INTERVIEW: Uduaghan’s Former Communication Manager, Odili, Tells Okowa, “I am Yet To See What You Are Doing”

Paul Odili, Former Communication Manager to Uduaghan.

Paul Odili was a Communication Manager to former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta state. Until now, Mr. Odili who hails from Aboh, headquarters of Ndokwa East local government area of Delta state, was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), but now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Presently a member of the board of Federal University of Petroleum Resources. In this interview, Odili, a renowned Journalist, who spoke about President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and re-election, poured accolades on the President and thrown his full support behind him. On infrastructure in Delta state, Odili said “I don’t know if anybody in Delta State could explain what the government is doing, I am here but I am yet to see what they are doing.”


Based On The Complaints From Across The Country, Do You Feel Buhari Deserves A Second Term?

I do actually feel that Buhari deserves a second term, I do believe that he has done well because the process of rebuilding is not easy. He met a very challenging situation, not many people thought including the president himself that the situation was as bad as he met it. But here we are, I think he has done well in terms of some of the major policies he has made in the area of security. The Boko Haram issue has substantially subsided, the Niger Delta region has stabilized, we are now dealing with herdsmen, and I have every confidence that he will sort it out. If there is one area of strength that Nigerians will not question Buhari, it is the issue of security. We know how the IPOB thing almost divided the country and we know how that matter was taken care of. So I think the herdsmen issue will be resolved adequately. Unfortunately the issue is being politicized. Elsewhere where there are major security challenges like this, people come together because everybody’s interest is at stake, we have to have a country first before worrying about our individual political interests. Nigeria appears to be different. In the moment of security challenges, people throw up all kinds of divisive issues which are extremely unheard of. And I regret that many people that I look up to as leaders, their statements have been very unfortunate with regard to security issues, and in many instances you don’t find them offering solutions. Be that as it may, we will overcome it, the president has said that he is taking some steps which may not be very obvious for now. What many people also over look is that the herdsmen/farmers clash has long been an issue that previous government and this present one have struggled to contend with.

Are You Saying This Because You Are Now In APC?

No! I have also observed that government may not have acted as it should, some proactive measures were not taken as quickly as possible but looking at the track record of the president on the issue of security, I have no doubt that it will be brought down to the barest minimum occurrence.

Based On What You Have Said As Achievements Of Buhari, Which Are Not Being Felt In Delta State, What Are The Chances Of APC Winning The State In The Presidential Election Knowing That The Party Lost Woefully In 2015 In The State?

The impacts will be felt. I am sure that in the course of the year, some of the measures being taken will begin to affect the people. We just came out of recession, in recession, you are in a period of contraption – purchasing power drops, people take heat in their wallet, they are not able to buy and consume and live a life that they desire. Those things are bound to create pressure on the lives of the people, pressure on government to quickly move to deliver. The government inherited a very bad situation, it came in the period of low oil prices; when production dropped as a result of Niger Delta militancy; when there was scarcely any savings, I think our foreign reserve dropped to the extent that it was not enough to keep the economy afloat in terms of import base; when infrastructures were not working, the roads were in bad shape. Those are challenges. People will say he promised change, yes change is different from miracle. Change is that you stop digging yourself deeper into the hole, and it is at this point that you stop going deeper into the hole that the process of change can start. It was very difficult making the people understand that they were going deeper into the hole. For the two years plus, this administration has succeeded in stopping us from getting ourselves deeper into the hole, now we are in the process of rebuilding. The rebuilding process is not a quick fix, there is no quick fix in Nigeria, unfortunately, we just need to accept that. If we were producing the food we were consuming, if we were not importing rice, palm oil, corn, toothpick and virtually everything that we consume, if we were productive, the argument will be different but here we are, basically depending on outsiders to feed us. I am happy that some of the measures that were seen then as painful are already paying off. Now agriculture is becoming a major focus, in a very serious way not as a mantra, people are investing very seriously in agriculture, the government is also investing. If we can have food security, physically security of lives and property, then we are making a move, other things can come. We can now invest in infrastructure, social programmes, and then the country can have a turn around. I see the wheel is turning for good but I also know that the pain of waiting for the wheel to turn fully, people are impatient with that. I am sure that if the president has the magic wand to turn things around he would have done so but he needs to really change the mindset, change the policy that made it permissible for us not to think of how to produce, how not to build infrastructure, how not to make people accountable. We are talking about leakages, the records are there. So I am quite confident that in the course of the year, things have started to change, we will get there.

