Over the past two years, I have consulted with leaders and the rank and file of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State, the national leadership of our party, as well as other Deltans across the political divide; and even began a Delta Arise Series to bring some focus on the issues of the day and the way forward for Delta State.
The feedback from these efforts and the huge support I received has encouraged me to embark on this journey to rescue Delta State from state capture that has impoverished the majority of our people and made the State a huge joke.
If you have a conscience and you watch a people live a fate worse than death, then your spirit must verge on being broken. Being a witness to crushing poverty lived by people across a small pond from oil production platforms, and being a witness and also a recipient of complaints from various quarters that family members continue to die untimely due to accidents triggered by the hardly motorable state of Delta roads, leaves me with a feeling of despondence. However, I stand today to say that all hope is not lost.
The infrastructure challenges in Delta State dehumanises our people, such that there is a plague of insecurity as Warri, like all other towns in the State, falls into a pale of darkness after 7p.m., yet it comes with gas flares that brutally teases the citizens about the possibilities of how light can scatter darkness. In addition, our environment has become so deplorable as to seem like a dust bin.
As I travel across the State, my pain at the misery index has been heightened. It is easy to say philosophically that I am diminished by the death of any human being and the misery of our people. In Delta State, my conscience kills me some more with the death from avoidable causes, of every man, woman or child, due partly to poor healthcare in the State. Sadly, such diminishing of the dignity of man is commonplace in our State, and this may be what propelled various groups and individuals to urge me to join the race in order to restore hope to our people.
Why is Delta State the domain of poverty in spite of such incredible endowments, human and material resources? How does a state go from being the shining light of the Western Region, to one that poverty rules and desperation is etched unto the faces of citizens?
In the old Western Region, which led Nigeria in innovation and people-oriented policies, the more admired entrepreneurs and civil servants were from the Midwest, out of which today’s Delta State is derived. Our State has since then lost its way, and it has no excuse being the home of many poor people. Delta has lost its glory and its dignity, and it is now literally on its knees begging to be rescued from the rot of many years, which is the result of poor governance, leadership failure and the incompetence of successive PDP administrations that turned their backs on our people.
Delta State receives very huge allocations from the federation account, yet extreme poverty exists in the State. Little of these fiscal transfers from the federation account that enter the State circulate in the State. Studies show that the monies enter state coffers and bolt out. If the velocity of the money is such that it touches a few more people even briefly, prosperity will visit many presently poor and it will consolidate with the thriving few.
What is more, Delta State is already hugely indebted, thus mortgaging its future generations. And the State acts as though it is unaware of our level of indebtedness. Worse still, the State’s infrastructure is evidently in shambles.
The State has also become barren of corporate life. Most companies have moved away from Delta. Shell Petroleum, which used to be a live-wire, left Warri and most other places in the State where it used to operate. Pan Ocean moved to Benin and many manufacturers have since closed shop.
Furthermore, the education sector faces numerous challenges resulting, in the average, on poor educational outcomes, especially in WAEC examinations. We have also lost our top position in sports and youth development.
This continuing decay must stop. Nothing stops Delta from becoming a network of Industrial Parks linked by world-class physical and social infrastructure.
With our current population growth rates, not creating job opportunities for our youth could mean that we would reap a whirlwind of anarchy. God forbid. But prayer is not enough. We must work as we pray. We must all take action now to free our State from bondage.
We are being given a new opportunity by our democratic process to have a new management that can transform Delta and bring happy days back to all; rich and poor, male and female, urban and rural; young and old. We must seize this opportunity.
We all will be judged surely. We will be judged by our children. We will be judged by history. And ultimately, we will be judged by God.
Anybody who remembers judgment and is not moved to do something positive about our situation in Delta State should probably never have been born.
This is why I have submitted my Expression of Interest and Nomination forms to formally enter the race for the governorship of Delta State. This course of action became imperative because Delta State must be rescued.
