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Anambra Federal Lawmaker Claims Ex-Speaker’s Bill, Reveals Why He Executes Shoddy Roads

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By Izunna Okafor, Nnewi

The lawmaker representing the Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, Hon. Chris Azubogu has laid claim on a bill sponsored by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, as one of the 13 bills he has sponsored in his 12 years in the Green Chamber.

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Hon. Azubogu made the claim on Monday through his Media Assistant, Hon. Ikechukwu Onyia during an online interactive session with the people of Nnewi South Local Government Area who hosted him to a media chat to hear his achievements in the House and his plans for the people as one of the candidates vying for the Anambra South Senatorial seat.

The Federal lawmaker who hails from Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area, is the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, as well as the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for the Anambra South Senatorial Zone in the forthcoming general election.

While fielding questions from the constituents, Hon. Azubogu, who personally answered some of the questions himself, reeled out some of his achievements in the National Assembly, especially as they relate to the Nnewi South Local Government Area, and also highlighted some of his plans for the people of elected a senator come February 25, 2023. He, however, left his Media Assistant, Mr. Onyia, along after about an hour, to continue attending to some of the remaining questions, while he (Azubogu) tried to catch up with some other time-bound engagements also dunning for his attention.

Be it as it may, some questions were also not satisfactorily answered by the lawmaker before his circumstantial and understandable withdrawal from the engagement. These include questions bordering on the poor execution, abandonment or outright non-execution of some capital projects in the area after over a billion naira had been budget for them, as were covered in the 2017 appropriation bill.

Some of the projects, as were highlighted by a constituent, include the Okija-Ihembosi-Afor Ukpor-Ebenator-Ezinifite Road, for which a total of N512,840,000.00 (five hundred and twelve million, eight hundred and forty thousand naira) was budgeted; erosion control in Ebenator, Nnewi South, for which a total of two hundred million naira was budgeted, among other capital intensive projects in different parts of the Constituency, which were covered in the 2017 budget, but were not executed.

While responding to the question said, Hon. Azubogu, who himself is the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, said “Some of these projects were budgeted for, but how sure are you that the fund was released…?”.

To many, the response was seen as a technical means by which the lawmaker dodged and diverted to the constituents, his oversight function of finding out if those budgeted funds were actually released to the contractors, and what stalled the execution of those projects; despite being the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation.

On his achievements in the House in the last eleven and half years now and still counting, the lawmaker listed some of the projects he has successfully executed in the area, to include: 6.7km Ebe—Afor—Agwuria Ukpor Road, Nnewi South; Ukwu-Ofor Nnewi, Nnewi North Inter LGA Road with drainage; Bridge over Ubu Agwuria (constructed from scratch); CSS Ukpor—St. Andrew’s Umuohama Road, Ukpor; Ndodoro Umunuko Ukpor Road; Ezengwu Ebe Road connecting Dispensary/Ahiankwu, Ukpor; Oriogodo Ebe Ukpor Road connecting Ebe Community Secondary School; ICT Center at Community Girls Secondary School (formerly Ukpor Girls); Mini Grid and Brand New 20KVA Generator at Osigbu, Ukpor; Solar Powered Borehole at Ukpor Town Hall, Ukpor, among others.

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It was, however, surprising to some of the constituents when, after Hon. Azubogu had handed over the engagement to his his aide to attend to other things, he (the aide) posted the list of thirteen bills he said the lawmaker has sponsored in the Green Chamber, in response to a question asked by a concerned constituent who asked how many bills he has sponsored in the House and how many of them have been passed.

The constituents became more surprise when it was observed that the lawmaker posted only 13 bills, in his about 12 years in the House.

The surprise further heightened when it was also observed that some of the bills he listed were actually not sponsored by him, but by other lawmakers. Cynosural among such bills is the Data Protection Bill, which was a bill sponsored by the current Speaker of the House of Reps, Rt. Hon. Dogara.

The session also became more dramatic when the federal lawmaker, also through his media aide, attempted to justify his construction of some quick-to-spoil and shoddy roads he has so far reportedly executed in the area. According to the him, some of those inferior roads “were the only projects available in the agency at the time the lawmaker attracted them.”

His words: “Some of these roads you’re talking about here are done as rural access roads. If you go to where they are sharing projects at the federal government level, there are some agencies where Azubogu would go to attract road from, and the only thing they have there are rural access roads (the inferior roads). So, in such situation, he won’t tell them that he doesn’t need the road. Rather, he will attract them, instead of waiting till when they have Truck A road or Truck B road…

“And some of these roads…, you would notice that there are some classes of cars that may ply on them, and they will spoil. But Azubogu had to bring them home first and execute them, while also still pushing for the category of roads he is looking for. That is what Azubogu has been doing…

“So, it is not as if he deliberately brought and executed those inferior roads. They are the ones that are available at the time he attracted them. And that is why he is trying to partner with the state government, the Anambra Road Maintenance Agency, the local government and the community leaderships, so that they will be maintaining these roads as they get spoilt.”

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This reporter Izunna Okafor, was, however, not satisfied with the responses of the lawmaker’s aide, and, therefore decided to contact his principal, to directly hear his own side of the response.

When contacted, Hon. Azubogu himself also alluded to the fact that some of the thirteen bills his aide listed are owned by or credited to some lawmakers, particularly the Data Protection Bill, which owned by RlHon. Yakubu Dogara. He, however, said he was the first person to sponsor some of those bills but did not succeed in seeing them till passage, before some other lawmakers eventually picked them up, remodified them and re-sponsored them and saw to their passage.

When asked if any of his bills has been passed by the House, Hon. Azubogu, who is currently rounding up his third tenure in the House of Reps, said majority of his bills have passed second reading.

He said: “No one person takes claim of building a law… I participated in the Corporate Affairs Commission Bill, the National Orientation Agency Amendment Act, and all of that. I am also driving the Appropriation Bill for four years now; and they are saying that my bills have not been passed. How would they say that? Do you understand what is passing bill…?

“…You may propose a bill, but people who know how better to shape it may pick it up. So, it is not always about individual bill or how many bills someone sponsored that you should use to measure or rate him. I am a professional, and I am experienced in lawmaking. I know the kinds and quality of contributions I make in the floor, both during debate and when discussing bills. So, some of my bills have passed second reading, for your information. They have passed second reading. And they are there.”

Concerning the inferior roads allegedly being constructed by the lawmaker, he debunked the claims that all the roads he has constructed are inferior, but, however accepted that some of them may have been inferior or spoilt earlier than expected due to certain factors, such as human error, erosion, and topography of the soil, among others.

“If I have constructed five roads, and three among them are inferior, while two are still okay, will you say that all my roads are inferior?” he asked.

He also called on the residents and community leaders to always monitor, protect, and take ownership of the projects being executed for them.

“You can’t be waiting for me to leave what I’m doing in Abuja and come down to start monitoring or protecting road projects I am executing for you in your village. Or, is that the right thing to do? Communities should monitor, protect and take ownership of those projects. It is being done for them,” he concluded.

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