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My Power Agenda For Deltans: Must Read (Exclusive Interview) With Immanuel Abel Edijala The Governorship Candidate Of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), What You Need To Know

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My Power Agenda For Deltans: Must Read (Exclusive Interview) With Immanuel Abel Edijala The Governorship Candidate Of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), What You Need To Know

 

Immanuel Abel Edijala is the candidate of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Governorship candidate in the 2023 election in Delta State. He spoke to GILOR KELLY his vision for the people of Delta State and why he wants to be Governor. Excerpt

Could you please tell the readers about yourself? My name is Emmanuel Abel Edijala. I am 58 years old. I am an Urhobo man from Okparabe in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. I am the flag bearer of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for the forthcoming 2023 general election in Delta State.

What are your political antecedents? To be precise, I was fully in the private sector without any thought of politics before 1999. I was a major player in the maritime and oil and gas sector before I heeded the call to join politics. I will confidently say that the earlier events in my political career include my decision to contest for the Governorship of Delta State in the 2003 general election under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). At that time the Governorship race was open to only those who would dare to contest against the incumbent, Chief James Ibori and his arch rival, Chief Great Ogboru. In fact, many thought I was running against two opposite moving trains with the perception that I would be crushed in between. For me, it was a learning curve, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things, especially the rumour mills and antics of politicians and their clannish behaviours. By my nature, I could be likened to a moving train that will not stop until it gets to its destination. Therefore, in 2007 I joined the Labour Party and contested for the Governorship of the State in an election I could not even vote for myself because of the anomalies that characterised that election. The 2007 election was annulled and a rerun was slated to hold in January, 2011 which the incumbent Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan won. After that political episode, I decided to take a break and go back to my business. Like the popular saying, once a politician, always a politician, therefore in 2014, my communities invited me to lead the political pressure group of Ewu, Okparabe and Arhavwharien axis within the PDP. In 2022, I was appointed as a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Conflict Resolution by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, a position I held until February, 2022 when I resigned my appointment to contest for the Governorship of Delta State for the third time which I am doing under the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP)

What are the things past PDP administrations did not do well which you want to correct in Delta State? Let us take them one by one. Chief James Ibori whom many of those who benefited from his administration would say “tried” for the State, can be said to be the architect of the problems bedevilling Delta State today. It was under Ibori that the sharp division and rivalry amongst the major ethnic groups started leading to the communal crisis of 2005. This was followed by kidnapping and hostage taking by militants, which that government did not have answers to the worsening insecurity ravaging the state. While growing up in Warri, I didn’t know who was Itsekiri or Ijaw or Isoko or Igbo. We were all brothers and sisters brought together by God to live in mutual coexistence. But that unity seems to have eroded now. On corruption index, Delta State started its ranking as the most corrupt State in Nigeria under Ibori and till date, that stigma is still hanging on the state. Most of the Projects under Ibori can best be said to be sub-standard, otherwise show me any legacy project of that regime today that is still standing. Under Governor Ewetan Uduaghan, it was a time of boom when oil shot up to about $140 per barrel. But what did we get as dividends other than cosmetic projects here and there. Rather than investing our hard earned money in production, Delta State was made a centre for conferences and the only industries you find are hotels and business centres. Sadly, almost all the companies that were in the State before PDP took over in 1999 have all moved out because the environment for business was never made conducive. They bloated the cost of running government to roof tops leaving little or nothing to develop critical infrastructure, thereby frustrating efforts of hard working Deltans to the advantage of their goons and charlatans. The results of the misrule starkly stare us in the face as shanties, dirty cities, poverty and servitude become the lot of Deltans. Recall that in 2015, when Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa took over the reins of government, many thought they would heave a sigh of relief, but what we have is the culture of wasteful spending, just as borrowing for consumption by the PDP is still the order of the day. To say the least, the trio of Ibori, Uduaghan and Okowa have at best impoverished our dear State. Not one legacy project that can stand the test of time can be traced to them. In this era of global civilisation, we are still struggling with roads, water, light and basic necessities of life. The Ughelli-Asaba road has become a cesspool of corruption. Over sixteen years, they are still struggling with rehabilitation of Warri/Sapele Road – a distance of less than ten kilometres. So, the obvious fact is that after nearly 24 years of PDP rule in Delta State, a vast majority of our people are still wallowing in abject poverty, and living from hand to mouth. Cumulatively, the PDP government will have succeeded in dragging the State’s debt overhang in excess of one Trillion naira by the time Okowa leaves office in 2023. The sad narrative is that those we entrusted with our votes have betrayed the TRUST of Stewardship, so the people of Delta State do not deserve to wait a day longer to claim their destinies back after the mandate period of 24 years which PDP has grossly misused. I want to take over Osadebe house and rebuild trust in the people. In doing that, I will abolish any form of social and economic discrimination whether ethnic or tribal by instilling social order back into our consciousness. We will set standards and follow through with enduring infrastructure that will outlive this crooked and wicked generation. We will start teaching integrity from kindergarten and ensure that education and health take priority. Our supply chain-network of roads, rail and port infrastructure will be developed to meet world standards.