I have since taken up that challenge. And I took this step because many people of goodwill urged that I have a duty to do the needful for what they think is a legacy that should be fuller and more fulfilling. These selfless patriots include professionals, businessmen, traditional leaders, chiefs, students, traders, market women, taxi drivers, workers, artisans and our traditional politicians from all the three senatorial districts of the State; and an attempt to list them will take forever. Among these are two illustrious sons of Delta State who are no longer with us: Sir Olisemeka Akamukali and Pastor P.Z. Aginighan, in whose memory I also dedicate this race.
I am motivated to join this race in order to rescue Delta State from the rot it has been experiencing; not for personal interests nor for the interest of a few but for the interest all Deltans. I will be governor for all.
Our party must create a level playing field for all who are seeking the governorship ticket of our great party. It must allow party members to make informed decisions during the primaries by organising debates for aspirants to illuminate the public on issues of the day, and the solutions they proffer to the huge problems facing our dear state. It is also my view that the press, the fourth realm, supports this process by asking critical questions. I am therefore calling for not less than five debates on television, in townhalls in the three senatorial districts, campuses and markets, among the APC gubernatorial aspirants in the Delta State to articulate their visions and policies to turn Delta State around; and specifically to spell out their agenda in these areas:
(a) State Economy
(e) Youth and Women Empowerment
I want to indicate that when elected, our administration will provide free quality education to citizens of the State. We will also ensure accessible quality health to our people. Pregnant women will have access to improved quality of ante- and post-natal healthcare services in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
I am committed to promoting and instituting good governance, fighting against corruption and I will run an inclusive government. Our youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but of today, and they are our future. They will be appointed to play key roles in our administration. Creating job opportunities for our youth will be a priority of our administration. Our civil servants, local government employees, teachers and pensioners deserve that their wages and emoluments be paid in due time so that they can live fuller lives, and not one of misery.
We must end the era of self-serving leaders and bring about undiluted focus on purpose being the essence of public life, and not power, as it has been the case. Our people must be the reason for public service, and they must be at the heart of governance in Delta State. As has been evident in the journey of my life, my joining this race is about service to the people of Delta State. I choose to be the “People’s Servant”.
When elected, my growth and development plans will focus on:
• Ending poverty
• Infrastructure development, and
• Empowering our communities.
We shall work hard to unite and build our party towards better inclusiveness, mutual trust and a cohesiveness that endures to serve a greater purpose and that benefits all in common; not one being defined by excessive partisanship.
It is time to restore hope and dignity back to our people; and as we look to a better future with new and brighter possibilities, I commit to providing the required leadership that will inspire all Deltans to be the best they can be, and in a manner that will enable each and everyone to pursue their legitimate individual and group interests and achieve their set goals, with peace of mind and security assured. This is my new deal to all Deltans for a new Delta.
I am here only to assure you that hope is on the way, and the future that we wish for now beckons. I have the much-needed experience in government, business, social enterprise, NGOs and academia, and the evidence of having served as a leadership and development consultant to several governments within and outside Nigeria. I will be bringing all of these to serve Delta state as governor and will begin to deliver from Day One in office. What is left is for all of us, Deltans and residents alike, to work collectively towards that new future with zeal and determination, and to bring about a change of the present PDP administration in the State to one with sincerity of purpose, a commitment to the common good of our people and a government that will always put our people first. The time for that change starts now.
Delta must rise up again! Let us arise and push to redeem Delta State for ourselves, our children and for generations unborn.
May God bless Delta State, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Pat Utomi, a renowned economist and development consultant, is a governorship aspirant of the APC in Delta State.
Nigeria is building a generation of illiterates – Wole Soyinka
Prof Wole Soyinka says Nigeria is currenlty raising a generation of illiterates.
Making particular reference to Internet trolls, the Nobel laureate said the nation is raising a generation that is the first to comment on the internet on issues they are deeply ignorant about.
He made this remark when he spoke at the launch of InnoCreativa Youth Hub 2030 and project logo by Creative Youth Community Development Initiative (CYCDI) held at The Civic Centre, Lagos.
“They are waiting for Wole Soyinka to lead a march to Aso Rock. It is about time to get off your feet and stop writing rubbish on the internet about things you do not understand. I do not know how to describe the new generation beyond a generation of internet trolls.
“Nigerian youths are full of spunk outside, but when they are inside Nigeria, they are full of gas. We are building a generation of illiterates. They are the first to comment on the internet on issues they are ignorant about. When you talk about education, I get texts from the new generation and can’t believe these texts are from the youth.
