How I will realize my constituency dev’t plan - Terwase
HON. TERWASE AONDAKAA is member-elect of the Benue State House of Assembly for Makurdi South State Constituency. In this interview with The Abuja Inquirer’s SCHOLASTICA JOSEPH, the new lawmaker pledges to bring development closer to his constituents. He spoke about his journey into politics, agricultural, youth development, amongst other issues.
What is your assessment of the last general election?
So far so good, I was not everywhere but I was in Makurdi and precisely within the Makurdi South which is my constituency, I want to commend INEC for a job well done.
There were improvements from the first election, the presidential and National Assembly to the governorship and state assembly election and the supplementary election, there were improvements that led to the success we achieved at every level. So I commend us all for doing a good job.
What was the level of participation of Makurdi people especially those in your constituency?
The participation was not much compared to other local governments and other constituencies. But I will say it was well participated and we got 28,000 while our closest rival had17,000. So just a constituency voting over 30,000, I think it’s good.
Now that you have been given the mandate by your people to represent them at the assembly, what is the feel and what are you going to do to change the story?
I feel fulfilled having won the election. I will bring development to the people in my constituency. With my colleagues in the assembly, we can co-sponsor bills that will bring development to their doorsteps at the Makurdi South and Benue state at large.
Majority of the Benue people are farmers and the state is agrarian, besides sponsoring of bills, what other things will you do to promote agriculture in the state to ensure that Makurdi people are self-reliant?
As an agriculturist, I will say Benue does not have a concrete agric policy. So, with me at the assembly, members of the house and the executive will find a way to fashion out a policy that will promote agriculture in the state. If that is done, we will go to the next stage.
As a lawmaker, I will do the little I can to provide fertilizer and other agricultural incentives to farmers so that they will go back to the farm. These incentives will encourage them to do better.
What challenges did you face during the electioneering campaigns and the election proper?
Oh, they were enormous; you know that Makurdi and Makurdi South to be precise is the most enlightened constituency in the state. You are aware we are housing everybody in Makurdi.
Makurdi is not like every other constituency. I am not from Makurdi but from Vandeikya local government, born and brought up here. You should know exactly what I am talking about. Most of the people are not even indigent. It is a cosmopolitan area and there is a lot of challenges. During the election campaigns, we had to meet different groups and individuals. At times, we had to contact people outside Makurdi to talk to people here to work for you, so the challenges here were enormous, so even at this point that I am only an elect, that I have not even gone into the office, there are so much challenges. I even wonder if I am there what will happen but I know that God will give me the will and wisdom to carry on this enormous task.
Opposition was very stiff during the governorship and assembly elections but you, Governor Ortom came out victorious. What does that signifies?
It is purely God, we give God the glory because where we started is very difficult especially where I am and where I am running for election like I said predominantly most of them are civil servants and they say that we have not paid them and the retirees that are here said that we are not paying them and they will not vote for us but persistently, we continued begging them that given this second opportunity, he can be better and most of them saw reason with us and worked for us.
Again, we had let the people know that everywhere APC was not performing and because he was from APC, he was not performing but once he left APC to PDP he started performing; paying salaries promptly, doing one or two infrastructural project here in Makurdi and other places across the state.
So they saw reasons why they should vote for him, to give him the second chance and he will do better. Now that he has been elected into the office he has promised the Benue people that he will not repeat the mistake of the past, that he will do better, now we are hoping that with us at the Assembly, we will take Benue to an enviable position.
You are going to be the member of the 9th assembly, what changes will you be putting in place to check the executive arm of the government?
Well, we are not going there to fight anybody but we are going to check the excesses from the executive. As a party, we want to work together to develop Benue. The day governor was announced winner of the election, he said he will avoid mistakes of the past. We will not allow anything that will constitute a hindrance to the development of Benue state.
We will work with him as a people, we will work with him as members of the assembly and we will advise him and make bills where necessary so that we will bring development to the door steps of Benue person. Let Benue people, for once, feel the dividends of democracy. I know we can do it collectively.
You started quite early and have achieved a lot politically. What will be your advice to the younger politicians?
Yes, the Not Too Young To Run Act is there. Just as I said, I started this thing when I was young. I was made the secretary of SDP I was about 20 or so, while at my own council ward. I was about 25 when I was elected councillor in the most popular council ward here in Makurdi. So I encourage the younger people to do same.
I don’t like the idea of thuggery. If I can do it at 24, I know you can also do it. What I don’t like is violence. When you are in politics, you need to use your head, when I graduated from secondary school, people within my area called on me as a mobilizer for the party. I mobilize for the party, I started from there and later I was elected secretary of the ward.
So if you are mobilizing for the party, have your own ambition, what do you want? You can’t be mobilizing for people and you don’t want anything. So if you are mobilizing and you don’t want anything is as good as a dead person, you don’t have an ambition, every young man should have an ambition. As a young man, you want to have a wife, children, a house, a car, how do you get it? You can’t go stealing. If in civil services fine, even those that are in civil service are supporting us in politics. As we are here, we will still give it back to them.
So those that are here and those that are not here, I encourage them to put in more effort. It is what you do and your relationship with people that will earn you any position in politics, it is not your power or money.