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My agenda for Delta – PDP gov’ship candidate

The governorship candidate of the PDP in Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwor, in this interview, speaks on many issues, including his emergence and vision for the…

The governorship candidate of the PDP in Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwor, in this interview, speaks on many issues, including his emergence and vision for the state. Oborevwori, who is also the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, denied claims that he is a stooge of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.

Why do you want to govern Delta State?

I should begin by telling you about my mission in politics. It is really about the people. And I have come to understand quite early in life that the most important means of affecting the people for good is politics.

When I was growing up, I saw a lot of deprivation and poverty in society, and my biggest wish was to see how I could be of help to free people from lack and deprivation.

So from childhood, I carried the burden of taking up the responsibility of making life better for people. That was my motivation. Now joining politics at the grassroots saw me growing and evolving.

As a political scientist who is also in practical politics, I thought of so many possibilities. I sat down to collate my thoughts arising from my burning desire to use politics to promote the welfare of the people.

I also asked myself, after the speakership, what next? How else do I serve the interest of the people? It was at that point that I resolved and listened to the call to run for the governorship of Delta State.

From the legislature to the executive, do you think you have what is needed to govern Delta State?

Yes, I have more than what it takes. Besides the basic points of being a Deltan and the age, as well as the basic educational qualification, I am most qualified to be the governor of Delta State. I am well educated in the art and science of politics, having studied political science up to the postgraduate level.

What about the controversy over your educational qualifications?

It is unfortunate that what was supposed to be a minor mistake arising from names used and names not used in the course of schooling was twisted to cause mischief in an attempt to undo me.

Let the truth be told. Many people who have three or more names have used them differently at one point or the other. This was my case. The names that my detractors pointed at are all mine. There is no doubt about them whatsoever.

What is your vision for Delta State?

My vision for Delta State is double-fold. First is to ensure the welfare and security of the people and second is to make sure that the state and her people are not left behind in the race to the New World Order, which is anchored on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I must admit that previous administrations and the present one ably led by Governor Okowa have done so much for the state to prepare us to take off and go higher. There are already things that we can build upon. In the education sector, we have primary and secondary schools and what we need is to recruit and re-train more teachers with incentives and then upgrade the learning infrastructure by introducing and promoting the use of ICT.

Delta State has the highest number of tertiary institutions in Nigeria and we will encourage them to refocus and become solution providers to our challenges. Of course, we will commit more funds, but we will make our tertiary institutions become incubators of development. The healthcare sector is already receiving attention and we will build on what is on the ground.

I am aware that our health insurance scheme is the best in Nigeria having crossed the 80 per cent national threshold. So we shall expand and upgrade our health facilities including the tertiary health sector to modern global standards with the hope of providing good medicare for our people and also making Delta State a medical tourism hub. This is possible. I envisage an energy revolution by way of power supply to all parts of the State no matter how remote. We hope to replicate the IPP model that has given Asaba capital territory and environs stable power supply across the state. We have plans to explore alternative power sources through renewable energy.

Our science and engineering faculties and schools will be positioned to produce solar, wind and hydropower. Two other issues have to do with agriculture and industrialization. We need to get our people back to farming through the mechanized mode. Delta State has a vast arable land that can support an uncountable number of food and cash crops. My team has produced a list of over 100 food and cash crops that do well in every part of Delta State. We hope to focus on the comparative advantage of each area or community. For example, cassava and its value chain can earn Delta State over $20 billion per annum while the oil palm could double that figure if maximally cultivated. What we need to do is to revive agriculture. Delta State can produce enough food to feed the entire South-South and part of the South-East and even have enough for export. We will galvanize agriculture and bring our industries back. We will work with the Federal Government to revive the Warri Port and let it function maximally and open the opportunity for international trade for our people. We will set up a committee to evaluate all the moribund industries in the state, both private and government-owned, and see how the government through public-private partnership (PPP) can intervene and revive them. I have a blueprint for that.

We already have two functional airports that will enable investors to fly in and out to do business in Delta State. It is part of my blueprint to further secure the state by enhancing peace and security thereby making the state an investment hub in the South-South and South-East due to our proximity with that region. We also intend to get the oil companies to return to Delta State so that the state can retain its position as the leading oil and gas industry state in Nigeria.

I have seen the youth as our biggest capital. We have plans to give them a reorientation beginning from deploying civic education and ICT from primary to secondary through our tertiary education. Delta State already has a variety of youth empowerment programmes that have engaged more than one million youths directly and indirectly in productive enterprises. What we want to do next is to put our youths in the global internet economic community and promote a knowledge economy not through cybercrime, but through legitimate global commerce enabled by ICT.

Delta State will not miss it under my watch. To firm up my vision for Delta State, a think tank is working day and night to come up with a development strategy. I have charged the think tank to review the previous development agenda and see what has not been done so that we can harmonize to match new and contemporary realities.

Can you briefly talk about your manifesto and link it with your vision for Delta State?

Sure. My manifesto is anchored on the aspirations of the people of Delta State and it is the product of months of brainstorming during which I was advised to read the programme of action of societies or nations that came out of the Third World. I was so advised because their conditions were similar to ours in Nigeria.

So we thought that looking at what they did, comparing and localising it in our context will help us. I focused a lot on Malaysia, Singapore, India, Botswana and Rwanda. It was painstaking work because I read a lot of books about their history, their struggle and their economy.

As a trained political scientist, I knew some of these things, but now I had to read them with a lot of seriousness so that I can apply them to our situation. My team insisted that I must read and show an understanding of the situation of things in those countries and how they evolved before we do anything about the manifesto.

I discovered that their idea of development was about the welfare and security of their people. I was happy in discovering that because I am actually in politics for the overall interest and good of the people. That was why at the end of the day we resolved that my manifesto should be about MORE which we coined from the standpoints on which the manifesto is resting which are Meaningful development, Opportunities for all, Realistic reforms and Enhanced peace and security.

Each of these legs is about the welfare and security of the people of Delta State.

How would you react to the allegation of you being a stooge of Governor Okowa?

These are very unfair and unkind allegations. I am not a stooge and I have never been a stooge. I have been a grassroots politician all my life and somehow I know my way around politics.

Governor Okowa has done well by matching human capital development with infrastructure and peace and security, but bad belle politics is making opposition politicians tell lies.

So, the people should not allow the opposition elements to deceive them. They have nothing to offer other than lies and destruction. We have seen it at the national level.

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