Leading indigenous investor in Nigeria’s electricity sector and pioneer chairman of Ochasi Peoples’ Assembly (OPA), Chief Ndubuisi Ohia has given a clear roadmap on how to develop Ochasi communities in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
In this Executive Interview with Business Hilights Editorial team in his office in Lagos, the chief executive of Ndubest Investment Limited gives details on what OPA is out to achieve for the people and constituting communities
You are the first chairman of (Ochasi People’s Assembly) OPA, how did the idea of forming OPA come up?
Well, I must say that the creation of OPA is divine and idea from above. I think the inspiration came from Ezeoha who is Ambassador Damian Obianigwe, the traditional ruler of Isi-Ihiteowerri community.
In one of the cultural days we did at home, about three years ago, the idea came up like a joke which a lot of dignitaries was invited.
Some of the dignitaries included Senator Hope Uzodinma. He was present alongside all other important dignitaries which also graced that very occasion. And after that, the founder which is Ezeoha, Eze Damian Obianigwe, now said that we should continue and that we need to unite our people; we need to make the three clan, Ogberuru, Obibi and Ihiteowerri, to be one and also, we need to form a formidable assembly.
The idea is to drive development to our place and people. Such assemblies which bring men of like minds together will make our people speak with one voice and can give us the needed channel for government to listen to us.
In fact, I want to thank all the Exco members and most importantly, all current members of OPA for their continuous support for OPA. Without all of them, I could not have been doing well.
I want every member to continue the support and even to go the extra miles of encouraging more people to join the Assembly so that we can jointly do more for our people at home and aboard.
What year did OPA come alive?
It took place three years ago, and then, after that, I was called on the phone by Ezeoha to be the chairman of that assembly.
And I said to myself; who are mine to reject such clarion call and enviable offer. I am not the best; I am not the most brilliant.
But I said to myself; if this job is for me to help my people and make my place a better place, I will not resist and I will devote my time to it. I see it as one of the great opportunities to serve my people. So, I must tell you that God has been wonderful in supporting my chairmanship of OPA since 2015.
How many communities make up the OPA members? We know that we have Obibi, Ogberuru and Ihiteowerri. But now there are other new autonomous communities, are all of them part of OPA?
We are not talking about autonomous communities, we are talking about Ochasi. And the Ochasi we are referring to is about Ogberuru, Obibi and Ihiteowerri.
So, there is no division. Whether new or old or autonomous or whatever, we are talking about Ochasi, Ogberuru, Obibi and Ihiteowerre. So everybody is involved. Not minding the place you find yourself. Whatever community you find yourself, so far it falls within any of the old three communities; you are eligible to become a member and contribute your quota.
OPA has a leader, Eze Damian Obianigwe. What are his roles?
The roles of Eze Obianigwe include that of a father and adviser. I think, I want to emulate him by the type of spirit he has displayed. If all our leaders can be like him, I think by now, we will not be where we are now. Otherwise, we would have gone far in all aspects of development.
As at December meeting, the leader; Eze Obianigwe announced some development projects, what are they?
We have a lot of plans and we have a lot of things that our people are lacking.
So among all that, few were mentioned for now because a journey of many miles has to start with a step. Talking about projects, we have a lot of projects in mind, but we want to start looking at our health centers.
Acharaba (Medical Centre) is no longer there. It is completely gone, and I think that our people need to be fit, they need to be healthy.
So, we want to start from having a medical centre that will serve every community. We also have a plan that instead of giving people fish, we want to start giving them hooks. We want to train people to go and fish. So, we have a plan to be giving scholarship or empowerment in the communities.
I think the scheme is on and by the special grace of God, by the end of this year, OPA will empower many youths. And it will continue.
Apart from scholarship, are there other forms of empowerment like youth training programmes that will be backed up with startup assistances; talking about entrepreneurial training? Is there any plan for that?
We have so many in the pipelines for our people.
Like I said, a journey of many miles will always start with one step. We have so many plans and by the time we will start rolling them out, I think this assembly will not be what we will be begging people to join.
