Pete Chima Ibida needs no introduction in Anambra legislative and government circles.
Outspoken, fearless and daring, Ibida who hails from Egbengwu Village, Nimo, has carved a niche for himself as a grassroots mobilizer and influencer. The incumbent member of the State House of Assembly on the platform of APGA, he is seeking re-election to represent his Njikoka 11 Constituency. In this interview with Fides editor-in-chief, Jude Atupulazi, Ibida reflects on his stewardship and as well delves into the issue of zoning in the area.
You have spent almost four years and now you are seeking re-election, how have those years been?
They have been interesting, eventful and I have learnt a lot and made a lot of inputs. I am very contributory to the events in the house and other legislative duties.
Why are you seeking reelection?
Because of job satisfaction. I know that I am doing well. Given the reactions of the people that gave me the mandate; that is my constituents, when I see them happy with me, I feel energized. Also they asked me to go back with their mandate and that is why they massively came out for me during my primaries. Also, the three towns, you know, have given me chieftaincy titles and all other awards. The traditional ruler of Abagana and his Igwe-in-Council conferred on me three years ago the mirror of Abagana. The traditional ruler of Abba and his Igwe-in-Council conferred on me the Ikwunwanne of Abba, and these are predicated on my legendary performances in my legislative duties; not just in the areas of constituency projects, but also in advocacy in the house and of course representation; making laws, passing of bills, motions, and representation as well.
I attracted some projects which are still under construction and some are already functional. Street lights from Enugwu –Ukwu, Nimo to Abagana, are functional and, of course, the Oye-Agu Abagana Girls Road to Nimo; Convent Primary School Road is under construction. Of course, I attracted those ones. And then my core constituency projects in Abagana. I did four pavilions - one in Ezi-Icheke; the other one at Afor, the biggest square. Then in Dunu, virtually the most popular square they have, where Angus used to do his ofala: very useful pavilions I constructed there.
Then in 2016\2017 I did four months free ante-natal care with King David Hospital owned and managed by a specialist gynecologist, Dr. Okechukwu. Then, if you come to Abba, they never had a market there. I built two long buildings there, twenty four stores each and then later put another big six-room lock up shops, and then empowered some of the individuals, constituents, and gave some scholarships.
Then if you come to Nimo, I did a sophisticated pavilion at Egbengwu then put up a market building at Oye Nimo. Then St. Michael's Comprehensive Secondary School, I put up a clinic there; very functional, and put in five hundred thousand naira every year for drugs and the clinic is well equipped.
So given all these, and all others that are very silent, my people are filled with joy, saying that they have not seen such before now and asked me to go back. Of course, I feel very motivated when I see my constituency projects and the ones I attracted, I feel very satisfied.
And at the floor of the house of course, my voice is heard. I have made very meaningful contributions and I'm very comfortable with other members of the house, also with the executive who are comfortable with my performance and His Excellency, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, then my friends and my family members are happy with me. So, no involution, no albatross; nothing is blocking my move or step towards the next stage.
Then in the parliament, the longer you stay in the parliament, the more seasoned and grounded you are, and that is why in the western nations where democracy started, you will see people of eighty five years in parliament. So, the longer you stay, the more seasoned, the more useful you are to your people and the system. But for me, my target is not to stay more than eight years. Going back is to enable me to become a ranking member so as to be stabilize and attract more amenities to my people, to be able to contribute more in the legislative process in Anambra State, to be able to contribute more in the legislative institution. So I am going back to bring to bear, the knowledge in me and experience in me and to break that jinx that people have not been going more than once in my constituency which is because of their rating, but I have been able to create that niche, I am rated very high. I have reached that height. I am on the stage today like a gallant soldier that went and conquered. For any good work, they give you more work; therefore, I am prepared and soon the election will be done and I am certain that I will be voted in. The green light is already showing.
There is no doubt that you have represented well in the house, but initially there were controversies surrounding your second term ambition. Some felt there was a zoning formula. How do you react to that?
I laugh at that because I think by now everyone knows that political gimmick is already diffused, people are no longer talking anything about zoning because they came out with it as a scandal and propaganda in order to bring me down because they had nothing to say against me as a person. You know that I am a performer, that I have achieved legendary performance in the house, so they have nothing to say against me. So they decided to start with blackmail to initiate political gimmicks and it didn't work out for them. Because it's so alien, so very strange, to my people, to say it's turn by turn. Which turn? It's not given.
Since the inception of democracy in Anambra State and then Nigeria, I just heard for the first time that it's turn by turn in my constituency. Even in the local government it's not been heard. So it's just a few mafians, miscreants and scoundrels that decided to make noise so that they will push me side, so that somebody from Nimo and Abba will not go; only someone from Abagana, so that the weak ones can go in. But that is not true. My former contenders in 2015 all came back and told me, ''Ibida, you are doing well, go back and stabilize, go and become a ranking member.''
And of course, after this term, I will leave for some other things, maybe appointments or my business. All other stronger contenders gave their support but the weaklings felt they could use cheap blackmail but I am happy that the people know the rain that fell and the ones that watered the ground. So, they are not achieving it because their gimmicks have been exposed, their lies and propaganda have been exposed.
When I did my primaries for this tenure, the incumbent in Abba, Hon. Ify Onyebunmo, re-submitted herself for re-election and nobody raised any voice. Of course, she got twenty-one votes against my thirty-one votes. She came second. Then Lillian Okosi from Abagana, who was in the house sometime with a PDP ticket, came third with eighteen votes. The fourth person was from Abagana - Okey Nwude. He got six votes. (Two people from Abagana). Then we had Anthony Anakor (Omambala), from my ward; he got three votes. Dan Okpoko, from my town, Nimo, got two votes and came last. And behold, if six of us contested and the three towns were well represented, how come it is now said that zoning must be obeyed? Even when Chief Tony Igboka, went to the house, he submitted himself for re-election.
During the general elections, one of those people that even came to contest during my 2018 primaries, Okedi Okakpu, he contested with Iloh, during the PDP primaries, and of course lost to Iloh. So, if there was zoning, will PDP and then same person that was shouting zoning, Zoning from Abagana, contest then? They would have left it for Nimo only to contest, but he contested against Iloh and lost to Iloh. And Iloh then came out holding the flag of PDP, and he is from Abagana. And of course he gave me a rough ride, a tough battle, even though I defeated by virtually double margin, but he contested from Abagana and others too, but I won.
So I wonder why they should talk about zoning. Though for now, no one talks about that again.
Finally, given your experience and performance in the house, if by chance your people want you to go higher, will you accept and what position will you consider going for next time?
Yea. Because what is associated with contesting for election is much, I wish to live a very quiet life because I am a relatively quiet person. In fact, I will prefer to go out and get an appointment. Like with any board, or I may wish continue with a contract in oil and gas. But if that is going down, then I will use the instrumentality of the government and get contracts; that is if I don't get appointment. Well, it's still undecided, but I am certain that I won't contest elections again after eight years in office as a legislator.
Okay, thank you and best of luck