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PDP cannot deceive Deltans anymore - Oyibode

Amb. Gabriel Oyibode

Q: For the sake of our reading public, we would want to know you and have an insight into your background before your current status as APC Chieftain?

Thank you very much.

I'm Chief Dr (Amb) Gabriel Chukwuma Oyibode, an Ndokwa son from Ezionum Kingdom. For those who may not know, Ezionum Kingdom is one of the Ndokwa Nations in Delta State. So, I am a proud Deltan born. I am a dispute resolution specialist and an ambassador for peace. I am also a real estate consultant.

I established and founded the Gabriel Oyibode Foundation (GOF) in 2013 given my conviction that we could build peace globally through humanitarian efforts of providing for the less privileged and downtrodden of the society. You know all fingers are not equal and the Bible admonishes us to be our brother's keeper. Even before GOF was legally registered in 2013, I have been involved in the humanitarian service for more than a decade. Registering it was to give it a face and a legal recognition as deemed fit.

So, with GOF I have been involved in providing societal basic needs to the less privileged before my sojourn into politics. The GOF is solely funded by me and to the best of my capability, I have been able to touch lives through the foundation. Scholarships, medical care, food item and other forms of relief needfuls have been given out to beneficiaries largely from the Ndokwa nation without conditions. My passion to see the downtrodden of society smile and especially to project the Ndokwa cause in the State was what formed my decision to take a further step in politics by vying for the Governorship position of our state.

Interestingly, my political ambition started with the PDP back in 2009. At the time PDP was perhaps a formidable force in our politics although they had their in-house troubles and misgivings, I thought with the right leadership structure all would be put to bed. The PDP internal problems continued to rumble on until in 2014 when I decided to vie for the governorship ticket of the party. Having looked at the efforts of then President Jonathan and Akpabio committee to reconcile aggrieved members of the party in 2013 and thus build a party based on fairness, I opted to run for the governorship ticket of the party with the faith that the system was sanitized for all and sundry to compete favourably. The following State Congress held in 2014 was a sham and mocked at the principle of internal democracy being the foundation of any modern democracy.

Although I continued to be a PDP man and worked for the party in the 2015 General Elections, I dumped the party the moment I realized that their old habits of backstabbing and betrayal would never die.

My unpleasant experience with the PDP informed my decision to look for a party where equity and fairness were their hallmarks and that's how I joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). The party structure and flexibility coupled with the reputation of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari as an upright man convinced me to join the party later in 2015.

Q: How have you fared in your newly found party?

Let me start by saying I have been an APC member for more than a year now. I understand the manifesto and workings of the party. I have had several meetings and interacted with the leaders of the party across the Local Government and ward levels. So, APC is a family for me and it is wrong if you still tag it my “newly found party".

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That said, the support I have received since joining the APC chapter of Delta State has been immeasurable. Technically, the party was designed in such a way that new members feel welcomed right from their first days with the party. For example, it is an established norm for party members never to address any member as new or old members as the case maybe. Every party men and women are seen as equals. No gender bias or insensitivity. What is recognised by the party is a well coordinated leadership structure saddled with the responsibility to carry everyone along and of course to be fair to all. I really commend the leaders of the party both at the state and national levels. They have put in enough work to ensure that the APC have an outlook of a modern political party capable of winning elections at all levels.

Also, it's been fairly easy for me to cope in my party given the ambition of the party matches mine. As a progressive, it becomes easy to mingle with people of like minds unlike those specialised in pulling you down. As you know, I'm vying for the governorship ticket of my party and the support I have received from all corners of the party is amazing. Of course, we all understand it is not a “do or die" affair. That explains why there's the calming ease of being an APC man.

I'm absolutely faring well with my party, the APC.

Q: How would you rate PDP government in Delta State compared to other APC and PDP states across the country?

I would like to concentrate mainly on the performance of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s led administration. First, if you look at the state of things in the state you would wonder aloud if Okowa himself was prepared for governance. There's the common adage that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. So, the question is what plans did Okowa have on ground to redress the economic, infrastructural and environmental retrogression in the State before he eventually emerged as governor? This is the question well meaning Deltans should be asking in the forthcoming elections. The people should ask Okowa to unfold his blueprint to transform Delta State. Simple! It should be a public document and the public need to assess it to be sure it is what will transform the fortunes of this state. Meanwhile, given the present economic hardship in the State I doubt, he would be given another chance.

What we must take home from this interview today is that Okowa has not done anything different from what his predecessors ever did. His economic policies are one and the same with those of his predecessors. They are simply copied and pasted economic policies. The only difference we have seen in his administration is the renewed vigour with which his revenue agents go about collecting revenue across the State which is good. But for crying out loud, where is the money collected? How is it spent? As you know, Delta State workers are owed monthly salaries of more than 6 months. Is that the reward for those who entrusted the collective commonwealth of the State to you? How many jobs has the Okowa administration created since he was sworn in May, 2015?

Look at the youth empowerment scheme that is Okowa’s pride economic policy. It is a mirage. The scheme is limited and was designed to empower only a few youths. I say this because when you empower only 10,000 youths as against the army of more than 1 million unemployed youths, you have done very poor. The youths empowered can barely employ 5 persons in their ventures given the nature of the empowerment. It is abysmally poor. It is true that government cannot empower everyone but if empowerment schemes are designed such that the youths empowered can in turn employ their colleagues to work in their ventures, that is job creation which is accordingly rated high all over the world.

