By Peter Ogbuokwa
Managing director of Pet-Rock Tech Nigeria Limited, Lagos, Mr. Peter Abel, has commended Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State, for his youth empowerment and skill acquisition programmes in the state. In this interview with Daily Sun in his Lagos office, the Chief Executive Officer of the oven and bakery equipment-manufacturing firm, who hails from Isiekenesi, in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State, said governors should do more to develop their states.
He expressed concerns over the spate of insecurity, corruption, unemployment, economic challenges and other vices bedevilling the country in recent times, and proffered the way forward.
What is your view on the state of the nation?
The truth is that the country has virtually become ungovernable and unless we restructure and restore Nigeria to federalism, the country is on the brink of collapse and God alone can save us from the worst-case scenario. Nobody should take this country on any childish ride. We are equally besieged by attendant poverty, as well as worsening insecurity across the land, with kidnappers, armed robbers and bandits on the prowl, and the government is helpless and unable to govern effectively.
How would you assess the governors’ performance so far?
In a federation like Nigeria, development and growth do not only depend on the leadership at the centre. State governors are also key in ensuring growth and development. Over the years, all the states in Nigeria have been ruled by different people. Since Nigeria got independence in 1960 and started practising federalism, the achievements and accomplishments of some of our governors have been documented in different journals, books and even magazines. Of a truth, most of our governors have not actually met the yearnings and aspirations of the people. Sourcing resources for governance, apart from the allocation from the centre, is a huge challenge for them. It is a few of them, like Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, that has been outstanding in performance. Governor Okowa has, undoubtedly, done well. I am particularly impressed with his youth empowerment and skill acquisition programmes in the state. The man is one politician that is respected and has been commended by his counterparts in other states, I mean, other governors in Nigeria. They make good comments on his kind of leadership. In my opinion, if Nigeria had someone like him in all the states of the federation, the problems of the country would not be as numerous as they are today.
Are you disturbed by the state of insecurity in the country?
Insecurity, apart from being the fear of every Nigerian, has become the word on the lips of everybody in every gathering. This phenomenon is dangerous and injurious to the corporate existence of Nigeria. It is the anxiety people express. One feels vulnerable and insecure in the country nowadays. Several illegal armed groups, ethnic militias, religious fundamentalists and fanatics have infiltrated the country. This has given birth to bombings, murder, arson, armed robbery, corruption and injustice that we experience every day. All these happenings are negatively affecting Nigeria politically, religiously and culturally.
What do you think is responsible for it?
Failure of government is largely responsible for it. Corruption, joblessness, poverty, government’s inability to fulfill the yearnings of the people as well as bad leadership; these have given rise to insecurity in the country.
Nigeria can be described as a nation with a mass of unutilized manpower that keeps wasting away in various parts of the nation without being tapped. Hundreds of thousands of graduates are churned out yearly from various tertiary institutions in the country, yet many of them remain jobless for several years. It is an undeniable fact that the future of the nation lies in the youth, because they hold the potential for lasting change and sustainable development.
How do you see the open grazing ban by Southern governors’ forum?
It is a welcome development. The world has gone beyond cattle roaming. Open grazing in Nigeria has really caused friction between herders and farmers which in effect has created insecurity and economic woes as well as hunger in the land.
What should government do to create jobs for the youths?
The government should promote creation of industries and grow the agricultural sector to facilitate youth employment and encourage entrepreneurship and vocational training for youths, as Governor Okowa is doing in Delta State, which is curbing restiveness.
If the youth are gainfully employed, they will be able to fend for themselves and their families and, ultimately, improve their standard of living as well as become useful for the development of their immediate communities and nation, as well as stay away from crime.
What is your take on the security challenges bedevilling the South East region?
It is unfortunate. Before now, the zone was peaceful and secure. Politicians are the ones heating up the polity and making the region unsafe. Before now, the South East zone was not noted for such criminality. Governors of the zone should be more serious in tackling the menace or else it will consume everybody. Ebubeagu, a security group put in place by the governors to tackle criminality and other vices in the region, should be backed by law and funded adequately too.
Do you support the call for zoning of the presidency to the South East in 2023?
Zoning the presidency to the South East in 2023 will give the people within the zone a sense of belonging. The Igbo have great men and women that are capable of leading Nigeria to the path of greatness. I urge the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to nominate candidates of Igbo extraction as their standard-bearers for the 2023 presidential election, for the sake of equity and fairness.
What can the government do to revamp the economy?
This unsavoury situation can be arrested through the massive production of cassava root crop in Nigeria. A well-articulated and dynamic cassava production policy-cum-programme of the Federal Government will help to move the nation out of the woods. The government and Nigerians need to take practical steps to grow and develop the economy. On the part of government, apart from the need to transform the agricultural sector by allocating enough funds to it, government should establish well-equipped agricultural development centres to organize periodic agricultural development programmes for the main purpose of training and developing current and potential agripreneurs who will be able to apply modern agricultural techniques and practices. This will involve a great deal of creativity and innovation for a successful agribusiness.
In conclusion, what is your advice to government?
There is a need for federal and state governments to focus on agricultural infrastructures like modern storage systems and tractors. Secondly, government should ensure massive infrastructural development like road, electricity, healthcare and education so that job creation can be a reality. Also, each state governor should help develop their state, like Governor Okowa and other great governors are doing.