The immediate-past Delta State Commissioner for Energy, Charles Emetulu, who is vying for the governorship seat under the banner of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), spoke in Asaba on his chances of clinching the party’s ticket, the clamour for power shift in the state and other burning issues.
BY AKOMA CHINWEOKE
Why are you in the race?
I am in the race for the governorship of Delta State, first, because I have a vision of sustainable development for Delta State, a vision that will benefit Deltans and Nigerians from all walks of life. Secondly, and as a corollary to the above, I’m in the race to unify Deltans behind this vision, because we need to set a paradigm for real development in Nigeria. We need to set great examples for others to follow. We need to be the national standard-bearers. So, I am in the race because I am a very strong believer in the use of public service for real social, economic and political development and empowerment. Public service must be used for the greater good of the greatest number, because human development must be the purpose of public service at all times. The people must always be the focus of policy and any development agenda.
Your take on the clamour for power shift by the Anioma
In politics, politicians will always have something to argue or complain about, something to lobby about, and something to say over any issue. That is what makes politics interesting. Even in my home little local council of Ndokwa-West, there are also talks of all this. People keep asking why it is that only this or that is getting everything and so on. Why this type of clamour at every level of our federal system? The answer is simple.
It is the need for equity, the need for people to feel that they are not being marginalized in the affairs of state. It is the issue that has occupied us since the moment our nation opened it’s eyes. Our Founding Fathers built this nation on a platform of unity in diversity. The Federal Character provision in our Constitution is aimed at addressing this. Okay, any policy is as good as those implementing it and we can say clearly that the National Question remains unaddressed only because we are yet to produce the collective political, economic and social leadership with the will to address it.
But we have a good start with President Jonathan’s courageous convening of the National Conference. It is the first and only successful one so far. So, the signs are good. What we must continue to do at the state and lower levels is to continue to operate in the spirit of inclusiveness. Delta State is already showing the way here. Delta Central produced the Governor at the beginning of the 4th Republic and it was a seamless transfer to Delta South eight years later.
Today, the consensus is that it should go to Delta North. Indeed, the fact that Deltans accept this as natural clearly indicates how politically advanced we are in this state and how much awareness we have as a people that our state is in fact a mini-Nigeria. It’s nothing new. Rotational leadership is a well-known concept worldwide, especially in multiracial and multiethnic societies.
The key is to ensure that while we are putting in place conventions and machineries to effect such rotation in order to give every ethnic group or collection of ethnic groups a sense of belonging, we must not compromise merit along the line. Also, one thing we need to keep in mind is that rotation should not be to the exclusion of others. For instance, that power rotates to Delta North should not mean the exclusion of Delta South or Delta Central. That would be communal suicide. We are all part of one project even where we choose certain persons from certain areas to occupy certain offices.
Every Deltan has the right to enjoy the benefit of governance to the fullest, no matter where he or she comes from and no matter where they reside within the state. Rotation is not against the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees people the freedom of choice, movement and even of decisions. That is why you see that despite all the hues and cries of power shift, equity and other things, there are still aspirants from other senatorial districts involved in the race. It is not restricted exclusively to Delta North.
Delta State has very qualified persons from every village, hamlet or town. If you have such persons, they can come out and aspire. I am not aspiring to be an Anioma governor, Delta Central or Delta South governor; I’m aspiring to be the Delta State governor. The whole state is my constituency, because that is the best way to sustain real development. Whoever is aspiring to lead Delta State must lead the whole of the state and not just a part of it. We are one.
Rumour of the governor anointing a particular aspirant
I wouldn’t know about anointing anybody but I can tell you that in politics, there is the tendency for people to engage in name-dropping. There are those who have come to say that Mr. President has anointed them while some say that the governor has anointed them and yet some others claim the First Lady or the wife of the governor has anointed them. It’s normal; it’s the beauty of politics.
Now, I don’t know whether Governor Uduaghan is interested in who succeeds him, but I’d suspect that as a man who has committed a lot of time and effort in driving the ship of state and in raising the profile of our state to the enviable level it is now, he would be interested in ensuring that he leaves the state in good hands, even where the choice is ultimately left to the people. He’s a stakeholder within the PDP and the leader of the party.
As much as he is expected to liaise and consult with other leaders at every level to determine the leadership direction of the state, he is entitled to exercise his own right to a choice as well. The Constitution does not bar him. But he’s severally said he is not going to impose anybody, but that he would ensure that every aspirant has a level playing field. I therefore trust him and the party leadership at the national and state level to put in place a credible process that ensures that the will of the people ultimately prevails. With particular reference to the governor, I can tell you that having worked closely with him for years now, you can take his word for it. He’s a man of honour, a worthy leader.
On our part as aspirants, we need to exercise discipline and restraint. As leaders, our responsibility is to ensure that we compete in a fair and peaceful atmosphere. I don’t want people to overheat the polity over endorsement and anointment. If somebody is anointing somebody, nothing stops you from getting your anointment somewhere else. It is a big world, an open market. I am not sure anybody is cowed.
If people were cowed, the number of people who went to purchase forms wouldn’t be this much. Every one of us in this race, including my humble self, has a chance to become governor of Delta State. You have to be in it to win it. I believe firmly that no matter the machinations of men, it’s only God’s will that will prevail in the matter of leadership succession in Delta State.
Chances of picking the ticket
My chances are very bright. If I didn’t feel that I have a chance, I would not be involved in the first place. My chances are as bright as any other person’s chance contesting; but, with all due respect, I feel that I bring in something extra over and above all others. Globally, there’s a generational shift in leadership that favours those of us under 50. I am at an age where I have the energy and capacity to execute the vision I have for the state. I am a supremely patriotic Nigerian with the discipline, requisite training, understanding, ability and people’s skills to take the Delta Project to new a height. I intend to run an administration that would be the benchmark for all others. I believe I’m a man of history and the time is now.
Agenda for the people
People everywhere desire the same things generally. They want to have food on the table, develop themselves educationally and intellectually, live a healthy life, invest for the future, have protection for themselves and their family and generally continue to improve their quality of life. Here, we note that unemployment is the biggest scourge, because not enough opportunities are being created for people to earn a decent wage.
On a global level, agriculture has proved a huge, viable investment area that helps with employment on multiple levels. We want young people to be interested in what the land can yield and we will do all we can to make agriculture the centerpiece of our economic policy. The reason we are doing this is to ensure that every part of our state is opened up for development. The urban-rural gap must be bridged through the establishment of viable industries in all areas taking into cognizance the peculiar strength of each geographical area. You will be surprised how much of everything we consume, even technologically, that comes from the land.
Let me quickly say that I do not intend at the moment to go into too much detail about our programmes for obvious reasons. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. Honestly, there’s no magic to good governance than having the right person at the top, a person who has a vision of his own, a competent and capable team and a will to drive his or her vision to achieve the best for those he or she leads. For me, I want to leave an enviable legacy for the future generation to be proud of and to emulate.
We have laid out plans in such other areas as security, transportation, health, microfinance, education, infrastructural development, provision of pipe-borne water, power and energy and so on. We intend to build on the good work the present administration has done with a plan to improve things at all levels. Also, one thing that I’m keen on looking into with a view to vastly improving it is our treatment of pensioners. I’m very, very worried about the fact that we seem to have lost our social conscience where senior citizens are concerned. Why should it be a problem for people who have served the state and the country to enjoy their hard-earned benefit upon retirement? We can do better.