“When I decided to build my house in the forest, I bought a second-hand diesel generator and asked someone to dig a borehole. I wanted to be self-sufficient. What I want to pass on to you is that I thought of the possibility of being self-reliant. This entails that I can come to cooperatives with others and demand things from the government by any means necessary.” Soyinka said
N22b Paris cash: EFCC seizes passports of 34 ex-Kwara officials
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized the passports of 34 top officials who served under former Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed over a N22 billion London-Paris Club refund.
Ten of them have been watch-listed to prevent them from fleeing the country, it was learnt yesterday.
The N22billion covers the N21billion drawn from the refund and the N1billion allegedly intercepted by the EFCC during the February/March elections.
There are four cases on alleged mismanagement of billions of naira by some ex-office holders in the state.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There are monumental cases of fraud already uncovered in Kwara State during the tenure of the ex-governor. We may need to call for reinforcement to be able to conduct the different dimensions of the ongoing probe.
“So far, we have seized the international passports of 34 former commissioners and top government functionaries during the administration of ex-Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
“Out of the 34, about 10 former officers have been watch-listed to prevent them from escaping abroad. And if they travel out, we can effect their arrest in any jurisdiction.
“The list of the short-listed suspects has been sent to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to prevent them from acquiring new passports.”
In a statement yesterday, EFCC’s Head of Media & Publicity Tony Orilade said the agency’s Ilorin Zonal Office “has submitted the particulars of individuals on its watch-list and under investigations in the state to the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Kwara State Command.
It said the Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu made this known through the Ilorin Zonal Head of the Commission Isyaku Sharu during a visit by the Comptroller of Immigration Service, Kwara State Command Edith Onyemenam.
The statement quoted Magu as saying those whose passports were seized had been trying to procure police reports to deceive the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to issue them new passports.
Magu said: “The need to familiarise the NIS with the particulars of such personalities under EFCC’s investigation became necessary following intelligence at the disposal of the commission that some highly-placed individuals undergoing corruption probe and on the commission’s watch-list in the state have procured forged police reports with which they plan to apply for new international passports to escape from the country.
“Information at the disposal of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Ilorin reveals that these highly placed individuals are planning to use forged police reports to re-apply for new international passports to flee the country in other to escape prosecution and justice. The commission urges you to use your good office to place these individuals under strict surveillance.”
The EFCC boss described the visit as “a welcome development,” nothing: “As stipulated in the EFCC Establishment Act, the Nigerian Immigration Service is a member of the Commission. We can’t do anything without you. If we don’t collaborate with your office, we can’t get it right.”
Onyemenam hailed the EFCC for the cordial relations between the agency and NIS.
She said: “I am delighted to be here . We have cordial relations already. I am here to see that the relationship is well cemented. I want to see your support. My office will also give you support as well. If there is anything you want from my office, I will equally do that.”
Onyemenam said there was no cause for alarm over those on the watch-list, pledging that they would not get new international passports.
Open Letter To Former President; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,
Obasanjo presidential Library,
I’m Kurtis Adigba, a lawyer, political consultant, and a citizen of Nigeria. I’m an idoma from Benue State. My father; Samuel Ochola Adigba, was a classroom teacher, and retired as a Headmaster. My father, was some years ago, the Benue State Secretary of the National Party of Nigeria( NPN). That was the highest he attained. My mother, was a school teacher who later joined the civil service, and retired as a Head of Department of Adult Education Department of Apa Local Government Area, of Benue State. She died in 2015.
I chose to introduce myself to you upfront so you know I have no pedigree to match yours, and because I know your supporters and attack dogs will come after me, and raise questions about my pedigree. They will ask: “who is his father….who is he to dare write a letter to a former Head of State and President..”. Now you know. And hopefully, they know too!
The only pedigree that I stand on to write you today sir, is my citizenship of Nigeria, a privilege and right I share and enjoy with you. The Constitution of Nigeria, confers on us ( you and me and others)the right to free speech. You have constantly and frequently exercised that right in writing letters to our fellow citizens who happened by good fortune to be former and present leaders of the country. Only yesterday, you penned and published a letter to President Buhari on the state of our nation. I’m writing you this letter in the exercise of the same right- free speech.
