“Non-Conduct of local Government is a big burden to Governor Peter Obi” – Aforka, Orumba North Chairman, Anambra state

Sam Aforka, Orumba North Chairman, Anambra state
Sam Aforka, Orumba North Chairman, Anambra state

PDP has six factions in Anambra state – APGA Chieftain

Former deputy publicity secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Anambra state, Hon Emeka Aforka is a man with many parts. He left is career in the Institute of Technology (IMT), Enugu in the department of Quantity Surveying as an Adjunct lecturer for four years and joined politics. Since then Aforka who is now the Transition Committee Chairman, Orumba North Local Government Area has no regrets.

Aforka who graduated from Architecture from University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Enugu Campus has served in the past as Transition Committee member and Supervisor for Works in Orumba North local council has been an Aide of Hon Dr Okey Udeh former deputy Governor Anambra state and former Member House of Representatives Orumba South and North Federal Constituency for years before asserting himself.

He spoke to our Correspondent in Anambra on a wide range of issues including his party and his administration in Orumba North.


What is the real thing holding the local government election?

This is the issue we have been discussing. Our governor is totally committed to conduct local government election. He has fixed the election for 2 or 3 times but because of some certain interests in Anambra State, people went to court and stopped it. When the governor is moving towards the direction that will benefit everybody, one or two persons will scuttle it.

The issue of non-conduct of local government election in Anambra State is a big burden to the governor. Even our party APGA is over ready for this election and will beat other political parties hands down. Our governor is a law abiding governor, since the matter is in court, there is nothing he can do.

He believes in the rule of law and he cannot flaunt court order. He is not the person that went to court, they are people from Anambra State and you know them please let them leave Peter Obi alone.

Anambra 2014, what do you think?

It is going to be like other elections that our governor has contested. Gov. Peter Obi has put so many things on ground that there is no doubting the fact APGA will win the election, because our governor is the leader of our party in the state, and he has done a lot of work in the state.

It is Anambra people that will decide and I think that the generality of Anambra people believe in Governor Peter Obi because there is no place in Anambra State that he has not done one or two things to prove that he is a Governor for every sector and everybody in the state.

So, I don’t think that there is any Anambra man that will challenge Gov. Peter Obi, there are so many rascals they will come out to contest but the election will be like 2010 election.

What happened in Ondo election between Mimiko and other political parties will happen in Anambra state. It will be a surprise for everybody when the election is conducted that an APGA candidate will win.

What of Anambra North Candidates?

Well, that is a policy of our governor. I am from Anambra South and Gov. Obi is from central. He said that there is a need for us to produce Anambra Governor from the North. I see it as a fantastic and unbiased policy and decision and anybody working against it as not patriotic Anambra man.

Anambra South has held the position for two times, Anambra Central two or more times, so let us allow Anambra North. It is more equitable if we say we are going to leave as one state. I know that my people Anambra South are very political, they are politically enlightened.

Who is now the National Chairman of APGA?

That is a subjudice because there is a case in court and I think I will not be right to speak on any matter that is in court.

What can you say about the rift between Chief Victor Umeh and Gov. Peter Obi?

These are good friends that understand each other very well. Our Governor, Mr. Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh (Ohamadike) are brothers that have been very good to each other before I know them.

So, I don’t want to discuss any matter that concerns them because they can resolve their issues on their own.

If you see them in a function, they greet and hug each other. It is true that they can disagree based on interests like what is going on now but that does not mean that they are not friends again. They will resolve at the appropriate time.

As a stakeholder in APGA, do you think that APGA is still a political party or has it failed?

Ordinarily, I don’t regard APGA as a political party. It is a mass movement that is beyond political party. It is beyond the concept of political party. It is where group of people come together and discover that, that is where their destiny lies.

APGA is an Igbo platform where our voice can be heard as in this country as a nation. Even those in other political parties still support APGA. They have interest in whatever we are doing.

Do you think the mass movement and the Igbo party have failed?

My brother, it has not failed. What has made it to fail? It cannot fail because in every strong and peaceful family there are trial moments from where they draw their strengths from.

