Tuesday, 24 March 2015

2015 Uyo Fed. Conts.: I stand a chance of winning * Sacked members will be brought back - Edwin Joseph

2015 Uyo Fed. Conts.: I stand a chance of winning  * Sacked members will  be brought back - Edwin Joseph

Hon. Edwin Joseph is the All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Representatives Candidate for Uyo Federal Constituency. He is currently a member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. In this interview with EMMANUEL AKPAN, the vocal politician who is the lone APC lawmaker in the State Assembly said he want to go to the National Assembly to deliver the quality of service his people expect from their representative. Excerpts:  

As the only APC member in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, how as it been?
Well, my first statement will be thank you for having this audience with me. I will introduce myself. My name is Hon. Edwin Joseph; I am the member representing Uyo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. I will do a quick run on my profile. I’m from Eniong offot village and a devoted God fearing Christian, married and have Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. So by that, I am well qualified to represent my people. By way of my vision, I will say I am a servant leader. I see leadership as an act of service to humanity. I am very committed to serving my people by trying to translate governance to service in many phase of life. This is basically in compasses of what I will call my purpose, my vision and my values. For me, the legislature is a vehicle and a tool to help and deviate the sufferings of the people and also to bring about social economic change.
To this end, my focus is to make public laws that will uplift the present, will be for and to the future. Which an overall view is improving the legal environment; thereby promoting the basic economic activities in our state. What is my perception in life? I’m just thinking that my perception is a clear vision, when you have a clear vision you can achieve what is in view, basically when sight connects to vision, thereby bringing positive change, impacting people and creating history. We talked about change, I don’t just believe in change but I believe in positive change and in the right direction. I’m a progressive minded person that is why I am in APC today, and as a progressive minded person, I’m involve politically by helping people and my political party to build capacities and people as opportunities present themselves. Going back to my actual work, there are so many sides to work, my first work is to make laws for the people Uyo State Constituency in particular and Akwa Ibom State at large and by that I have supported a lot of bills and motions to the floor of the House. I’m not afraid to talk on issues and not also afraid to challenge things that are not peoples oriented. So my primary job is to legislate and I have done that. 

Tell us your challenges?
Well, talking about the challenges, the 5th Assembly has been like a big family, as a progressive minded person, I do not see challenges but I see obstacles. For me, the word impossible doesn’t exist. For example, I was speaking with my colleague this morning and I told him that I have made effort to build bridges but I don’t see a reciprocate of that to me. What I mean is that, I made effort strongly to build bridges, but is not reciprocated to me. I give you an example, I don’t see a lot of my colleagues coming to my office, but I always go to their offices. I understand their challenges to the extent that they might feel they are in the ruling party PDP, and they do not want to be defined in a certain way, by going to the opposition’s office. So that makes them cautious. But for me, I look beyond that. I must talk and work with people whether they like me or not. I can tell you clearly that my colleagues have been good to me and we have been working like a family. We have partnered as a team to project Akwa Ibom State. We don’t look at the issues that bother ourselves, but we look at issues that bother our State.

When you started in 2011, you did very well. But along the line your people started complaining that you were no more vocal as before. What can you say about this?
Well, I like the way your question, but let me rephrase your question. What you mean is that I have been vocal all the way until a point people seem not to hear me been vocal. We are not a boxing ring. It is about adding value to your people. However, before you can add value to the people, you must build a bridge. If you talked on issues that are contentious, dose that add value to your people? In building bridges, you can attract scholarships, jobs and skills training to your people which I did. Talking and human capacity building are one and the same. The fact that we are not fighting battles does not mean we are not winning war. I have never stopped talking and also I do not shy aware from topical issues on the floor of the House. There is no issue on the floor of the House that I do not connect with or speak on it. People expect me to bring back dividends and not to fight. I have always been there for the people of Uyo State Constituency. Legislature improves over time. So if we add legislation to legislation, you become better for your people. Uyo have constantly been on a losing end because by the way things are laid down we rotate legislation between the four Clans of the Local Government Area, so when you come in as a fresh member, the first thing that you do is learning and you cannot be given a leadership role in the House and because you have not been given a leadership position, you cannot really add value to your people. So when you see people clamoring or ask rightfully for a second term, it is for the largest benefit of the people.

Why didn’t you seek for a second term?
Good question, well, I believe that we should encourage people to understand the need for it. Like I said, I am a progressive minded person. You don’t just make change like that, you have to let the people understand the need and people must buy in so that it becomes easy to change. Should I have my way, it would have been possible. We are praying that one day, Uyo people will see the need to allow people go for a second term so that Uyo member would be amongst the leadership of the House, because by the standing order of the House, a first comer cannot be given a leadership role.

Sir, let us talk about the recent crisis that is rocking the House of Assembly, the Speaker, Elder Sam Ikon recently sacked five members and further declared their seat vacant, what is really the problem?
Well, there are so many ways to it, but if you will excuse me, I won’t talk about issues that are in court. But to make a comment in passing, the speaker came by way of law and I am also aware that the affected members have taken the matter to court. Until the court clearly interprets the law, we won’t know the position. But I believe that the affected members would be brought back to the House. Reason is because some of the affected members are my party members, you can’t just through party members out like that. So it is now left for the party to look at the matter in court and then find a way to also be joined should they find where necessary. But the truth is that these issues are in court so you can’t speak much about it.

