Goddie Ofose, a Lagos-based media practitioner has been invited by his people to contest for the Mbo State Constituency seat in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Mary Nnah engaged Ofose on the trends in Akwa Ibom State, and his aspirations
What are your views on the style and administration of Gov. Udom Emmanuel?
I must really commend the foresight and purposefulness of the administration of Gov. Udom Emmanuel. In line with his government five-point agenda with the three focal points- industrialization, tourism and agriculture, he has been focusing on driving sustainable development projects that will outlive his administration. If you look at industrialization, before now we had industries in the states set up and run as an extended arm of parastatals, so mortality rate was high, especially if an incoming administration does not buy into it. But what he is doing now is to anchor and bench mark things with international best practices. The Udom-led government has provided an enabling environment, security, provide infrastructures, good governance and economic policies that will draw investors. One key factor that has been lacking even across the country and Africa but it is now in Akwa Ibom proudly, that is integrity in leadership. We can proudly talk about at least four world class new industries- syringe factory, metering solutions industries, pencil & toothpick factory, and the paints factory.
This means business has been created and investment made in areas where there is market, so sustainability is assured. Take the syringe factory. For instance Nigeria spends over N30b to imports syringe, so the market for them is readily there. We cannot even meet demands for Nigeria so it will expand with time. The metering factory meets the needs of Nigerians moving massively to pre-paid metering. It is same with the paint and toothpick factories. So many other moribund industries in various sectors have been resuscitated.
Udom was recently endorsed by key sections of the state for a second term, do you he deserves such endorsement?
Any sincere observer will agree that he is worthy. I am not sure if there is any other state of Nigeria, in this intervening period has been able to do as much as Akwa Ibom State. The administration is focusing on the route of diversifying the economy in the area of industrialization to create wealth. The dream is that by the time this administration exits, the economy will have a 360-degree turnaround with the private sector taking over the driving seat of the state economy. Four years cannot be enough to fix everything, a second tenure is key to consolidate this laudable masterplan.
In many states of the federation, governors have been accused of focusing mainly on state capitals. Is Udom’s approach different?
It would be highly uncharitable to accuse Emmanuel of concentrating on the state capital. Let us even start with the civil service, he pays salaries of civil servants promptly. For illustration purposes, any civil servant in the state whose wife is pregnant is guaranteed full welfare attention from government from birth till the child finishes his or her WAEC exams. All through the nine months of pregnancy, the mother is guaranteed free health services from any state hospital. The first five years of the child also attracts free health care, and there is free compulsory primary and secondary education including free WAEC exams for everyone in the state. The state government spends over N600m as payment for WAEC registration exams for all indigenes of the state. On roads, the Akwa Ibom state government has constructed cumulatively over 2700 kilometres of roads benchmarking international standards. These are roads designed and built to last for at least 25years. These good road network the cut across the state will enhance our agricultural and industrialization drive.
You are from the Oron ethnic group and we know that your people have been agitating for the position of governor. What advice will you give to your people now that Governor Udom is seeking a second term?
It is the right of every individual or group to aspire to any leadership role in any political setting. The desire of the Oron nation is not out of place. However every aspiration must be juxtaposed with realities on ground and what is best for the generality of millions of Akwa Ibom people. Gov Udom is one of us from our Senatorial district. He has as enviable master plan he needs to complete. Our discussions and negotiations should continue in house. The good thing is that in the state, all elites have come to agree that the governorship should rotate among the three senatorial districts every eight years. With Good negotiation, the Ibibio ethnic group in the senatorial district will agree that it is the turn of the Oron nation when it comes round next time. Fighting and bickering will not help any group. Discussions, negotiations and concessions on this issue will be very helpful and ensure peaceful development. It will definitely be in the interest of the Oron people to support Udom and that is what I will advise strongly.
Why did you decide to take active part in politics?
It is always a tough task to resist the call of your people. The fact is that it has become the turn of the people of Ebughu/Udesi to pick the slot for the Mbo House of Assembly seat. We are highly organised and we have our agreed political arrangement in Mbo. I am a journalist. My people have seen clearly that my experience in my profession will add value to governance and ensure quality governance. If there is a profession that can train people in law making and vibrant politicking, it is journalism. We are by nature very engaging, analytical and vibrant. I will bring vibrancy to the state assembly and the Mbo people. I also feel vibrant law-making will guarantee growth in Akwa Ibom. My media experience will help deepen legislation and good governance in Akwa Ibom. Do not forget that I was invited to come home and represent them. I have been a very loyal party man. I have and still willing to work tirelessly with great stakeholders in my area like Hon. Victor Antai and Rt. Hon Nse Bassey Ekpeyong. If there is one thing that is firmly established, I am fully on ground and by God’s grace I am on my way to the state house of assembly come 2019.