Mr. Anthony Onochei Ochei, is the candidate of New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) for Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, Delta state for 2023 National Assembly elections. A Fellow of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria; Fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, (CITN) with over 20 years’ experience in public and private sectors.
In this interview with our correspondent, he asserts that his aspiration to represent Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in 2023 under the platform of NNPP is motivated by the need to provide better representation to good people of Aniocha/Oshimili in the Green Chamber.
Good kindly tell us about yourself
I am Anthony Onochie Ochei, my friends and supporters call me Onochieobodo. I am a chartered accountant, chartered tax pcactitioner, certified professional forensic accountant, and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, (CITN). I graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accountancy from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State and I have a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Banking and Finance from Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State. I have attended several professional courses and conferences locally and international that prepared me for this important assignment.
What experiences do you have in governance?
I have had private and public sector experiences in different capacities as a special assistant to a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for four years and as an internal consultant to another minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for two years. I have also been a consultant to several committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the National Assembly and also consultant to various MDAs and several private sector players. I have a good understanding of inner workings of the National Assembly, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as the organised private sector.
In a nutshell, I have a good understanding Nigeria’s political economy and inter-governmental affairs due to my involvement with the executive and legislative arms of government at the highest levels.
Why are you contesting to represent Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives?
My aspiration is hinged on two pillars, which include the desire to deploy my professional experience, exposure and contacts in the service of good people Aniocha and Oshimili in the House of Representatives. I always believe that I have an obligation to service our people in whatever capacity that will facilitate rapid development of our constituency. I have nurtured this thought over the years, I have consulted with friends and associates on this matter. I was waiting for the right time to join the race. I got a nudge about a year ago, when I realized that my people are being under served over the years.
I strongly believe that our people deserves better representation than they are getting by those that represented us so far, hence my decision to offer myself in the service of Aniocha/Oshimili. I am convinced that this is the right thing to do as our people deserve only the best. That is my main motivation and this is why I’m contesting the House of Representatives seat.
Additionally, the second pillar is that at this stage in my life, I have made a commitment to follow up with some initiatives that I facilitated for our people when I served in the public sector as adviser in the Senate and to the minister.
For instance, I facilitated the investigation of the contractor handling Ogwashi-Uku Multipurpose Earth Dam Project during the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the investigation into the Nigerian Food Crisis and Agricultural Sector (1999 to 2008). The Dam is a federal government funded project initiated since 2006 to provide potable water, irrigation and hydro power to the people of Aniocha and Oshimili.
I will make it one of my legislative agenda on provision of infrastructure. Access to water is a major challenge in Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency. Aside this, I make bold to say that there are other projects centered on railways and dry port that I have also been able to influence to the constituency that are still in the pipeline.
Today in Ogwashi-Uku, it costs N16,000 to buy a tanker of water. Many poor households augment with harvested rain water stored mostly in unhealthy deep local wells. An average household buys a minimum of a tanker monthly, which translates to N192,000 annually and N768,000 in four years. The same goes for most part of my constituency.
Ironically, if our people, I am told, sell their votes for a paltry N5,000 and spend a whopping sum of N768,000 on unclean water in a political election cycle with the attendant health hazards, because these elected officials believe they have paid for their votes, they will have to wait for another four years to get another ‘benefit’. For me, my aspiration is a clarion call to service, which is not borne out of personal ambition but service to our people.
How will your representation impact on youths in the Constituency?
The youth of Aniocha/Oshimili are the core of my aspiration. I believe that young people bring positive vibes to any endavour. So my quick response is that we will embark on value reorientation to redirect energies, innovations and commitment of young people in the constituency. Our youth are strong and hardworking people, all they require will be mentoring and role modeling to harness the untapped potentials. Unfortunately, we have some young people who engage in illicit activities ranging from cultism, drugs, scams and even, land grabbing and sales. But these few create a very wrong impression about the others.
I will personally lead an initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of the youths in Aniocha/Oshimili to be self-reliant, increase social capital and competitiveness in innovations, creativity and entrepreneurship. I will create a new platform to reward our young people for exemplary conduct, resilience and hard work.
We will rewrite story of our youth by changing mind-sets, empowering them with knowledge, impactful skills and capital for investment. I will seek every available empowerment window from available sources and seek collaboration with relevant Federal Government agencies including, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency on Nigeria (SMEDAN), National Employment Agency (NDE), Bank of Industry (BOI), N’Power, and other donor partners to attract funding for youth development activities.
I strongly believe that the Dam at Ogwashi-Uku will accelerate agro-allied activities in our constituency. The impact of all-year round farming activities due to irrigation facilities will ensure our youth are gainfully employed in the sector as well as the processing centres that will emerge, harnessing potentials of the youth which is pivotal towards scaling up development process.
Power supply is a major challenge in your constituency, how do you intend to change the narrative?
Power is a national problem. Even in Abuja, the nation’s capital where I live and work, there are frequent power outages and sometimes, a total blackout for days and/or weeks. Power supply involves two main components: Generation and Distribution. I will work collaboratively with key agencies and entities in the power sector to ensure there is improvement in power supply in our constituency. I will be actively involved in legislative advocacy and engagements that will help improve both the generation and supply side of power in the entire country.
The activities of power generation companies need to be reviewed to ensure that Nigerians are not shortchanged, particularly, with the installation of prepaid meters in every household to make sure that only services utilised are paid for.
There are no Industries in your constituency, how can your representation attract investors there?
Industries are located where there are infrastructures such as electricity, good roads, nearness to raw materials and human capital. With a functional dam capable of providing potable water, irrigation and hydro power, industries will be naturally attracted to the constituency, especially agro-allied processing industries because Aniocha/Oshimili is an agrarian economy with arable lands. I will personally woo local and foreign investors to come and invest in our agricultural value chain and target export market to earn foreign exchange.
Why do you think you’re the right person to occupy this post?
I feel the pain of my people and I have the intellectual and legislative capacity to provide open, accountable, strong, and quality representation in the Green Chamber.
During my National Youth Service Corps, my place of primary assignment was at the National Assembly, where I served in the House Committee on Solid Minerals. I have been consulting for Committees of both the Senate and House of Representative since 2008. I have consulted for Senate and House Committees on Aviation, Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Senate Ad-hoc, Committee on Food Crisis and Agricultural Sector, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee to investigate loss of proceeds from sales of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
I was internal consultant to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources from 2008 to 2010 and also, special assistant (Finance) to the minister of Transport from 2011 t0 2015.
Additionally, as consultant to the National Assembly, I led the presentation at the public hearing on N19.5 Billion Aviation Intervention Fund and the public hearing of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Food Crisis and Agricultural Sector. I have a good understanding of how the executive and legislature arms work, which will be handy in representing the good people of Aniocha and Oshimili. I will not be learning the legislative process nor engagement with the executive branch, coupled with my high worth consulting experiences in the private sector.
Thank you, sir.