By Patrick Ochei
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council has commenced its planned programme of engaging candidates of various political parties vying for elective positions in 2023 general elections under The Platform.
The inaugural town hall session in Ika Federal Constituency kicked off today, Monday 12th December, 2023, at the Ika Grammar School, Boji Boji Owa, ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State, where two candidates featured and others didn’t turn up.
The candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Onyetoniekwu Jeffery opened the floor by speaking about himself and what he intends to achieve if elected as the member representing Ika North East Constituency in Delta State House of Assembly.
He promised to engage in Legislative activities that would guarantee a reduction in the cost of governance as well as push for bills that would tackle insecurity through community policing, using the already existing vigilante methods.
He also pledged to vigorously pursue bills that would encourage agro-business, insisting that he would ensure that the government sites a factory for the purpose of producing and marketing farm products to aid profitability for the farmers.
While expressing displeasure at the high cost of governance in the midst of low living wage of the people, he claimed he would propose the Edo method of assuaging the plights of pensioners in the Pension Reform Bill he would be working on if elected into office.
Further explaining, Onyetoniekwu said that he would ensure the pensioners’ basic salaries continue while their pensions are being processed.
On his own part, the APC candidate for Ika South Constituency, a lawyer and an entrepreneur, Mr. Festus Ofume Esq said, he had no manifesto but would rely on what the people need him to do to represent them.
Ofume, a former State Chairman of the Young Democratic Party (YDP), said he joined the All Progressives Congress because his visions and aspirations aligned with the policy thrust of the party.
According to him, “I am running for the purpose of giving my people the deserved effective and adequate representation in Delta State House of Assembly. It takes a sound mind to bridge the gap of mediocrity which is what has been obtaining in the parliament.
“I have no Manifesto, I didn’t have to write one. In saner climes, rules are unwritten, yet they prove effective. I will represent my people the way they want and their wishes would be my command.
“My dedication to the call of service would begin by me having a functional Constituency office for frequent engagements with my people. During these engagements, ideas will be birthed to become bills for the benefit of my people and Deltans in general.
“My engagement in the House of Assembly will reduce drastically the norm of passing Executive Bills into laws, to focus more on a situation where members will sit down to draft their own bills for passage into laws. These have not been the practice, and that shows that these people have not actually been representing the people of their Constituencies but representing themselves and the Executive in power.
“I want to let you know that laws are not our problem in Nigeria or Delta State as the case may be. We have enough laws but the challenge is enforceability.
“My duty is to enact laws and what happens with the laws is the Executive’s to decide. But again, that is where the issue of oversight functions comes in. We must be able to have checks and balances in place, and where there are constitutional infractions, impeachment should be the next option. However, the Executive also have their own rights and powers. In the case of impeachment, it can only come when there are procedural errors and not substantial errors”, Ofume clarified.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Chairman of NUJ, Delta State Council, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu urged the candidates to stick to the rules as provided by The Platform Committee, maintaining that the essence of the programme was to carry out media functions as well as provide candidates with the opportunity to sell themselves and their manifestos.
He added that it was not a platform to use foul languages or inciting comments against opponents or political parties.
His words, “This is a family affair, there is always life after politics. We are engaging you on behalf of the people of Ika Federal Constituency on the personality and credibility of the candidates and what they are bringing to the table.
“It’s only the media that is given the constitutional mandate to carry out the function of setting agenda for persons vying for elective offices as well as mounting surveillance for record purposes”, Ikeogwu said.
It was indeed a huge success as the Committee Chairman, Chief Sony Neme earlier before the commencement of debates, reeled out the modalities for the discourse, which were procedurally followed.
At the end of the day, the Chairman of Ika Chapel of NUJ, Pastor (Comr.) Christian Ogoh thanked the candidates that honoured the invitation while encouraging those that didn’t come to reach out for a possible arrangement to take their turn, otherwise they would be regarded as disregarding media invitation.