Mr. Kelvin Jombo Onuma is one of the leading House of Representatives aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in Arochukwu-Ohafia Federal Constituency of Abia State. In this interview with journalists in Lagos, Onuma, a renowned philanthropist, speaks on his sojourn in politics, how the involvement of the youth in politics will bring positive change and his exploits in business. Excerpts:
Recently, we have seen a lot youths taking part in politics. What is your opinion about youth involvement in politics?
The youths have a part to play in politics. I know we should be in the forefront of politics to be able to influence policies that will shape our future and empower us to take care of our parents and the senior citizens.
All youths must join the political and democratic process; become members of political parties, aspire for party offices from ward executive, local government executive, state executive and party executives at the national level, register to vote and obtain the PVC, aspire for political offices from counsellors, local government chairmen, states and national assembly members, state governors and even president of the federal republic. Youths must also vote during elections and defend their votes just like they are the group to be mobilized to defend the country if there is an emergency or war.
The youths are the engine room of our nation. You are the largest political party in our democracy and can win any election if we aggregate ourselves and interest. This is the only country we have and we still have a long way before getting to the departure lounge. We must reject politicians who use us during elections and abandon us immediately after the election. We must vote rightly if we want to start rebuilding our nation. Lastly, All youths must reject violence and guns from politicians. They should bring their children from Europe and America and give them the guns. You are also someone’s children and also desire to go abroad and work in big companies.
The Idea that the future should be built for the youths has failed. Can we try building the youths for the future? The Prime Minister of Finland is just 34. Is she better than Nigerian youths? Of course not. The Nigerian youths have demonstrated capacity and leadership in movie, music, sports and IT industry. They have matched and most times dominated other youths on the global stage. This is a testimony that they will do better if given the opportunity to provide leadership. Nigeria was at her best under the leadership of the youths in the First Republic. It was Nigerians within the youth age that wrestled power from the British colonial masters. The youths have proven capable of providing leadership immediately after independence and they will do it again if given the opportunity and level playing ground. It is lame to use capacity and experience to deny the youths of their rightful place in Nigeria. The good news is that the youth have taken their destiny into their own hands. We are not waiting for anyone to give us power, we are taken it because in a democracy, it requires number and energy. We have both.
What difference do you think youths would make in this country and state if they are given positions of leadership?
The same difference they have made in sports, music, movie and IT in the global stage. We have shown ingenuity and capacity without support from the government. The youths will bring capacity, ingenuity and energy to transform our nation and states. We have everything to lose if our country remain in this sorry state. We are just arriving and need to dress our beds well because we still have a very long way before getting to the departure lounge. We cannot afford to allow people who has spent the fruitful and quality parts of their lives continue to determine a future they may not be part of. Let me give you a typical example. I have read through the Petroleum Industry Bill which has been passed and assented into law. It is bereft of ideas and vision of the future. The past and present is the diminishing oil and gas resources. The future is renewable energy such as solar energy and batteries. When elected as member representing Arochukwu-Ohafia Federal Constituency, I will initiate an amendment of the PIB Law to make provision for the investment of a defined percentage of proceeds from diminishing oil and gas resources into building of batteries and solar panels production plants around the country to retain our position as a player in the energy league.
How can youths become a part of the political movement to transform this state and country?
We are the beautiful and most sort after bride in the political marriage. The Youths must come together to take back our country. We have everything to lose if we have no country to call our own. The youths form the dominant population in the schools, organised service and private sector like banks, insurance, IT, telecom and hospitality, police, armed forces and other security agencies, artisan groups, and those taking the dangerous route of escaping through the desert. We are only less in the population of retirees, the old, sick and fragile, the entrenched political class and those abusing the nation and states. Therefore, the election is for us to lose or win in a democracy. The youths must exercise their franchise. They must support aspirants and candidates within the youth age. We can see how they want to disenfranchise the youths by pegging the sale of nomination and expression of interest form at 50 and 100 million Naira as a strategy to deny the youths access to leadership position after years of impoverishment. We must outmanuever them by joining political parties, registering to vote and obtaining our PVC, polling resources together to sponsor capable youths to run for political offices, coming out enmasse to vote our candidates during the elections and defending our votes until results are announced.