In your open letter to President Buhari, the last in the series, you raised so many critical issues: Boko Haram, Insecurity, Poor Management of our diversity, Unity or Disunity, Economy, Poverty, and of course, the violent death of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoronti, an elder statesman and leader of Afenifere, in the hands of some yet to be determined people. Some people have jumped to conclusions and prejudged the investigation into the despicable act, I have chosen to wait until investigators complete their work and inform Nigerians about their findings.
Sir, apart from the death of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, which is the trigger for the letter, there is nothing new in your new letter. Even her death, is not new in the sense that many Nigerians have been dying on that road and others, unmentioned. The only reason her death attracted your attention and that of others, is because she was the daughter of a powerful figure. After her unfortunate death sir, some Nigerians have died in similar circumstances unmentioned and unannounced, because they are ordinary citizens. As I write sir, many are suffering from the same fate.
Let me talk about the specific issues in your letter:
Boko Haram. The seed that germinated into Boko Haram, was planted under your Administration. It grew and became a big tree under your handpicked successors due to outright denial, mischaracterization, poor management,and corruption. It was under your government that full Sharia regime was introduced in Zamfara state. You chose to ignore it because you said it will fizzle out because of internal contradictions. It did at some point; but before then, it spread to other states with deadly consequences. One of the groups that emerged from the Sharia revolution that started in Zamfara, metamorphosed into the deadly terror group known today as Boko Haram. It is true that under your administration, Boko Haram, was an unknown group nationally, but it was under the administration of your handpicked successors, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, that Boko Haram exploded into the deadly terror group that it is today.
President Yar’Adua tried to deal with Boko Haram, but his poor health stood on his way. He died and was succeeded by president Goodluck Jonathan. It was under Jonathan that Boko Haram became the most deadly terror group in the world. They abducted over 200 girls from Chibok, killed over 100 children in Buni Yadi, carried out regular deadly attacks at Abuja and different parts of the country. President Jonathan from the onset denied and disputed the Chibok girls abduction. He said it was an orchestrated smear campaign against his person and government. It took a global outrage before he sprang into taking some tepid actions- he set up a panel to determine if the girls were indeed abducted. Sir, you wrote about the same issue in your epistle to President Jonathan. It was one of the issues you used to canvass support for the candidacy of president Buhari in 2015.
In your your previous letter to President Buhari, where you asked him to dismount from the horse of Nigeria leadership, you gave President Buhari some credits for dealing with Boko Haram and fighting corruption. You also called for more efforts in combating Boko Haram and corruption. As you know, President Buhari on assumption of office took the fight to Boko Haram. He relocated soldiers to the epicenter of the terror group’s operations. He recovered territories occupied by them, destroyed their key infrastructures, and forced them into negotiations leading to the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls. Many people hitherto unheard of, but in captivity of Boko Haram, were also set free. The government discovered massive corruption in the management of funds earmarked for procurement of equipment to prosecute the war on Boko Haram. The funds are still being recovered.
You mentioned that the government hastily declared victory against a group that is strengthening, I agree to some extent with you sir. I agree that the government oversubscribed itself when it declared that it has defeated Boko Haram. Boko Haram, is not defeated. It has been weakened, but it is still capable of Carrying out deadly attacks given the time, resources, and opportunity. We saw them abduct over 100 hundred girls from Dapchi after their “ defeat”. All but one of the girls, have been released. Leah Sharibu, is still being held by Boko Haram because she refused to denounce her faith in Jesus Christ. She is today the highest value target because of the religious factors made worst by people playing politics with her. God in whom Leah Sharibu trust as her Saviour and protector, will keep her. She will be freed from her captors. Amen. The government made a mistake in declaring victory over Boko Haram because, Boko Haram is fighting an ideological war. Ideology cannot be defeated, it can only be overcome by superior reasoning.
But on the whole, the current government has done much more to fight Boko Haram and contain their terrorist activities than any other government. It can do more, and it will do more.