What is your Agenda for the State? I tag it the POWER Agenda where P stands for Productivity through efficient attraction of Investments in the Power, Oil and Gas sectors to catalyse our Industrial take-off and provision of Electricity for domestic use. O stands for Order, Security, efficient Justice Delivery, Equitable Allocation of Government Resources using modern management tools and data to tackle Environmental and Health emergencies. W is for Wealth creation without Gender Bias to be implemented in a ratio of 70:30 in favour of the youth, i.e our young men and women over our aging male population, to drive our 24/7 productive economy. A reward system for excellence shall be established. E stands for Education’s budgetary allocation of minimum of 30% to produce the workforce for the Delta Digital Economy that will make us emerge as the “digital factory” for the Nigeria DIGITAL FOUNDATION providing 21st-century technology and telecom infrastructure and services to Africa and the world. And lastly, R will focus on Reengineering of our Roads, Rail, Ports and other world class infrastructure that will rival developed countries as we pursue affordable Housing, Urban Renewal and Rural Penetration to create clean and blue cities for our people, even as we design a 50 years Marshall Plan of Action for future Generations to develop on. I hope to generate huge economic activities that will increase even the earnings of workers in the private sector. To address the problem of our all-time weakened Naira, we shall set the public sector minimum wage @ N50k as bench mark even for the private sector in Delta State who shall be encouraged to utilise the 24/7 three shift working environment under our POWER Agenda. We will drive away darkness and ensure electric power is made available for our domestic and industrial users. Our Gas resource alone is enough to unlock all other potentials in our State. Our GDP which has stood at $16b for over 10 years, shall be grown to over $100b in 4 years of my being on the Driver’s seat as Governor. I have the magic wand and connection to develop our vast maritime resources which will involve creating two more sea ports for Oil & Gas and Dry Cargoes at Escravous and Forcados respectively, to enable us attract goods and maritime services to other ports in Warri, Sapele, Koko, and Oghara. We shall invest in Road and Rail Infrastructures that will make Delta State the connecting hub of Nigeria from Escravous to Oleri and Itakpe / North and another corridor from Ogulaha to Asaba and Onitsha / East. We shall develop a Delta Digital Economy of $50b in the next 5 years which will engage our youth and drastically improving ease of operations and reduce operating costs for digital businesses. We shall unlock the flow of domestic capital into digital businesses, facilitate a booming open-API ecosystem, that will support Delta digital innovators through government procurement of innovations from the sector. We shall develop brand new technology platforms and new digital Ecosystems. We shall also open up the financial space for our MSMEs, and agriculture as the catalyst that will provide the input for our large scale standardized industrialization whose goods and services will compete favourably with developed countries in the world market space.QUESTION: What structures do Peoples Redemption Party, have in Delta State which makes you think of defeating the current ruling party, PDP?ANSWER: By structures, I guess you mean people. The two major political parties started with people who believed that their economic fortunes will turn around for good at the time they voted for the PDP. The irony of democracy is that it is hinged on the performance of the economy and that is where both parties at State and National levels have failed. To develop our economy, we have to develop our democracy in such a manner that the best hands will be elected to manage the ever dwindling resources. People are never tired of change insofar as there are viable options. There is nothing new the failed parties will offer to Deltans and Nigerians alike to wipe the suffering off their faces. Those who say my party, PRP is not popular in Delta should go on the streets and sample the opinion of the masses, and they will be shocked how unpopular the two major political parties have become. PRP only needs to provide the alternative by making things better. Our structures are the suffering mass of our people who truly need Redemption. They will see through our campaign manifestoes and they will pour their support to give us the landslide victory that we are hoping for.

