Next month, the people of Anambra South Senatorial district will be going to the poll to elect the person who will represent the zone in the upper chamber of the National Assembly for the next four years. But among the crowd of contenders for the votes of the people of the zone, a name stands out, writes Anayo Okolie
Ernest Ndukwe’s name rings a bell. Yes, it does. But this is not because he has been around for quite a while. It has more to do with his distinguished career in both private and public sectors. This professional telecommunications engineer, a graduate of the University of Ife and an alumnus of Lagos Business School, also has a rich resume which includes several years of international experience in telecommunications industry and corporate executive management, most of which were in top management positions in private multi-national companies and in government.
Starting with the Radio Communications Nigeria (RCN) Limited in 1976, five years later, Ndukwe joined GEC Telecommunications as engineering manager. With a dint of hard work and commitment, he rose to become a board member as commercial director in 1988 and barely a year later, he became managing director of the company.
Like the golden fish that he is, former President discovered him and in February 2000, Obasanjo appointed him the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He served meritoriously in that capacity for two terms of five years each before he left in March 2010. It was during his tenure that NCC recorded tremendous growth and laid a solid foundation for the growth and expansion that the sector has recorded so far.
Even after he left as Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Ndukwe has continued to serve the nation in various capacities including serving on the Presidential Committee on Job Creation and co-chairing the Presidential Committee to Develop Strategy and Roadmap for Universal Broadband Access in Nigeria.
Ndukwe, a past chairman of the Administrative Council of the African Telecommunications Union and immediate past chairman of the West African Telecom Regulators Association (WATRA), has represented Nigeria at various international events.
It is this wealth of experience he plans to make available for the people of Anambra South if given the mandate to represent them in the Senate on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in next month’s elections.
In a short letter to friends and associates where he announced his interest in the senatorial race, the former NCC boss highlighted some of the reasons why he was venturing into politics. He believes that his membership of the parliament would further enhance his ability to work for the realization of the lofty objectives he had pursued in various capacities through the passage of relevant enabling laws.
The letter reads: “After intense reflection and consultations with my family, friends, and associates, I have decided, with the help of God almighty, to vie for election into the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015, to represent Anambra South Senatorial Zone under the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
“My main reason for offering myself to the service of my constituents is rooted in my age-long belief that good, honest and purposeful leadership can positively transform the fortunes of our people. I believe it is time for us to finally stop accepting mediocrity, and translate our beliefs, experience and international exposure into positive actions toward catalyzing good governance and purposeful development. I believe in the transformative power of good leadership because I have seen it in action.”
Ndukwe noted that, “As a legislator, it will be my duty to stand up for what is right. My primary concern will be the welfare and progress of the people of Anambra South, the people of Anambra State and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria….I will represent a fresh crop of politicians that speak truth and are committed to serving God and humanity selflessly.”
Ndukwe is also passionate about youth empowerment, and this he had been doing as a part time faculty member of the Lagos Business School where he had been imparting his experience on upcoming generations. But being elected into the parliament would also allow him to influence the development of vocational skills, the creation of jobs and the fostering of an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship within the country.
One major area that will attract his attention when he becomes a member of the parliament, he said, would be issues about ICT services. “I will advocate for nationwide ubiquitous access to ICT services, especially high-speed broadband networks and infrastructure which have been widely acknowledged as crucial for the attainment of a knowledge society and access to life-enhancing services and information, and also transforming many industries such as transportation, healthcare, finance and utilities”, he said.
He has also pledged to advocate for sensible and effectual use of resources to ensure that the public gets good value for any spending made in their name and also deploy his vast international connections to support his state governor and the President in attracting investment, especially in the area of social infrastructure development.
But it may not be an entirely smooth sail for this seasoned technocrat. He has a tested warhorse to contend with. The incumbent Senator, Andy Uba, is a dogged fighter and would see this as a battle that must be won. Ndukwe is not oblivious of this fact but he does not see any problem along the way as he hopes it will be a healthy competition.
“Let me first of all say that Andy Uba is somebody whom I have known for a long time. When I was in government, I used to relate with him one on one, so I can regard him as a friend. In fact, before I started the process, I actually visited him and told him that I would be joining the race, because since he is somebody I knew so well, I didn’t want him to know from outside that I am running for the Senate.
“So, I will like to say that it is something that he is fully aware of and I hope we are going to have a healthy competition. I was telling him that they have had two chances. You know his brother was a senator and he has been a senator for one term. That maybe, they should leave this one for me this time, so that we can have a
change in the place. So, I suspect that it would be a contest that would be smooth and devoid of any problems”, Ndukwe said in a recent interview.
Apart from that, he believes he has a track record of achievements that is unassailable and that the people of Anambra South would be ever willing to flaunt it when the pedigree of representatives of senatorial districts is on the front burner of national discourse. He is confident that this places him far above his opponents.