Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai is the House of Representatives member representing the Ndokwa federal constituency in the National Assembly. The media space has been inundated with a purported move by a handful of members of his constituency to recall him from the National Assembly, giving several reasons for their action. They have gone to the extent of collecting signatures to kick-start their motive. However, reacting to the move by the group, Hon. Ossai who spoke with The New Diplomat’s Delta State correspondent, AMAECHI PROSPER, noted that those calling for his recall are APC members being sponsored by some notable PDP politicians from the Ndokwa axis who are hell bent on de-marketing him in view of 2023. He also highlighted some of his constituency projects in the constituency, but regretted that he was being distracted from the work the people voted him to do in the National Assembly on their behalf.
Recently, a group which called itself Ndokwa Think Tank Assembly, NTTA, led by one Comrade Amaechi Nwador was reported to have commenced the collection of signatures for the purpose of recalling you from the House of Representatives over what it called gross and incompetent representation. What is your reaction to this development?
Some of them are APC. But some of our people are funding them. Some PDP leaders are allegedly funding them. They are about six of them who want to take their positions, not mine. What they are trying to do is to de-market themselves, not me. They have chosen to de-market me in the social media but I’ve chosen to market myself among the political class and the grassroots.
The Independent Power Project step-down that they have been complaining about, I have been funding it over the years; first time, I put N1.2 billion; second time I put N1.2 billion, the third I time I put N800 million and the fourth time, I put in N800 million. These are things I have been putting inside the budget for the IPP step down. What can a legislator do better than what I’m doing now in the IPP just to step it down? And the governor recently, through a Townhall meeting, told them that the right of way has been approved for payment. So, if people are not patient enough to wait, is it easy get the IPP stepdown for people to get light? So, if that is the only area I’m channeling my money into, if the light comes, is it not going to bring progress for the people? It will bring. It doesn’t mean that I’m not doing other projects.
I’m also doing projects like building of classrooms in some schools, I’m giving them chairs, I’m providing ICT to many schools and I’m building health centres which the Local Government Councils ought to do but they are not able to do. We are also tarring a few roads. If they say it is not enough, am I an executive governor? The one from the Internal Revenue Service, has been there. This is his second tenure. He has not been able to build a Tax Office in the three local government areas. He has a percentage they retain after giving to the state government. Can’t he do corporate social responsibility to those areas? He has not. So, in which area is he better than me. The former DESOPADEC Commissioner did nothing with all the money. So, what are the projects they attracted to his state constituency that you are accusing me I have not done? So, these are the issues.
I pushed a bill that today every Deltans are enjoying the benefit of. That is the Bill for Movable Assets and Collateral Registry. That is what the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is using to give everybody money today. All these monies that the CBN gives to different people at different rates, it is the law that I enacted. So, is it not beneficial to Nigerians including Ndokwa people?
You are talking of the issue of Polytechnic. I pushed the bill for the Polytechnic from the House of Representatives and I passed it. It passed through and went to the Senate. Did you vote me as a Senator? You voted me as a House of Representative member and I have done the job you voted me for. And you are querying why I shouldn’t go to the President of the Senate that he should pass the bill. And you elected a Senator.
You say I did not coordinate Councillors, I did not coordinate SAs, I did not coordinate House of Assembly members, I did not coordinate Local Government chairmen. Did you vote me to go and coordinate them?
It was also observed that the people are complaining about your alleged failure to give out empowerment. How do you react to that?
Yes, they are talking about empowerment, but I brought empowerment and gave to 600 Ndokwa indigenes. And we selected them on the basis that they applied through social media. I don’t know who is who. It was for people who have small businesses of N50,000 worth. And we distributed N50,000 each to the tune of N30 million. We bought about fourteen motorcycles and distributed for fourteen of them. Each motorcycle costs the sum of N250,000. Fourteen motorcycles multiplied by N250,000 will give you N3.5 million. And I have been doing a lot of empowerment both the ones that were trained for two weeks in some skills and we gave them start-up money. They still say I’m not doing well.
Honourable, don’t you think that it is also necessary for you to raise up team that will create awareness and highlights some of your achievements to counter these allegations of inefficiency?
When you raise up a team to counter them they will hit you because some people are sponsoring them. So, it is better to keep them quiet till they get tired. I’m happy that they are starting so early now. In the next one year it will all die down and we will start our political journey again. Between now and the next one year you would have done a lot of projects that people will see. Like now, they have awarded four of my projects and all of them are building of classrooms blocks in different places.
Are they aware of all of these that you have been highlighting?
They are aware, but even where they are aware they will keep blank eyes that they are not aware. Even the ones we have built, don’t they keep blank eye on them?
There were also complaints that flood victims in the area were left to their fate as nobody came to their help. Are you aware of this complaint?
