I am here to make sure that I boost agriculture in my constituency and to assist the students to stay in a conducive environment while studying. I have a lot for my people, I want their voice to be heard here in the National Assembly. It will interest you to know that I am from a constituency that has produced a former Senate President in the person of Late Senator Chuba Okadigbo, the Oyi of Oyi. I want my people to benefit from the dividends of democracy.
Why do you call your constituency the most marginalised in the country?
Yes, you need to visit my place and see how bad the place is, you will not believe that we are part of this country called Nigeria going by the infrastructural decay that is going on there. I am sure that a good number of people in Nigeria don’t know that there is a place that don’t have electricity cable lines. Not that there is power failure but there is no electric power supply at all in that area more especially in Ayamelum community. My people are in darkness as I am talking to you now, a pregnant woman on a point of delivery cannot have a good medical attention, unless she is transported from the village down to Onitcha where she can have a good medical attention, the person may collapse on the way because of bleeding and bad road network. Apart from not having a good healthcare system in my area, there is still no good roads to convey the patient to the next town where the person can get good medical attention. We don’t have good drinking water in the community, no good school except the one I have just constructed for my constituents.
Anambra will be going for another governorship election, what are the chances of your party, PDP, to produce the next governor?
Well, power belongs to God, a good number of people have come out in my party to declare their interests in the race, about four of them for now. But it is too early to say which party will win but God will bring somebody that will lead Anambra State to the promised land. The current governor has done well, he is my brother, we need another person that will do more than what he has done.