NIGER-DELTA leader and entrepreneur, Chief Moses Efe Odeh, in this interview with Saturday Vanguard explains why President Goodluck Jonathan should perish his idea of removing fuel subsidy, why the former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori, presently languishing in detention in Britain for money laundering should be officially pardoned by the Federal Government and other matters. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the planned removal of petroleum subsidy by the Federal Government?
My take is that our dear President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, should not remove fuel subsidy because it will bring nothing but untold hardship on the common man while it will provide an opportunity for treasury looters to loot. Mr. President should not to allow bad advice to derail his good intentions.
Rather than usher in economic growth, the multiplying effect of such action will be inflation and rise in prices of goods and services and, therefore, it should be discountenanced. I also want to bring to the notice of Mr. President the fact that genuine business owners who are indigenes of Delta State have been sidelined by multinationals in the state.
So, what should be done?
I wish to call for the development of Nigerian Ports Authority in Warri and also for an upgrade of Warri Airstrip to an international airport as originally planned. I am happy that the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, is already working along this line. I also appeal for the return of all the oil contracting companies that relocated to some neighbouring states due to insecurity in Warri to return since there is absolute peace now in Warri to complement the efforts of the present administration in the state.
How do you assess Jonathan’s handling of the nation’s security challenges?
You know it is not an easy matter to handle the kind of explosive situations in the country today. But by and large, I want to seize this opportunity to commend Mr. President for courage in tackling the security challenges in the nation and his diplomatic astuteness in ensuring that Nigeria takes its rightful place in the committee of nations. He also deserves kudos for his fight against corruption.
Former Delta governor, Chief James Ibori, is in detention in the UK. How do you feel, as one of his associates?
In fact, I want to appeal to Mr. President to use his good offices to facilitate the release and subsequent pardon of Chief James Onanefe Ibori who is currently facing trials in United Kingdom. I cannot deny Ibori as a brother, philanthropist and a man with a family to cater for; he brought joy and smiles to numerous people in Delta State and Niger Delta. He is one of those that brought the enduring peace we enjoy in Warri today, despite inheriting a state full of insecurity. Such a man should not be allowed to suffer any further in the UK.
I am sure that the government of theUnited Kingdom will not allow any British high government official to suffer what James Ibori is currently suffering in United Kingdom in another country, mostly when the offence committed is against the home country and not a foreign country. Now, let us look at it this way. Is Chief James Ibori the most corrupt politician in Nigeria? Can we then listen to what the bible says about the adulterous woman in the book of John, Chapter 8 verse 3 – 11.
If you support Jonathan’s corruption battle, why plead for Ibori?
While I support the fight against corruption, which is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society, I urge Mr. President to tamper justice with mercy and ensure an end to Chief James Ibori’s traumatizing experience in United Kingdom because there appears to be more than meet the eye in his case. Corruption is everywhere in the world, including the private sector and for there to be total eradication of corruption, the fight has to be holistic. I remember that the administration of former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, pardoned and returned confiscated properties of politicians back to them when it was established that the action was selective, as we are saying in the current case of Ibori. Like I said before, I commend the efforts of the Jonathan administration in fighting corruption. No country in the world can eradicate it to the zero level. But there is need for Nigeria to get corruption to a tolerant level.
I suggest re-introduction of War Against Indiscipline and Corruption, which was used then to fight corruption in the system. The different anti-graft agencies have done their best and personally, I praise the astute leadership of the Chairman of EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, who has proved she is a woman of substance.