The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) was the part of the discussions with Labour Party to rescue Nigeria from the ruling class. Why did the party decide to go into the 2023 elections on its own instead of the earlier plan to work with Labour Party? Or will there be some understanding between the two at certain levels? Discussions are ongoing and will continue even after the 2023 general elections. The people of Nigeria are largely becoming the First Force with the massive registration of young voters within the ages of 18 and 35 years. What this means is that the voters will be looking out for who will best serve their interest. At the national level, people are already forming their opinion on a particular candidate within the third force. At the State level, it is a bit more difficult as the people will have to look more closely. They are not going to be looking at who the Presidential favourite is to determine the Governor of the State. They will be looking at the pedigree of the individuals and their respective agenda for the State to make their choice. When that time comes, I hope they will look in my direction by EDIFYING themselves and be IMMACULATE because I am the man with the requisite ABILITY. The ABILITY Movement is already gaining momentum and in no distant time everybody will buy into it. So, I cannot tell you at this time if PRP and Labour Party will collaborate going forward. If that happens, fair enough and if not, I will continue to sway the people to look into my agenda and vote for me.

What is your take on the Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket of the APC? We are a circular society and to promote a sense of belonging for all, the balancing of power is very important. The level of insecurity we have in Nigeria today is fuelled by the suspicion of the ethnic groups that make up Nigeria and their religious leanings. But you know what? This is politics where people make decisions and choices determine fate.

How do you see the growing state of insecurity in the land of recent, spreading to the FCT? The security situation is very alarming and is a source of concern to everyone apart from the Buhari government. A country where we are spending half of our budget to fund petrol subsidy but is unable to spend 5% on education cannot be a safe place. I believe that there is a correlation between the ASUU strike that has kept our Public Universities shut and the rise in insurgent attacks in the last six months. I don’t believe an illiterate Boko Haram and ISWAP organization will be able to carry out and orchestrate the coordinated attacks on their targets. They are becoming more emboldened on daily basis even threatening to kidnap Mr President and Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. This is a time bomb that is being detonated by persons who are determined to draw the attention of the government to all its failings. I am joining ASUU and NLC to call on President Buhari to personally wade into the demands of ASUU as soon as possible to avoid what happened in Sri-lanka from happening here.

Do you think the new Electoral Act 2022 would guarantee free and fair elections come 2023? My answer is yes. A system cannot be totally bad, so I will give kudos to the National Assembly in this regard. The innovations introduced by INEC were first tested in Isoko South bye election before the Anambra election that saw the emergence of Governor Soludo last year. Since then the BVAS system has been used in Ekiti and Osun and the results have shown remarkable improvements signalling hope in the way future elections shall be conducted. The hope of Nigeria remaining one lies in the outcome of the 2023 general election, so every stakeholder must take it serious to ensure that we have a credible election.

What is your take about Governor Okowa led Government in the past seven years? Many are saying Governor Okowa has been sectional in terms of allocation of projects to the various Senatorial Districts in the state. In spite of the fact that Delta state is having a huge chunk of federal allocations, not much is on ground and he is going to leave office with a baggage of criticism in relation to his appetite for obtaining loans for recurrent expenditure. He has however done well in the area of security; at least we are not feeling the heat like in other parts of the country. His strategy on peace building and conflict resolution is one strategy I will borrow a leaf from when I get voted in as Governor in 2023.

As a Governor, what are your plans for Deltans? I answered that question when I reeled out my POWER Agenda above. There will be much more as I promise to bring to bear all my international experience as a captain of industry, having spent well over 20 years in the transport sector as well as the oil and gas industry, first as Chairman / CEO of Express Cargo Liner Shipping Company Ltd, a wholly Nigerian owned ship owning and management company in the downstream subsector of our economy and Chairman of Chart and Capstone Integrated Ltd which is very active in the Power, Oil and Gas sectors. I have learned in my background in transport that you cannot do anything all by yourself without gearing with others. The transport sector is a key driver of modern economies and forms the first impression when investors come to your country. A good transport policy will enhance movement of goods and services, improve the supply chain which is the catalyst for economic growth. I intend to use my vast experience in this sector to reshape and revolutionize our intermodal transport system within the four year mandate, when elected as governor. I want to bring back our smiles by creating investments that will ensure first-rate public schools, improved government accountability, help working families, and protect and preserve our unique quality of life. My government shall be more responsive to the needs of the people, and I want to help make that happen.

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