An Interview with Chief Felix Idiga on www.gregnwadikeblog.com
CHIEF (SIR) FELIX CHIDI IDIGA also known as JAFAC is the Chairman/CEO of JAFAC Group with interests in auto, winery, construction, aviation and hospitality. He was the senatorial candidate of the Accord Party in the general elections of 2015 in Imo state, but currently aspires to represent his people of Orlu/Orsu/Oru-East federal constituency in the National Assembly. In this encounter with www.gregnwadikeblog.com
, he addresses issues bothering on his ambition, and sundry political matters. Excerpts.
You recently declared to run for the House of Representatives instead of the Senate for which you vied for in 2015. What brought about this change of step and party?
Politics, as you know goes in virtues circle. Sometimes you listen and follow the wishes of your people, and not just yourself. This is called democracy. I vied for the senate in 2015. Even as a first timer, I was able to mobilize enough supports of our people in the 12 Local Government Areas of Imo West to convince them to give me their votes at the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Some persons who saw and feared that I was going to retire them from clinching to power conspired and ensured that the primary election was taken to the headquarters of the PDP in Owerri instead of an open venue and against the rule of the game. It was there that they made sure that the will of the people was subverted. They robbed my people of their victory and ensured that I do not get the ticket. That was not what our people wanted. That was planned and executed by just few individuals out of their selfishness. My supporters were very angry and decided to protest through their votes. Your vote is your power, if you know this very well. They encouraged me to leave the party. Many of us left in protest because the PDP as at that time presented lots of fraudulent men with fraudulent activities. They never allowed free and fair elections anywhere, and they only concentrated in collecting, collecting, collecting without minding the success of the party. So, we left, and I went and completed the race in Accord Party just to satisfy my supporters. Today, the rest is history. Since then I went about my private businesses and have continued with my Foundation which has been there since, but my people have urged me on. This time, they said I should start from my federal constituency, the Orlu/Orsu/Oru-East Federal Constituency. They believe I can offer quality representation. They believe we should start at home. That is why I am where I am today.
Your critics accuse you of concentrating all road projects you attracted from the NDDC only in your Amaifeke community without extending to other areas. How do you respond to this?
Let’s keep politics aside here and be reasonably logical for once. You see, that allegation is not true and has no rational basis in developmental evaluations. But it also gives me joy whenever I read or hear people say such things because it means that my people expect so much from me even as a private citizen born and bred in Amaifeke autonomous community. My personality, and perhaps activities associated with my name, especially through the JAFAC FOUNDATION tend to have made people forget that I am not yet in government, and that I have been a private citizen. So, if as a private citizen of Amaifeke I was able to attract developments to my community, is that now a crime in Igboland or anywhere in the world? When has it become a crime for an individual to attract development to his community? Don’t forget that these roads in question were done as a private citizen and private businessman. I was never a Local Government Chairman hence you accuse me of diverting Orlu Local Government developments to my community only. I was never a House of Assembly member. I was never a Rep or even a senator. I was just a private person into private businesses. I went out there like many other businessmen from other communities, lobbied with my contacts for roads of my people to be repaired, got approvals and contracts awarded, then came home and executed them to specifications. Please tell me what is wrong with that? You see, when an opponent wants your fall, he will always see bad in whatever good you do. I thought that charity they said begins at home. If I can go out there and attract developments as a private citizen to my Amaifeke community as my local constituency then, does that not show you that I can do much more when the entire Orlu/Orsu/Oru-East Federal Constituency is entrusted to me? Shouldn’t this be enough reason to support me to go represent my people? Are you not aware that most contractors who get contracts of these nature end up selling off the award papers and nothing happens to them? I did not sale off mine. I came home and delivered, and even at that some people still find faults. So, when you take politics and criticisms from opponents aside, you will discover that I did nothing wrong. My critics are misguided. I only did what I should do within my smaller environment, and when I get to a broader environment I will still do better. At the last count as a private citizen, I have delivered on over 40 Roads in and around Imo State. I have also delivered on more than 22 roads in and around Orlu LGA. I could have embezzled monies meant for these roads like so many other contractors, but I did not, so how can I do that when I become the representative for my people at the House of Representatives?