There are factions.

Even in your family there are tendency that there will be faction. Parents and children don’t agree even children themselves sometimes, don’t agree. The tendency for them to agree or disagree is based on interest. What is going on in APGA is not a problem. In all the parties in Nigeria today, there are so many factions.

PDP as a political party has more than 5 factions now in Anambra State. There is one faction that is talking about congress now which makes it 6 six factions now. So, APGA in Anambra State has no faction.

What is the journey like in the local government?

Thank you for that. This is now one year and some months as the chairman of the local government I can vividly without fear of contradiction tell you that the journey so far is good. We put so many things on ground that is verifiable.

First and foremost, you know human beings are very difficult to govern. For people to have confidence in what you are doing, you must strive hard to convince people.

The first thing I achieved as the chairman is to secure the support of the people of Orumba North Local Government. Majority of them have confidence in my administration because I lowered myself to relate with the common people and I also attain social functions in my local government. So, I see that as the greatest achievement I have made.

Then, coming to the things I have put on ground, when I assumed office as the chairman of the local government, I discovered in the first 3 months that the local government secretariat has epileptic power supply. There was a time I don’t have light in the local government for over one month.

I was running the local government with a generator spending a lot of money on diesel and servicing the generator and when I did the calculation, I discovered that I have spent more than N500, 000 in a month. On that note, I decided to call for a management meeting and told them that we cannot continue that way.

There is nothing like transformer since the creation of the local government and the entire local government secretariat shared light with 3 communities; Nawfija in Orumba South, Akpu and Ajali communities, both in Orumba North.

I was able to convince my management on the need to procure a transformer for the local government. By the grace of God we now enjoy light in the secretariat because we have procured a separate transformer.

Having done that, the environment of the local government does not look like government premises. We initiated the idea of asphalting the local government secretariat. They were not there when I came on board, but within 6-months we were able to make people feel the breeze of government presence.

We did not stop at that, we renovated all the dilapidated buildings in that local government legislative council, traditional rulers building was dilapidated we put it to standard.

I completed the revenue building that was at DPC level when I came in. the main administrative block was partitioned with plywood. I removed them because one day, we may have fire outbreak and something else may occur. We changed all the plywood to block walls and renovated the entire block.

In my own office, the furniture there has been there for over 10 years; I have to remove all of them and make the office look like the office of the chairman of a local government. The local government since creation has a works yard where all our equipment and other properties were kept without any perimeter fencing to secure the place.

The place was bushy and overgrown with grasses. When we came on board, I discovered that armed robbers and hoodlums used to go there to cart away our equipment. We then did the perimeter fencing and installed a gate to restrict illegal movement into the works yard. So many criticized the idea but today the properties are well secured.

Have you affected the communities in your local government?

Let me start with Ufuma Community, we have rehabilitated so many rural roads in the community, more than 4 rural roads. We did two culverts there one is ongoing now but nearly completed. We are doing that one at the Federal Polytechnic Oko, Campus Ufuma, we are doing that to assist the polytechnic, campus there. We are doing another at Enugwu-Akpu Ufuma.

We have renovated one primary school at Umuogem Ufuma. We have also installed about 10 solar street lights that costs between N750,000-N800,000 per one. When you get to Ufuma junction, you see some of them. We also installed 10 solar street lights within the local government secretariat to illuminate the place.

Coming to Afor Ufuma market, we constructed a VIP toilet having observed that the one there is dilapidated. We did that so that people that come from different places to the market can see where to ease themselves. We have also established two additional health centres at Ufuma and equipped them. When I came on board, Orumba North has only 34 health centres but today we have 38. I have posted health workers there and supplied equipment and other things that will help to facilitate health delivery.

In Oko Community, we have rehabilitated some roads at Oko. For instance, there is a popular road called Okoli-Asiegbu, from total filling station to Ndiowu. That road was impassable for over 5 years. People doubted my capability to do it but I placed bulldozers there which worked there for over 4 days before we starting hipping stones, latrite and other things to make the road more usable and today you can comfortably connect and access Ndiowu from Oko Polytechnic axis.

