‘N’Delta not fairly treated, secession undesirable’ — Daily Times Nigeria

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*Babalola says Kwara governor’s performance is far below average

Engineer Sunday Adebayo Babalola is a retired Deputy Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, former Acting Managing Director of Belemaoil Nigeria Limited, and Director of All Grace Energy.

In this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU, he addresses sundry national issues.

Environmental degradation and poverty remain critical challenges in the Niger Delta despite that crude oil, which is major Nigeria’s foreign exchange earning, is mainly from there. What are the solutions?

The source of the problems for environmental degradation and poverty is that the people of the Niger Delta have not been fairly treated over the years by some of the oil companies, the state government, the Niger Delta Development Commission, and many other stakeholders. The state governments are taking 13 per cent derivation, but one cannot see what they are doing with that.The NDDC is there, the stories we hear about them are very sad.

The high poverty level led the people to carry arms which resulted in illegal refineries. Those refineries also create degradation. Some of the people burst pipelines to take crude oil. Ofcourse, they usually are not cautious when doing that. Oil spillage is actually 90 per cent more of tampering with facilities and less because of operators’ carelessness. Such lead to environmental degradation.

The solution is simple. Government should do people oriented programmes. State governments that are collecting 13 per cent derivation should use it to affect the lives of the people directly.

But some of the operating companies said that they gave out huge sums of money to leaders in the region to execute community projects but they were not well utilised.

It is true but that is a wrong approach. What they have done is similar to state governments collecting revenue, dividing them among people and asking them to do some projects. You will not get results because the people will find it difficult to account for the money.It rather should be institutionalised.

As an indigene of Kwara, how do you assess the performance of the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq?

In terms of governance, his performance is poor. He does not seem to even know what he is doing. For example, he dropped commissioners after about one year in office. They have not spent one year when he dropped them. Three months later he reappointed them.

Does that sound like somebody who knows what he is doing? It simply shows that there is no direction. If you ask: what is the reason for dropping them? Nothing! He appointed commissioners from among people who have not had any form of experience.

People tell me that Gen Yakubu Gowon became Head of State at 32. I say, ‘That is true, but he rose to become a lieutenant colonel before he became Head of State, to get to that level, there must have been a lot of experiences he had.’ The governor appointed youth corpers who had not worked anywhere as commissioners. They did not even know how to give directives to their permanent secretary.

In terms of infrastructure, I can not see any major infrastructure that he has built. I am talking as an individual and not as a party man. In terms of inclusiveness, he bit the fingers that fed him.

I do not understand the principles behind him fighting the party’s structure. I have tried my best to see why, but I could not see why.

The reasons he gave are not tenable and sensible because these people fought and stood their ground while he was not there. If he came as an individual to compete in any other party, he would have failed.

These people used radio programmes, visited from ward to ward and today they are not included in what he is doing.

But I am happy for those people because had he included them, they too would have been in serious trouble as people of the state are not happy with the governor since his performance is far below average. He is not carrying people along. Imagine the crisis of hijab in christian secondary schools.

Will wearing hijab improve the academic performance of the pupils or create jobs for the teeming energetic and resource Kwara youths who are not employed or engaged?

The governor that appeared to be shouting for hijab, does his wife, who is a christian, and their daughters, wear hijab?

That was a needless distraction in the state.

Don’t you think that if he does not improve in his governance and the crisis in the party is not addressed APC may lose Kwara State?

The APC is on the verge of losing Kwara State unless the issues are properly addressed. Hope the aggrieved people would not move from APC to another party.

But which party are they going to move to? PDP?

No, I do not think they will like to do that because Bukola Saraki is there. So they would rather move to an unknown party and I assure you, if the cohesiveness that was with them is still there, they are likely to beat both the APC state government and the Saraki’s PDP.

Whoever is advising him, should advise him well. The man wants power to the detriment of the party’s structure. The party made him and he contested under the party. Every person can not be wrong. Only a few people who are eating out of it are supporting him now. The governor is not even appointing the right people

What are the causes of insecurity such as insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, herders/farmers clashes?

Joblessness and poverty are some of the causative factors of insecurity.

Majority of Nigerians are living below the poverty line and a dollar per day. However, I condemn criminality.

Government policies have not created an environment enabling businesses to thrive and employ people who will then use the knowledge they acquired from schools.

Yearly, we churn out millions of graduates and they do not know exactly what they will be doing for themselves or for their society.

Is insecurity not escalating hunger?

It is causing hunger; people who are in the arable area can not go to farm, harvest and sell agricultural produce. I see a situation of more hunger in Nigeria.

It could be worse that insecurity itself unless the government comes out to stop the harassment of farmers who are going to their farms.

If you have your cows and you are tending them, tend them but do not allow them to enter somebody’s farms and if they do not enter somebody’s farm, there will be no argument. When they now enter people’s farms, there will be infighting and maybe killing.

Consequently, many farmers do not go to farms now. There is already anger in the land, hope there will not be more hunger in Nigeria!

What is your advise?

People in government should sit down and recognize that we have problems; identify what the problems are and pursue possible solutions. Insecurity can’t go down suddenly when we have many unemployed people. However, unemployment is not an excuse for crime.

In Nigeria, the government is basically the sole employer of labor. How many people can the government employ?

READ ALSO: El-Rufai: Workers’ protest, strike action won’t stop Kaduna mass sacking

The people in government should make concerted efforts to implement policies that will ensure that businesses thrive, expand and create more employment opportunities for more people to be engaged or employed.

What should succession agitators do?

The agitation should stop. We are stronger together. There is strength in multiplicity and diversity.

If you are talking of oppression and marginalization, and you say ‘we should divide,’ there will still be oppression and marginalization thereafter.

There should be fairness and equity in everything we do. It is because there is no equity and fairness that the agitations are coming.

So let us come together and talk together so that we will know what our operating constitution will be.

All over the world, there is the cry of oppression. In America, we have the BLM, Lincoln Project etc.

All of them cry that they have been treated unfairly.The Government should not ignore them.

You need to listen to them. The way to listen to them is to come together and do financial restructuring.

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Read the Source post on Daily Times Nigeria.