By Lucky Oji

Former member, Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Essien  Benjamin Okiemute, is a prominent leader and founding member of the All Progressives Congress APC in the state.

Chief Okiemute

In this interview with Sunday Vanguard, the APC chieftain, reveals that  President Muhammadu Buhari is enjoying the support of Nigerians  who would re-elect him for second term in 2019 and other issues in Delta politics,

Sir, it is exactly two and half years since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, how would you assess  the president’s performance so far?

President Muhammadu Buhari, has performed credibly well, personally I will score him excellent. Within the two and half years, the President has achieved a lot, particularly,  the reshaping of Nigeria’s image and integrity in the international community.

Virtually, every Nigerian is very much aware that President Buhari practically inherited a collapsed economy, a very rotten and corrupt system. Resources of the country were looted and mismanaged without considering the poor masses and the future of the country. It got to a point where few corrupt individuals were becoming richer than Nigeria as a country.

Budgeted funds meant for projects and other purposes of national importance were diverted into the pockets of individuals. Buhari inherited a huge debt owed marketers who supplied petroleum products not paid by the immediate past administration, the President has paid these monies.

For the past two and half years, President has done everything humanly possible to restore the dignity of Nigeria as a country by initiating a clean spirit into the system. Another major area the President  has done well is the fight against corruption.

When President Buhari promised to fight corruption, many never believed what he was saying, but from what we are seeing today, the various shocking revelations how government officials in the last administration looted the resources of this country, Nigerians have developed strong confidence in President Buhari, and trust whatever the president is doing to transform the country.

He is determined and genuinely fighting corruption as he promised, and that is why you can see that the President is getting the full supports of majority of Nigerians.

Some Nigerians and the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are criticizing Buhari for non performance?

It is not a surprise that the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party PDP is always criticizing President Buhari, what would you expect from them when their members were actually the main beneficiaries from the corrupt system of the last administration.  Apart from the PDP, some other Nigerians still criticizing Buhari, it could be that the President may have blocked their source of milking the country; certainly, they must fight back and criticize the President.

More so, the only Nigerians that I think would criticize Buhari are those who were benefiting from the corrupt system of the last administration.Nigerians who are doing legitimate businesses and earning legally from the last administration till now would not criticize Buahri. The only “Sin” Buahri has committed is blocking leakages and stopping the looting of Nigeria’s resources by those criticizing him now on pages of newspaper.

You will agree with me that President Buhari has not done anything wrong to attract such unnecessary criticisms. Evidently, President Buhari is enjoying the support of Nigerians because of his good intentions toward the country. He is repositioning the country to greatness. Nobody can instigate Nigerians against the present government of Buhari, such attempts would definitely fail.

Buhari has ensured that the country is gradually moving to the right direction, people are now doing things properly, even public office holders are more careful not to fall under his hammer.

The President’s objective is clear on why things must be done properly, funds judiciously used for assigned purposes. That is the only way this country can move forward. Buhari is rebuilding a Nigeria where whatever you are asked to do as a public officer, or even as a Nigerian, you are expected to do it rightly and diligently which will eventually produce good results.

I can assure you that by the end of 2018, when Buahri’s achievement must have been unveiled, most of the persons criticizing him now would turn around to praise him’

Sir, you are from Niger Delta, but the people of the region think Buhari is not fair to the region?

It will shock you to know that Isoko South local government is the only local government won by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC in the entire Delta State, South South and   South East geo-political zone in 2015 presidential election. In my local government, Isoko South, Buhari and APC won with 10,000 votes, but despite my efforts I have not been given appointment.

I am a founding member of APC in Delta State, including the  late Senator Okpozo, Akamukali and Senator Ewherido. Also,   Olorogun Ortega Emerhor, Hon. Rufus Akpodiete and   Hon. Okpoko.

Remember, the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was from the Niger Delta region, he was president of Nigeria for six years, if we the people of Niger Delta are sincere and fair to ourselves, we should invite him to a Niger Delta conference to tell the people what he did for the region, when he was in office as President.

However, that does not stop President Buhari from developing the region. For the six years Jonathan was President, the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, got their annual budget funds released, but we can’t find projects executed by the two agencies.

But today, under President Buhari, transparency and accountability have been restored in Niger Delta Affairs Ministry and the NDDC. The Minister of ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Board of the NDDC and the coordinator of   Presidential Amnesty programme, have been warned by President Buhari to ensure that the funds for these agencies were not mismanaged to enable the people of the region feel the impacts and see the physical development from the funds allocated to the agencies by the federal government.

Also, the East West road is ongoing, Federal Maritime University, Okerenkoko, is about resuming academic session, the Bill establishing the Federal University Petroleum Resources, Ugbomro, passed into law, and several other efforts being made by the President to develop the region.

What is your advice to the Niger Delta youths

The youths of Niger Delta should embrace peace and should not get themselves involved in criminal acts and economic sabotage. It is affecting the Economy of the country and the economic activities in the region.

Do you think APC will win the governorship election in Delta State come 2019?

Yes, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Delta State, is very ready and will win the governorship election in Delta come 2019. We have the structure, devoted and reliable followers and supporters; we have competent people for the governorship race who are more qualified than the outgoing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the APC is becoming stronger and acceptable by Deltans by the day, so, in a single word “ APC is taking over Delta State from PDP and Okowa in 2019”.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.