There is another road in Oko called Ifite road opposite Federal Polytechnic Oko, the road was so bad and subjected many people into severe suffering but we rehabilitated the road.

We also secured about 2 or 3 plots of land. I had an MOU with the land owner to establish Motor Park. I came as a local government chairman and observed that one cannot access Awka from my local government without going to another local government, Ekwulobia. But the administration of Gov. Peter Obi did a wonderful work that the generation of today and the next generation will never forget by giving us Odor bridge which enables us to access Awka under 10 minutes.

So, we decided to establish a motor park that will be called Orumba North Motor Park. Although many people fought against it even in my council I persevered and secured that land along Oko by-pass with a heavy compensation paid but I don’t want to mention the amount. We paid for the economic trees there to make sure that we secure the place.

Like how many plots ?

3 plots of land, we have leveled the place to make it possible for vehicles to go in there, load and off load to various destinations in the state. Even though it’s very difficult for people to comply because we are battling with some Mass Transits who refuse to honour that and that is why I did road congestions some weeks ago. If you go there now, you will see one or two vehicles inside that park. And by God’s grace with time that place will pick and we will all be happy for that. Change is always very difficult in this part of the world.

On their market, I visited Eke Oko markets and discovered that there were heaps of refuse inside the market which is not habitable for people to do their businesses. We put a pay loader and tipper lorry and make sure we carted them away and that was last year.

Where did you dump them?

We developed a treated dump site around Nanka erosion site.

Is it in any way affecting the people around the place?

It doesn’t affect anybody because in line with the state government policy, we don’t do anything that will affect the life of the people. I also discovered that there is no VIP toilet there and we requested for a portion of land which they donated and we did one that has been commissioned.

There is another at the primary school at Ezioko and that one is nearly completed because the arrangement is now concluded. Work has already started and we have a consultant that have developed the master plan for the market in Oko and MUO have been signed for the development of that market to a standard market. I have also given official directive for people to go there and start doing something. We are doing one project or the other in all the communities and we are just coming back from inspection of our project at Ndiokpalaeke.

Is it build, operate and transfer or local government will build and they will pay?

No, we decided to involve the private individual to be part of it. It’s a kind of build, operate and transfer but the issue is when you build, the local government will supervise since we have that supervisory role.

What kind of structure is that?

We have the low and high rise buildings. But it depends on the areas they were cited. We have signed MOU on that and Oko community was very happy. More than 200 people have indicated interest in developing the place.

What of other communities?

In Awgbu community, which is one of the largest communities we have in Orumba North. They pleaded with me that they don’t have a nearby stream where they can get drinking water. I quickly set our experts for feasibility study on how to give them drinking water. They reported back to me and the community wrote a letter to me on what they want and where they want it. We discussed that in a management meeting and approved a borehole for them which have been completed at Eke Awgbu.

When I came on board, I picked all ongoing projects and completed them. Awgbu requested for only borehole but I added VIP toilet where people that come to buy and sale can go for convenience.

How much did you spend on the borehole?

About N6.9 million was spent on that borehole. I also discovered in Awgbu that the road where our House of Assembly member is coming from is too bad. It was earlier last year that he said, Chairman, I can’t go home there is no road to my place, I promised him that we have to do that road to his house, which we have rehabilitated. We connected the road linking Amaetitit, Okpueze and Ndiukwu-enu because the terrain is too bad.

There is a popular primary health centre at Awgbu which is older than me. A lot of building there are dilapidated but we renovated the staff quarters there and constructed the new one. Having done that, the women of Awgbu came together and said that with the achievement of the local government chairman, that they will donate entrance gate to the health centre. There is a perimeter fence there but no gate but the women donated the gate which I commissioned. We have also done 2 culverts at Awgbu. There is also one primary school at Awgbu which we are renovating now and in two weeks time, the work would be completed.

