Mr. Chukwudi Owo, president and chief executive of Resourcefield Inc. and former head, General Services of Shell Petroleum Development Company, in this interview, speaks on Delta politics and why Deltans should elect Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi as governor in 2015. Excerpts:
By Clifford Ndujihe
What is your assessment of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s performance in Delta State?
In spite of huge distractions and challenges like militancy, kidnapping and alarming crime rate that he met when he assumed office, Governor Uduaghan stood strong and eventually delivered to his people. Worthy of note are the Asaba road network, airport projects, the ICT programme and the free healthcare package for pregnant women. He has laid some foundation for others to build on. I am of the belief that history will be fair to him as governor.
How can we sustain Uduaghan’s achievements and take Delta to the next level in 2015?
Delta State is blessed with rich human resources and very competent leaders who have proven themselves equal to the task based on their exposure in the private and public sectors. What Deltans need is to be objective assess and identify the individual who will step into Uduaghan’s shoes and take the state to the next level. Such an individual has to have rare qualities. First, he must be a key stakeholder in the state.
By this I mean that he must be someone who believes in the state and has kept faith with it through thick and thin. An individual who lives and invests in the state will have a better knowledge of the issues in Delta State than an opportunistic politician whose assets are outside the state.
Next, the next governor of Delta State must have a legitimate and visible source of livelihood. We do not want political job men and overnight billionaires whose wealth is driven from their involvement in politics. For sustainable development to take place in Delta State, we must protect our collective resources from being self-appropriated by these corrupt characters.
Importantly, as a result of the precarious security situation in Delta, we definitely need our next governor to be a man with a “big heart”, experienced in security matters within a legal context, who will muster the courage to radically confront and address the security issues in Delta State.
After security, the big one is the issue of jobs. There is a correlation between unemployment and the security challenges in the state. We want the person that will take over from Governor Uduaghan to be someone who understands what it takes to create jobs and who has done so in both private and public sectors.
Who would you consider as the best among the numerous governorship aspirants in Delta ?
There are myriads of aspirants aspiring to succeed Governor Uduaghan as governor in 2015. Among them are unserious and opportunistic individuals with disgusting pedigrees, questionable characters, association with failed projects in Delta State and inclinations to commit violence against the people. We also have those whose only claim to leadership is that “it is our turn”.
When you subject all these aspirants to a critical and objective assessment, one person stands head and shoulders above the rest. That individual is Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, former Minister of State for Education and the youngest ever Chairman of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria. He is a man with a passion for Delta State, who will champion the transformation of the state. With him, Deltans will be assured that the ship of state is in safe hands.
Do you think Gbagi has the chance of emerging victorious at the polls?
By the grace of God, Gbagi will be sworn in as the Governor of Delta State in May 2015. This is a man who has dedicated his life to the service of Delta State and works assiduously for its growth. Not too long ago, Governor Uduaghan described Gbagi as the “single biggest investor and employer in Delta State” and wished that they were up to five people like him who invest in the industrialization of the state.
Gbagi kept faith and continues to invest in the state. Although, it would have made business sense to divest from Delta State and reinvest elsewhere like many did, Gbagi vowed never to abandon his people. As a lawyer and criminologist, he understands the challenges of insecurity and has a clear plan on how to confront these. As an investor, industrialist and entrepreneur, he has built factories, markets, hotels in Delta State, providing jobs to the people.
As a Minister of State for Education, he fought against the vices of corruption in the education sector. When he saw that the lack of opportunities for university education was denying students from poor families from pursuing their dreams, he courageously took a memo to the Federal Executive Council and fought relentlessly until he got the approval to establish 12 new Universities. He also resisted the move to transfer the Federal University of Petroleum Resources from Effurun to the North; and also ensued that a federal government college was cited in Delta State.
As the first African member of Rotary International’s Arch Klumph Society, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi single handedly donated 250,000 US dollars to the Rotary Club for the advancement of education in Delta State. He believes that education is instrumental to the transformation of Delta State and has committed huge personal resources towards the educational development of Deltans. His vision is one that will secure the state, take Deltans out of poverty and make the state a place of choice for investors and tourist alike.
On the clamour of Delta North to produce the next governor for the sake of equity and justice
The clamour is hypocritical and represents an elitist game plan to corner political power while using the platform of a non-existent zoning arrangement.
Such tendency is deceptive, opportunistic and an act of desperation by a few outspoken individuals to intimidate better qualified aspirants out of the governorship race. The fact is that Delta State has never had a zoning arrangement.