Festus Okudibie is not a new person in Ukwuani politics as he had constantly featured in Ukwuani politics since 1999 especially in the opposition parties. Presently he is contesting under the platform of the Accord Party for the Ukwuani constituency at the state house of assembly.
Mr Okudibie, is from Ebedei in Ukwuani LGA of Delta state, though born in Obiaruku, he is a graduate of political science from University of Benin.
Okudibie in a campaign mood
His political career started as a student activist in the university and outside school environment, he was a member of the Action Democrat (AD) before merging to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP). He had worked closely with Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, the current governorship candidates of the Labour Party and Chief Fidelis Okenmor Tilije, who was an aspirant under the All Progressive Congress, (APC), but now defected, to the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), after his botched attempt to secure the ticket as the Party flag bearer for the 2015 governorship election.
In this interview he discusses his dream for the people of Ukwuani if elected into the Delta State House of Assembly.
On how it all started
Two years ago I conceived the idea to contest for the chairmanship of the local government but because of the inconsistency of the state government in organizing the election, I withdrew from that race but because of the yeaning’s of the Ukwuani people for me to contest I had to listen to the call to present myself again this time to run for the State House of Assembly, originally under the Platform of All Progressive Congress, but we at APC, sadly enough, was unable to conduct a free and fair primary, that was while I found myself in the Accord Party.
But while the interest now, when you were equally giving the Opportunity to be the DPP ticket bearer before now?
Yes in 2011, delegations came, that was when we came for the re-run to support Tilije and Ogboru, because the window was not there for me then, I told them I was not prepared. Not prepared meant so many other things. I didn’t consider it, I left Lagos with the intention of coming to support my friend, Chief Tilije. To run for an election, and as you know, things that you did not plan ahead of time may result to some difficulties. So I decided not to put myself in the race, and that was how it ended.
However, I don’t understand while some people is trying to make political gain out of it but it amounted to nothing, because I know within myself while I said I was not prepared, it could had being psychological, whatever it was then, I didn’t want to present myself. Now is the right time for me. Now my spirit tells me I should go, I am physically ready.
And what are you bringing to the race to convince the people of Ukwuani to vote for you.
My philosophy is a selfless leadership and I had demonstrated these severally as an individual with little wealth I have, to help people, through scholarship and other needy helps, but there is an extent you can go with your limited resources, there arises the need of helping your people, using the instruments of the state. I don’t intent going into government because I want to enrich myself, If that is the case, I will simply stay where I am, because the pressure of representing my people are unimaginable, and the love of the people, the needs to satisfy the yearnings of the people that I am presenting myself.
Let me tell you a story which I often tell overtime. There was this Easter time I went to one of the quarters in Ebedei, and in the process I discovered that the primary school had no tables and chairs for learning, and still the children learn there, by sitting on the floor, but because of the taught of seeing these children sitting on the floor to learn, I made a promise to make and deliver 600 chairs and tables to the school, within a period of two months I fulfilled the promise, I never knew the cost, but the question is how many, as an individual can I do, and I feel, the better way to help my people is to represent them effectively in government.
With the high rate of crime among the youths and lack of meaningful employment, what will you do?
Looking around today, the empowerment the youth are getting is the gift of keke Marwa that should not be the best empowerment our youths should get. But these youths should be taught how to fish themselves for instance, when you build skill acquisition centres in Ukwuani, it will help to expose our children to learn how to fish at the centre. You teach them proper ways of farming, furniture making and much more and not just buying cutlass and files for the people and you call that empowerment, which is disheartening.
There are alot we can do to develop the manpower we have, so that people can be independent and not continue to remain beggars relying on some lords, who will be given them crumps, I believe that our youths should be gainfully employed, as a business man in farming and real estate, I have some of them in my payroll, but there are a lot the government will do for us.
Again, we have issues in other areas of our lives outside youth empowerment, for 8 months now there is no light in more than half of Ukwuani LGA and nobody is addressing it, so you ask yourself, if half of an LGA is without light for that long what then is representation. We must give our people quality representation, by attracting development to the area we must not been seen encouraging violent, like buying of guns which at the end of the day may be used negatively.