Insecurity in the country. I believe that in the real world, cause has effect, and actions have consequences. The insecurity of today, is the consequence of the failures of the past. I’m talking about the huge and unprecedented corruption in the management of public resources that left us with poor infrastructures, created inequality with some few very rich and many so poor, that they cannot afford the basic things of life. I’m talking about the failure to manage the crisis that arose all over the country sir. When the agitation for better allocation of resources started in the Niger Delta areas under your watch, you responded with maximum force. You sent soldiers to invade Odi under the pretext of looking for the people who killed some soldiers. Many were killed, women and girls were allegedly raped, and the community destroyed. The people regrouped and armed themselves better. They started kidnapping expatriates and local oil workers for ransom. It became a huge business for some governors who claimed to have paid millions as ransom to free the victims. Your government did nothing to stop or prevent kidnapping, and it quickly spread round the country. what about Zaki Biam, where the invasion by the Army helped to militarized the people with deadly consequences for security in the area?
Your immediate successor, President Yar’Adua, tried to end the siege by proposing an Amnesty that was successful to some extent, but kidnapping has become a business. President Jonathan who succeeded Yar’Adua, didn’t do much in tackling kidnapping. President Buhari has made modest efforts in tackling it, but it is not enough because the governors are not playing complimentary roles. Peter Obi, former governor of Ananmbra state, fought kidnappers in the state to a standstill. Governor Obiano is doing the same thing. Lagos State, is also leading in the fight against kidnapping. Kaduna State has just enacted a law against kidnapping that prescribed death as punishment for the offense. Edo State too. Majority of the states, are not doing much sir.
Sir, you mentioned the killing of Mrs Olakunrin in your letter and described it as one death too many. In the statement you issued before then, you said her death has diminished Nigeria. I share in your sentiments and beyond sir. Her death, like the death of any Nigerian in the same or similar circumstances, is regrettable and diminishes the rest of us and the country in more than one way. But as painful and regrettable as her death is, it is not the first in the country. Under your watch as President sir, Chief Bola Ige, our nation’s Attorney General, was murdered in his home at Ibadan. The home, is supposed to be the safest place, but Ige was killed. Up and until now, no one has been brought to justice for his killing. What about Chiefs Harry Marshall and Sekibo? Funsho Williams and others? Of the people listed here sir, only Sekibo was murdered on the road. The rest were killed in their homes. No one has been found guilty for their murders. Do you then have the moral right to pontificate on insecurity sir?
You may not know this sir, but I want to tell you that bad roads and darkness, are also accelerators of insecurity and poverty. Bad roads ensure that motorists cannot move fast,and therefore, become vulnerable to the murderous activities of criminals. Under your watch as President, Billions of Naira were budgeted for roads, the roads were never built, but the funds disappeared. The Lagos-Benin Expressway featured in some many budgets but the funds were never utilized on the road. President Jonathan did a portion of it, and President Buhari, is working on some other parts. Your government did nothing about it. What about power? You claimed to have spent $16B on power, where is the Fower? Apologies to President Buhari. You generated megawatts of darkness with the humongous amount of money. And you don’t want us to talk about it! We can only imagine what that money would have done for the economy sir. Many of the people terrorizing the country today, may have been profitably engaged in other activities,and poverty, would have been significantly reduced. But you failed and betrayed our trust.
Corruption. Where do I start here? Is it financial or political corruption? Do you know know who started corrupting our political system sir? It is you. Under your watch, we conducted the worst election in Nigeria. Figures were randomly awarded to parties and candidates. You promised it was going to be a do or die Affairs and you delivered on your promise. The major beneficiary of that election, president Yar’Adua agreed with the verdict that it was indeed a horrible event, but you went round western capitals praising the same election. Who introduced garrison command politics in Nigeria? It is you sir. You subjected Governor Rasheed Ladoja to the whims and caprices of your garrison commander, Adedibu, the late Alafin of Molete. You supported and facilitated his impeachment by a minority group in the house of assembly. And when his impeachment was overturned by the Supreme Court, you dithered in enforcing the judgment until the NBA protested against your illegality.
