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Teacher Turns Politician in Ebonyi, Promises to Attract Federal Presence Senatorial District

October 3rd, 2014 | by Watchdog Reporters
Special Reports
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THE    TIME    IS    NOW !!!

A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND REGENERATION

 PROFESSOR benard  Ifeanyi Odoh.

THE PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE OF

EBONYI CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY IN

PARTICULAR AND THE GOOD AND

PEACE LOVING PEOPLE OF EBONYI

STATE IN GENERAL

  1. MY PEDEGREE

With due humility and greatest sense of responsibility, I crave your indulgence to permit me to take a few minutes to introduce myself to you so you can see where I am coming from and why I have this burning compulsion to offer myself and commit my experiences and exposure to the service of our people NOW.

I am Professor Benard Ifeanyi Odoh. I was born on 5th August, 1975. I am from Ezza North Local Government Area, Ebonyi State. A Professor of Geophysics, Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka on Academic Matters/Coordinator postUTME Exercise NAU; Coordinator of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) Earthquake Seismic Monitoring Centre; Director of National Water Resources Capacity Building Network of NAU, Awka; member of NAU Admission and Examination monitoring committee and a member of NAU Senate from 2010 to date, I remain your own son.

I attended Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree (Second Class Upper Division) in Geological Sciences in 1999 and subsequently earned a Master of Science degree in 2005 and Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Geophysics in 2008 at the same Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria.

In 2002, I joined Ebonyi State University Abakaliki as a Graduate Assistant, from where I left for Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in 2009.

Since I joined NAU, Awka in 2009, I have assisted in the enrollment of 88 Ebonyi young men and women into choice courses of Medicine and Basic Medical Sciences, Health Sciences, Pharmacy, Law, Economics, Engineering etc in NAU, Awka and also helped 18 other sons and daughters of Ebonyi State access employment into federal institutions and agencies.

In October, 2013, I was one of the 10 nominated delegates from Africa at  the 3rd meeting of  the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum and the launching ceremony of the China-Africa Think Tanks 10+10 Partnership Plan in Beijing China. I also participated in Higher Education Administration seminar for Anglophone African Countries in three major provinces of China all between 16th October and 7th November, 2013 sponsored by Chinese Ministry of Education.

I have equally made landmark contributions to the education of the public. For example, in March 2013, I led a team of four students of NAU whom I trained and mentored, to achieve1st Prize Position in 2013 American Association of Petroleum Geologist Imperial Barrel Award (AAPG IBA) in the African Region Competition that involved 21 universities in Africa. This feat earned us a place in AAPG IBA finals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 17-19th May, 2013 where we came 5th in position among 11 world best universities.

In November 2012, I also trained and led NAU team to emerge the 2012 Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists Basin Simulation Competition 3rd Place Winner.  It is my philosophy that the best legacy to live behind is to pass on all I have ever learnt to those under my leadership. I believe that leaders learn continuously!

In terms of academic productivity, I have as at today fifty-six (56) scientific publications in international journals to my credit. My areas of expertise encompass hydrogeophysics, seismic interpretation, rock physics and advancement of higher education. By God’s grace, the modest work I have done in these areas have been rewarded with many prizes and honours notable among which are Rotary International Vocational Service Award, Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria’s Excellence Award, Ezekuna Excellence Award, Austin Auvuru and Veritas DGC Ashbert Grants of Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, USA Society of Exploration Geophysics Project of Merit Awards: 2007, 2008 and 2009. I have also had the honour of co-authoring a monograph with Professor Boniface C.E. Egboka titled: Water: Ecological Disasters and Sustainable Development, published by Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany and it’s on sale online.

I have travelled widely and rendered consultancy services to many organizations including the following: Water for Life in Africa, a New York based International NGO, 2008: Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Abuja, 2009: Petroleum Trust and Development Fund (PTDF), Abuja, 2008; Ministry of Environment, Abuja, 2009: National Water Resources Institute Kaduna, 2009: Ebonyi State Poverty Reduction Agency, Ebonyi State Ministry of Education (2003-2005); Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority of Nigeria (2002-2004) etc. I have used my training to address numerous hydrogeophysical challenges in the Southeast Nigeria.

