SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
Immediate past governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in this interview with reacts to some criticisms against his views on restructuring. Excerpts:
Some Southern leaders have criticized you over your stand on restructuring, what is your take on it, are you retreating?
I am also a leader from the South. I don’t know what people mean but I am clear that we need devolution of powers and review of the Revenue Allocation Formula. Those are the two things I believe are doable and they will transfer more resources to the states and the states can do some of the things that the Federal government is currently doing.
If that is what they mean by restructuring fine. But any suggestions about return to regions, I don’t believe they should move from one region to state and from state back to regions. I think what we need is very well captured by (President Olusegun) Obasanjo. We need to restructure our attitude, we need to be more honest with our people, we need to creatively manage public fund to take care of the larger public.
That for me is not a function of structure, it is a funcction of character, it is a function of attitude. It is sad that sometimes people go personal when we discuss these issues, but what will interest you is that people who are saying we should implement the confab report, one of the confab reports said we should create additional 18 states. Does that make sense to you? And those who are saying these were also on record saying that most states are not viable, but yet they want more states. These are the contradictions that I see.
People talk about true Federalism, whose truth? You can see the contradictions in Nigeria. An Igbo governor retrenched Igbo workers who were not from his state.
PDP alleged that you abandoned the Auchi Fertilizer Company which was just re-branded and commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo because you didn’t want to see any PDP legacy in the state?
What has happened is with President Buhari’s fertilizer Initiative which started in 2016. Special provision was made to try and provide some cheap funds to support and build blending plants and I believe State Government under Godwin Obaseki has taken full advantage of that. But the truth is that I don’t like reacting to PDP’s allegations because the dead and the living don’t communicate, God has used me to bury them in Edo state and they will never overcome their pain. You don’t expect them to ever say anything truthful.
I read them saying that I did not want to operate the factory because I did not want any legacy of PDP. But remember that governor Igbinedion then did not hand over to me, he handed over to Prof.Osunbor who was then his PDP member and Osunbor was there for 18 months. When the Igbinedion government commissioned it, they did not run the factory, so it is not as if the factor operated one day. In fact you recall that President Obasanjo who came then to commission the place regretted what he saw and described it as the highest 419 in his presidency.
He was misled to commission the place and when went inside ge found out that everywhere was dusty. And before Obasanjo got back to his chopper they had closed the gate and it never opened since then. So I think the good news is that President Buhari has come to rebuild the country and he rightly recognized that agriculture offers a huge potential not only in terms of job creation but also in terms of food security. A nation cannot be secured if you depend on imported food.
And for the Okpella cement factor commissioned by the Vice President, for me it is a dream come true. That Okpella cement was operating before, even the wall in this my house was built by Okpella cement in 1990.
It was a company that was working but unfortunately the previous PDP government ran it aground, they sold it and leadership has change over time and at the end they were just using it in bagging cement. But I encouraged BUA people to get the factory open so they could commence real jobs and conserve our foreign exchange. We followed through and it is now a reality.