Let us talk about the general elections, card reader at the polls and the PVCs
The elections should have been held before now, but for reason based known to the leadership in the country, INEC shifted the election based on issue that bothered on security. INEC before then said they were ready for the elections while some people were saying INEC were not ready because the PVCs have not been completely distributed. The truth is that, both of them had their points. Talking about the elections, yes, you can shift the election but you can’t shift the people’s mindset. All INEC need to do is to get the elections done; people will vote what their mind tells them to vote. Although shifting of the elections has given room for more work to be done both by INEC as well as the candidates. But let me tell you, people are not blind to the past. The future is defined by the past, so people have reason why they want to vote a candidate of their choice.

Let us talk about your party APC, there are so much problems since after the party’s nomination. Some people are challenging the out-come. What is really happening?  
Well, you must first understand what the party is all about. The tenet of APC is built on progress, equity and justice, and you know politics is very dynamic, dynamic to the extent that things do happened and things will always happen. The primaries were conducted based on the guidelines of the party, a process was done and a winner was declared, the party must run the election, we cannot stand election without a candidate, so the candidate must be strong and know what he needs to do to win his election.

Do you have any court case against your emergence as the flag bearer of Uyo Federal Constituency?
Well, like I said, in the primaries, there are processes which I passed through all of them, as we speak, I do not have a court case in the just concluded primaries.

But we heard you hired thugs on that nomination day?
 No, I did not. Let me state here clearly, the primaries for the APC House Representatives was done two days. The first day, it could not hold because it was late. As at 7pm they did not yet started. That was why they cancelled, and it started the next day at about 12 noon which was a little bit earlier and was done conclusively, peacefully and successfully. Now talking about the issue of noise, I won’t use your word thugs. Normally, in elections process, people are always very excited. The first day was not even an election for the Uyo Federal Constituency. It was just materials that had to be released to go in to the nine Federal Constituencies so that they will go and vote, so the crowd outside which cut across the nine Federal Constituencies which they were all party members that had interest in their respective aspirants. So when they brought out the materials, people very were excited which attracted much noise and we decided to call on the police to come and maintain law and order that was what happened. I did not hire thugs.

Let’s look at the APC governorship nomination. what can you say?
 I am a party man. I stand for the party that is why I have been in this party since 2011 then was ACN till date. I said earlier that the party has guidelines which were followed. Elections were done after which we have issues in court so that is where my discussion ends because the case is in the court.

As the Uyo Federal Constituency candidate, what are your chances?

I can’t start now to say this is what will happen, but I can tell you we are working, remember that I was not really popular before the primaries but I won. Let me assure you that we will work till the last minute. The people of Uyo will speak that day through their votes. I have been tested and trusted for the people of Uyo Federal Constituency. So I stand a chance of winning the election.

You always shy away from the press and perhaps that is why you don’t showcase some of your achievements. Are true is it?

It is not true because if I have been shying away from the press, we won’t be having this interview. I am extremely press friendly. But in life, there is time to be still and a time to talk. So this is talking time. I believe on my people talking about what I have done, and not for me to talk about them.

Mention some of your achievements?

We have done so many things, we have train our people on so many skills. I have build four markets in the four Clans of Uyo. My primaries perception is that I believe in human capacity building. Traditionally, Uyo people are traders so that was why we needed to ignite that by building the markets which the Clans will be collecting some subventions by way of collecting tax. I have given people from all the wards in Uyo a starter pact for them to start up any business of their choice as well as financial assistants. We have given Uyo people scholarships. We have given people employments through slots given to my office. We have done a lot for the people which I don’t need to mention them.

If you win, what are those things that you will do?

Well, what I will like to do if I have the privilege to serve my people at the National Assembly, I will be holding a town hall meeting so that I can feel the pulse of the people and know clearly their problems. Also, I will like to be giving my people a free Health Care Scheme. I will build a skill acquisitions centre and so many programmes are line-up which I can’t mention here. I will give more scholarships as well as give them effective representation.

Tell us your achievements as the Chairman of a Committee in the House?
Fantastic, I was the Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, but you must understand that as we speak now, I am no longer the Chairman of that Committee. I was changed about three months ago. I am presently the Chairman, House Committee on Lands and Housing.  As a former Chairman of Science and Technology, nothing was really happening. You must understand the focus of government. The attention of the present government did not have much to do with Science and Technology. As such, there was nothing for me to oversight.

Finally, your advice to the people of Uyo as regards to the elections.
My advised is very simple, elections will come and go, I will say please let us leave and work together as brothers, so that we can still continue as brothers effectively after the elections, let us work for peace and bring positive change to the good of our people of Akwa Ibom State. Let us go out and vote our conscience so that the best candidate will win. Thank you.   

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