By Festus Ahon
Mr Omamofe Joseph Pirah, was the Delta State Commissioner for Oil and Gas until he resigned recently to join the 2019 contest for the Warri Federal Constituency seat on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
He is an experienced politician and have held several political appointments in the past. In this interview, he spoke on his ambition, Nigeria’s democracy and other issues of interest. Excerpts:
General elections is around the corner. As a stakeholder, what is your assessment of Nigeria’s democracy?
We have not fared well several years after our independence for one reason or the other. Our leaders have failed us as a nation. Let us look beyond regret and think of a way forward.
It is true that the nation has witnessed bloody civil war, military coups and counter coups, quite often bad leadership, dislocation of most part of the economy despite the huge oil revenue, falling education standard, cultism, violent crime, erosion of moral value and several other vices.
The problems of the country, though remotely attributable to the first republic leaders, began to assume their current gigantic proportion from the era of military rule.
In the economic sector and given the vast human and natural resources, our country has clearly lacked behind in the past years. From the modest gains of the First Republic era, the economy is today at the verge of total collapse.
The energy sector is in no shape. With huge hydro electronic schemes and several thermal stations, Nigerians today are without electricity. Power blackouts have become part of the social and economic lives and nearly emasculating the entire economy.
In transportation, it has been a chequered experience. The railway system which was so popular in those days is no more. In its place is a moribund Nigeria Railways Corporation which trains are scarcely on the move.
The Nigeria Airways is today non-existent, inland water and most highways have all degenerated and required rehabilitation.
The health sector has equally declined within the past years. Virtually all tiers of the healthcare delivery system are in disarray and unable to provide affordable services to the citizenry. Today, Nigerians are taking solace in herbal medicines.
In education, though there are more institutions of learning, the standard has been declining consistently. This is easily attributable to death of facilities for effective teaching and learning. More half-baked products are being churned out of schools.
The same scenario exists in most other sectors of national life. Foreign policy has been constituent since the birth of the nation with wide swings between the conservative stance of the First Republic leaders and dynamic thrust of Murtala Muhammed administration of the seventies.
What do you think is the way out?
Politicians should borrow a leaf from developed countries. In other words, it is good for politicians in Nigeria to put away individual interest and embrace the interest of Nigerians for the country to move forward especially in the right direction.
Nigerians continue to witness destructive crises and conflicts leading to state of insecurity, tremendous loss of lives, massive corruption, and destruction, looting of properties all over the country.
Nigerians are still living in abject poverty and witnessing hyper-inflation, increasing plutocracy, economic doctrine, and mass unemployment.
Let us look at the gains and losses of the Nigerian nation?
The gains are tremendous; at least we have learnt that democracy is preferable to military rule. We have learnt to harness both our natural and human resources and we have made a little impact in infrastructural development, roads, bridges, water, improved healthcare and others.
From your assessment of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration, do you think he has fulfilled his campaign promises to Deltans?
I was shocked when a man I have high regard for went to the media recently to accuse our Governor of non-performance partly in entire Itsekiri land. This claim is not only misleading but a calculated attempt to discredit Governor Okowa. For him to have resulted to the use of unrefined language is again unfortunate.
There is no part of Itsekiri land the Governor has not touched, I am not aware of any. Frankly speaking, the Governor has done very well in all the sectors. Firstly, he is very passionate about the well being of our people. The Governor has pursued his policies and programmes with renewed vigor, deep sense of responsibility and he has delivered proactively to every nook and cranny of the state. A bottom –up approach that guarantees responsiveness to the yearnings of the populace has also been adopted which is the hallmark of good governance and leadership.
This government has established good and qualitative leadership that is characterized by friendly policies, people oriented projects ,accelerated commerce through Micro finance loans ,rural development, job creation, opening of new roads both in urban and rural areas.
Governor Okowa has rehabilitated schools to enhance educational development. If Governor Okowa strides in physical infrastructure are astounding, his foray into agriculture is worth emulating.
The State Ministry of Agriculture has been strategically positioned to meet the Governor’s policy on food production and food security. It is also applicable to education which the Governor has given top priority in realization of the benefits which it brings to the society.
Governor Okowa’s giant strides are too numerous to mention. Within three years in office the governor has won the hearts of the people of this state.
You are contesting election into the Warri federal constituency on the platform the PDP, how do you intend to secure the party’s ticket considering the number of aspirants contesting same seat with you?
We all have our individual strategies. I have also done a lot of consultations among my people. I am grass-rooted. The Itsekiris are united people, very disciplined and appreciative. I am an Itsekiri man loved by his people. I am confident that my people will not disappoint me come 2019 general election if I am given the PDP ticket.
I have consulted widely across my constituency in the last few months. I have also received prayers, thousands of telephone calls and text messages, including personal visitations from all segments of my constituency.
I can assure you that after my consultations, it’s very clear that my people want me to represent them to move our federal constituency and the entire state forward.
I do not envisage that the journey towards achieving these objectives will be easy, but with the foundation already laid coupled with your support, we will be successful.