Why Nigerians must have a ‘second address’ before joining politics, by Abba
In 2003, when Vita Abba, an engineer, left his lucrative business, Vee-Tek Nigeria Limited, an Aba, Abia State-based switchgears and electrical services company, to join politics, his desire was to use the political platform to provide leadership that could benefit the people.
One decision he took, before contesting to serve as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, was not to see the contest or public service as a do-or-die affair.
To him, the desire was to make people happy and prove that honest people can serve the public without denting their image.
Accordingly, luck came his way a few months later, following his emergence as the Enugu State PDP chairman. For almost eight years, he was in the leadership saddle of the party, ensuring its total victory in all elections, while also using his office to meet the needs of humanity.
Towards the 2015 polls, Abba voluntarily resigned his chairmanship position to vie for Nsukka/Igboeze House of Representatives ticket of the party.
Unfortunately, he lost it to political intrigues. Not daunted by development, he quietly returned to his business and established another branch of his company in Enugu, where PVC pipes, electrical installations and fittings are manufactured.
The Enugu branch of the Vee-Tek Engineering Services established a year ago is located along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway with staff strength of 32 qualified engineers and others.
Abba, who recently took The Guardian round the factory premises, said his ultimate desire at present was to “create jobs for the teeming population and contribute to the development of Enugu State.”
Speaking on his stint in politics, he said: “It was good and we thank God. We have had experience from the other side of life and we are back to what we are used to. But the political experience is worth it. I have no regret holding public office to serve the people.
“Definitely, it makes me laugh most times, I hear or see politicians acting, talking and behaving anyhow. I laugh because I have gone through the path. I have had that experience before. It is not new to me. Whatever comes to me now as a human being is normal.”
He continued: “The problem with our politics is that people will want to insist that they should be counted at all times. They should be given opportunity all the times. That is why you see so much heat, so much friction and intrigues that not worth it. There is quarreling here and there because of space and recognition. I know we can do better if we minimise rancour and give others space to also come up.
“I served the PDP as state chairman for eight years. I give God glory for taking me through the ladder. Our modest achievements through the period are there for all to see.
“What is much important is what we have impacted in the people, the relationship we have built, and how we intend to put the rest of our life in productive ventures that could help humanity and develop the society.
“I do not want to relive my experience in office, but the only thing I will add is that, it was worth it. It has exposed us to the other side of life and we are happy that we attempted it. Whatever we gained there will continue to guide us in whatever we will do with the remaining part of our life. We have gained the exposure.”
Abba also disclosed that after holding public office, he decided to establish the branch of his power and engineering company in Enugu, following his belief that politics is not a do-or-die affair. It is something that should be used to reach the wider society.
On how he feels going into politics, he said: “The experience is worth it. I thank God and I tried my best. The skills I acquired before now as a professional engineer are never taken away. I never abandoned them, even when I was in politics. I was fully in touch with the business.
“Our plants were fully operational in Aba and our National Independent Power Projects were moving and one of the best in the southeast zone. Most of the projects we have with Shell and LNG were ongoing and we finished very well. We had a team that is intact and working. All that we decided to do was to spread our tentacles to Enugu State.
“The Vee-Tek is a power solution company. We provide power solution, other electrical infrastructure to the country. We have been involved in power projects and construction.
“Our products are everywhere. You cannot move to any power project without seeing a switch of our company. It is very efficient. We have technical partners in Spain. We manufacture good products. They may not be the best, but people who use them attest to the fact that they are really good.
“Most of our staffers are specialists. At Aba, we have about 25 of them. In Enugu where we manufacture PVC pipes and fittings, we have 32. As we expand, we will recruit more.”
In terms of local content and how the company has thrived considering the present economic situation of the country, the former PDP boss said: “In specific terms, if you talk about switches which we do in Aba, the major raw materials are sourced abroad, so also the PVC we produce in Enugu. Other components are readily available locally.”
He said that the greatest challenge facing manufacturing industries in the southeast is infrastructural deficit, stressing that without adequate power supply, manufacturers would continue to produce at low capacity.
“The lack of power supply is one of the major challenges we are facing. A situation, where there is no constant power supply and the prices of petrol and diesel keep rising is not encouraging. Another barrier is lack of good roads. Supplies are not made on time due to bad roads. If we have enabling infrastructure in the region, I tell you that we can make this place a manufacturing hub with our ingenuity.
“One thing I have discovered investing in the southeast is that our people work so hard to sustain and compete with products in any part of the world. If we have the enabling environment and the right laws, manpower is not the problem of the zone.
“Southeast is a place I have observed that youths give their best so as to be reckoned with at all times. It might be difficult to penetrate the market, but once they are there, it is difficult to neglect them”, he said.
On his advice for people joining partisan politics, Abba said: “It is very important for such people to have strong base or what Nigerians popularly called “second address.” It is inevitable and essential. That is the only way such people can make positive impact in politics and avoid desperation.
“Politics should not be seen as a professional job or alternative to it. It is not and can never be, not even in the developed countries. Politics is call to service, just like every other leadership responsibility, but could be turned dirty, when played by people without second address.”