I have equally been deeply involved in youth development and have actively participated in numerous youth’s capacity development programmes and empowerment activities, organized community based approach to helping young people find their voice. I am the Deputy Executive Director of Youth Alive Development Initiative YADI. YADI is set amongst other things, to train, build and develop the potentials of visionary and understanding leaders of future generations in Nigeria and Africa. You can read more about YADI on www.youthalivedevelopment.org. We have successful stories of the impacts of our activities on youths on our website.

My several academic sojourns have taken me to the following places among others: Beijing, Zhejiang and Shanghai provinces in China, Frankfurt Germany, Netherlands, Toronto, Scarborough, London Western Ontario, and Brampton, Canada: Michigan, Houston, San-Antonio, Denver Colorado, Las Vegas Nevada, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Ohio and Atlanta in USA: London England, Sweden and Switzerland.

I am an active member of American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Society of Exploration Geophysics (SEG), European Association of Geoscientist and Engineers (EAGE), Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) and Nigerian Mining and Geoscience Society (NMGS)

I am happily married to Juliana Nkechi and we are blessed with two children: Collins and Adanna.

  1. MY business IN EBONYI CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT

I am running in the 2015 general election. This document states “MY Campaign Manifesto”. I want to represent Ebonyi Central Senatorial District because I am prepared to provide leadership that will bring hope and progress to our people. Everywhere in Nigeria, especially in southeast geopolitical zone, we are put down as crude, unrefined and poverty-stricken people derogatorily addressed as ‘Nwa-Abakaliki’.

The average person from our senatorial district is known for doing menial jobs such as Okada riding and other inelegant and unskilled low paying jobs. Indeed, some have gone to the extreme of condemning us as a people who have nothing good to offer to the world. But that is simply not true! I believe that as a people, we can do better than people have perceived and defined us if the right leadership is in place. I represent the leadership we need NOW to create the change we desire. I humbly offer myself, my energy, my brain and brawl to stand in the gap, with your support.

  1. MY VISION AND MISSION

MY VISION

I have the vision of making Ebonyi Central Senatorial District a district of positive reference in Ebonyi State in particular and Nigeria in general by providing the enabling environment for optimizing our economic potentials, making every capable man and woman within our district productive and maximizing the abundant opportunities at our disposal to move our district in particular and our state in general forward on sustainable basis.

MY MISSION

To attain the lofty goals in my vision a number of logical things must be in place. I have already started taking some of the necessary steps towards achieving the change we desire. Let us look at the mission in terms of the past (evidence), the present and the future.

WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?

As an individual, my preoccupation at all times has been to create opportunities for our people to find meaning out of living. This is one of the things we need to do to change our outlook. I have demonstrated my passion to help in many ways in recent years. When I joined Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, five years ago as an academic staff, I did not find any single individual from Ebonyi State who was employed into academic position or any other senior position. In my five years at NAU, I have facilitated the employment of 18 persons from Ebonyi State to reflect some sense of federal character. In area of student’s enrollments, I have also facilitated the enrollment of 88 Ebonyi young men and women into choice courses of Medicine and Basic Medical Sciences, Health Sciences, Pharmacy, Law, Economics, Engineering etc. In the last three years, I have assisted 22 rural women through our local churches setup small businesses to assist them come out of poverty. 18 students of Ebonyi State origin at Nnamdi Azikiwe University are on my fund support for their education. Last year, more than 5000 patients in Ezza North and South benefited from a one-week free medical outreach programme organized by League of Ezza Ezekuna Professionals where I was very instrumental to raising significant amount of goodwill that saw to the success of the outreach.

In the sciences where I am a professional teacher, evidence rules. My entire life represents verifiable evidence of capacity, character, competence, commitment, courage, confidence and cooperation. These elements have never failed me and they certainly will not fail me in this determined sojourn to bring them to bear in the service of our senatorial district. Once more, I humbly solicit your support and commitment to the actualization of our positive aspirations. And the time is NOW!

