‘Labour Party will spring surprises in Edo’

y Seye Olumide 

y Seye Olumide 

CHAIRMAN of the caretaker committee of the Labour Party (LP) in Edo State, Sam Omokaro spoke to ALEMMA-OZIORUVA ALIU on the state of the party ahead of 2016 governorship election. Excerpts:

The choice of the LP
AS a matter of fact, I am labour-oriented. In my working days, I was a leader in the labour union, the National Union of Food and Beverages so I know what the Labour Party means to the masses. If you look at the logo of the party, it is father, mother and child, which is the basis of the nation and the family. So we are the working class that bake the cake of the nation. I believe that any moment from now, the LP will take its rightful place in our political development. I have been in the LP for the past four years.

LP’s loss of Ondo State
It was a great setback. But I think it was pressure from Abuja that made him to defect to PDP. By now, Mimiko as a governor will be regretting it because the popularity he had before he moved has dropped in Ondo State. If Mimiko should contest today, he will lose election because of that.

Preparation for 2016 Edo governorship election 
The LP is very prepared because we said we are going out to scout for a credible candidate that will carry our flag, that this time around, we are not going to support one party or the other, we are going out to contest the governorship election and believe me, you are going to see what will happen in the next election. It has also been alleged that some politicians from other parties are sponsoring us but that is not true at all. The LP is open to everybody. If at the end of the day we have people from PDP, APC or wherever, we would welcome them, but as now, we don’t have anybody in APC that is sponsoring the LP. We are very open to anybody who comes forward to seek our ticket. 

Buhari’s 100 days in office
Buhari’s government so far has changed the goal post of politics in Nigeria. This is the time where, for the first time, people are falling in place without being pushed. You can see the reports that people are returning money; you can see the rot in the system before he came in. It would have been disastrous if the PDP Federal Government had continued in Nigeria. Buhari came to salvage Nigeria. If you check corruption, every other thing will fall in place. Look at the revenue of the federation, even when the oil price is dropping, revenue for the country is rising and that is the truth because automatically, stealing has reduced.  So far, he is in the right direction so I think we should give kudos to Buhari. People voted for change and they are now having the change. They should give him time to do it.

Although people have described him as being too slow but It is better to be slow to do the right thing than be fast to do the wrong thing. I support the steps he has taken so far because there is no need to appoint ministers now and tomorrow the same minister will be invited by EFCC. He should take his time to get those who want to work with him and those people should be credible and that will also tell the level of rottenness that Nigeria has got to that he has been looking for people to be ministers and he is yet to get the right people. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Buhari’s handling of the budget
The man will work in the existing budget. He is checking the files ministry by ministry, and some of the projects in running budget were over-bloated. He really wants to scrutinise them and know where to start from and know the genuineness of the contractors that are being owed and things like that.

Any moment from now, we expect him to submit his budget and I will advise him that he should focus on the areas he can implement. If he wants to focus on roads, he should focus on roads, because our national revenue is really going down. If he wants to focus on health, let him focus on health. I think his priority is security, unemployment and corruption. The unemployment has really increased but the last government didn’t do better. I think Buhari mentioned that he is going to focus on agriculture and truly if he focuses on agriculture that will absorb a lot of the youths. 

Agriculture should be another means of revenue earner for the country. We have over relied on oil. We need not just diversification; Nigeria should learn to save for the hard times. We are not supposed to consume everything at the same time. There must be savings. We have solid minerals, there is agriculture and there was a time they were talking about gold and bitumen. We had some grants sometimes ago which was supposed to be invested in bitumen.

Another axis near our border is filled with bitumen, but up till now, the government has not been serious about that. We have gold in Nigeria. South Africa is solely on gold and Ghana until recently when they discovered oil, were relying on gold and cocoa and here we have gold, we have bitumen.

If it is agriculture alone, we can export yam. Our members of the National Youth Service Corps should be used for agriculture instead of posting them to teach when many of them are not trained teachers. Some of them are posted to banks and other sectors to help the private sector but that was not why it was set up. If they are not going for military engagements as is done in some other countries, they should be posted to farms to help us produce more food for consumption and export. We should diversify. There are countries that don’t have oil. Oil made us to be lazy; the government should go into agriculture and other areas outside crude oil. We have the manpower; our youths are just roaming the streets. Use the corps members to do these. It is just for the government to be focused.

Buhari’s probes of past activities
It is a welcome development because those in government before just believed that they are there to satisfy their families and even prepare for their generations yet unborn. But thank God, Buhari is back. I was reading in the papers the other day where they said NDDC used N1.3 billion for children party for Christmas, you can imagine the rot in government.

He has started probing expenditure in the military and this has never happened before in our history. Before now people believed that nobody can probe the military and that any money budgeted for the military just go like that as they don’t make report. That probe is a welcome development.

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