* Says: ” Buhari winning in Niger-Delta is the personal decision of Niger-Delta people
By Olayinka Ajayi
Femi Adekanbi is the former commissioner for Special Duties, Culture and Tourism in Ondo state Nigeria. In this interview with Pan African Vision PAV, Adekanbi bares his mind on the state of the Niger-Delta states and how opposition should brainstorm in order to defeat President Muhamadu Buhari come 2019 among other issues: excerpt:
How will you describe service under Governor Mimiko when compared to the incumbent governor Akeredolu?
It was splendid. It afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to human development and virtually every aspect of life. And I am happy I served the great people of Ondo state Nigeria well. So people may like or hate Dr. Mimiko but he performed creditably well. I doubt if this present government surpasses his achievement in Ondo state.
What do you then make of the notion that he performed below expectation?
It’s mere politics of bitterness and an intention to drag his name into the mod. No government either past or present can achieve what he achieved as a former governor. Even the incumbent governor Arakurin Akeredolu attested to Mimiko’s excellent performance himself. But quite unfortunately, towards his second term, the revenue to Ondo state became very low and the issue of not being able to pay salary came up. At a point Ondo state got N7000 million per month. But today this government is getting N30 billion in a month. During Mimiko’s tenure, there was a time we got less than N1 billion in a month at that point he needed to pay three to four month salary, so how do you expect him to manage the stipend.
Ondo state is part the Niger-Delta states, what is your view on the state of that region presently?
When you go across the Niger-Delta states you will see the suffering the community people are going through. Even as a stakeholder from Niger-Deltal region, it is sad to see our people not living a communal life like other part of the Nigeria does. Sometime I ask if we are still part of this country. Apart from the fact that they have been disappointed by their people, the federal government has disappointed them as well. Rite from the era of military dictatorship till now. Except the late President Yar adua’s administration, Obasanjo’s and Jonathan’s administration as well tried their best but the people are terribly suffering. 75% of Nigeria’s wealth is gotten from there but when you move across that place, you will feel sad that they have not benefited anything.
Did Buhari led administration has left the Niger-Delta the way they met it?
I can assure you of one thing; this administration has done well in Niger-Delta. When you talk about developmental projects, it does not take two or three years to manifest, but the ministry of Niger-Delta under the watch of Usani Uguru and Claudius Daramola has done creditably well and they deserve all the commendation from the presidency. What has never been achieved for a long while, the Minister of Niger-Delta achieved it within three years in office. In terms of road constructions like the East-west road, they have achieved it as well as other project.
How do you juxtapose this achievement to the pollution that has raged Ogoni land?
But you are aware that Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was there to commission the kick starting of the sanitation recently.There are procedures in sanitizing Ogoni land and the federal government is almost at 75%-80% completion of that process.
Why are you particular about the Ministry of Niger-Delta?
It’s a ministry that is working silently and achieving laudable result . They have being commissioning roads, houses, health centers that have being of great benefit to the people of that region. What I admire about the State Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs Claudius Daramola is that he is a silent achiever and does brag about his achievement on completed projects. Although Erubebe the former minister for Niger-Delta tried his best by setting the basis for what this minister has achieved. But Daramola achieved a massive project. So what he has achieved across the nine states of Niger-Delta is highly commendable.
Have the Niger-Delta states had their fair share of the nation’s wealth?
When you consider the 13% derivation stipend, I don’t think so. It is absolutely low. I am in support for resource control. If the Niger-Delta can control their resources like is obtainable in other part of the world you will see quite a lots of developmental projects springing up everywhere in Niger-Delta. But unfortunately it is sad to allow other states to enjoy the wealth of Niger-Delta to detriment of Niger-Delta states. For instance, in Lagos state they collect tax on alcohol but in other states where Shariah laws are eminent, they don’t collect alcoholic tax and these states collect when the money is being shared. So it is sad. Until we allow absolute resource control in our constitution, developmental project will elude most Niger-Delta communities. In other words, our own restructure of Nigeria falls largely on resources control. For instance if there is resource control, the Northerners will be able to control their resources as well and remit it percentage to the federal. California is the 6th largest economy in the world. In America that is the system that is obtainable. Until we have such system, we are nowhere in Nigeria. Amid this, the Minister of Niger-Delta and the Minister of States of Niger-Delta has performed creditably well on developmental projects despite the little 13% derivation fund to these region.
Does Daramola’s performance justify President Muhamadu Buhari’s rerun come 2019?
That is politics, and I don’t want to go into that. However, it has to be the personal decision of the people of Niger-Delta. For me, President Buhari has done well with the ministers of Niger-Delta affairs Useni Uguru and Claudius Omolaja Daramola as they have performed creditably well because they are committed to the development of Niger-Delta. As one of those handling one of the projects in Ondo state, the state minister frankly told me that is going to jail me if I don’t see to it that the project is executed on the said date. That really triggered my team and I to see to it that the project is a must. What amazed me the most was when contractors handling some of the projects wanted to handover thank you envelop to him, he declined saying he is not receiving any thank you envelops from anybody. He told them make sure the project is completed at the set date or else he will see to it that the federal governments jail them. It takes a man of courage and integrity to do that. I will strongly urge the oil producing states that are desperate for development to support these ministers as they are not particular about Cross river and Ondo state but the nine Niger-Delta states collectively. With such move, these ministers has broken the jinx by looking beyond party lines but making development their watch word is highly commendable.
What do you foresee come 2019?
I can assure you 2019 election is going to be great for Nigeria. There won’t be any bloodbath.But If opposition wish to defeat president Buhari, they need to get there hats together or else they should forget it.