Hon Lazarus Ogbe represents Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi state in the House of Representatives. In this interview with Amarachukwu EgwuAgha, he debunked insinuation that he betrayed his political masters.
Who is Hon Lazarus Ogbe?
I am the member representing Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency at the green chambers of the National Assembly.
What do you make of the rumour that you betrayed your political master?
Recently, my attention was drawn to some publications both in the national dailies and in our local tabloids.
That is why I am here to refute that allegation. I came from the political dynasty of the late Senator Vincent Obasi Usulor, so there wouldn’t be anyway somebody would be alleging that I betrayed innocent Chima. I have never worked under him as my master or as my colleague in the political community and there is no way I could have betrayed him. Without prejudice to the image of chief Innocent Chima, he has been freelancing from APP to ANPP, PDP and now he is back to APC but I have remained in PDP except for once that I joined my master with Senator Ngiji Ngele, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku very briefly in ANPP and we returned to PDP.
On the side of my father, Chief Martin Elechi, we came together in 2007 when I was appointed coordinator in his administration. I later became chairman of Ezza South local government under him and was coordinator for two and half years before I contested for chairman and won.
If I was a betrayer, I wouldn’t have been allowed to serve as chairman. After just one year and few months, I had the opportunity of being accessed by NUJ and others. Even the committee for LGA in the National Assembly and at each quarter, I was adjudged the best. So many other factors culminated in my emergence the second time as chairman Ezza South LGA. A betrayer wouldn’t have been so successful if I was one.
Thereafter we had a tumultuous period in the politics of Ebonyi state in 2014 as to who would replace Elechi. He had presented three names he wanted to succeed him. When they told me to make a choice, I mentioned David Umahi with every sincerity, thereafter, went all out to campaign for him; that was not betrayal.
Eventually, the then government of the state went out of their way to drop the three candidates they earlier mentioned, and went for architect Edward Nkwegu. Nobody said anybody betrayed him; I made my choice out of the three and I went for my choice. So many other LGA chairmen went for their choices and so many joined me in the quest for Engr David Umahi to become the next governor. I don’t have regret about my decision. When it was time to present him to the national working committee of our party, I was with him. When it was also time to present another person to the secretariat I did not go. That didn’t show that I was a betrayer.
Is it true that the name Onyechimereze by which you are known has anything to do with a cult group?
Onyechimereze is a title and was given to me by my community. Every one in my community came together and invited the public for a thanksgiving ceremony when I was the chairman of the council. That was where, when and how the title came.
It did not emanate from me but my traditional ruler and my community crowned me. Oyechimereze means the one crowned by God. When I had the opportunity of receiving another award from Ebonyi state College of Education Ikwo, they equally crowned me ‘Onyechimereze’. As a traditional title man from my place, I have to go by the title and people address me by that name. It has no relationship with any group whatever. I am not a cultist, I do not associate or know any one.
How true is the allegation that while in office, you were extravagant as against delivering services to your people. Can you defend it?
I don’t have any enemy; I have male and female friends. If any one comes to me for assistance, I offer as long as it is within my boundary because I represented not only the people of Ezza south/Ikwo, but every body.
But to put an end to that allegations, the record is there; nobody that had ever represented my constituency can come close to my achievements within the four years I was in the green chamber. You can go round the state and find out how many of my colleagues were able to do what I did in education. I have been able to attract primary school buildings both in Ikwo and Ezza south where l come from.
If you go to Central School Oronha and Amagu community in Ikwo LGA, you would see the building there attracted by Laz Ogbe. So also Community School Ameka Ikwo Community School Amezekwe, Community School Ndiagazu, Ezza High school Amuzu where I attended. That is it on education. You go to health sector, the little time we have here will not be enough for me to enumerate my achievements, but I have catalogue of what I have been able to attract for my people.
In the power sector, I have completed electricity projects in Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Enyibuchiri, Uminwagu Idembia and several other places. I have sponsored bills in the House, moved motions. Anybody saying that Laz Ogbe did not move any motions, supported or seconded any motion is actually nonsense and the person cannot actually say he/she knows the workings of the National Assembly. I cannot blow my trumpet but the people can do so. I have helped to secure federal jobs for a lot of people both in police, military and so on. In Alex Ekwueme Federal University, I have people that got employment there through my request. I attracted employment to some people at the Bureau of Public Procurement Abuja, in the foreign Affairs, I have two persons from Ebonyi state and they are still there.
Just like I mentioned police, it is not a boast but in the last police recruitment, I had three ASP and six inspectors. I wont be counting rank and files, I’m counting from officers cadre. So also in the army and every other areas of employment. Anybody saying that I have not attracted employment is a joker.
Why I don’t bother myself on such issues is that people making such allegations have never contested elections. It is out of jealousy that they are talking rubbish. I will be doing favour by replying them. I’m only putting the record straight.
Do you hope to win at the tribunal?
The lawyers are handling it with the hope that by the special grace of God, the will of the people which they demonstrated on the 23rd of April 2019 would be upheld.
Are you bothered?
I am not bothered at all. That is not the first time I’m being taken to tribunal. When I won the local government chairman of Ezza South for the fist time, I was taken to tribunal; the second time again, I was taken to tribunal. When I won for the House of Representatives in 2015, I was taken to tribunal and I won. So, I don’t think that should bother me. I am more concerned on how to deliver dividends of democracy to my constituent. No amount of campaign of calumny can make me to capitulate the face of unfounded allegations by passer-by in politics.
How is your relationship with Gov Umahi?
I don’t think a father and son will go out to the market and say this is how we are relating. If I have any need to make any request from my father the governor, I will go straight and do that. Our relationship is very cordial. He has called my attention on some matters. That is why we accessed his performances and called for a second term. My governor has always been happy with me as a son. For the Abuja group of politician, it is a mere insulation. We are working very much together, just as I did not take excuse from anybody to support my governor, himself did the same for me at the 2019 general elections.
If by tomorrow he said I should not go again to House of Reps and support anyone, I will.
If your opponent apologise, would you forgive him?
I don’t have vested interest in prolonging any issues with anybody. We have forgiven so many people that fought us to a stand- still in the then Labour Party /PDP in 2015 and the petitioner was one of them and he is equally part of whatever arrangements that has been going on against the government. Anytime he decides to repent, we would give him a rousing welcome.