Based On The Fact That Nigerians Are Complaining And Buhari Promised To Do A Term, And Now He Is Eying Second Term, Are You Confident That He Will Get The Support Of South-South And South-East Where He Lost In 2015?

I don’t know about his promise to do a single term. Mind you the president is not marginalizing any part of the country in terms of infrastructure, in terms of appointment, every part of the country is represented. You talked about hardship, ultimately we are in a battle field, and we have a government that is serious enough to want to change it. The statistics, I don’t like quoting it because people feel it is political but you could see that there is a gradual drop in the rate of inflation, consumer confidence is growing. I am not saying that suddenly things have changed. We are in January, in the course of the year the benefit of the policies and programmes will begin to manifest fully.

What Is Your Assessment Of The Okowa Administration Here In Delta State?

I really don’t have assessment of this administration, to be honest with you. It is either I have not be paying close attention to what is going on or the government is not doing much. I hear people complain about lack of development. In my community, I go there all the time, we don’t see anything.

But You Made Excuses For The Federal Government And The Factors Apply In Delta, Militancy, Drop In Oil Production.

Yes, if they have made progress, let them put it on the table. I have explained a few things that the Federal Government has done, and I am willing to listen to anybody put something on the table that they are doing. Within the contest of these challenges, things are happening. It is not as if money is not coming in. A lot of investment has gone into infrastructure, social programmes, a lot of things are being on the part of the Federal Government such that within a very short time, people will begin to see the manifestation. Projects are now being commissioned, roads are being built. People now know that there improvement in power supply even though the privatization programme was not properly done. We have stopped the massive leakages that made it possible for this country not to get the benefit of high income like high oil sales. We are out of recession, the economy has started growing. I don’t know if anybody in Delta State could explain what the government is doing, I am here but I am yet to see what they are doing.

The Government Claimed It Has Created Over 2,000 Jobs Through Its Job And Wealth Creation Scheme, It Is Building Roads Across Communities. You Mean You Don’t Feel This Impact?

But the complaints in the state has been very high. I can’t see these things, I wish I can see some of these things you have mentioned. How come there is massive complain if the government is working?

Why Did You Leave The PDP?

Politics is an interesting game, it is a game of interest. I find that the party has been driven into a ditch, the direction that the party was moving, it did not show me that the party has a future, I just can’t see the future of PDP. I don’t think the people of Delta State will get anything good from PDP, I mean it is evident. I think the time has come for the people of Delta State to have alternative, after 20 years under one party. Let us try something else, we have had the same sort of people in the ruling class.

You Said The People Are Already Disenchanted With The PDP In The State, Just Last Week, Local Government Election Was Conducted, A Grassroots Election And PDP Won Overwhelmingly.

We knew what happened, local government elections are not credible which is why I am a big fan of the constitution amendment that will take away the conduct of local government election from SIECs to INEC. Council election makes a mockery of democracy, there is so much deceit. We should have actually have asked the governor to appoint those people because it would have saved us a lot of time, energy and resources. We should not be pretending. If we are not going to have a properly organized and transparent process, then don’t have election in the councils, just appoint people. There is no use complaining about having a caretaker committee and then you window dress it with an election that is not really an election in the true sense of it, it is a mockery of the process. There is no difference between what has happened and a caretaker committee appointed by the governor. In real terms, what you have as election is not an election, we are camouflaging it, we dress it up and pretend that we had an election but in actual sense, it was a selection. You have a situation where all the 25 local governments and the hundreds of the wards were swept by the ruling party, so people of Delta State are overwhelmingly voting for PDP? How is that possible? It does not make sense but that is what you have. As a matter of fact, it is not just Delta State that is guilty of it, in general terms, if this was an APC state, we will have the same problem. That is why I am a big supporter of the amendment so that whether it is APC that is in control of the state in future or whichever party is in charge, when it comes to local government, let the will of the people manifest not have a caretaker committee in camouflage.

…….Part of this interview had earlier been published by the Vanguard Newspapers.


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