In my own community Ndiowu, my people had a kind of relief when I rehabilitated Oko-Ndiowu road. There was a road at Aforike Amaokpala that has been abandoned for over 7 years, I put our bulldozer there for 2 weeks and now it is the best road to my community. The day the governor came to the place, with the commissioner for works, they marveled. We didn’t stop at that, my own village is called Umudiabo village there is a place we need to connect a new road to make it shorter.

I say it’s worth doing. My deputy and some engineers went to access the place and they confirmed that we can do it. We did the new road. So, I am the only local government chairman that did a new road in the whole of Anambra State. I am not boasting but I stand to be challenged. Where there was no road, about 3 kms we have to remove all the trees and all obstructions and created a road out a road for our people.

What is the name of the road?

Ubaha-Umudiabor road and we also did a culvert there. We created this road under 3 weeks for people to see the reality and possibility and today that road is the best road we have. I just want to dwell on roads because that was the major problem we have in my community. We also did a VIP toilet in my community. We have done a total of 8 VIP toilets and we are about to do the 9th and 10th one. The 5 VIP toilets are located at Oko, Ndiowu, Nanka, Ufuma and Awgbu the other ones are still under construction and under allocation.

In all these, what are your challenges?

The major challenges I have as the chairman of a local government is simply the way some people take government policies. When you initiate a policy, people will always find it very difficult to understand where you are going. They are only few because I regard them as vocal minority.

For instance, when somebody was building a house at Oko, he used construction materials to block half of the road. I personally wrote a letter to him pleading that he removes his construction materials from the blocked drainages but he never honoured my instruction.

I sent a second message; he insisted that he must see who that local government chairman is. I woke up one morning and decided to evacuate those things. I hired about 4 tipper trucks from Awka they gave me a higher price but I had already determined to do it. I paid N25, 000 each trip from Oko to the local government secretariat. I called my DPO to send all his men and mounted at the place and also engaged other security agencies like the SSS, Civil Defense and ASTA. I was able to remove everything and dump them in my local government.

Next thing he did was to send people to come and beg. I told them that I need to see the man. My plan was to put him inside cell but he ran away. So this is a challenge. People choose to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing. Sometimes when you tell commercial drivers don’t load here, they will agree at that moment but in two hours time go there and see them doing that.

What of the sand excavation?

I received a terrible call last night that Awgbu people refused to honour our instruction even when we have taken somebody to court on sand excavation. Now they have started again.

Just yesterday, the community leaders went and opened the whole pits. If those leaders were not involved, nobody will excavate sand illegally. Go to Amaokpala community, the moment I give any instruction, the traditional ruler will call for a meeting and direct the people on what to do. We don’t need to work against the government.

Awgbu is the community I have done major projects than my own community but they still flout rules. The open pitches from 8pm to 4am for people to excavate sand. Look at what erosion is causing us at Nanka-Oko even part of Amaokpala, Ufuma, there is a road that connects Ufuma to Awa that erosion has caught off now. I want to reconnect that road before I leave office. When you tell people the adverse effect of excavating sand in such places, they won’t listen. Awgbu people have decided to cause more problems and I don’t know what they gain from that sand excavation. We took somebody to court, the court in its magnanimity granted the offender bail with the sum of N200, 000 with surety who also paid N200, 000 which amounts to N400, 000 and in less than two months, they are back to the place. By Monday if I turn to tiger and everybody will start complaining.

What do you do to the community leaders that are opening the pits?

I have already directed security agencies to provide them for further necessary actions.

What is you ambition?

My ambition is just like any other person’s ambition. I aspire for higher positions in life but I don’t struggle for anything. What I do in my life is to continue to do the right thing. I don’t do things do or die and that is what placed me today as chairman of local government. I do my work with every commitment. My ambition is, when I finish my work as chairman of local government which I am doing today, may God in his infinite mercy direct me further.

Do you have an eye on any elective position?

If my party decides to give me ticket for any elective position, I will take it. Anything I do is based on my party’s decision. I may aspire to be a senator and my party will say no, don’t run and that is why I said that I don’t struggle.

For now, I am concentrating in what I am now doing as transition committee chairman, so that my work can speak for me. What is in my mind now is to do this work am doing creditably and not being a senator or House of Assembly member.