WHAT ABOUT THE PRESENT?

NOW, I am responding to the compelling call by my compatriots to rise to the challenge of offering leadership for service. I am doing this out of conviction and courage. Conviction is not perfection but it is borne out of sincerity just as courage is not the absence or denial of fear but the realization of the fact that for us to move forward, we have to exercise the quality of every virtue acting at its highest testing point.

I listened to the great storyteller, Sir Laurens van der Post saying:

“We have to look inwards to look into ourselves, look into this container, which is our soul; look and listen to it. Until you have listened in to that thing which is dreaming through you, in other words –answered the knock on the door in the dark, you will not be able to lift this moment in time in which we are imprisoned, back again into the level where the great act of creation is going on”.

Yes, I have been doing and will continue to do a modest job of teaching, researching, consulting and administering in my chosen field and other relevant areas of human endeavour. But this call and compulsion to move up NOW to offer service through the vehicle of elective political position and the visibility that goes with it has become completely undeniable and irresistible.

Again, I listened to Mohammad Yunus of the Grameen bank fame as he shared his story:

“ It all started twenty-five years ago. I was teaching economics at a university in Bangladesh. The country was in the middle of a famine. I felt terrible. Here I was teaching the elegant theories of economics in the classroom with all the enthusiasm of a brand new Ph.D. from the United States. But I would walk out of the classroom and see skeletons all around me, people waiting to die.

    I felt that whatever I had learned, whatever I was teaching, was all make-believe stories, with no meaning for people’s lives. So I started trying to find out how people lived in the village next door to the university campus. I wanted to see if there was anything I could do as a human being to delay or stop the death, even for one single person. I abandoned the bird’s- eye view that lets you see everything from above, from the sky. I assumed a worm’s- eye view, trying to find whatever comes right in front of you –smell it, touch it, see if you can do something about it………….”    

These are just two isolated inspiring tales of courage and prompt response to the call for duty through conscience. They are not altogether justifications to our response to our own call but they both corroborate the axiom that nothing can stop a change whose time has come.

Between me and my compatriots who are basically self-motivated volunteers, we are synergizing in trust as pathfinders to align all the available positive forces to empower our people to rise above intimidation and abject poverty both of body and soul. Again, we need your support to achieve this. And the time is NOW!!

AND WHAT DO I INTEND TO DO DIFFERENTLY AS A SENATOR BY YOUR MANDATE?

As a senator, I will work with people and believe in the synergy that results from team work. Accordingly, our program intends to deliver the following among others within our tenure in the senate:

  • We have all watched helplessly the orchestrated efforts of highly placed officials of Ebonyi State Government in frustrating the revamping of Nigeria’s foremost Cement factor, Nigercem Plc. The revamping of Nigercem is critical to the economic survival of not just Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, but Ebonyi State as a whole. Nigercem holds so much promise in putting thousands of our youths, who are currently wallowing in abject poverty occasioned by unemployment, to work. I hereby commit myself that within the first 100 days of my election, I will resolve the dispute in Nigercem and get the job of reviving the factory underway.
  • We will create an employment facilitation office within my constituency linking our Abuja office to collect and collate information on our qualified, employable constituents for necessary assistance as a matter of urgency and great importance. The employment facilitation office will be a part of the constituency office one each of which will be located in the 4 Local Government Areas within our Senatorial district. Each office will have 5 staff who will be adequately remunerated and the offices maintained throughout my tenure in the senate. This will serve as my first step in job creation and youth empowerment immediately I take off as a senator.
  • We will create a pool of fund that will be dedicated to assisting rural women and the youths of Ebonyi Central senatorial district setup viable businesses, go through competitive university education especially in areas of Sciences and Engineering where we are lacking critical manpower as a people.
  • It’s our aspiration to train and help 100 young people to acquire vocational skills in neighboring West African countries and China in areas such as: plumbing, tiling, electrical works, publishing, interior decoration, mechanized farming, furniture making, modern roofing and POP installations, automotive mechatronics, bricks and block molding etc. By providing these trainings and the required start-up capital, we believe we would be reducing the number of our young people who are engaged in hazardous occupation such as Okada riding, street and high way trading, etc. We will do whatever it takes to significantly reduce the negative exposure of our young people to dangerous business of Okada riding and the stigma that follows it.
  • We will provide scholarship to 40 students who will demonstrate academic ability in Medical Sciences, Engineering and technologically related academic discipline annually. We will fight to help our youths gain at least 50 employment placements annually all through my stay in senate. Overcoming poverty requires innovation and creativity.
  • We will create opportunities to reward creativity and innovation in our rural schools.
  • We will establish an endowment fund that will grant scholarship based on merit to at least 50Telecommunication Engineering students. The best 20 will be sent abroad to specialize in android technology and mobile phone repair. Before they return from training, a mobile phone repair company will be set up in our senatorial district where all these gadgets imported into Nigeria will be maintained. These individuals (trained abroad)will initially work in this company and will as well train technicians who will carry on with the job of repairing while they move on to design and manufacture of low cost mobile phones. We will do this with my vast connection in Europe, America and China. It will cost us nothing but our time and goodwill.
  • We want our people to be known for technology and not for poverty. Your image changes when you are productive.
  • We will improve the foundation of science education by equipping one primary and one secondary school each in all the four LGAs in our senatorial district with a adequate science equipment and we will ensure that trained science teachers who are good in practicals will be deployed to those schools. This we will do in my first year as a senator.

At the national level

  1. I will lobby for more federal presence in Ebonyi Central Senatorial District
  2. I will strongly sponsor and lobby policies that will encourage investors to invest in our natural resources, create jobs and grow our economy
  3. It is disturbing to note that Nigeria spends over $500million annually on overseas medical trips. This excludes the unrecorded private individuals’ expenses which are not captured by this statistic. To halt this and bring the needed improvement to our health system, I will sponsor and pursue the making of laws that will redirect the resources wasted in this manner to build and equip hospitals in the 6 geopolitical zones (ie $83.3 per geopolitical zone per annum) that will compete with the best in China, India and elsewhere. With this assured, it will become unlawful for our people either by government or self sponsorship to travel out to save their lives with all the other hazards associated with such trips.
  4. I will advocate and support a new vision that will make university education in Nigeria globally more competitive. At the moment, most Nigerian universities don’t have competitive advantage. Our universities lack the capacity to support our socioeconomic well being as a nation. Never-ending ASUU strikes by university lecturers occasioned by poor funding have remained a major bane to development of competitive university education in Nigeria.
  5. I will seek for adequate funding for our universities and other regulatory agencies such as National Universities Commission to ensure that adequate resources are available for prosecuting capital projects and national research that will refocus our economy for a more sustainable future.
  6. I will strongly promote funding of basic scientific research with business cases, including research concerning the effects of climate change, pollution control and flooding. Ongoing robust investment in basic scientific research is a necessary component of any long-term program to advance our nation and promote the common good.
  7. I will push and support research in the area of carbon sequestration. Our best bet proposals for dealing with climate change lie in seeking new technologies that will enable us to maintain the vitality of our economy while we reduce the level of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere.
  8. I will exercise due diligence on any proposals to strengthen our boarders and immigration control. At the moment, insecurity in our nation has reached monumental proportion. Our economy will continue to be hit by insurgencies of Boko Haram and other terrorist organization if we do not push for a more effective, dynamic immigration and boarder control anchored on global best practices.
  9. I will advocate for consistent funding over time to ensure that we improve and maintain our infrastructure of roads and bridges especially those in the southeast. I would seek for additional investments to upgrade our electrical grid to make it smarter and more efficient.

THE COVENANT

I will represent the people of Ebonyi central and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the best of my abilities with no divided loyalty. I want to be judged by how many bills I will sponsor as a Senator and my uncommon ability to effectively legislate on reforms that advance the common good of all. For more information about me, visit my website www.benardodoh.org     

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