September 5, 2018

2019: How Buhari is quietly changing the Niger Delta – Adekanmi

•Femi Adekanmi

•Femi Adekanmi

Hon. Femi Adekanmi was the Commissioner for Special Duties, Culture and Tourism in Ondo State during the administration of Governor Olusegun Mimiko. In this interview, Adekanmi bares his mind on the performance of the Niger-Delta states and the projects initiated by the Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs, Professor Claudius Daramola, among other issues.

By Wale Akinola

How do you describe your tenure under Governor Mimiko? 

•Femi Adekanmi

•Femi Adekanmi

It was splendid. It afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to politics, human development and virtually every aspect of life. And I am happy that I truly served the great people of Ondo State well.

How do you rate the performance of Mimiko while in office when compared to the present government of Arakurin Akeredolu? 

You may like or hate Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, but he performed creditably well. I doubt if this present government will surpass his achievements in Ondo.

What do you then make of the notion in some quarters that he performed below expectation?

It is a mere politics of bitterness and an intention to drag his name in the mud. No government, past or present, can achieve what he achieved as governor. Even incumbent Governor Akeredolu attested to Mimiko’s excellent performance. But quite unfortunately, towards the end of his second term, the revenue accruable to the state became very low and the issue of not being able to pay salary came up. This government is getting N30 billion a month. During Mimiko’s tenure, there was a time we got less than N1 billion in a month and at that point he needed to pay three to four months’ salaries. So, how do you expect him to manage the stipend?

What is your view on the state of the region at the moment?

When you go across the Niger-Delta states, you will see the suffering the people are going through. Even as a stakeholder from that region, it is sad to see our people not living a communal life like other parts of country do. Sometimes I ask if we are still part of this country. Apart from the fact that they have been disappointed by their people, the Federal Government has disappointed them as well. This has been the case right from the era of military dictatorship. Besides the late President Yar’ Adua’s administration, the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations equally did their best but the people were terribly suffering. 75% of Nigeria’s wealth comes from the region, but when you travel across the Niger Delta, you will feel sad that they have not benefited from the wealth that the nation taps from their soil.

Are you of the view that the Buhari administration has left the Niger-Delta the way it met it? 

This administration has done well for the Niger-Delta. When you talk about developmental projects, it does not take two or three years to manifest. But the Ministry of Niger-Delta under the watch of Usani Uguru and Claudius Daramola has done creditably well and the two men deserve all the commendations they can get. What has not been achieved in a long while, the Ministers of Niger-Delta have achieved it in three years. In terms of road construction, like the East-West road, they have done well in addition to other projects.

Are you of the opinion that the Niger-Delta states now have their fair share of the nation’s wealth? 

When you consider the 13% derivation, I don’t think so. It is absolutely low. I am in support of resource control. If Niger-Delta people can control their resources like what is obtainable in other parts of the world, you will see quite a lot of developmental projects springing up everywhere in the region. But it is sad to have allowed other states to enjoy the wealth of the Niger-Delta and even to its detriment. For instance, in Lagos, they collect tax on alcohol but in other states where Shariah law is practised, they don’t collect such tax, yet the states benefit when the money is shared. Until we allow absolute resource control in our Constitution, real development will elude most Niger-Delta communities

Does Daramola’s performance justify President Muhamadu Buhari’s re-election come 2019? 

That is politics, and I don’t want to go into that. However, it has to be the personal decision of the people of the Niger-Delta. To me, President Buhari has done well along with the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Useni Uguru, and the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Claudius Omolaja Daramola. They are committed to the development of the Niger-Delta. I am one of those handling projects for the ministry in Ondo State and the Minister of State once told me frankly that he was going to jail me if I didn’t complete the project on schedule.

What do you foresee ahead of 2019? 

I can assure you that 2019 elections are going to be great for Nigeria. There won’t be bloodbath. If the opposition wish to defeat President Buhari, they need to get there acts together, otherwise they should forget it.