Barr Matthew Omonade is one of the aspirants for the seat of Ughelli North constituency 1, in the Delta State House of Assembly election in 2019. He spoke with Jon Egie shortly after the official opening of his constituency campaign office at Ovara- Umusu-Orogun and harped on the need for the youth to take over the mantle of leadership from the old whose 19 years old promises have not been fulfilled.

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Barr Matthew Omonade

You are in the race. What really prompted your interest into the race?

One would not just wake up one day and say I want to represent the people of Ughelli North constituency 1, in the Delta State House of Assembly and participate in the race for the election. It is a vision I have been nursing for the past eight years and as a young man who has been through very difficult period, who has experienced what hardship is all about, understands the nitty-gritty of what it means to be in need and not seeing anybody to stand for you, to fend for you and to defend you; who have experienced bad roads, has seen unemployment and a situation of hopelessness and uncertainty concerning the future, I made up my mind years ago that I need to go and pursue a requisite qualification, necessary knowledge and intellectual prowess that will prepare me for the task ahead and to pursue that goal of ensuring that the dividends of democracy is distributed altruistically to the benefit of all Deltans and specifically, for members of my constituency. So, that is what has inspired me to offer myself for this service.

Apart from aspiring to be a lawmaker, if you win, and based on your experience as a youth, what plans do you have to improve the living standard of your constituents?

Let me start by making this point very succinct, you need laws to achieve the other link of your question. Where there are no laws there is bound to be anarchy and underdevelopment. The inability to distribute the dividends of democracy altruistically to the benefit of the people is as a result of the absence of relevant laws. Inability of previous governments in ensuring that the amounts appropriated for certain budgets are not carried out is because there are no laws. So, first of all, we will ensure that quality laws that will have direct positive and meaningful impact in the lives of members of my constituency will be what we will pursue. We will sponsor bills that will ensure that the economy is viable. We will sponsor bills that will ensure that the needful are done. I will address the issue of human capital and infrastructure development but first and foremost, we require laws and performing your responsibilities as a legislator in aiding the executive to also fulfill her responsibilities. You know that there is an area called Oversight function in the Constitution and that is one area that most legislators have not been looking into. When a budget is passed into law and certain amount of monies are appropriated for the execution of certain capital projects and X,Y,Z amounts have been disbursed and if you go on ground those projects are not executed, somebody need to ask questions; that is oversight function. You can summon contractors that have received payments for execution of certain projects and they have not executed them. You can summon the governor to also ask him questions because the Constitution provides room for the impeachment of the governor where he fails to perform his duties, where he has been found wanting. So, the Oversight function as provided by the Constitution is to guarantee efficiency, transparency and accountability in the resources accruable to the state. So, if we perform these duties first as legislators the dividends of democracy will be distributed altruistically.

And you will be on your feet in that direction?

Of course, you will hear my voice loud and clear. Now, let me address the core issue that you have raised. I am not one of those persons who believe that the sole responsibility of a legislator is lawmaking. I do not agree. You make laws but there is human capital and infrastructure development which is also my responsibility. Now, if I pursue this first issue that I raised diligently it will aid us to pursue the other issue you have also raised. If I pursue a contractor who has not done his job in my constituency and he has collected money and I pursue him to doing that job it will also assist me to achieving infrastructure development for my people. Now, there is what is called constituency projects and you know that there is a certain amount of money that is usually earmarked and given to legislators representing specific constituencies to develop their areas, my constituency projects that I have in mind are those that will be visible and you will see them and they will be impactful on the lives of members of my constituency. I can assure you that.

So far, what are the challenges you have faced and how have you surmounted them?

Over the years our founding fathers promised us of the future and they told us that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. In 1999, they said we will become leaders and 19 years after;  in helping us to become leaders they are supposed to give us an enabling environment that will make us grow and ensure the requisite capacity to pursue leadership because leadership does not come on a platter of gold. For the past 19 years, all they succeeded to do is to impoverish the youths and to make them lack self confidence to the extent that they do not believe that they can even lead themselves how much more leading the nation. But God in His grace delivered me from that bondage and for the past eight years of my life I have been saving for this purpose and you know, contesting an election in Delta state and in Nigeria at large is capital intensive and that is why, for the past one year and seven months we have been showing capacity that we have worked and saved for this purpose. What is required for us to do within the purview of the law, of course, you know that the law stipulates certain amount of money that an aspirant contesting for House of Assembly should expend, now I assure that even as a young man I have saved for that purpose. I am not only preaching Not Too Young to Serve, I am also showing capacity and preparedness to serve. So, I have crossed that hurdle by the grace of God. I am not trying to brag but I know that what is required for me to pursue this vision has been given to me by God. The Bible says the old men shall dream dreams and young men shall see vision. You do not need strength to dream, that is to say anybody can dream. You can lie down to dream, it takes laziness to lie down and once you are lying down on your bed you are a lazy man and at that point anybody can knock you on your head and you cannot react. Any man can dream but it takes the youths to see vision. The Bible says the youths shall see vision. The old men will give us the dream and we will polish it, metamorphose it into a vision and it requires strength to pursue a vision. We have the strength as youths and that is why they need to give us the opportunity to pursue the vision that will change our lives for the good and guarantee a more purposeful future for members of my constituency.

As a summary, pass a message to your constituents.

The message is clear. For the past 19 years we have been wandering on a journey that is taking us nowhere and a lot of persons have come to the campaign train to make a plethora of promises that will change our lives for the good. They promised to build roads, they promised to build bridges. They promised to eradicate poverty, they promised to restore moral rectitude. They guaranteed us of a future that we will be proud of and they described that future as an el-dorado (heaven on earth). And 19 years after, we see hell and not the el-dorado. My area is not even stagnant, this constituency is retrogressive. Life as it used to be in 1999 is better off than what we have today. So, it is enough of those lies. Those persons who have made those promises to us for the past 19 years are still availing themselves to run for political offices. They have not been able to fulfill the promises they made 19 years ago. They have failed woefully and of course, in the higher institutions there is a limit to the failure you get and you will be advised to withdraw. We are advising them to withdraw. We are young men, we are coming on board, and we want to take over. We have the vision, we have the strength, we are given the mandate to overtake and pursue the future that God has promised us and it is the youths of this constituency whom I represent that will guarantee that future for all of us in Jesus name.

Thank you very much.