Charles Felix Ebri (aka Abam Ekoko1) is a Physicists, who comes across as a smart, vibrant and visionary young leader. He is a specialist with robust telecommunication/ICT and project management experience. Proficient and result driven, he is also a Telecoms Core Switch Operations Engineer with the largest teleco/ICT company in sub- Saharan Africa. He has years of experience in providing ICT solutions, manning mission critical Data and Switching Center infrastructure. He has managed projects – specializing widely in Planning, Implementation, Operation & Maintenance in the Telephone industry and digital cloud computing. He is a real estate investor, venture capitalist and motivational speaker who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics (Electronics) from the University of Calabar, and an MBA in Project Management – University of Wales. He presently has eyes set on representing Yakurr I State Constituency in the next political dispensation, the reason www.calitown.com sought him out and threw questions at him. Excerpts:
Beyond and above what we know of you, who are you?
I am a from Ugep, Yakurr LGA of Cross River State. I see myself as a writer with great interest in writing about the new digital age, diplomacy, social media and its impact on youths, communities and organizational development in line with reshaping the future and operations of governance, people, nations and businesses. I am also an innovative leader, a grass-rooter who is at peace with all manner of men.
You have indicated interest to run for the Yakurr I State Constituency seat in the CRSHA, why do you think you are the man for the job?
See, without being immodest, I have the requisite leadership training, preparedness, coupled with professional experience and capacity to manifest leadership and effectively represent our constituency. I understand the challenges and needs of my people; something which should guide the kind of legislations a leader and representative should put forward as he attempts to draw democratic benefits to his people. I am accessible, operate an open door policy in all that I do and have a lot of community initiatives and activities currently running that are not only contributing to my immediate environment but to the economy of the state at large. This has capacity to proof that I can be trusted as a leader. I have learnt under the tutelage of the best brains you can find both in cooperate professional and private circles. Sincerely, my interest to run for the Yakurr Constituency I State Constituency seat is purely borne out of service; service to my community and I am convinced the time is now. Like Victor Hugo said, “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Beside I have this stoic conviction that I can contribute positively to my nation starting from my constituency.
We have noticed that you are presently driving a process that seeks to get as many PVCs as possible, in the hands of the electorate. What influenced this process?
That is so because we are close to the grassroots, we are in touch with today’s realities concerning the status of the INEC registration exercise. We have noticed that first there are a lot of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, awaiting collection. Secondly my team randomly sampled opinion in six big churches and three major markets in the constituency via a short questionnaire and the results showed that most people have either not registered or collected their PVC’s. This was a clear pointer that something has to be done. I am motivated and guided by a clear need to enable the electorate get their PVC’s so that they can be able to decide by their vote come 2019, who represents them. Sadly there is a lethergic disposition on the part of most electorates regarding the collection of PVCs or registration. When asked why, the feedback we got showed that people don’t feel their votes count because of their experiences with the electoral process in the past. If you mean well for your people you will see the need for a conscious effort to up Yakurr Local Government voter population on the INEC register. This is what any effective representative or leader should do, leadership should not just be hinged on titles on slats but ability put to use.
So having identified this GAP we have deliberately put in place a very simple process to monitor the INEC registration exercise, help sensitize and mobilize the constituents to register and/or collect their PVC’s. We have embarked on a mass sensitization and mobilization exercise for PVC registration and collection. An initiative we call ‘’GO GET UR PVC’’, we have a planned modular approach to touch the entire Yakurr I Constituency and we started with Ugep. Next phase will be Idomi and Ekori. We have provided FREE transportation for the people to and from INEC registration centres. We have hired four fourteen seater buses working with my team daily from 8am to 4pm in the past three weeks. We go all over the wards within the area of the constituency in focus, street to street, door to door with a public address system sensitizing and mobilizing the people to collect their PVC’s, the results are encouraging and fantastic. Constituents assemble in strategic locations to join the buses. The four buses go four trips each per day. From our records, response has grown from 120 to 240 persons joining the buses daily within the past three weeks and we intend to do more. The network of volunteers is rapidly expanding, our EPP (Extended Popularity Program) strategy and is working with a multiplexing effect.
You don’t come across as our everyday politician, what is then your attraction to this electoral contest?
It’s okay if i don’t look or sound like a regular politician. I think that actually adds up to the richness of my story and my life in the long run. What is important is I have the needed experience, mental readiness and what it takes to represent my people.