The difference between we politicians and civil servants, when the civil servants were at the helm of affairs of local government; once its 4 pm all of them will go but today I don’t leave my local government till 7 pm and sometimes when you leave, you start attending one or two social functions like traditional marriage, wedding, and burials which the civil servants cannot do.

Why is some of the local government chairman running the local government like mafias, they don’t carry their Transition committee members along?

I can’t say you are right. I only know about mine. Ask me about mine and face other people and ask them about theirs. If you go to my local government, ask any of my members and ask them how I run my own, they will tell you they run the local government and not the chairman. There was a time I went for medical treatment, for one month and two weeks, but the local government was existing, my deputy was in charge, having management meeting and taken major decisions. So, we do what called F &G PC meeting, if you don’t do it, you cannot execute any project. After our management meeting, we take it to F&G where we approve fund and sometimes I may not be there and my ‘F’ & ‘G’ will approve and inform me.

So, why is it that local government Heads of Administration and chairmen connive to approve projects without inputs from the F and G in some places?

Well, I will call it an abnormal system. Even if it is an elected council, you can’t do that. It’s not the local government administration and chairman will decide. Your members must know what you are doing. If there is any local government transition chairman that is not working with his members, that person has a case to answer but I don’t think there is because with the orientation we have and regular meeting we do have with the commissioner for local government who doesn’t do things on her own.

She does whatever thing we decide in a meeting. So, why would any Chairman connive with Head of Service to take a decision alone without his members in F and G? The members of the Transition should be in the know of whatever that is happening in the local government to be able to speak about the government at their various wards and anybody doing contrary to that is not a good leader?

May be because of the money that is involved so that they can inflate the cost and share it alone?

Well, the person will answer that one.

In all these achievements, do you do them with the local government resources or do you partner with some development partners or donor agencies?

I am working with having donor agencies partnering with my local government and that is on progress. Very soon it will come to pass. I will visit Abuja because I have interaction with some of them. We are thinking on how to make my local government better and I relate with my governor on whatever I am doing. For now we don’t have but we are establishing a contact with some of the donor agencies to come and partner with us and that is what our governor wants.

Secondly, local government fund is what we are using. I inherited an ongoing construction of road which is about 4.5km asphalting road. About 2.8km has been already done. Earth work has been done half way, drainages have been done and as I am talking to you now on the Umuogem-Agric road Ufuma. So we continue to do that road with local government fund. The remaining kilometers suppose to have been completed in the month of November but it is remaining finishing touches. It will be completed because I don’t want to abandon it and soon Obi will commission that road.

Funding is not a problem but application of that fund. I don’t want to see any uncompleted project in my local government. We completed health centre in Ndiokolo community and they are waiting for my commissioning. Why I am delaying the commissioning is because I want to do a culvert there because their road is bad. We shall do a mini bridge there since their culvert was submerged by water during the rainy season. The engineer has gone there to do some assessment and construction of that bridge commenced since end of November. In Ndiokpalaeze, we renovated their health centre.

What is your IGR every month like?

It’s poor because we are rural local government. We don’t have anything to show but the little we get is being applied judiciously.

So can you tell us the total number of kilometer roads you have done?

We have done over 50kms of road. We are doing a bridge worth over N50 million that connects 4 communities, Aronatu, Amaetiti bridge that connects Ndiukwuenu, Okpeze, Aronata and Ndikeliowu. We decided to work on these bridges because people from Ndiukwuenu and Okpeze are finding it very difficult to access our local government secretariat.

They first of all come to Awgbu before accessing the secretariat but the idea of this bridge will reduce their sufferings and by the end of first quarter of this year, we are going to finish the bridge and connect the road. The road that takes up to 45 minutes now will be less than 5 minutes if connected. I have flagged off the construction of that bridge if not the rainy season that hindered the project execution because the place was water logged, we would have completed it.

The contractor has procured rods, chippings, sand and other things worth about N7million but he then applied for sometimes to avoid wastages. But work has commenced since November last year.




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