In Nigeria today today, if there are three men from the south in whom President Muhammadu Buhari is well pleased, it is no gainsaying that Comrade Jasper Azuatalam is one of them. Those who are frequent at the presidential villa, Abuja lend credence to the fact that the name and face of Jasper Azuatalam is a recurring decimal. No wonder he is the youngest member of the Board of trustees of the All Progressives Congress, APC and a member of APC campaign council in various states including Bayelsa and Kogi state. Jasper Azuatalam was among the very few who spoke up against the wanton corruption that characterized the immediate past administration and so he teamed up with other progressives to forge an alliance that has brought forth an era of Change in Nigeria. Comrade Jasper is the national coordinator of Buhari Vanguard.
On 24th of December, 2015, Comrade Jasper brought men and women of goodwill, from all walks of life, to his village, Okuku, in Owerri west Local Government Area, Imo state, to join him to celebrate his people.
The roll call at the occasion includes the Secretary to the State Governement, Sir Jude Ejiogu, Hon. Chike Okafor, member representing Okigwe South constituency in the federal house of Representatives, Hon. Victor Onyewuchi (Ikonne), member representing Owerri west in the state House of Assembly, Prince (Dr.) Henry Uzor Okafor, former MD of ISOPADEC, Pastor Tasie Ugo, Mr. Chris-lance Onyemachara, Hon. TOE Ekechi, just to mention a few. Comrade Jasper found time to speak with Francis Udoka Ndimkoha on the essence of the gathering. Excerpts:
Good evening comrade Jasper. Pls what’s going on here?
Jasper: This is my place. This is where I was born. Some people will say we are Abuja politicians because we incidentally started politics at the National level. But I am not one to forget my root. In fact I grew up here, so before the presidential elections, I came to meet my people, I gathered them together and I told them about President Muhammadu Buhari, and I encouraged them to vote for him. And after the elections, after we won the elections, I also called my community and my Local Government to thank them for voting for President Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, my people actually voted for President Muhammadu Buhari, infact this arena where we are standing has two polling booths, and PMB won in both. And when I saw people voting for PMB and standing by to defend their votes, it was amazing because I was here in 2011, during the Presidential elections and it was like a taboo to mention the name of Buhari in these parts. So, it was a new normal to realize that people could vote for PMB and stand by to defend the votes. In 2011, there was CPC headquarters in Amapu, the next village from mine, I was happy when I came back to behold it, but sadly, those people supported PDP in that 2011 election. But this time, people were fed up with PDP and they voted for Buhari and I assured them that Buhari will deliver. So, after about seven months, I thought I should come back to my people and tell them what the President has been able to do thus far and what they should expect, going forward and also to give the little I have for them to celebrate their christmas.
It is rare to see a politician holding such gathering in the village. One would expect that you will want to hold it maybe in the heart of Owerri, or Abuja, or even Lagos, why did you decide to bring it home?
Jasper: Infact they were suggestions that I should take this to the town, to big hotels but I resisted that idea. The purpose of doing this is to bring the government closer to my people. You saw the Secretary to the Government of Imo state, Sir Jude Ejiogu, you saw Hon. Chike Okafor of the House of Reps, you saw the APC Owerri zonal Vice chairman, house of Assembly members, commissioners and a lot of other top government functionaries and party leaders who may not ordinarily come to this place, so I thought I should use my little influence and the love that these people have for me to bring them closer to my people and see how they are fairing. As you can see, the road to my place is not very good, it is even better now because we have tried to patch it, and make it motorable. The SSG who is a representative of the state Governor has come, seen the road, and given assurance that it will get government attention and am sure he will do something. As an individual also, am working towards attracting federal presence through NDDC and other parastatals to make sure my people feel the impact of government.