The one that is most alarming is the rate of infrastructural decay and environmental degradation across the state. In the past months, Asaba, the state capital city, was almost flooded due to bad drainage system. One would wonder if the government of Okowa is waiting for us to be submerged by water before he could do what's right to address the situation.

Apart from providing us with a comfortable and better environment to live in, we know that infrastructural development is key in attracting investors. Which investors would invest in a State where there's poor road networks and drainage system; a state where vehicular movement could be impeded due to a heavy downpour resulting flood? Of course, his popular parlance is “there is no money" but isn't it part of the plan of government to strategize on improving its internally generated revenue (IGR). What makes you a true leader is managing the difficult moments and turning things around. Like I said, this government was not prepared and never had a plan to stir the state away from economic comatose.

Q: How do you assess the administration of President Buhari compared to that of GEJ?

 You see, when I read about the criticisms leveled against the administration of President Buhari, just within two years in office, I conclude that these people really do not understand the kind of decadence the President inherited from the PDP 16 years of rueful wastage of the State’s resources. The PDP did not only plunge the country into an economic mess but also moral and institutional untidiness to say the least. We had systematized corruption in place; where the rule of law was swept under the carpet and individuals whom were ‘fantanstically corrupt’ became more powerful than the public institutions.  Also, in the past 16 years, different militia groups had emerged and with the way these groups were handled by the PDP administrations inspiring the offspring of newer sects. All these constituted a form of insecurity for every Nigerian. But you can see they are being addressed differently by President Muhammadu Buhari. Now, we have public institutions remitting more revenue to the FG than they ever did in the past decade. The President’s commitment to fighting corruption and the terror rage of the Boko Haram sect with a distinct finesse and will is yielding multiple rewards for the nation because no economy thrives under the cloudy atmosphere of corruption and insecurity. Likewise no organization or group would like to invest in an economy where there is a sense of insecurity.
Yes, many would point at the economic conditions prevalent today especially how the prices of goods and services had skyrocketed in the last two years but the fact remains the failure of the past to diversify the economy into a productive one remains the grounds of our economic struggle today. That the problem instituted over a decade could be remedied in two in years is pure magic and the President must be given credit for what he is doing so far as you can see there is a tremendous improvement already. Our foreign reserve and the Naira exchange rate to the US Dollar have also improved. Now, we can see purposeful action by the Buhari’s administration to diversify the economy by encouraging and boosting local products. His decision to ban the importation of rice and other products that we can produce locally paves the way for entrepreneurs and the nation to look beyond oil. This I am sure the PDP government never imagined.

Q:Where is the pendulum swinging to in Delta and Presidency come 2019?

As an APC chieftain, it is very easy to assume that my party comes out tops in the gubernatorial and presidential elections especially considering that I am also in the race for my party’s gubernatorial ticket for 2019 but this assumption is given more credence given the organizational strength of my party and the manifesto it presents to the people - the hope for pragmatic change. And as we have seen, what Deltans are craving for is change. No one would re-elect a government who cannot pay salaries nor implement any laudable policies in the state. I am very convinced that the people cannot be lied to anymore by the PDP. They will make smarter decisions in 2019 by not allowing their votes to be robbed in broad day light. I am also very convinced that our great party is ready to conquer the PDP in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Whereas at the central level, we are optimistic that the President would be voted back given that he is committed to fulfill his campaign promises. Most of the promises he is fulfilling already and we believe that before the completion of his first term, the people would see reasons to vote for him again in 2019. So, APC is taking over in Delta State and would remain at the central

Q:What is your party’s preparation for the upcoming LGA election?

Everything is in shape. We are working collectively for the success of the party and the aspirants for the chairmanship and councillorship positions across the different wards and LGAs are motivated. You know there was the constitution of the DSIEC members by Gov Okowa recently. The task before them is to conduct a free and fair election across the state. I am convinced our great party will not accept anything short of that. As far as there is an equal playing field for all parties involved, we are confident to cause an upset for the PDP in the forthcoming elections.

Q: What is your take on the proposed restructuring of the country and the agitation of the IPOB? 

In all fairness, the Niger Delta states are supposed to be the ones crying for restructuring and the pragmatic adoption of true a federal system in Nigeria not our brothers in the South Eastern region of the country. No. I sense conspiracy and that is what it is. As we know, more than 60% of the nation’s wealth is produced from the Niger Delta region which is collectively shared amongst states of the federation including these South Eastern states and the FCT.  The reason for this formula I believe was to foster collective development of each and every states of the federation which no doubt means no one region becomes more powerful than the rest, which is absolutely a good idea.

However, I am aware that the argument of those who share the restructuring thoughts is that every region will be motivated to do more in a rejigged federal system by depending solely on the resources in their regions but you see you need money to develop these resources. Practically, no one stops you from developing your state as the Governor.  I believe the money state officials get as federal allocation should be used appropriately to enhance the resources of their respective states. So, instead of restructuring, the people and the IPOB should agitate for accountable leadership. What guarantee is there that in a restructured system, public office holders would seize to be corrupt? The only way to restructure is now by electing purpose driven leaders who will be motivated to look beyond the FG allocations and develop their collective states. For example, we can develop the mining sector in Delta State to boost production and develop the economy. It is very achievable.

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