God has given me what I asked for.
Elder Chike Ugwummadu, Chairman, Ndokwa East Local Government Area of DeltaState bares his mind on various issues bordering on his achievements since assumption of office, his challenges and other matters. Excerpt: SIR, can we know who you are, a little of your political background?
Well, I am Elder Ugwummadu Chike, from Abala. My leadership qualities were exhibited even from birth. In primary four I was given the task to control those in primary five and six. That was just a signal to what people were seeing in my life; my leadership qualities from my youth. On my own, I started going about my area and where there was conflict I tried to resolve them. That was what actually led to my being in this position today. I never liked politics. Many of them in politics say what they cannot fulfil. So, what changed your opinion? When I discovered that even when you donít like them, that you couldnít make any impact sitting down in your house and complaining, you will die murmuring. So, I said if that is the case, letís get into it. I decided to go into politics in 2003. I said that the kind of money I cannot spend in the House of God I donít like spending it outside. So that was one of my major challenges. People were saying I should come and that is how I entered the Peopleís Democratic Party (PDP). Since your inauguration as Ndokwa East Local Government Chairman, how has it been? It has been very interesting. I am now exposed to what I have been asking God for. I now handle conflict problems on a daily basis. It gives me joy. I go to the office before quarter to 8 am; when I finish my morning devotion by 8 oíclock I enter into work and I work till 8 pm. I derive joy in doing that work, solving the problems of my people; my major problem/challenge is the civil servants. I didnít know that is how they are. They donít come to work, if they even come; they want to go home early. Some of them donít come to work from the beginning to the end of the month, yet they want to receive their salary. That is what I have been facing and I thank God for the few months in office. Who do you work with if they arenít there? Let me tell you what I did. I picked a scripture from II Corinthians Chapter 10 verse 6: ďFor you to subject the spirit of disobedience into control, your own obedience must be perfect.Ē So, I decided to go to work on time and after my morning devotion I come and stand outside and I will be watching the people (workers) when they get into the office. With that everybody started coming to work on time. I have subjected everybody to control to work. I didnít shout at anybody. What I did was to make myself perfect, discipline myself, come to work on time and close late. So today, if you go to Ndokwa East, by 5pm people are still in the office. What about the state of finance in your LG. What exactly did you meet in the coffers? I met an empty treasury and I said to myself; the people that left this thing is because they donít have focus, vision. I came with a vision; right away, for this two months plus, I have awarded contracts. In the councilís secretariat, we are building offices, it is progressing already. For the one of legislative chamber, there is no legislative chamber; they do everything in the multi-purpose half. Today, we are raising another block for the legislative chamber. We are doing our gate, our fence; all our water projects, the ones done by the state that are in shambles, we have started rehabilitating them, in Abala-Oshimili, Abala-Obodo, Ase, Ashaka, Ibrede, infact almost all the parts. The man standing there is my Supervisor for Environment, he just came back from Iselegu, Abala-Obodo because of water hyacinth. That is what we are embarking upon by next week. If you get to that place, the people cannot travel from Abala-Obodo to Abala-Unor through water and thatís the only means of transport. We are going to clear the water hyacinth from Abala-Unor, Abala-Obodo Ė Iselegu, infact we are doing it in the whole of Ndokwa East. So many of our health centres, we are commissioning one in Abala-Oshimili in two weeks time; one in Utchi, one in Asaba-Ase. Infact, about seven places we are going to commission the centres, get drugs, all the equipment they want, so that these people donít suffer. My promise to them when I was campaigning is to wipe away their tears, and that is actually what I am doing now. How much will the removal of the water hyacinth cost the local government council? The removal of the water hyacinth is going to cost us close to N35 million. You know Ndokwa East is vast and the council is using direct labour because it we embark on contract it will be higher than that. We are going to involve people from those areas to get the job done. We know we are going to be buying a lot of chemicals but we are still going to involve people from those areas, youths from those areas. This will make them know that we are doing it for their sake and to make sure that the work is properly handled. There are so many methods to remove water hyacinth but the best is using chemical, by spreading it on the hyacinth. It is not going to be harmful to aquatic life. However, after using chemical it will still take days. What can be done is to make sure that we remove those heaps of the hyacinth upland and two or three days of sun it will be dried. The issue about hyacinth is that when there is flood, when the River Niger starts rising there is every tendency that the hyacinth will be brought back. So, there is no preventive measure. You have to repeat its removal every year as the hyacinth returns. You just have to be ready that each time it comes and for the people to live and move from one place or the other, you must continue to remove the hyacinth. So, by 100 days, are you going to beat your chest and say you have achieved part of your promises to your people? Definitely, definitely, I will beat my chest and say I have touched the hearts of my people because as from this month (July), we have mapped out a reasonable sum that we are going to be paying to such individuals that do not have anybody to help them, that are jobless, that are not on pension; we have mapped out about 500 names that will be receiving not less than N10,000 every month to empower them. We are also arranging before the end of this our 100 days we want to work out loan scheme for our women and young men that can farm very well so that they can be getting something from the council. I initiated internal-revenue within the law by constituting committee and it helped me to map out ways to get money. So, what I am getting from my internally - generated funds is also helping us so much. These are some of the things we are doing. There are also international agencies, that I have constituted a committee that are now interacting, relating with these international agencies that are ready to assist us by giving us 50 per cent of every project we embark on. They said we should bring the projects to them and we have given them the list and we are waiting for them to respond either by way of bringing the 50 per cent as they said based on the number they will approve for Ndokwa East. Most of your colleagues cry about getting zero allocation. In your case, how have you surmounted this problem? Zero allocation is true but then because of this internally - generated policy of mine, I donít want to rely on Federal allocation. When I look at the allocation, for example if you have N100 million this month then next month you have N30 million I discovered that the thing is not stable. I now said this is not something to be relied on, so I went back and constituted a committee of men of integrity because we are from an oil producing area. We just did that and today it is helping us. We are going to rely more on what we are generating in our local government and this will sustain us instead of looking at the zero allocation. I donít owe my workers their salaries. `