I want to tell you that by the time we start displaying our development plans, I think many people who thought that we were not serious at the beginning, will start joining us. And apart from empowerment, we need one voice to talk to the government. Many people have deceived us in the past. Many politicians have used us like rag, but this time around I think Ochasi will not be like those communities that will be used like rag and dumped.
If you are coming to ask for our votes, I think we have power to come in mass and give you a condition because so many things can’t be done by individuals. We have so many bad roads; we have neighbouring communities we cannot visit due to bad roads.
So many things are in the background and by the grace of God, we will get to them.
What are the advantages of being a member and what advice do you have for Ochasi youths to join so that the assembly can be stronger and achieve more?
Take for example if not for anything, I myself for the few years, just two years I have been able to know Ochasi has people.
I have been able to meet a lot of prominent people. I have also heard and interacted with some people. And without this assembly, I don’t think I will have such opportunity to meet them. And apart from that, there is a lot of benefit.
A tree cannot make a forest. I remember that for many years now, each time I come home for Christmas or for any celebration, I find myself being in Anambra state or in Enugu state. I hardly enjoy staying at home due to lack of activities. I hardly attend occasions in my place because it is either you don’t know the person or the person doesn’t know you. Anyone who has not joined this assembly is not doing himself any good. It is body of citizens who have the interest of our area at heart, so I welcome new members
Do you have some international members, like some Ochasi people living abroad?
A lot of them are in Diaspora. We have Chief Chima Amagba who is co-coordinating Dubai and the whole of Middle East.
We have Obinwanne co-coordinating Asia. Then, we have a quite number of people in South Africa, USA and so on. Even our members abroad are almost bigger than those of us here in Nigeria and they are doing well and wonderfully fine.
Now talking about a hospital project, have the association decided where it will be located?
Where it will be located is not our problem, because anywhere it is located, as long as the place is within the Ochasi land, we don’t have any problem with that.
The only headache we have is where we can get land; a very good land because this is not the kind of project you go and sink in the backyard.
That is the only problem we have. Not the location because the location can be anywhere so far it is accessible to all communities in Ochasi District of Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State Nigeria.
Recently during the Christmas, Amanato catholic youths won the Ochasiato championship, and you announced in a donation to them. What actually inspired you to support the youth sport in the community?
You know that in every country, the youths have a lot of vital roles to play and when you catch them young, I think you have an advantage there.
Football is one of the things that unite Ochasi the most. So take for instance, there is problem along the line and we the Ochasi members now take it upon ourselves that football issue will be Ochasi affair and that is why we got involved.
Several donations were made outside the private donation I made after the cup was won by Ihiteowerre Football Club.
So, it is now Ochasi affair because the former people that managed it, I think there were problems along the line. The people that played two years ago or there about, their entitlements were not given to them and there were problems here and there.
In fact, the last ball would not have been played if we did not intervene. We said that there will be a good football tournament in Ochasi because that is what unites communities and everybody. When you come out there, you will see everybody and you will know that it is not only you that came home for celebration.
Other people came back also. So, football is something that we don’t want to joke with and also the youths are very very important to us and we need to catch them young.
What advice do you have for Ochasi youths in Nigeria and diaspora? What advice do you have for them in terms of community development and efforts?
The advice that I have for our youths is to work hard and smart.
However, I have observed that our youths are impatient. We need to be work hard, we need to be humble. We need to be patient and we need to study.
Money cannot always fall from above. You have to work for it. But most of us do other things trying to cut corner. You can’t cut corner. There must be a foundation, and you have to lay a foundation, you have to work hard and smart.
Youths need to be consistent in whatever they are doing and then God will bless their handwork. But some of the youths are not ready to work. Some of them think that ‘419’ is the best thing or kidnapping is the best thing.
But these things don’t last because those shining things do not last, but hardworking pays. I want to advise them to be patience and hardworking. Both being patience and working hard rely on each other to bring progress in life. That is my words for Ochasi youths.
Thank you, Business Hilights Media group.