‘Appoint patriotic Nigerians to leadership positions’
A former commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Henry Okhuarobo has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that genuine patriots who are committed to the development of the country and the welfare of the of the less-privilege in the country are those to be entrusted with public and political offices, as the country awaits the appointment of ministers expected to assist the president in piloting the affairs of the country.
Mr. Okhuarobo who is now a member of the Edo State House of Assembly who made this call in an interview with The Guardian in Benin however expressed his confidence that President Buhari who he described as a well focused man would not disappoint Nigerians in the appointment of his cabinet.
The former NDDC commissioner also appealed to the President to appoint someone with the desire to serve the people and interest of the Niger Delta area to head the NDDC, stressing that it is very important to always bear in mind the objectives and reasons for the creation of the agency while appointing both the leadership and the board members.
“As a former member of the NDDC board my advice to President Muhammadu Buhari is that he should remember that the commission was set up to alleviate the suffering of the people of the Niger Delta, especially in the area of infrastructure by way of intervention and human capacity building.
“To a large extent some of these aspirations have been fulfilled and a large part unfulfilled. I want the President to focus on experienced individuals that are committed to nation building to be appointed to the position.
“President Buhari himself is a focused goal getting individual and this kind of criteria should be put into perspective. The agency should be put in the hand of persons who are driven by public service, persons who will not only stay to enjoy the pleasure of the office, but people who will go round the region to see projects for themselves, this is it is not about age but experience.”
Speaking on how he was able to carry all the stakeholders along during his tenure on the board without any crisis, Okhuarobo said: ”I want to say a public office is a position of trust and not a personal estate. Personally I was committed to the NDDC project and the aspiration of the Niger Delta people that our suffering should end. Look at the map of Nigeria it is like the Niger Delta is carrying the load of the nation and this commission was set up to benefit from the load bearing.
“In Edo state I first of went round the projects and discovered that many of the projects were dead, I therefore decided to engage the contractors. After the engagement, I made sure that they returned to site while pursued payment for their jobs.
“People talk about abandoned projects but they don’t know that abandoned payments lead to abandoned projects. So in my time, I gave it all, I hardly travel out of the country, to ensure NDDC in Edo state had a turn around and as we speak we have so many projects; at least about 85 projects were completed within a period of one year and six months.”
The former NDDC member also commented on how the commission had been able to impact positively on youths in the area: “During my time at the board I sponsored youth programs and we have programs I reached out to youths to ensure that they were part of it. We committed them to projects that will enhance them.
“Baring his mind on the probe President Buhari is instituting into the activities of some government institutions, the lawmaker noted: “How did Buhari qualify to be president? It is because he pledged to restore sanity in the system, there is nothing wrong about probe at all. The only thing that is wrong is to witch-hunt, we should all support him, imagine the blanket looting of the treasury here and there, and every right thinking Nigerian should support Buhari. Professor Itse Sagay has even gone further to say that those who genuinely know that they have taken what is not theirs should return it on their own and if they refuse to listen to him the long arm of the law will catch up with them.”
“Buhari came into power because of his integrity and his integrity is a challenge to us the younger people and we should do everything to develop that integrity so that one day we will be qualify to be given positions. I stand on my courage to support him to make sure that he cleans the system.”
“If you hear Governor Oshiomhole talking, the figures involved are huge, money that is capable of being the country’s budget three to four years is plundered by persons. I am pained by it and I believe that the media is also pained because it is our collective destiny. These are the reasons why we can’t have electricity in our houses, the reason why our children end up in private schools and we pay so much in private hospital and so on. There should be probed to clean the system.
He alleged that Edo is being marginalized in the appointment of the headship of the commission and urged that urgent corrections be made.
“Over the years you will notice that the bigger states namely Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta Bayelsa states have all taken turns in producing the chairman, managing director and the executive director, they have rotated and over rotated. We in Edo have not benefited from all these; we are like a mockery at the commission. I want to say without mincing words that Nigeria has one of the largest gas deposits in the world while Edo state has the largest deposit in Nigeria, therefore we should not be taken for granted.
“Edo state is the future of Nigeria so my pain is that the way Edo is being marginalized at NDDC is unacceptable, it is my cry that Edo should be given additional slot when it is constituted. The president in his wisdom and the Senate should hear our cry. Am joining my the state governor to cry for an additional slot for the state because we deserve it, we can’t be spectators forever.”
On the clamour that some oil wells allegedly ceded to another the neighbouring Delta State should be returned to Edo, he said, “I believe that the governor is handling the matter on behalf of the state, I don’t want to dabble into that because we have a governor who is committed to the advancement of Edo state. He is well capable of engaging his neighbours in a brotherly way and don’t forget that we are brothers with Delta. I believe that constructive engagement will resolve the issue.”
“Also the issue of developing the gas sector as an alternative source of income couldn’t have come at a better time than now, in fact during the last dispensation we missed the golden opportunity when oil was selling for over $100 per barrel. We missed the opportunity in investing in gas as our future and the future of the world. I want to say that we should not lose track of the way forward because one of the alternatives they are talking about is gas.
“My wish and prayer is that Buhari should be able to engage those counties that are sympathetic to us to come and invest in the industry, at this most challenging time they should not abandon Nigeria. Nigeria as far as we concern is reason why our sub region is having peace, the entire Black race looks forward to Nigeria for leadership.”