Sen. Stella Oduah, representing Anambra North in the National Assembly, has defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Sen. Oduah, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former Minister of Aviation, left the party ahead of the 2019 elections.
The former PDP chieftain said the agenda of the Igbo, youths and empowerment of women were strong forces driving her switch of parties.
In a statement released by her, she said;
“My brothers and sisters, it is with great delight that I come before you today. This occasion is momentous because it marks the beginning of a new political chapter for me. The Igbo often say, ‘Onye aghana nwane ya’. This aphorism rings loudly the essence of brotherhood among the people of the rising sun. Before the incursion of the British, the Igbo had sacerdotal institutions that fostered strong communal bond. Even now, these institutions, such as the age-grades, remain, but with modifications.
“Pursuing communal goals for the benefit of the community has always been the way of the Igbo. Since the civil war, we have survived neglect and ostracisation because of our ‘Ofu Obi’ principle. This communal spirit of ours has always been tested and threatened, but we have, at each time, proved that ‘obala aburo nmili.’ The Igbo are known to stand up for their own at the risk of being called “bigots or tribalists” by other ethnic groups. I know this, because I have had my own share of ethnic attacks. In 2013, when as Minister of Aviation I supervised the remodelling and upgrading of Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu to international standard, I faced stiff opposition.
“I was accused of influencing the project to favour my people. But I was not deterred because of my ‘onye aghana nwane ya’ principle. At the time, the south-east was the only region without an international airport. So, I saw to it that justice was done in this regard. When I sponsored the South-East Development Commission Bill in the Senate in 2017, it was to drive the Igbo agenda. It was an expression of a potent desire to see a change in my homeland, and an exemplification of that sacred Igbo philosophy. The bill sought, among other things, to create a commission which will provide and implement a roadmap for the development of infrastructure and social services in the five states of the south-east – Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo. Let me say this here, as Senator representing Anambra North, the bill will see the light of day again. As you all know, the south-east is a region with the least federal government presence – in terms of projects. The region grapples with ecological problems, bad roads, poor electricity, unemployment and decrepit infrastructure. It is also the region with the least appointment in the federal government. Besides other factors, I believe the neglect of the region fuelled the recent agitations for an independent state by some groups.
“I must say, the Igbo have achieved some progress even without the intervention of the federal government. Anambra state, for instance, has made tremendous progress under His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano, with meagre federal government monetary allocations. Also, I know some Igbo citizens even volunteer to construct the roads of their communities out of love and dedication to their people.
“My brothers and sisters, it is a fact that the south-east is a commercial hub; it is for this reason that I sponsored a motion for the development of inland ports in Onitsha, Enugu and other parts of the region. The region is at a disadvantage having to depend on Lagos for every import and export. We have an international airport already, with the development of a cargo export terminal and a cargo inland terminal more investments will be attracted to the region, and businesses will flourish. As a matter of fact, the inland ports will be a catalyst for the economic development of the south-east.
“They will provide services for the unloading of import cargoes for splitting to smaller units, and for the consolidation of export cargoes for shipment to destinations abroad. This means products manufactured in Nnewi and Aba can easily find their way to buyers in West Africa and other parts of the world. This should be celebrated. I intend to keep this issue on the front-burners in the senate.
“Our people say, ‘ana esi n’ulo amara mma were buwa iro’, that is, ‘charity begins at home’. As a true daughter of Igboland, I have lived by this wise saying. I believe human capacity development is the best form of empowerment. With the uptick in crime and criminality fuelled by youth unemployment, we must steady attention on equipping our youth with the needed skills and means to survive in these hard times.
“It is for this reason that I have made it a routine to empower the young men and women of my constituency with skills and cash for business. Last month, I empowered dozens of entrepreneurs in my constituency with cash grants to boost their business. I am happy to report that some of them are already making progress. So far, I have empowered thousands of young men and women in my constituency. I have also given scholarships to brilliant but indigent students in Anambra North.
“Recently, I sponsored the Establishment of the Federal University of Aquatic Studies Bill, which has been read a first time in the Senate. The Bill seeks the establishment of the university at Ogbaru, which is a fishing community.
“The Bill is expected to develop the aquaculture sector in the predominately fishing community by ensuring the availability of highly skilled manpower and development of cutting-edge research and technology for the industry. The impact of this Bill when passed is countless – our people will be equipped with modern-day fishery skills and qualifications which will boost their business and others along the value-chain.
“Also, I have sponsored motions targeted specifically at vulnerable people in the rural communities of Anambra North and the state. One of such motions is that demanding the urgent need to embark on massive provision of boreholes in rural communities in Anambra state. The motion sought to address the dearth of drinking water in Anambra North to help those rural communities that rely on unhealthy sources of water for their daily lives.
“These communities require adequate water for survival and even for their agricultural activities. I am happy to report that the local economy and social architecture – that is, in my constituency, is feeling the impact of my interventions. My people, charity begins at home. As a woman, my job is not complete until all women are empowered, and until more women are represented in government.
“My idea of women empowerment is giving our mothers, sisters and daughters the wherewithal to support themselves, their homes and children, and also a voice in their communities. To address the discrimination against women in government appointment, I sponsored a motion on the need to stop women underrepresentation in elective and appointive positions at all levels of government in Nigeria, and to implement affirmative action of thirty percent of women. I will continue this advocacy until change comes.
“My brothers and sisters, despite my global orientation, the Igbo agenda and that of my core constituency has always been the centrepiece of my politics. As a senator, my first obligation is to my constituency, then my state and Igbo-land; it is on this note that I announce my intention to run for the Anambra North Senatorial seat under the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
“My joining APGA is born out of the conviction that the party is the conscience of the Igbo, and because every politics is local. APGA possesses the Midas-touch to turn the south-east into a land of gold. My brothers and sisters, APGA bu nke anyi! Thank you,” she said.