Need for a re-invigorated NDDC board
Now that the forensic audit of the NDDC has been completed, we expect that those who have looted the commonwealth of the Niger Delta people for their own selfish interest leaving the region so underdeveloped be made to face the music. And more importantly we expect that a new board that will provide the right corporate governance capable of ushering in a new era of development for the Niger Delta region, the commission was setup to achieve in the first place, be inaugurated.
If you travelled to Europe or America, you realize how terribly underdeveloped our country is. I stayed in the U.S. for over a year in 2016/2017 and had the opportunity of visiting a number of states there and saw how widespread their development was. It was like heaven on earth. I spent the most of my time in Chicago, the 3rd largest city in the U.S.
I still tell stories till date how the experience of riding in their underground subway train the first time blew my mind when I came out from a lift into the street full of people and skyscappers and wondered where i came out from. I saw stupendous wealth you won’t believe as I visited an estate where residents have private jets they fly out in the morning and back in the evening, they pack beside their houses. I never saw sand or dust anywhere outside in their streets. I had opportunity of being in the Illinois Institute of Technology and met the professor in charge of the Off-grid Electricity project of the Robert Gavin Center for electricity Innovation, which power the institution. We are yet to fully utilize the $7bn president Obama Power Africa Initiative. I think it is a good idea for leaders to tour such cities and learn from those who have broken the barrier to development what it takes to replicate such feat.
I was actually in the U.S. for the first time for two weeks for such a tour as part of the Executive MBA programme of the Lagos business school which I attended. We visited a number of organizations and they were happy to share a number of things that were of benefit. For instance, we were at the Wiscousin chamber of commerce where I realized that even as developed as they are, they still compete to create jobs for their people. We were told that to attract investment from major companies they offer free land if they would want to build, tax break for up to even 10 years to encourage them to come into their states and invest and so on. We saw recently that played out openly when Amazon announced a bid for where to locate its second heaquaters, a $5 billion project with 50,000 employees that would complement the company’s existing headquarters in Seattle. The company received bids from 238 locations across North America, cities and states where making presentation to attract them to come to their cities and state and they inventually settled for the state of Virginia. Why can’t we attract great companies into our country? Twitter was coming to Africa and had to settle for Ghana instead of Nigeria.
Obviously, development does not just happen. In the EMBA programme of the Lagos business school, a programme tailored after the Harvard business School, that uses the case study method, we had materials sourced from top business schools like Harvard, Stanford etc. In a particular course, Social Political Economic Environment of Business (SPEEB) taught by Prof Pat Utomi, we learnt from these well researched case study materials what nations like China, Japan, India, Germany, Singapore, Malasia etc do to bring about development in their countries.
Hence I was excited to learn in 2018 that Prof Utomi was running for governor of my state, Delta state, for I knew he had capacity to do a great job as governor if he wins and I was prepared to work with him to achieve that outcome, so I joined his campaign.
Actually, I first saw in the papers, the visit of traditional rulers/politicians from my ethnic nationality, the Isoko nation, to our dear President to request among other things the need for government to help setup a modular refinery and a gas processing facility in our LGA citing the fact that the 2nd oil well in the country was decovered in Uzere in 1958, in my constituency, after the first in Oloibiri in present Balyesa State, yet the Isoko nation had been left underdeveloped with no industries though they have been peaceful, no issues of Kidnapping or militancy. Instead of being rewarded, their youths were excluded from the amnesty programme that is still benefiting youths of other tribes especially the Ijaws and Itsekiris in Delta state. I should point out here that one of their demand that is to upgrade the Ozoro Polytechnic to a University has now been met and we are grateful to the president for it.
I had always been interested in modular refinery as I thought our country that is so richly endowed with crude oil should have working refineries and not waste her foreign exchange in importing refined petroleum products as we currently spend billions of dollars annually in imported petroleum products in Nigeria presently hence I wanted to see if I could contribute my quota to achieving the needs of my people and I thought of engaging Prof Pat Utomi and later realized he was running for governor of the state. Hence I joined his campaign and I travelled to Delta and started to spend more time in Delta state as I had spent the most part of my life in Lagos where I settled after my youth service. Along the line, I realize how poorly my people elected leaders have performed and I thought I could do a better job and decided I could run myself for house of assembly because I thought I could win with better ideas and campaign.
To be continued tomorrow.
Ogboka, a former aspirant to the Delta State House of Assembly wrote from Warri.
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