Home People & Power Stone me if I don’t perform – Ossy Prestige

Stone me if I don’t perform – Ossy Prestige

Chief Ossy Prestige, APGA House of Representative Candidate for Aba North/ Aba South federal constituency of Abia state spoke on his plans for his constituency, the breach of peace accords by some political stakeholders and INEC’s introduction of the card readers. UGO ALARIBE brings the excerpts…
Why did you choose to run for a seat in the House of Representatives?
I chose to run for a seat in the House of Representatives because I have watched from the sidelines since 1999 and discovered that most of our representatives do not have the interest of the people at heart. People are there for what they can get for themselves and family. This is not what service is all about. If you have decided to serve the public, you have to give them what is theirs. You can take your allowance, but the welfare of the people must be paramount. I’m contesting to provide service to the people of my constituency.
The second name for Chief Ossy Prestige is service delivery. I’m contesting for the seat to bring better service delivery to my people. Since my life, I have been identified with putting smiles on the faces of the ordinary man in the street. I just served out two tenures as the Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Custom Agents (ANLCA) at Onne. I’m the incumbent deputy president of the Aba Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA); you can go and enquire about my records.
I leave footprints on time wherever I go. When I was serving as the chairman of ANLCA at Onne, I insisted on accountability. I called my members to appoint auditors to audit me at the end of my tenure.  As at yesterday, I have visited to 32 churches for campaign, I have made vows to God at these that if I go to the House and behave like these people I’m condemning, he should pass judgment on me while I’m serving.
What is the essence of having you as governor, Senator, Reps or state Assembly member, if you can’t better the lives of the people?  I don’t know if you journalists have visited places like Ndiegoro, Omuma, Obohia roads? You will weep for the residents because some of them have not had their roads graded since 10 years. Houses are being submerged by flood, yet millions of Naira is being appropriated to better their lives but end up in private pockets.
I have going from house to house, I want the people to try me. If after four years, I am not able to satisfy them with my performance, they should stone me. I want this to be on record. I’m contesting to bring concrete democracy dividends to the people of Aba north/ Aba South federal constituency.
Some of the issues you raised here like grading of roads are functions of the local government areas, are you satisfied with the performance of this tier of government?
This is why when people argue against autonomy for local government, I get sad about how they reason and if they actually want development. If I’m asked about my opinion, I will vote 1 million times for local government autonomy. I remember those days when the local government system was truly working. The days when local roads were graded, the local governments then had functional graders. Now because of the greed of some governors, the local government system is dead and buried. We need to revive and empower the local governments because they are the only semblance of governance loser to the people.
I’m of the view that if the local governments are allowed to perform their functions, a lot of things will improve. For instance, Aba South local government gets a monthly allocation of up to N200 million, but how has it impacted on the lives of the people of the area. What of Aba North which gets almost same amount. What do you think would happen in the lives of the people if these monies are allowed to be managed by the local governments?
If Aba South council gets N200 million with an overhead cost of say N60 million, are you now telling that the balance of N140 million with an accountable chairman wont out enough infrastructure and make a great positive difference in the lives of the people?  What of the IGR accruable to the councils?
As urban LGAs, Aba South and Aba North councils make lots of money through IGR. The question is what have they done with all these money? People have continued to amass wealth at the expense of the people. In all these, you will discover that a lot of things would have been better if we have autonomy for the local government.
Why do you think the people should vote for you, what is your unique selling point?
People should vote for me because I’m the only person who has been going from to house selling my programmes to the people, telling them what I have done and what I’m going to do if elected. I have identified the programmes of the Aba people. I have contributed a lot to the economy of Aba. As a core businessman, when I was the chairman of ANLCA I did so much to improve trade in Aba. That you see these trucks and containers coming into Aba today, I did a lot to make it happen. I wrote several petitions to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on some items which were wrongly designated contrabands which were the main items of trade of Aba businessmen, reminding him that Nigeria is a major signatories to the World Trade Organization on free and legitimate trade. Obasanjo invited me to a seminar in Kaduna where I defended my petition and the ban on these items which were the major import of the Aba businessmen was lifted.
Another problem of Aba is that almost all the constituency projects meant for the people of the constituency are not being done. I will work tirelessly to change the tide. Another area I have the comparative advantage to improve on is the issue of the federal roads in Aba which are no longer passable.
Aba town came into being in 1902; it s unfortunate that development has not left the city centre. I m going to be holding regular town hall meetings to change this culture of once elected , you can’t run away from the people whose mandate you exercise. Due to the nature of my business, I am widely travelled overseas.  If elected I’m going to use my office to improve on trade, investment, tourism and development in Aba. If I was able to achieve all these as a private businessman, there is no doubt that a lot will be achieved if I elected to represent the constituency.
In one of your campaign rallies, you accused the PDP led state government of barring opposition candidates form campaigning in markets and other public facilities in the state, how true is this?
You can conduct your investigations, no opposition candidate is allowed to campaign in markets and public facilities in the state. Last year, a Principal of a secondary school in Aba was threatened with sack if he allowed me to come to his school to kick off a football match.
Despite the peace accords signed, opposition candidates are being visited with violence and denied use of public facilities.
On the night of December 21, 2014 after the Aba Marathon, my campaign office at Park road was set on fire. The whole building would have been consumed but for vigilant neighbors who helped in putting out the fire. Is it the way politics should be played?
Our opponents see politics as a do or die affair, not as the game it is. With what is happening, I have severally said that our opponents sign peace accords just for signing sake. You can see that whatever accord that has been signed has not worked. To them, the peace accord is a formality; remember that the President’s convoy was pelted with stones just days after he signed the peace accord.
What type of peace accord are we talking about when everybody knows that in Abia, opposition candidates are not allowed to relay their campaign jingles or messages through the state radio? BCA radio belongs to the public and not the governor or the PDP. There should be a level playing ground for all parties.
You journalists must highlight these things because there is no need for us to waste our time signing peace accord for signing sake. Our opponents have refused to sell themselves to the people because they have nothing to show for the mandate given them since four years.
Do you have confidence in INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections?
Yes, I have confidence in INEC to conduct a credible election. If you analyze the history of elections in Nigeria, you will discover that INEC is no longer where they use to be in the issue of conduct of elections. They now want to do something that will make people see them as being neutral.
With the card readers, we are getting close to we are supposed to be. I’m not worried about protecting my votes which people ask me whenever I’m on campaign. Let me remind those who plan to manipulate election results in this country that the Arab spring should be an eye opener to them. The Arab spring has made us to understand that people can just get up one day to declare that enough is enough, that there must be an expiry day for evil. No force can defeat the power of the people.
The people of Aba federal constituency have assured that they will cast their votes for me but are afraid if it will count. I urged them to be vigilant and protect their votes. People have been sensitized that no number of security agents will stop them from protecting their votes In the past, we know what took place in the unit, ward and local government collation centers.  We are not joking about our insistence that the votes will count. We are sure of victory.   Thank God, INEC has made elections easier through the introduction of card readers.

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