I think that there is a whole lot we can do with the constituency allocation that we have and not to empower ourselves or enrich ourselves illegally.
Preparation for the Election
This is not how much cash you are able to deploy, but because of your track record what we are thinking about us is a movement, a grassroots mobilization. Our people know that they are deprived, they are wiser now. The level of acceptance I had gotten is really very encouraging.
Yes I respect other candidates from other party, but Ukwuani appears to know where they are going to I had served these communities for years and they know I have an open door policy, and my mission is not going there to go and steal because God had blessed me.
Sincerely speaking, Ukwuani know who the best candidate is, and the best candidate is Festus Okudibie.
What is your stand on the recent action of the NNU on some of our politicians and your promises which the people of Ukwuani had been hearing?
The NNU recent action on some of our political office holders shows that we are learning, and it means we are ready to change to a better nation in Ndokwa. Their action should not be wished away, we politicians need to learn from such actions of an apex body.
And on my promises, I am the only politician with a difference of all the candidates I am the only one with a mission. Go check their posters and bill boards, I have told the people that after four years if I am giving the opportunity I must present my scorecard and if I scoreless than75% of my promises I had made I must not be allowed to go back, I will take responsibility for the promises I am making today.
And among the things I will do is women empowerment. Our women are farmers and sometimes traders and no one is supporting them. While can’t we organized soft loans for them to make their business grow. For instance through the various associations in the market we can make provisions for them, get a board to be organizing it so that they will know that it is not free money, giving them a revolving loan for 6 months. With this our people will be happier, and after four years and I could not meet up I should be held responsible and be voted out.
So come April 11, 2015 I encourage the people of Ukwuani to go out and vote for me, they should forget the platform this doesn’t matter anymore. I had served the people of Ukwuani in different capacity in the past and what you can do when you are giving the privilege and opportunity is what matters. All I am saying is that i am the best candidate, the most qualified for the job, with my educational background; I am in a familiar terrain. And from opinion polls, the incumbent had been rejected by the people of Ukwuani and again, in Ukwuani; we have two major blocks the Akashiade and Egboma block. And when the chairman is from Akashiade, the member representing the LGA will come from Egboma as the case maybe, and ever since Egboma had been, Umutu, Umutu and Umutu, and that should not be the case. From history Egboma means, Umutu, Akoku and Ebedei, so I am only saying that since our present LGA Chairman is from Akashiade it is only proper for them to consider the man who is from Egboma as well as Akashiade for the post. This is not contraction, as I am from Egboma, because my parents are from Ebedei. But I have a special privilege of been born in Obiaruku, I schooled in Obiaruku, I stayed in Obiaruku my houses are in Obiaruku, now that it is Egboma turn, I can confidently and proudly say that I am an Ebedei man and therefore I should be given that opportunity. And additionally I represent both blocks, because I had lived my life here in Obiauku. For my effort I had made all these while, I should be given the opportunity to deliver the dividend of democracy to our people.
1. Youth Employment into government establishments and parastatals as well as private sector initiatives.
2. Meaningful youth empowerment through skill acquisition schemes and soft loan programme.
3. Concrete & diversified women empowerment programme in different sectors like trading sewing, and provision of grinding/milling machines.
4. Soft loan for market women/traders through their varius associations to ensure effective utilization and that such revolve/circulate amongst them.
5. Restoration of power supply in affected parts of the local government including Umutu/Umaja and Obeti axis.
6. Aggressive street light installation across the local government.
7. Scholarship programme for at least 10 indigents students yearly.
8. Introduction / Restoration of a robust all inclusive football cup in the local government.
9. Construction & running of at least 2 skill acquisition centres in the Local Government where sundry skills like IT skills, sewing skills, etc could be acquired.
10. Even infrasturctural development across the local government to ensure that no community is neglected.
11. Selfless leadership and progressive legislative agenda.