-Promises To Pursue Upgrade Of STC, Continue Giving Out Grants, Scholarship
-Explains Why He Is Committed To Philanthropy
Chief Felix Anirah is the Member-elect representing Sapele Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly.
In this interview with Daniel Dafe Umukoro, Publisher, Oasis Magazine, he spoke about his journey to victory, what the people of Sapele should expect as benefits during his representation and other pressing issues.
You are the Member-elect to represent the people of Sapele Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly. How was your journey to victory like?
Well, the campaign was quite hectic because we had to go to all the nooks and crannies of the local government. Having been in politics for quite a while, I had to do the needful. I didn’t take anything for granted. I made sure that, yes, though PDP is the ruling party, I decided to work as hard as I could and even on the very last days when people were saying victory is sure, I took nothing for granted. I made sure I had to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and this is the result that you are seeing today.
On the day of the election what was your experience like; how will you describe the process in Sapele Constituency?
Beautiful! Now let me say I would give credits to the security agencies because they were quite excellent. They made sure that the entire local government was calm and I think there were no incidences at all. I must give them kudos. They did very well and on the part of INEC, I will equally say they did extremely well. It was an improvement on the previous election. If we had it this way in the presidential election, I am sure nobody would have complained. I commend them and I hope they will keep it up. For the electorates, I must say they have done very well. They have decided and I commend them. They took the right decision. I commend them and I hope by the grace of God that I am not going to disappoint them.
What should the people of Sapele expect as you represent them at the Delta State House of Assembly?
Well, I made promises which I hope by the grace of God I will keep. I talked about upgrading of the Sapele Technical College, being the only one left amongst the four that were established by the federal government in 1957/58. It was established at the same time with Yaba Tech, Kaduna Polytechnic, IMT and Sapele Teachers College. All of them have been upgraded except Sapele Technical College. We will do our best and we will see what the federal government will do and I hope and believe that with the support of the state government, it is very achievable. On the Delta State Polytechnic at Beghele, I know it was created by executive order and there is no legislative backing. I am hopeful that I will work on that with the cooperation of the members of the House of Assembly to ensure that we give it a legislative backing and that would enable the government make annual provisions for the development of that institution and others that were created at the same time. I will continue with my scholarship scheme at a larger scale. That is the one run by my foundation which I had hitherto in Delta State limited to the Sapele axis. I will make sure it is extended to the whole of Delta Central. Instead of the 100 I awarded three weeks ago, I am going to ensure that the next batch will be 500 to cover the whole of Delta Central. This scholarship is for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. On small scale loan I have given to the indigent people, I will continue with that same scale by my foundation. At least for now we have about 230 women who have benefited from the scheme ranging from N30, 000 to N50, 000 outright grants not repayable, but we supervise and encourage them to use the money judiciously so that they can support their family. For widows, I have encouraged and I have tried to show some compassion by giving them some grants, not competitively we just give them randomly, support them in as much as N50, 000 to N100, 000 to encourage them to do business because that’s the only way we can help them to support their children to go to school and equally I think the children of widows benefit when I am doing the scholarship scheme provided they are brilliant and we are sure that they will cope academically. On government participation in some of these programmes, I know we have the SME scheme. I am going to encourage our locals to participate. I know a number of them are not aware of what government is doing. I will try and keep them informed, encourage them to form cooperative society and when it is time for the money to be given, I will ensure that my constituents get some of those benefits. Above all, there is the need to let them differentiate between my grants to people and the loans from the SMEs. Some of them are likely to take it for granted. They don’t pay back when they get monies from my foundation, but for government facility, you must pay back. There will be need to enlighten them so that they will know. They have to form a cooperative. They have to make sure that the money is judiciously used and when it is time to pay back they should pay back because that is the only way government can circulate the money to others who are in need. On SMEs, I will encourage them to try and form themselves in groups and apply for facilities from these government agencies who will provide funds for them to form small scale industries not necessarily very large ones so that they can do some small production like garri making or pop corn by planting corns and frying and they can also participate in fishery and other ventures that will keep them busy in the rural community. I am sure that it will reduce boredom because if you go to rural communities now it is difficult for you to see any meaningful thing taken place. So, we will encourage them to go back to the farms and see how we can expose their lots. Of course certainly, the Delta State government is taking infrastructural development very seriously. Roads are been built across the state and I am sure that we will keep on pleading with the state government to continue with that stride. We will try and open up the local communities so that we can evacuate their farm produce and on the long run do our best to see that Delta state is stable and peaceful.
What motivates this gesture of philanthropy?
God has given me to give back to the needy because if we concentrate on that I am sure this world will be a better place to live in. In the sense that if I have and I keep all I have and others don’t have it, definitely you know the consequences. It will lead to robbery, large scale frustration and of course you never can tell what will happen next. So, it is safer and better to care for you neighbour so that we will all be on the same page.
Sir, it is a well known fact that you are one of the champions of the cause to make sure that Sapele enjoys stable power supply. Are you still going to harp on that?
Of course yes! I can never abandon that struggle and I will never. I want to use this very unique opportunity to say that the whole idea emanated from Rev. Fr. Christopher Ekabo in driving that project and I am sure a lot of people are showing concern. Until we achieve it we will not relent. I am in the struggle and I will continue and will do my best to convince the Governor of Delta State to help us achieve that.
Do you have any plans to improve the security of the area?
Security… yes! But, that is for the federal government. We hope that they are doing their best. We hope they will provide more equipment because I am sure the facilities available to the police who are our immediate neighbours is regrettable. If you look at their vehicle you will shed tears. They don’t have tyres…the vehicles are…well I won’t like to talk about ammunition because that’s topmost secrecy. We appeal to the federal government to try and assist in providing more facilities so that they will be more efficient and we will have a refined police force. It is not within my mandate; all we have to do is just to appeal to the government to do something because it is on the exclusive list.
You have given your promises to the people of Sapele. Now what is your call to them to aid your success as you represent them?
Well, first and foremost, Sapele has been a very peaceful community. I will appeal to them to continue to remain calm and peaceful. We shall do everything possible to see how we can attract investors. I am not saying it is a very strong promise because I don’t have the capacity to do that. But we shall strive to make sure that we provide an enabling environment so that investors will like to come and invest and provide jobs for our teeming youths.
Also Sir, what is your word to the losers in the election?
For me, first and foremost those we contested together with are from the same constituency and I think in any activity you just have one person who occupies the seat and holds that in trust for the people. I want to ask all of them not to be discouraged. We are brothers, we are one group. If it is not them today, tomorrow it could be them and I believe that it goes round. I have said I am going to do one term in the House of Assembly and I will move on. I am keeping faith with what I have said that after this one tenure I am moving to any other available political space. So, they have the time to prepare and make sure that they try again. I hope and believe that they will take it in good faith and in the spirit of sportsmanship.
Sir you talked about available political position is there any that you are eyeing already?
At the appropriate time… you don’t just say that this is what you want to do. It is the political situation that will define your direction. So, I hope and believe that yes, I intend to move further, but we have to look at the political equation before we embark on anything. But surely I will move upwards.
Then very finally sir, the Governor of Delta State has his slogan as ‘Prosperity to all Deltans, and ‘Smart Agenda’ If the people of Sapele ask you to describe your mission in one word what will that be?
Well, I will say that we will provide an equitable environment for safarians. We cannot exactly say because we are not the executive arm and we cannot provide funds for anything, we have to solicit for it. You have to limit yourself to the promises you make so that you can keep them. That is it! I hope that with the absolute cooperation of the governor of Delta State we are going to achieve whatever promises we have made.