By Kemi Yesufu
Grateful youths from Ehime Mbano/ Ihitte Uboma/ Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State on Thursday obtained a House of Representatives’ Nomination and Expression of Interest’ forms from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Rep. Chike Okafor.
The youths said the gesture was a reward to the lawmaker for bringing dividends of democracy to their constituency.
A representative of the youth groups, Mr. Egbukwele Emmanuel who spoke at hand over ceremony of the House of Representatives’ Nomination and Expression of Interest’ forms held at the National Assembly on Thursday, further said the lawmaker has changed the lives of many in the constituency including his, hence their coming together to purchase the forms for his return to office in 2023.
Egbukwele disclosed that aside from developmental constituency projects which has changed the face of the three LGA making up the constituency, 180 people who employments in various public institutions and security agencies through Hon. Okafor.
He said: “Today, May 5th is the day that we the people that Chike John Okafor gave employments to in different areas. We gathered money together and said that what he has done in our lives will not go in vain. Especially myself I never believed that where he placed me today, that I will be there under my own agency.
“And in my own agency we are 26 in number that he posted, this my brother in their own side, they are 32 in number in total we are 182 in different agencies and parastatals, MDAs, NHIS, Primary Health, Civil Defence, Immigration, Paramilitary agencies, the banking sector, Customs and the health sector general, in total we are over 180. The number is likely to increase in the next year
“There is something that he used to say, he says that in a year his priority is to raise men and empower them. We have a platform and we named the group ‘Honourable John Chike’s Children’, comprising of men and women that he has affected their lives”.
In his acceptance speech, Hon. Chike Okafor expressed appreciation to his supporters including former and current political appointees, Community and Youth groups across Party lines.
Okafor who pledged loyalty to Governor Hope Uzodinma administration said: “My journey started with my appointment as a Commissioner and cabinet member by the then governor of Imo State. I became Commissioner for Finance and held the position almost throughout his first tenure and all of you here, my brothers and sisters will bear testimony that all I did within that period was to use the goodwill and contacts of that office to see how much I can impact the lives of our people because my mantra was and still remains the reason for holding political office either elective or appointive is to bring development to your immediate constituency.
“That means that the first responsibility or duty of the person holding the political office is to define. You may say and that gave impetus to the call by you that I should go to the House of Representatives in 2015 with massive support by you.
“Even when opposition when from the two major opposition parties in Imo, notably, APGA and PDP candidates came from a sister local government area, that Ihette Uboma, we still won in that local government and I came to the National Assembly precisely, on June 9, when the 8th Assembly was inaugurated. I didn’t have to come before that time I came to begin to know or understand the nuances of legislation and representation generally. May be, because of my academic background”.
“Right in the chamber on that day, Okigwe South was heard. I was the second person that spoke, seconding the nomination of Yakubu Dogara who later became the Speaker and I later became the Chairman, House Committee on Health Services. I don’t bore you with my scorecard. You are here giving testimonies to what we were able to do and still doing. And that propelled you to say go back again in 2019.
“But because of my late return, I didn’t get any Committee chairmanship or deputy chairmanship. So, suffice it to say that in this 9th Assembly, one is struggling but I remain grateful to God.
“There were people who also fought for their mandate and didn’t get it back. By the mercy of God, I got mine back. That’s why it is symbolic that this ceremony is hiding right inside the office of Okigwe South federal constituency in national assembly. To God be the glory” he went further to say.
Still speaking on the gesture of his young constituents, Okafor added that with him in the House his constituency stands to gain a lot.
“Today I am very happy that my brothers and sisters by the grace of God I had the opportunity of helping them with employment here and there. So, when they reached me a few days ago and say this is what they are thinking, including Ihette Uboma youths who also on their own mobilized resources and sent across and in the last couple of days, then young men and women came here and started looking for resources.
“They put the resources together and what is more encouraging is that they said we are going to raise money even if we have to borrow to make that the campaigns will be funded and the elections will be won. So, I want to thank you. We will lead the campaign of APC in Okigwe zone and we will do what we have to do. We will bring the victory and God will crown our efforts.
“I want to tell you that the game in the National Assembly is not the game of first timers. I will tell and assure you that we have a governor who is highly pragmatic, forceful and connected in the annals of politics in this country.
“Whatever position that will come to the South East in the 10th Assembly, Chike Okafor, I am rightly positioned and equipped, rightly ready to go for it, not for my own good but for the good of the people of Okigwe zone and Imo State in general. But we have to do the first things first”, he added.
“We have cross the hurdles of primaries, secure the ticket and then face the general election. I won’t bother who the opposition will present but I have confidence in the strength and ability of the people that are here and the others ones that are not here.
“So, I want to thank you for coming. This journey to the 10th assembly that has started today, I have accepted it and I am gonna run with you with God on our side and the backing of our people, the support of our party, the Governor and government of Imo State, I am confident that we will be a part of the 10th Assembly that will be inaugurated by the new President that we don’t know, come June 2023. To God be the glory”, he went further to say.