Bassa-Dekina 2019: “I Don’t See the Sense in Getting Elected by the People and Then Moving to Abuja – James Akale

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Engr. James Akale believes that the key to achieving Nigeria’s development goals begins with socio-economic development at the grass roots. The aspirant for the Bassa-Dekina seat in the House of Representatives shares his very enlightening thoughts with Eunice Emmanuel-Bagi.
Background
My name is James Akale, I am married and our union is blessed with four kids. I am from Koji in Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi State.  I had my Primary Education at the LEA Primary School Angwan Katuka Zaria City, the son of a Soldier so naturally I went to an Army School. I attended the Army Day Secondary School Chindit Baracks, Zaria and proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University where I studied Civil Enginering. I have a Masters Degree in Project Management from the Federal Univerisity of Technology, Owerri. I have been in the construction industry now for over 15 years, I have worked with companies like Prodeco International, Rockson Engineering, Gitto Constuzioni General to name a few. I own and run my own company AK and JUEL Engineering Services Nigerian Limited; we are into Construction Design and Project Management.
I started working as a common site supervisor until I grew to be a construction Manager on a N7.2 Billion Naira Project. The Oil and Gas Polytechnic in Bayelsa State is one hour thirty minutes to the site by boat ride and I was working for someone. For five months he engaged me to leave Rockson Engineering where I had at the time to do that job because someone told him that I was the best man for it. We built 48 structures in three years, in the most difficult terrain that any man can work in Bayelsa. We were sand filling and building. That work is the only commissioned PTDF Commissioned project nationwide handed over by the Minister as a finished project, the similar projects in Kaduna and Borno are still ongoing. I started by Engineering Company AK and JUEL Engineering Services shortly after finishing this project.
I am driven by making impact which is what motivates me. I have embarked on a good number of community development programmes in Agriculture and Educational support because these sectors are the most integral to the development of rural communities. Charity they say begins at home, Koji my hometown is the launch pad for executing these programmes.
I am aspiring for the position of Member representing Bassa-Dekina Federal Constituencies at the House of Representatives under the flagship of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
What is your Assessment of the present 8th House of Representatives? 
If I am to go by the feelers, when you talk to the people they will tell you that they do not feel the dividends of democracy. Yes the Legislators are here to make Laws, bu then how many times have they engaged their constituents to know what their yearnings are?
We have a House of Reps Member in a place where the road is as bad as that of Dekina-Shintaku road. May be it’s because I am a Professional and I know the economic value of good roads.  Then, Imagine what could happen if there was a bridge running from Lokoja to Shintaku.
As a member of the House of Representatives, you could put up a structure for a bridge and source for investors, investors will come because they know the economic value of such a project. A lot of mistakes we make are buying Bikes, Keke-Napep or grinding machines and then putting up big ceremonies to show that we are working. That is not contributing to development because that is not teaching the people how to fish. The magic of a new road or a rehabilitated road in a community will go a long way in bringing about development in an area. This is not just the confluence state, it is also the food basket of the nation but how accessible are our roads? Anytime I come to Lokoja, I go to the water side to buy okra; a fresh basket of okra is sold for N400. If I wanted to start the business of transporting Okra to the South-South I will be making a lot of profit, back then there used to be a big market called the Shiria market but none of that is here today due to the lack of good and accessible road networks.  This goes back to my point about building a bridge across the river that runs through Shintaku and runs through Dekina, and this will have a lot of economic impact for the people.
What informed your decision to aspire for the Bassa-Dekina seat at the House of Representatives? 
Passion! I want to be known for something when I’m gone. Where I come from, we hardly come home. If I die right now the only thing that I would have is three by six feet that my body will be buried in.  There are some villages in Bassa now that are extinct because nobody comes home and those villages are renovated. I must commend the Government for the renovation in schools that is  presently going on; when structures are put, tables and chairs are put the ext things that should follow are learning materials,  that will aid the learning process of the children. This is where our House of Reps Members should step in.
Do you know that in this country there are a lot of grants and I am not talking about loans that communities can benefit from?  As a Leader it is up to you to find those opportunities that will be beneficial to the people you represent and get those opportunities to the people. This is what drives me, I know that as an individual I may not be able to bring about all the positive change that I seek for my people but with the right partnerships and collaborations we can achieve our common goals.  The Governor of Kaduna State leverages heavily on those grants and collaborations to bring about the development witnessed in the Kaduna State today.
If elected what will be your legislative priority to your constituents?
Engaging the people and re-engaging the people.  I don’t see the sense in getting elected by the people and then moving to Abuja that makes no sense to me. You should be constantly in touch with the community.  If for example you want to Lobby for a School for Agriculture to be located in the Bassa-Dekina axis you will have to be all inclusive, you form a team and then you go to meet the relevant stakeholders that can make that happen. It’s very easy to throw blame on the Government but then how many of have prioritised our needs and gone to meet the government with our needs, I know the value of engagement because I know amazing results that can be achieved when we engage with each other.
What is your take on the economic challenges in the state; do you think the government policies are addressing these challenges?
If you ask me I will tell you that in Kogi State we are blessed. I tell people that if you bring the mentality of the Niger Delta here there will be trouble. Let me give an instance, when you driving into Ajaokuta through Itobe to your Left is a Ceramics company and to your right is a company that makes tiles. There is also a new company that just took off there but what can you say about the state of the roads there. Here is another instance, we have traffic lights in Lokoja but the there is zero adherence to traffic rules. In Port Harcourt you dare not disobey traffic rules, you will have to pay a fine of N45, 000, your car will be impounded, you will be taken for psychiatric evaluation and then you will have to take a two week course on road safety.
The government of Rivers State generates a lot of revenue from these policies the same thing applies to Lagos State. I go to the stadium to watch a match and it is free, why is that so? The Government needs to ask and look for ways to generate money from policies that will be beneficial to the economic growth of the state.  People pay Tenement rate in other states, there is nothing of that sort here. People say nothing works here in Kogi because it is a Civil Servants state but I think that is an excuse we make for the lack of economic development.
Dangote is making a road with a distance of only 44Km and is making a big fuss of it, if that were to be in Rivers State the Government can never happen.  Look at the Mount Patti, the Mount Patti has a lot of economic value.  There is so much potential in Kogi State it just takes the people to come together to chart a course to achieve the kind of Kogi State that we want.  And I expect it to be done in this generation.
Who are the Leaders that inspire you?
There are men that have inspired me, men with knowledge and wisdom. Men with culture and values, the men who have inspired me to live a life that will make impact in the life’s of others. One of such men is Prof. Wambebe, he is someone that you cannot fault with, and his life is an inspiration to the young and the elderly.

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