You are running for the Federal House of Representative. let’s have a look at Abia State, there’s a lot diverse opinions about Gov. Ikpeazu achievements in the state, what’s your opinion?
Leadership is not easy, we need to judge Gov. Okezie based on what was on ground before he was elected. Anyone who was used to Aba in particular will tell you that Aba was in a total mess. Before he came here there was a chaotic atmosphere, no road, no security, it was only the environmental aspect that he was managing that was working. Accepted that in his first tenor he was seriously distracted with several law suits, but he still showed capacity by laying the foundations of most of the projects he is rounding up today. That is why some investors are trooping to Aba today. Look an Aba boy like me, I ran to Lagos too to invest in hotels, real estate etc. But today, as a result of the stability he brought back to the system our aluminum factory will soon go into production. We are investing massively in real estate in Aba. Look at the level of high development going on in Aba you will that it justifies our decision. Governor Okezie is making the call by our people to come home and invest, because he is massively driving the infrastructure needed for it.
Why is your focus on Aba?
When you get Aba right you are doing a great favour to the lives and businesses of my Arochukwu-Ohafia constituency. Majority are living and doing their business in Aba. So pardon me if l focus my attention on the popular Enyimba City.
Heading to the Federal House to serve your people, others have been there before. What difference are you bringing to the table?
I am bringing a lot to the table. I am bringing fresh hope, hope to the youths, fresh ideas, l am showing the way and telling our people that it can be done. The centrepiece of my representation will be Anchored on the Framework of Collectivism and General Welfare aimed at giving Hope and Life to the Poor, Weak and Vulnerable in Our Society Across party-Lines. ‘Fair Society Bill’ will define my time in the Green Chamber. I am heading to Federal House to continue in a far more larger platform with what l have been doing over the years with the Kelvin Jombo Foundation. This is more of a call to serve. Abandoning my business to do this was so difficult, but when your people insists, saying no becomes an arrogant resistance against your people.
My constituents and inhabitants of Arochukwu-Ohafia Federal Constituency are not just numbers, they are also Nigerians and Abians that deserve access to better schools, hospitals, super markets and recreations facilities just like other Nigerians and Abians in Abuja, Lagos, Aba and Umuahia. I will work with colleagues from rural and semi-urban federal constituencies who constitute the majority in the Green Chamber to initiate and pass sweeping bills to promote even development during National Policy Formulation and Fiscal Planning with clauses to domesticate the laws in the federating component states. The Inputs of my constituents will be critical to my performance in the Green Chamber. I will set-up constituency offices in Ohafia, Arochukwu, Abam, Abiriba, Nkporo and Ihechiowa to bring the Green Chamber closer to my people.
Does it mean your are being forced into this struggle, if yes, will you have the capacity to deliver then?
I think the people saw capacity before they collectively took a stand against the interests and pressure from all angle.
As a youth going to the federal house to serve your people, outside your immediate constituency, what you have to offer the youths generally?
Outside my immediate constituency, my mission to the Green Chamber is to initiate and sponsor landmark social and economic legislation that will shape and have far-reaching impact on the generality of the ordinary citizens of Nigeria.
Outside being called to serve, as an individual what actually motivated you to answer the call?
In my pursuit of business and knowledge after travelling round the globe, l ask myself why can’t we as a nation, have a deliberate policy backed by an Act of the Parliament to send and fund an army of our best and brilliant students to study and acquire skills of the future from top universities and institutions of technology around the globe.
As technologically developed and advanced as China is, they have not stopped such national policy till date.
Earlier on you talk about bringing fresh hope, can you take us into confidence about what that hope will be?
Mine is an aspiration driven by vision, ideas and empathy. Laws and acts of parliament are useful to the extent that they are applied to solve societal problems. All the bills that I will Initiate will be people-oriented because I will be sent to the Green Chamber by the people, and I will work with colleagues to strengthen the over-sight functions of the parliament. Our country is on life support. The panacea to reviving her are fiscal federalism, reducing the cost of governance, giving Nigerians hope and creating an enabling environment for a private sector driven economy.
The parliament must genuinely partner with the other arms and layers of government for the revival. I am prepared to be part of that genuine partnership.