BY Patrick Nnaemeka
The decision by Nigeria’s Former Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah to yield to popular demand and step out to vie for the Anambra North Senatorial seat under the platform of PDP received a major boost yesterday when the Onitsha community fully threw their weight behind her aspiration.
At a stakeholder’s meeting convened at the Knights of St. Mulumba Retreat Center, Onitsha, with the hall filled to the brim and spilling over, the Obi in Council, the Agbalanzes, the Odu women society, the Ikporo Onitsha and the President General of Onitsha town union home and abroad were unanimous in arriving at a decision that Oduah is not only eminently qualified to be the voice of the people in the National Assembly but that they will support her all the way to ensure that he clinches the seat during the election.
The representative of Obi in Council, the Akpeh Olodi, Chulo Asika while offering the kolanut prayers asked God to bless all and most importantly to bless and grant the aspiration of Princess Oduah whom they have gathered for.
In a short opening remark, the Onitsha North Local Government Coordinator of Princess Stella Oduah Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Egbeme said that God has sealed the Anambra North 2015 project of Stella Oduah while the people are already waiting for the manifestation.
Throwing more light on why the stakeholders’ meeting was convened, Chairman of the Princess Stella Oduah Campaign Organization and Former two time Member representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon. Okwudili Ojiba Uzoka said that they have come for a very serious assignment.
“It is an abomination for one to remain in an excreta infested pit for 100 years without rescue. But the Igbo say that the hunger that has hope of getting food cannot kill. We are very much expectant now because there is a flicker of hope in the horizon. If you see Adaeze Oduah do anything noble, it shouldn’t surprise you because she is only following the footsteps of her parents. Her father, the late Igwe Dennis Oduah in the early 70’s set up an endowment fund in the name of Zik at the University of Nigeria Nsukka for the training of engineering students. Her mother, Josephine Oduah also set up another fund for the training of young girls in school at that time when many young girls were literarily sold into marriage.
“So when Princess Stella grew up, she decided to toe the same path by empowering people of all classes and categories from her private business even before she became a Minister. But now, we cannot forget in a hurry her foot prints in the aviation sector. For the first time in the history of the nation, Ndigbo now have an international airport in perpetuity. We know what happened that led to her exit in the Ministry because those who prospered under the old order vowed to frustrate her mission and even to make her pay dearly for daring to make those groundbreaking innovations but God said no to their plans.
“We have appealed to her in the past to heed this call to duty for the benefit of our zone and she finally agreed. So it is now time for us to cue into the project because we are the one to give her the mandate through our votes on Election Day.” Uzoka said.
The Campaign Director General and Former PDP Chairman in the State, Chief Pandola Okwuosa in a remark noted that Princess Oduah is vying because of the positive things she has done in life. He said it is only the brave ones like her that can struggle for the benefit of the people during the allocation of resources by the Federal Government. Okwuosa also disclosed that Oduah was not the first Aviation Minister of Igbo extraction but she was the first to remember the sufferings of the people while at the helm of affairs.
Former PDP Governorship aspirant in the state, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu in his own contribution noted that the political stakeholders’ forum was conceived for the people of Onitsha North to take a stand as it concerns the future of the zone in the 2015 elections.
He reflected on his political odyssey in the past 22 years in the state and expressed optimism that all hope is not lost for the people. He said that through job creation, many Onitsha youths involved in criminality in the past have turned into productive people. He said that now that the Omambala axis of the zone has produced a governor after the collective agitation of the people of Anambra North, equity now demands that the Ogbaru which has never produced a Senator in the past should go this time.
“I appeal to Onitsha people that this is the time to forget the animosities of the past so that we can get our own share from the federation. There are Senators and there are Senators and that is why we require the best foot to step forward. In the four political blocs in the 7 local government s in Anambra North, Oyi and Anyamelum have produced Chuba and Margery Okadigbo, Anambra West and East have produced Emma Anosike and Alphonsus Igbeke while Onitsha South and North has produced Joy Emordi leaving Ogbaru with zero. We have seen a capable hand in Ogbaru in the person of Oduah and we need to support her fully” Obiogbolu said.
