Friday, December 25, 2015 1:15 pm
Q: It’s been about a month since you became the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Many Nigerians and particularly the people of Niger Delta region want to know your agenda for them?
A: The Ministry, at its inception, was set upon a certain or particular mandate. So my agenda cannot go beyond the mandate which is to co-ordinate the policies and carry out interventions in the region and recover the social claims and environmental issues of the area. And these will be within the limits of what visible resources we can get. Because, we cannot stretch beyond what we have. So that is the only thing I can say.
Q: Despite abundant resources and the region being the treasure base of the Nation, the Niger Delta people remain poor. How will your address that?
A: I don’t know what you mean by “remain poor.”
Q: Issues on education, housing, health, environmental degradation and pollution are yet to be addressed…
A: Addressing these issues will not be immediate. On my side, I am interested in following the prescriptions to accomplish our target which of course is to achieve according to our Niger Delta Master Plan. There is a plan and we are working on several project segments, to accomplish each of the milestones. And I will execute the budget in those areas. That is it.
On environmental degradation or pollution, that is not what any man can control. Because it must take global collaboration for the impact to be felt. The issue is multi-dimensional, because it evolves from glacial collapse in the North Pole, the rising temperatures in the South and other terrestrial problems orchestrated by activities of man. So it is not what one man’s activity can impact upon. My agenda here is to keep cleaning areas we can clean. When we need other forms of elevation, we do so. And degradation is beyond pollution. So in all, within the limits of our resources, we will continue to take action.
Q: We want you to speak on the East-West road and other controversial contracts…
A: For the East-West road, the project is ongoing already. Likewise others. As far as we live within the means of our immediate and available resources, we will put all things in order. Not just that. Every project must be attended to.
Q: How will you handle conflicts in the region?
A: The Ministry is not about conflict resolution. The incidence of conflict resolution arises from agitations which in some cases are genuine. But it is not about conflict resolution. In all ministries conflict resolution or historic resolution is an aspect because if it does not happen in contract award, it will happen between government and the communities or partners in any form of projects. The intensity or dimension is what differs.
Q: Major expectation from this government is reduction of poverty, can President Buhari do this in a span of four years.
A: If all of us work hard, it is possible.
Q: The public perception of the six months old regime is that, it is losing its change vitality with subsidy and others still hanging. Senator Ben Bruce even said the administration is beginning to reel with excuses. What is your opinion?
A: Well, I didn’t hear what he said so I cannot respond adequately. Is there nothing being done? If a man digs a pit today and then you fall into it tomorrow, won’t you blame the man who dug the pit as a reason for your fall? This administration is putting things in place that will secure the future of the country. And that needs a careful and articulated framework. It is not something to be done in a hurry. Let’s wait for implementation.
The subsidy issue will hang because it was used to impoverish Nigerians and destroy the downstream oil sector. And this government, because it is passionate about human welfare, won’t just come and withdraw it at once. That’s why we are feeling the pains by still paying it. They destroyed the economy. So people who are taking the sacrifices are those who didn’t contribute to that destruction. This subsidy is the hangover from 2014/2015. It is not of this regime. And then they say there were saving money called SURE-P. Where is that money? It was distributed for their pockets.
All those people you see on television talking against this administration are those who will not wish anything good to come to Nigeria because they want to come and continue their robbery.
At present some people are being docked for alleged sleaze. They sat here and destroyed the entire North-East. All the arms that were suppose to be brought in for that war to be fought against the insurgence, did they do that? Just took money for nothing. They use human life to trade because of their pocket. Beyond the real sum, they went ahead to approve a loan of one billion dollars. Despite the money approved, insurgents were holding more than 14 Nigerian territories. The deliberate effort to entrench poverty in Nigeria is what this government is beginning to address by putting everything in shape. Just watch and see the good.
Q: There are agitations in the Senate of some Senators, demanding for a Development Commission for the North-East. What do you think?
A: I don’t have a role over the confirmation of bills into laws. So what will I say? I have never been to the North-East. The emergence of the Niger Delta Ministry itself is a consequence of agitations. So whatever will be of benefit to the people, as far as it keeps within the law, is appropriate.
Q: With you vacating the seat of the State Leadership of your party (APC), don’t you think something different from what you stand, may happen?
A: Except you are implying that if I was not living again, the party will die in the state! Otherwise, no man is indispensable.
Q: How do you cope with the tome of files lying on your table, ceaseless calls attacking your phone and the crowd I suspect are waiting to see you.
A: I handle all together. I listen and say what I have to say and do what I can do. How else can I handle them? When calls come, at my convenience, I will attend to them. I am not under any pressure. When my ability is exhausted, I close down.