We have been helping flood victims since 2012. This year, did the state government put up any camp anywhere for flood victims? No. So, how do you now hold your member in House of Representatives hostage? We moved a motion in the House of Representatives and President Buhari directed that they should give relief materials to Delta State. Today, Delta State has been supplied relief materials from our motion. Now, are these relief materials not going to get to Ndokwa East? So, why would you want me to be bringing money from my own pocket every year? And you elected me to go and make a case for you. Now, I have made a case for them, you are querying what of the one coming from my own pocket because I did not release anything this year. All the other years that I have been releasing, you didn’t talk about it. The commissioner from that area, did he release any relief materials? The answer is No. Did the Local Government Council chairman from that area, did he release any relief material? No. The only person that even did was Friday Osanebi. So, why do you now single me out? Because you want to take over my seat. The occupation of all those sponsoring them is just to damage people’s names without recourse to anything. So that probably the governor will say Ossai has no name again, we can’t use him. But I know that the governor will allow a free and fair election. When we did the first election, it was only one ward that I put exco. But today I can boast of 23 wards out of the 30. So, that is the annoyance. The annoyance is that if we leave this man, he will take over all the wards. So, why not we try to hit him and de-market him?
Is it that they are not aware that you are one of the vocal voices of Delta in the National Assembly?
The problem is that they don’t know what they have until probably they lose it and bring in a ‘dundee’. To me, they should allow me go for an election. They should stop distracting me. This is because what they are doing now is distraction. There are many things I should have done yesterday but I felt very bad after seeing what they have posted. I couldn’t even move to reach out to people I wanted to reach out to for their sake. They are busy distracting me, honestly.
Has anybody been successfully recalled in this country? But what about the signatures they have so far gathered to remove you from the House?
No, when it comes to the issue of signing signatures, I will match them in the field. After all, the Odoziani group worked against me in my election. But it did not stop me from winning the election. The Odoziani group in the general election worked against me. Their members worked against me. They worked for APC candidate. But I defeated the APC candidate woefully. What did the APC candidate get. The APC candidate came second, he got about 6,000 votes while I got about 59,000 votes.
I think their fear is that they should not allow Ossai to come back. And I have not even declared interest for any election. One has to think of being alive to do an election. But they should allow me finish this one first. Talking about election, I think it is only a person who is alive that go for an election. Many Senators, many House of Reps members have died. And these are people who were making arrangement that they will contest election in 2023. But they are gone, buried. Nobody is even remembering them.
Sometime you will see one drainage they are posting in the social media. I added money into a budget to do a drainage in my place. I didn’t ask them to do a concrete block drainage. The agency that did that project is the Federal Building and Research Agency. So, when they were awarding the contract, I never knew that they awarded it for a hollow-casted blocks. I was not there when the contractor was building. All of a sudden, I saw it in social media and they attached my name to it. So, I now reached out to the agency if they were the one that awarded a hollow-casted block for the project. They said yes. I said how can you do that? They said that it was a new invention that they have started using in many places. I said ok, if the contractor is working according to your specification. But I also told them that my people don’t like it. I got in touch with the contractor and he forwarded to me the bill of quantities, BOQ, of the job and I forward it to the social media people. I said I was not the one that awarded the contract and that the job does not belong to me. I only put projects in the budget and that was what was awarded.
Anywhere they are posting it now, they attach my name. Can you see the mischievous thing they are doing? But I can tell you that when the contractor completed that drainage with the concrete hollow-casted block, it was very strong. The finished work was very much okay, but those who have already made up their mind with their impression will never see anything good in the project.
Still on the issue of empowerment, we gave 600 people N50,000 each and we gave 14 persons one motorcycle each valued at N250,000 each. We did it equitably and anybody can go and check. We have also trained over 8,000 persons in different fields and skills. Recently, we have trained over a 1,000 persons in ICT and tailoring using the National Directorate of Employment, NDE programme. These people have just graduated from various NDE centres, we have not given them empowerment. They also approved 30 more training slots for us recently. These we are going to send to different areas to learn ICT, Tailoring, soap-making amongst others. They are in different places learning the skills. They will graduate after one year.
There were also complaints that not much was seen from you in terms of palliatives during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in the area. How do you react to that?
I gave out palliatives during the Covid-19 lockdown. It could not have gone round everybody. We gave out to each town according to our capacity. The money is coming from my pocket; it is not from the government. You may also recall that during the Covid-19, we gave out our three-months salaries. That salaries reflected in everything that the federal government sent to the states and the states distributed them. So, they would not know that we are part of the palliatives that the state distributed. The state distributed palliatives about five times. In my town they were distributed quarter by quarter. I even added to my quarter so that it could go round. So, nobody can say we did not do palliatives. Whoever says so must be a very wicked person. What I did was to buy yams and bags of beans. I didn’t distribute rice, but I distributed bags of beans. I later bought and distributed 200 bags of rice to the Christian group that I didn’t give bags of beans to. And the class of people who are criticizing and complaining are APC. If they say I did not give to APC as a party, they should come out to say so.