What people should look for is the experience I have garnered starting as a student leader, my leadership tracks in corporate circles as a national cooperative leader in Nigeria, decent in making policies and processes that directly translate to peoples welfare. You cannot hastily gloss over my experience working with people, by what I have shown to stand for and my willingness to go beyond self-seeking personal interest. Again, if you watch the world over, you will agree with me that we are in an age of political disruption. People have chosen to liberate themselves from some form of political equation(s), advantageous to a very few who have kept majority as political slaves, I chose to stand with that bunch. I believe power belongs to the people not a privileged few within the political system and it is one thing amongst many that I am propelled to help change. It’s possible very few persons have never seen me actively participate in partisan politics, it is because I have been an actively loyal follower. Indeed too, majority have also watched me grow steadily all the way from a student leader, relentless in pushing for good governance.
As one who has a plethora of community development initiatives directed at human capital building of young people, let me not continue to rest on my oars. I again believe that most of our people have followed my leadership trajectories through the corporate and business world, it is a clear testament that the time for political exploration is now.
There is for me another propelling force; a lot of our people struggle daily to reach their elected representatives, the persons they thought will bring them succour but instead they are encased in hateful regrets at this out of reach representation. Can we change the narrative? Yes! I come as somebody who can relate to their realities — not somebody who will cocoon himself in a cyst as a political shrine waiting to be adored.
Finally, I make bold to say that there is a clear lack of effective, visible and accessible House of Assembly representation in Yakurr I State Constituency. In my view the ultimate aim of every leader or follower is not really to enthrone once self but let your work speak for you. The attraction is to fill this gap with quality leadership and representation.
Are they gaps you have identified in our political representation process?
My point is simple, like earlier said – there is evident ineptitude in our representation currently and an effective, people oriented leadership is what Charles Ebri brings to the table. The politics of imposition and godfatherism has kept our people far from real democratic benefits. It is time to build another breed of political leaders as such there is need to give room for fresh hands, fresh thoughts, and another form of inventiveness to add to the political equation. Younger leaders are emerging, nationally and the world over; look at Liberia, Yemen, Canada, France and Qatar, It should not be different here. And I say the 2019 election will be a pleasant surprise to many.
If elected, I will look critically into viewing existing laws if need be and/or craft legislative frameworks bothering on security – especially ways to leverage ICT to enhance security, growing tourism service areas, developing a strong private sector-driven economy, institutionalizing basic health care services – with focus on Mobile Ambulance Medicare as a service, sustainable environmental services, land reforms, expanding access to qualitative education and social services, making agricultural services more productive and profitable, work at activating entrepreneurship in the informal section for enhanced IGR. etc. Generally, I will try to contribute in making laws for peace, order and good governance and be responsive to matters of urgent public importance in my constituency, state and the nation at large. This can be achieved by actively engaging my constituency.
What do you hope to differently do, should you be duely elected?
I hope to offer effective, consultative, people oriented leadership fuelled by my understanding of the challenges of my people. To present on the floor of the assembly potent legislations that can gain the support of my constituents and colleges to address key issues now and in the future. Perform every duty as provided in the constitution for an elective representative, evolve initiatives to enlighten my constituents on the clear functions of a legislature and provide multilayered channels of communication to reach my constituents. It will not be out of place for me to develop personal community based programmes that will nurture unity in Yakurr. Further, I will draw from my professional experience to make positive inputs that will forward thrust development in Cross River State. Importantly too, I will have strategic objectives, just like I will keep a scorecard to constantly do a self-check on my performance as a legislator.
Under which political party platform are you running and why?
I belong to the PDP family. God willing, l will contest under the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, if given the ticket to run after due internal party democratic processes are exhausted. I am an active follower of the leadership of our great party and I respect party leadership.
Are you not too young to run?
I am not too young to run. I am matured enough and already making positive contributions to nation building. That future we were told as children – is today and NEXT IS NOW! They has to be a deliberate reset in the political process to accommodate freshness; that is the beauty of democracy. It must not be business as usual.
Assess your electoral chances, do you enjoy political acceptance beyond your immediate community?
I am very certain of my political chances at the polls. My candidacy can sponge support and votes from different political interest groups because of the good will I have created over time. As one who has led students from my university days, championed the collection of bursary in Yakurr LGA, a student unionist of no mean pedigree, this is a bigger self expression stage that I am aspiring to. Again, I happen to be someone who has made notable contributions to the wellbeing of my community; socially and culturally. Maybe you don’t know, for many years I have solely run a football academy of over two hundred youths in the entire Yakurr LGA and Cross River State and groomed footballers who have taken on great teams like Eyimba of Aba, Rovers of Calabar e.t.c and recently participated in an international tournament in Port Novo, Benin Republic, in partnership with Sun Sell Academy. I have touched businesses, lives and families in no little way. I will not just enjoy political acceptance but I will serve as a huge political and socio-economic resource because data is in my hands.
What message do you have for the electorate?
My messages is: Go get your PVC to be able to vote, your PVC is your power! And “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,” – Barack Obama said so. Thanks
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