…insists Nigerians must sit down, discuss
…asks why grazing reserves were abandoned
…reveals his successor
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has condemned the public vilification of the southern governors who recently called for restructuring and fiscal federalism.
It will be recalled that the Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Senator Ahmed Lawan on Thursday after observing the Eid prayers at the presidential villa, Abuja picked holes with the Governors resolutions, asking them to first start the restructuring in their respective states.
Incidentally, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and the House of Representatives had disowned Lawan and washed off their hands from his utterance on the issue.
Okowa sho spoke at the empowerment scheme of the minority leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu on Saturday in Asaba, Delta State said it was utterly wrong to toe attack the southern governors.
He said that other leaders in the country should rather emulate the Governors.
Okowa insisted that Nigerians must gather at a table to discuss the good and future of the country.
He also thanked the members of the House for replying to Lawan accordingly.
The Governors who queried why the existing grazing reserves were abandoned also revealed that the governors had urged the federal government to make funds available for the building of ranches.
He said: “Unfortunately I read in the papers that somebody said we ought not to talk about certain things being elected people. If your people are talking and you’re an elected person and you shy away from giving further voice to their voices, then you ought not to be in the position that you occupy.
“So, I must thank our people in the House of Representatives who have responded to the speech made by their colleague in the National Assembly. All the things that the southern governors discussed, nothing is against the unity of this country. As elected governors, we believe in the unity of our country but it will help us also to advance the need for certain things to be done in order to give strength to that unity. That cannot be a reason for us to be vilified.
“We talked about restructuring which has been on the table for so long, both the voices of PDP and APC itself have endorsed restructuring. We may have different views and approaches to restructuring but when we sit at a table to dialogue then, we’ll be able to agree best on what’s good for Nigeria.
“The conversations are obviously needed because if we do not talk and allow the voices of our people to continue to speak and the leadership shies away then, we are giving room to further crisis.
“So, I thought that it was time for other leaders across the country to thank the southern governors for uniting to give a voice to the conversations because all those conversations coming at large level and it is given in the interest of the larger majority of the people that we can have a truly united nation in which there’s fairness and equity and trust amongst our people and the leadership.
“The issue of open grazing, we do know that it’s not going to stop in one day but an attempt must be made to take some actions at the national level. Those actions will give hope that we’ve started a journey to stopping it. Today in the developing world, things are changing very fast and I think we are ready to begin to look futuristically.
“We may not be able to get ourselves out of where we are at the moment. There are several grazing reserves that have been abandoned. Why were they abandoned? We have asked that the federal government let us spend part of the national resource to help to start new pilot schemes for which those of us in the south do support that some federal resource is spent to start up some of these ranching, grazing reserves or whatever you call it in order to slow down and eventually put a stop in years to come. I don’t think that’s a wrong decision. It’s in the best interest of our nation and our people.
“I urge that all leaders in the country, stakeholders to log into the good resolutions that have been put forth by southern governors and it’s time to embrace it as a people. It is in the interest of the country, otherwise, we will get to a stage when there will be food insecurity in the land.”
Speaking on the politics of the state with regards to who will succeed him in 2023, Okowa said that the person must recognize justice, equity and fairness as his watchwords and hallmarks of democratic governance.
Even though he said politicking would begin in earnest in the state by June, the governor advised Deltans to be wary of self-acclaimed godfathers and politicians who would make empty promises and end up causing disunity among them.
He commended Elumelu for giving back to the people of his constituency.
“We are politicians and politics will have to be played. I can see that a lot of things are going on in our dear state, especially as the scramble for who will replace Dr Okowa comes. Unfortunately, some were not even patient right from the very first 3 months that we came into the office for our second tenure, they have started their campaign. That ought not to be.
“Beyond all this, I want to charge our leaders and our people to be cautious because politics, if you don’t play it rightly, you can throw your people into quietness. But I do know that at the appropriate time, we must be able to sit down and do a proper analysis politically before we make a decision so that we will not lead our people into darkness.
“So, I want to caution some of our leaders who are jumping the ship for very little things that have been provided for them. It is not about self, it is going to be about our people. I am the governor of the state and I appreciate this and I believe in equity. I also believe that we need to stay together as a state and peaceful to build up this state.
“But I will not shy away from the fact that I am from Delta North senatorial district. I believe that in our approach to governance, we have been fair and we have tried to be equitable in all that we do. Therefore, as a people, we must be cautious so that people will come and lure us with money and you sell your people and lead them into the fire.
“It is not going to be about self because they are making promises to our people already and the same promise they make to you, they will make to several others. We are a people and we must be conscious of those who come either with money or through making promises to you. Anyone who is doing that to you wants you to destroy your people.
“I remember in 2014, ahead of the primary, there were 15 of us and out of this number, 11 were from Delta North and our people were worried and it was by the grace of God that we got the ticket of the PDP. Today, we can say that Delta Central has been there, Delta South has been there and Delta North has been there. One story has been told and that is the fact that we are not inferior and that someone from Delta North has the right to vie for the topmost position in Delta State. I am talking more to the leadership because it is in your hand to give direction in what the people should do.
“In time past, some people felt that we were not politically matured to have ten councillors in a local government and it is the same people who did that, that are sharing envelope to our people and they are jumping at it. We will tell the story at the right time.
“Whoever that is coming to rule over this state by the special grace of God must be somebody who is ready to ensure that there is fairness, justice and equity in everything. We want somebody who will come to Asaba and see Asaba as his own and not somebody who will come in here and feel that Asaba as headquarters is misplaced. It ought not to be because God made it so. I urge our people that this is the time to stay together, think alike and I want to reassure you that in the next one month, we will start the politics.
“That is why I must say a big thank you to Ndudi Elumelu because being one of our leaders, we must make the people happy and together because collectively when we speak as one people and endorse somebody that has a lifeline, somebody who will be fair to all Deltans, then, we can be happy and go to sleep. I will not have a governor that will put a ban on Anioma people”, Governor said.