Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Senate Chief Whip and senator representing Abia North (APC), was absent without reasons at the live radio debate Friday in Umuahia, Abia State capital.
The debate was organised by media houses in the state for various candidates in the forthcoming general election.
No reasons were, however, adduced for the absence of the former Governor, who was duly invited according to the organisers.
Only three senatorial candidates from Abia North showed up at the debate namely: Senator Mao Ohuabunwa of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Carole Okorafor, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; and Osita Offor, of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.
Speaking at the debate, Senator Ohuabunwa who represented Abia North in the 8th Senate said that the upper legislative chamber is not for toddlers but a place for champions with experience.
The former Leader, ECOWAS Parliament, said no sane people send their second eleven to the Senate.
“The Senate is not a learning field. It’s not for toddlers but for champions.”
Senator Ohuabunwa who said he started his political journey as a member of the House of Representatives in 1999 from where he rose to the position of the Leader of the House, and later, Leader, ECOWAS Parliament, contended that he had garnered experience to bring to bare if returned to the Senate.
He said one of the reasons he was seeking a return to the Senate was to restore the voice of Abia North which had, according to him been on silent mode since his exit in 2019.
“Nobody is speaking for Abia North anymore. It’s quite shameful that a zone that has produced courageous and outspoken Senators like the late Uche Chukwumerije, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu and myself, has suddenly become a laughing stock at the Senate.”
Senator Ohuabunwa who decried the festering insecurity in Abia North promised to leverage on his legislative privileges if voted back to the Senate, to bring lasting solution to the menace.
“It’s only a shame that a whole Prelate of a major Christian denomination was kidnapped in Abia North and no member of the National Assembly had the temerity to raise the matter on the floor of the Senate.”
He regretted that Abia North, since his “manipulated ouster” in 2019, had been represented by people more interested in themselves than the constituents.
Senator Ohuabunwa also promised to aggressively pursue the completion of the N5.2 billion Ohafia Arochukwu federal road which he said, had remained on pause or deteriorated since he left in 2019.
The former Senate Committee Chairman on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases also said he would ensure that all the Primary Health Care Centres he attracted in Abia North, were fully equipped if voted back to the Senate.
“I’m going back to the Senate to restore the voice of Abia State; use legislative means to bring an end to insecurity in the zone; to secure job opportunities for my constituents and to attract infrastructural development.”
He urged the people of the zone to consider competence and experience when casting their ballot at the forthcoming polls.
In his submissions, former Common Wealth Wrestling champion, and the candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Ambassador Osita Offor (the Ultimate Commander), said Abia North needed somebody with global contact to attract investors, hence his decision to leverage on his international links to develop the zone.
He said he was not looking for fame or wealth but only after a platform to advance the cause of the people of Abia North, whom he said had suffered so much due to poor representation.
Similarly, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Mrs Carol Okorafor, said time had come for Abia North to put “a square peg in a square hole.”
The lawyer and retired teacher at Queens College Lagos, also said that time had come for the zone to try a woman, arguing that men had been represented the zone but without much to show for it.
“Since 1999, we have been sending men. Now it’s time to send a woman because women are more at home with the needs of the family.
Countering Offor’s idea on how to deal with insecurity in the zone, Mrs Okorafor said that fighting insecurity did not require physical muscle but intellectual capacity.
“We don’t need muscles to get what we want; we need diplomacy. I don’t need to go to the forest, criminals are arrested.”
She said that if elected into the Senate, she would sponsor a bill which would make ownership of a ranch mandatory for cattle owners, vowing to pursue to an end, open grazing.