Following a rousing ovation, the Star of the Day, Princess Oduah when she spoke started by acknowledging the various hierarchies of Onitsha leadership who honored the invitation. She described herself as an Onitsha person and pledged to build a befitting town hall for the people among other development projects.
“Let me start by saying that PDP is the only and singular platform where inspiration and aspiration can be achieved. It is the only party that is not run on the interest of only one person but for the benefit of all. It is the only party where even those who had accident of birth can still realize their dreams and rise to the top.
“I was born in Onitsha so this is my home stead. But my heart bleeds for what Onitsha has become. This is not the Onitsha the Great Zik dreamt of. Onitsha by perception is the commercial nerve center of the Federal Government and the main market and Ochanja market alone generates about N10.6 Billion daily. This is the only place in Nigeria where all indigenes of different ethnic groups in Nigeria are represented but unfortunately, there is 75% unemployment rate in Onitsha. I went to visit a friend the other day in Onitsha and we could not access the street because of bad roads and I also saw the graveyard of a deceased but very close to grave is a borehole where people fetch drinking water.
“My heart bleeds. The question is how did we become the way we are now and how do we regain our past glory? The hungry man has no pride and that is why we sell our franchise for a bag of salt or piece of wrapper. The answer is that we can reinvent ourselves. To make the federating units work, there must be equity, fairness and either by fight, dialogue or struggle, we must get our dues. If we mortgage that right and opportunity, we are gone because it is not about Stella Oduah, it’s about our children. We must think of paradigm shift.
“For God’s sake, why can’t we have full federal government presence here? The Onitsha General Hospital has remained the same structure it was since my childhood. It can be upgraded to a Federal Medical Center. 1 out of every 10 container that arrives in Nigeria ends in Onitsha but yet we travel to Lagos to clear the goods. The situation is like that because we have not chosen the right leaders and we say today- Never Again, it won’t happen again!
“I asked somebody before we came here why we must use the St. Mulumba Knights property for this meeting and he gave me a shocker that Onitsha has no town hall. I shuddered when I heard that and I say it now that I will build a befitting town hall for Onitsha people.
“Part of my promise when I get to the Senate is encapsulated in making sure that Anambra becomes a fully gazetted oil producing state. I will also attract Federal government hospitals in conjunction with the state government. The harnessing of our nature endowed potentials will be a priority by making Onitsha a real operational business port where people cannot suffer to clear their goods anymore. Onitsha must be recognized, rebuilt and upgraded to that modern city. The accruing benefits of true representation will translate to infrastructure rebuilding and provisions” Oduah stated.
Onitsha people responds
Former Member, House of Representatives and one time Commissioner for Education in Anambra State, Hon. Jessie Belonwu described Princess Oduah as good brand that markets itself. She told her fellow Onitsha people that true representation is not about going to Abuja but about who will bring the required results. He said Oduah has been a member of the Federal Executive Council who knows all the routes in Abuja and will surely deliver when she gets to the Red chambers.
Ononenyi Odi-Obi responding on behalf the Agbalanze said that Princess Oduah has given them the commitment to believe her and knowing her antecedents, the Agbalanze members are fully behind her.
Nnabuenyi Mary Onwualu on behalf of the Odu women society said that Princess Oduah met their expectations and they cannot abandon her. Nwadi Egwuatu on behalf of the Ikporo Onitsha was very emphatic when she said that there is no hurdle for Oduah in her quest as they will support her all the way.
The President General of Onitsha Town Union, Chief Peter Nwagu in a final vote of thanks on behalf of the indigenes at home and in Diaspora said that he is a living witness to Oduah’s achievements in the aviation sector. He recalled the structure at Enugu airport the first time he travelled to London in 1979 and the transformation that has taken place at the airport presently because of her. He declared that Onitsha people are behind her and that it shall be well with her desires and aspiration.