What about the impeachment of Peter Obi In Ananmbra state, and Dariye of Plateau State? In both cases, less than two-thirds of members of the Houses of Assembly, carried out the impeachment under your watch. Maybe we didn’t have a Constitution then sir! Under your watch, Ngige, former governor of Ananmbra state was abducted by the private of Chris Uba, Eselu of Uga, and your man Friday. You did nothing sir.
Former Speaker Ghali Na’Abba, displayed bundles and wads of Naira running into millions of Naira that you bribed law makers with to remove him. You had no convincing deniability. What about the N50M given to law makers as bribe to get them to amend the Constitution and grant you life presidency? You denied it, but your daughter has confirmed it. You were behind it. It is true that you made efforts to fight corruption by setting up the EFCC, but you undermined the fight against corruption by your own actions. Let me remind you about the mismanagement of PTDF funds by you and your new friend, Atiku. The facts were made public during your roforofo fight. In 1999, when you were freed from jail, you had barely N100k. Today, you are said to be worth Billions. How did it happen and what did you do to become so rich? But you keep pontificating on corruption and pointing at others. Your like a sign post- pointing the directions, but never going there.
Mismanagement of our diversity. You accused the president of mismanaging our diversity, a claim you said is responsible for the myriad of our problems today. You said the president has made lopsided appointments in favor of the North and his people, I don’t have the data, and you also did not provide any to substantiate your claim. You expressed outrage over the pattern of certain appointments and election of leaders of the National Assembly in terms of ethnic and religious balance, but you did the same thing happened under your government. You also believe like some Nigerians that only equitable distribution of public offices and positions, will guarantee Unity and imbue a sense of belonging in all, it is not true. Yes, it a good thing to do, but it does not promote Unity, and it will not guarantee unity. For a moment, let us assumed you managed our diversity well, and that you distributed equitably the opportunities available to you, why was Nigeria not United under you? Why do you keep talking about equity only with respect to the FG? Where is equity in the states, including Ogun where you are an influential and consequential figure sir? I’m not against fair and equitable distribution of opportunities, but it is no promoter of unity. It will only provide jobs and access to the few, and in most cases, not on merit, but on connection.
Islamization and Fulanization. With fairness to you sir, the fear of Islamization has always been with some parts of the Nigeria. You played an active part in creating it. You and your party weaponized it against President Buhari. You said he is an Islamic fundamentalist seeking power to Islamize Nigeria. Many Nigerians believed you, and still believe you, even after 4 years of the man in power. Recently in Delta state, during the Anglican Synod, you upped the ante by declaring that the president had an agenda to Islamize and fulanize Nigeria. The of event, time, and audience, was telling. You tapped into the dangerous mood of the nation arising from the activities of herdsmen to ratchet up the tensions in the land, by telling Christians that Muslims and Fulani were coming after them and their lands and religion. You have created a dangerous and combustible Fulaniphobia in the country. It rings true to your reputation as a master schemer who can execute good and evil with equal efficiency.
Because of your actions sir, today, every criminal activity in Nigeria, is attributed to the Fulani. And I’m not saying that Fulani are not involved in criminal activities, they are in so many areas and cases, but it is not true that they are the only criminals in Nigeria. You singled them out to demonize President Buhari, who is also Fulani by tribe. Before Buhari became president, the Fulani were involved in different crimes and problems in all parts of Nigeria. After Buhari, the problems will continue if we don’t find solutions to them. Under your government, we had Fulani crisis. Same for Yar’Adua and Jonathan. Jonathan was at some point the grand patron of Miyetti Allah. Did he fulanize Nigeria? As a leader in this country, much more is expected from you. Stop encouraging centrifugal tendencies in Nigeria. It is funny that you are suddenly against the Fulani now. You campaigned so hard for another Fulani, Atiku to be president. The same Atiku, you accused of committing the most horrible acts of corruption against Nigeria; the man you said God will not forgive you if you support him to be president knowing what you know about him. He is still a Fulani sir.
Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my long letter. I hope and pray that you find some of my thoughts useful! Nigerians are looking up to you to join other leaders in preferring solutions to the problems of the country. They are asking you to look at Gen. Yakubu Gowan, and make him your role model. My sincere respect and regards to you sir.
God bless Nigeria.
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