Chief Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman South-South of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed optimism that the South-South region of the country, and indeed Nigeria, will emerge from the “dark phase” being experienced.
Orbih also said the emergence would begin a journey of renewal from 2021.
This is contained in his New Year message on Friday titled: “A New Chapter is Upon Us.”
He said the pathway to a better future for Nigeria was one defined by visionary leadership, and determined by conscious and committed followership.
He noted that 2021 would present a unique opportunity for the leaders and people of the South-South and Nigeria in general to commit to the building of a new project.
He said that it would be firmly anchored on the demands of the knowledge economy to promote investment in educational and intellectual capital as well as the vision of sustainable collective prosperity.
Reflecting on 2020, the PDP chieftain described the year as a mostly “dark phase with occasional bright spots”.
He cited the Coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, widespread insecurity and huge national governance deficit as major highlights of the year.
Focusing on the South-South region and its peculiar challenges, Orbih criticised the infrastructural deficit plaguing the region caused by several years of neglect by successive federal authorities.
He accused past federal administrations of lacking both a clear strategic plan and the political will to lead development efforts in the region.
He expressed worry at the poor state of federal road infrastructure in the region, crippling insecurity, and lack of federal government-led innovative solutions to solve age-long problems bedevilling the region.
He described the Federal Government’s approach to the region as “an unimaginative, lacklustre, uncoordinated mess”.
Orbih opined that in the face of rank abdication of responsibility by some leaders in fixing the challenges affecting the region, state governments and the people of the region must rise to the challenge of lifting the region.
He noted that although the challenges were enormous, the people of the region were historically known to be determined and relentless in their drive for progress.
“Our people must now summon their well known resilient spirit of excellence to champion the cause for a better South-South, one defined by new progressive thinking and collaborative effort,” he said.
He also said the people must be united in their demand for a fair deal for the South-South within the Nigeria project, and must collectively resist any effort by any region or group of people to deny or deprive them of their entitlements.
He said that to address this, an open national conversation be held at an official conference or open sphere of free interaction.
According to him Nigerians must continue to advocate such so that all parties to the Nigeria project must have a true sense of belonging.
Orbih further called for a regional approach to arresting the wave of insecurity in the country that had also badly affected the region.
He called on the governments of the region to create a regional security outfit that would complement the efforts of federal security agencies so as to stem insecurity in the region.
“We cannot sit idly by while our people are slaughtered and our way of life is hampered.
“For the South-South region to thrive, we must build a sub-national security architecture that captures the peculiarities of our beloved region,” he said.
He, however, commended the present crop of public officials in the zone for their notable efforts at development in the region and beyond.
Orbih said the people of the region had made no mistake by entrusting the entire state government leadership in the region to his party.
Refereing to the last Edo governorship election that seealed the region as a stronghold of the PDP, he said his party was now strategically positioned to consolidate its hold on the region in the long term.
“The PDP is the only party positioned to offer Nigerians their desired future,” he said.
He called for electoral reforms ahead of 2023 to fix the problems frustrating free and fair elections in the country.
He advised all people of the South-South region and Nigerians to look forward to 2021 with the eagerness and earnestness of citizens desirous of a new chapter.
He also asked them to summon “the better angels of their nature toward building a country of their dreams.
“There cannot be a region or country better than the quality of the people within it.
“We must become the difference we seek,” he added. (NAN)