Some will still want to hear you mention one or two of these roads which you claimed you did around Orlu. Can you just mention one?
Maybe you should have asked me earlier to prepare you records but go find out that I delivered on the last repair of the Old Orlu-Owerri Road before the ongoing one by His Excellency, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha. I did that road. I did the Umuduru Internal Road and Ibenye internal roads at Okporo Community of Orlu LGA. I also delivered on Umusasa Umuna-Oleme road from the Old Owerri road, among others outside Amaifeke my community which I can’t recall here. I also did the Anunihu Amaifeke-Ihioma link road as well, and I am currently negotiating a major road that may likely go through Umuna community which I had even discussed with some of their people last year. These jobs come through personal efforts, and that is why I desire to have the enablement to attract more. My efforts made NDDC to start awarding and completing road projects hitherto sited only in Ohaji-Egbema/Oguta to non-oil producing communities in Orlu zone. If Felix could facilitate these road projects without being a federal minister, Governor, senator, House of Reps member or being in government, you can imagine then the volume of federal presence he will attract to the constituency when elected as their Rep. A na esi na mmiri nwata jiri kwuo aka a ma nwa ga eriju afo. The proof of the pudding is, surely in the eating. If every contractor delivers on his immediate environment when awarded, I wouldn’t see why we can’t make progress as a people. Yes, I tarred most of the roads and installed solar street lights, and there is nothing wrong with that. I will replicate same and even better in and around my constituency when we get to Abuja.
With the number of people coming out for the same position you are angling for; do you think you have better chances of winning?
I believe I have everything it takes to win if the wish of the people is not manipulated; if free and fair election will be guaranteed. My achievements as a private citizen speak for me. I believe I have given a lot to humanity, especially to my people to guarantee me their supports. I do not intend to go about this through any other way than through my people and my leaders. I also know that not everybody will be supportive of this project, but that is also what is obtainable in democracy. I will however urge my opponents and critics to judge me constructively. At the end, let the people’s will prevail.
You also recently had an empowerment program for the less privileged. Can you take us through this, especially the JAFAC Foundation?
The JAFAC Foundation is about 19 years today in existence and its mission has been to enhance the quality of lives of Nigerians by supporting initiatives that improve access to health and educational opportunities. Our main goals include enhancing community healthcare by providing free medical services to the rural communities which lack adequate medical facilities; improve the quality of education of children and young people; alleviate the extreme poverty in communities across the country (starting from my immediate constituency) by providing clean drinking water and encouraging the education/empowerment of men and women, promotion of sports, music, arts, skill acquisition and entrepreneurial development programmes. In line with what we have been doing these many years, the foundation doled out a Sixty Million Naira empowerment programme for the less privileged among us for the year 2018. The money will be given out to select individuals after their successful completion of training to be supervised by the Foundation. In the past we have had situations where we simply gave out cash and these people would use them for other purposes and then come back to ask for more. This time around, the cash will not just be given out. We will have to take them through formal trainings on jobs of their choices and thereafter release the cash as take-off grants. The idea is to create sustainable empowerments. That was what we just did about fortnight ago in my country home.
What shall your people look forward from you when you get to the National Assembly?
Quality, reliable representation. Attraction of more projects. More empowerments. This time around our focus will be channeled towards creating young millionaires. We shall concentrate on attracting contracts which will be given out to our young entrepreneurs, our women and men group supporters so that they can collectively execute and make some incomes.
What is your advice to your people?
To take it easy. To my fellow aspirants I must beg to go about this with open heart. Let’s not see it as a do-or-die affair. We must do this with the mindset that there must be life after politics. I want to continue to do businesses with my opponents after the elections. And to my supporters I will ask to go about our campaigns with decorum. Please there should be no insults, fowl languages or any form of attacks on people whose views and opinions are different from ours. Power comes from God, and if it pleases only Him, then we fear no one. Thank you.