THE Senator-elect for Imo North, Patrick Ndubueze, speaks to TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN about his journey into becoming a part of the 10th Senate
Being a first time member, how easy was it for you to win?
At the risk of sounding immodest, in terms of experience, paper qualification and balance, I stand head and shoulders above other contestants. So, it would have been anomalous if I didn’t win. I am an economist and an engineer with over 35 years experience.
I am from Umualumoke, Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State. I am also a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a member of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers. With my exposure and knowledge of the issues peculiar to my zone, considering the fact that the Otanchara Otanzu bloc, where I come from, had never represented the senatorial district before my emergence, all factors clearly pointed to my victory. Priests, elders, artisans, youths and the entire Okigwe people pledged their support for my candidature, and several political parties and stakeholders endorsed me on the grounds of competence, character, equity and fairness.
Many popular candidates and even incumbent senators and governors lost to the ‘Tsunami’ occasioned by the popularity of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, how were you able to beat that?
This 2023 election was my fourth attempt at the Senate. I had in 1998 contested for the Senate. About 14 years later, I threw my hat into the ring, but again it was unsuccessful. You would have imagined that I would have discontinued my pursuit but I realised that the Otanchara Otanzu bloc where I come from has never had the opportunity to represent Imo North in the Senate. I was determined to break that jinx and, to the glory of God, we have achieved that. The important thing is that the people of Okigwe saw the need to send a worthy candidate into the Red Chamber and at the same time achieve equity, unity, peace and prosperity in the zone. They believed in me and my aspirations and brought me to power.
Were you confident of winning this time round?
As a child, I was always entrusted with positions of leadership; from primary school to the higher institution where I was elected the Student Union Government’s deputy president. When the opportunity came in 1992 to serve at the House of Representatives, I saw it as the time to prove my worth. I was only 29, but I went on and I was elected. I was the head of a grade A committee, Works and Housing. One of my signature achievements was situating the federal prison farm settlement with its intended cottage industries in Okigwe LGA, which was my constituency. I also attracted the reconstruction of Owerri–Okigwe Road which was aborted because of the military takeover. So my succeeding attempts to serve at the Senate were inspired by the need to further consolidate my previous stint at the National Assembly. Therefore, I have the needed experience and expertise to properly represent my people. The current National Assembly is a combination of experienced, competent and capable individuals. Given the composition, I am confident that this will be a Senate with the drive and will to generate bills which will greatly impact Nigerians.
Have some of the lawmakers vying for the seat of the Senate President and other principal offices started reaching out to you?
I will rather not comment on the issue of senate presidency and zoning, in compliance with the party’s directive. Though, going by the prevailing power equation, equity demands that the senate presidency should come to the South-East. Like our party has said, the issue will be discussed after the governorship and House of Assembly polls.
What should the people of Imo North expect from you?
Okigwe should expect the best representation. I promised this during the campaigns and I am committed to fulfilling this promise. The nation and the people come first. I am coming with a message of renewed hope to my constituents. I have the capacity, the experience and every needed instrument to offer proper representation. Also, having briefly served at the House of Reps some years ago in addition to the experience garnered during these years, our people can expect nothing short of the best. My constituents are overwhelmed with joy because at last their will has prevailed.
Many people have said the February 25 National Assembly poll was marred by irregularities, what is your assessment of the exercise?
When I look at the pedigree of the individuals elected for the 10th Senate, it is glaring that they have the requisite experience and capacity to engender notable legislation that will drive the needed development. This is a crucial period in Nigeria’s history; we are faced with a lot of challenges. I am very confident that the 10th Assembly will bring the needed pedigree by meeting up to the expectations of over 200 million Nigerians.
Another senator-elect, Adams Oshiomhole, said the 10th Assembly won’t be a rubber stamp, whereas some lawmakers in the current Assembly argue that a harmonious working relationship has been misinterpreted as being a rubber stamp. What kind of Assembly would you want to belong to?
The duty of the legislature is in three phases; lawmaking, representation and oversight functions. As I earlier mentioned, the current Senate is composed of individuals who know the challenges facing our nation, so we won’t put the interest of our constituents in jeopardy because of politics. We will have a cordial and efficient working relationship with the executive. This will enable us to achieve greater things with speed, but the citizens first, the nation first.