‘Niger Delta States Deserve Better’
Femi Adekanmi, the immediate past Commissioner for Special Duties, Culture and Tourism in Ondo state during the administration of former Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko mirrors the developmental situation of the Niger Delta states, while commending the performance of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani and his counterpart, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Professor Claudius Daramola
How will you describe your service under Governor Mimiko?
It was splendid. It afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to politics, human development and virtually every aspect of life. I am happy that I truly served the people of Ondo state.
How will you rate the performance of Dr. Mimiko while in office when compared to this present government of Arakurin Akeredolu?
You may like or hate Dr. Olusegun 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 by some that he performed below expectation?
It is mere politics of bitterness and an intention to drag his name in the mud. No government either past or present can achieve what he achieved as a former governor. Even the incumbent Governor Arakurin Akeredolu himself attested to Mimiko’s excellent performance. Unfortunately, towards the end of his second term, the revenue accruable to Ondo state became very low and the issue of not being able to pay salary came up. At a point, Ondo state got N700 million per month. 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 and at that point he needed to pay between three and four months salary. How did you expect him to manage?
Ondo state is part the Niger Delta states, what is your view on the state of that region at present?
When you go across the Niger Delta states, you will see suffering. As a stakeholder from that region, it is sad to see our people not living a communal life like other parts of country do. 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. This has been the case right from the era of military dictatorship till now. Except the late President Yar’ Adua’s administration, Obasanjo and Jonathan’s administration equally tried their best but the people were suffering terribly. Seventy five per cent of Nigeria’s wealth is from that part, but when you move across the area, you feel sad that they have not benefited much.
Are you of the view that this Buhari led administration has left the Niger Delta the way it met it?
This administration has done well in Niger Delta. When you talk about developmental projects, it does not take two or three years to manifest. The ministry of Niger Delta under the watch of Usani Uguru and Claudius Daramola has done creditably well and they deserve all the commendations that must can extended to the presidency. The Minister of Niger Delta achieved a lot within three years, in terms of road construction, like the East-West road, in addition to other projects.
What can you make of the pollution that has been the lot of Ogoni land?
You are aware that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo went to commission it recently. There are procedures to sanitising 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 is necessary because the ministry is working silently and achieving laudable results. 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 Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Claudius Daramola is that he is a silent achiever and does not shout about his achievement on completed projects. Although Orubebe the former Minister for Niger Delta tried his best by setting the basis for what this minister has achieved. But Daramola has recorded huge successes in massive projects. What he has achieved across the nine states of Niger Delta is highly commendable.
Are you of the opinion that the Niger Delta states have now had their fair share of the nation’s wealth?
When you consider the 13% derivation, I don’t think so. It is absolutely low. I am in support of resource control. If the Niger Delta can control their resources like what is obtainable in other parts of the world, you will see quite a lot of developmental projects springing up everywhere in the Niger Delta. But unfortunately, it is sad to have allowed other states to enjoy the wealth of the Niger Delta to its detriment. For instance, in Lagos state they collect tax on alcohol but in other states where Shariah law is practised, they don’t collect alcoholic tax and these states still benefit when the money is shared. That is sad. Until we allow absolute resource control in our constitution, developmental project will elude most Niger-Delta communities. In other words, our own restructuring of Nigeria falls largely on resource control. For instance, if there is resource control, the Northerners will be able to control their resources as well and remit taxes to the federal. California for instance is the 6th largest economy in the world. The system of resource control is what is obtainable in America. Until we have such a system, we are going nowhere in Nigeria. The Minister of Niger Delta and the Minister of State of Niger Delta have performed creditably well on developmental projects, despite the meagre 13% derivation fund accruable to these region.
Does Daramola’s performance justify President Muhamadu Buhari’s rerun come 2019?
I don’t want to go into that. It has to be the personal decision of the people of Niger Delta. President Buhari has done well along with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Useni Uguru and Minister of State for Niger Delta, Claudius Omolaja Daramola respectively. They have performed creditably well because they are committed to the development of the Niger Delta. I am one of those handling one of the projects in Ondo state and Daramola once told me frankly that he was going to jail me if I don’t see to it that the project is executed on the said date. That really fired my team and I to ensure the delivery of a standard project. What amazed me the most was when contractors handling some of the projects wanted to handover ‘thank you envelop’ to him, he rejected it and maintained that he would not welcome any ‘thank you envelope’ from anybody. He told them that he was more interested in ensuring that the projects are completed on the set date. 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 states, but the nine Niger Delta states collectively. For a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain like me to commend All Progressives Congress (APC) members and the ministers, shows that the ministers have broken the jinx by looking beyond party lines but making development their watch word.
What do you foresee come 2019?
I can assure you that 2019 election is going to be great for Nigeria. There won’t be any bloodbath. If the opposition wishes to defeat President Buhari, they need to get their act together, or else they should forget it.