A former Chairman of the Ebonyi State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Onyekachi Nwebonyi, explains that ending the communal crisis is one out of several reasons why he is contesting for the Ebonyi North Senatorial District slot in the election in 2023, in this interview with Jacob Ogodo
Why do you want to be a senator?
Ebonyi North Zone is currently facing a lot of challenges, especially boundary disputes that have claimed many lives. You can see it from the axis of Ohaukwu. Ohaukwu and Agila people. Just a few months ago, no fewer than 100 persons were killed. We now move to Ebonyi Local Government Area; the people of Ishieke and Benue State are having the same problem. In Izzi LGA, we are having the same boundary problem as the Benue people. We now move to Abakaliki LGA where the same thing is happening between the local government and the Cross River State people. It appears as if these problems have no solutions, but the problem is that the people representing us at the National Assembly are unable to solve these problems. Now, I believe that the primary assignment of government at all levels is to protect lives and property. So, if you are representing your people and they are being killed daily on a known problem that has a solution, and you are unable to address it, then you have no business representing those people. So, I want to say that on the day of my inauguration, which I know God will do, as I am taking the oath of office, I will be holding my petition, and I know that we have the National Boundary Commission (NBC) whose duty it is to address all these issues, but somebody must propel that to happen. I, Nwebonyi, will see to it, and I want to assure my zone that I will do all within my powers to make sure that these perennial problems are put to rest.
What will you do differently from what other leaders from the zone had done in the past to ensure that this perennial problem of boundary dispute ends?
It will not be correct to say that our leaders, before now, have not been making any effort to address all these challenges. However, I must say they have not done enough, because if somebody is having malaria and you administer Paracetamol to that patient, doctors will agree with me that the person will have temporal relief, but the parasite causing malaria is still there. But when I’m elected to the Senate by next year, I’m going to give the required solution. If it is malaria, I’m going to give the best drug for malaria. But in this context, the solution is to take this problem as your problem. The boundary commission must be made to sit up, even if it requires using what we call an order of mandamus in law.
What is the law of the mandamus?
It is compelling government agents to do what they are supposed to do at a given time. Boundary adjustment and other related matters are the duties of the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Presidency. And I know I will have access to them, just as I know that the problem has a solution and I must see to that solution.
One of the greatest challenges ravaging the country is unemployment. Do you have any plans for the teeming youths from your zone who have graduated from school but have nothing doing?
In the area of employment, securing jobs for the jobless youths of Ebonyi North, in that area I will do well. I can see that there is a problem with the land. How can parents spend money and train their children at the university level and 16 years later, there is no job? Just imagine; all the hope of that family is dying. I, Nwebonyi, will not allow that to happen. I will do more than that because what I am seeing today is that, most times, our children get admission to study courses because they are not being guided. I am going to introduce guidance and counselling at the secondary school level.
The Izzi clan where you come from has been claiming that it is their turn to produce the next governor. How possible is it that your clan will produce the governor and the senator at the same time? Do you want to take it all?
Ebonyi North zone is made up of four Local Government Areas (LGAs), and you don’t compare the Senate with the office of the governor. The governorship seat rotates within the three zones of the state; the North had their slot in the person of the man we are talking about (Senator Sam Egwu). The Central had their turn in the person of His Excellency, Martin Elechi, and of course, the South will be having their turn in the person of David Umahi. And what is equity? Equity is natural justice. Equity demands that the governorship seat starts where it started before, which is Ebonyi North; and when it comes to Ebonyi North, it goes without saying that it is the turn of the Izzi clan, because Ohaukwu people took the first slot, even though they are in the minority. That’s at the state level, but when it comes to the senatorial seat, we have four LGAs that make up the zone; Abakaliki LGA has produced three senators, Izzi LGA has produced two senators, Ohaukwu LGA has produced senators three times, with Egwu serving two tenures. Now, what is the turn of Ebonyi LGA? What have we done wrong that all the sister LGAs have had two slots and we have not had one? So, any right-thinking person, even if it is my enemy, will say, it is the turn of Ebonyi LGA to produce the next senator of the zone. In the same way, it is the turn of the Izzi clan to produce the next governor of the state.
Do you know that you are contesting with a heavyweight; a former governor and a tenured senator? How do you intend to defeat him at the polls?
Do you know what happened between David and Goliath in the Bible? The same thing will happen between me and Senator Sam Egwu. History will repeat itself. However, let me remind you, if you witnessed what happened at the last primaries that led Egwu to the Senate, he couldn’t win the primary election. I, as the party chairman, gave him the ticket by force against the wishes of the electorate. That was why he couldn’t openly say anything against me. And I will remind him of certain things.