Chike C. Ogeah, Delta State Commissioner for Information, in this interview reviews how the state fared in 2012 and says machinery is in place to tackle youth unemployment through its micro-credit scheme and why the state paid former Governor of the state, Chief James Ibori pension.
The state paid pension to former governor, Chief James Ibori. What was the rationale behind the payment?
On the payment of pensions to former governors and deputy governors in the state, I have to clarify that monies that were paid to former governor of the state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori were monies that were due to him by law and allowed under the 'Former Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Rights and Other Benefits Act', and I think this law was promulgated in 2005.
Section 7 of the law talked about the circumstances of ineligibility for payment of pensions and gratuity to former governors and deputy governors. It states that "A person who has held the position of governor or deputy governor shall not be eligible to receive pension, gratuity and other benefits provided in this law if (a) he was removed from office as a result of impeachment by the State House of Assembly or committed suicide while in office." And we know that none of these circumstances occurred in the case of any of the past governors and deputy governors in the state.
How has the state Economic Management Team fared in evolving a new development agenda for Delta?
Governor Uduaghan inaugurated an economic advisory team for the state about a year ago, comprising distinguished Deltans who are not even in government. A financial consultant and guru, Mr. Bismark Rewane is the chairman of the Economic Advisory Team and it has other distinguished Deltans such as Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of ThisDay newspaper and Evelyn Oputu, managing director/chief executive of Bank of Industry (BoI), among others.
We come together with these people. We have commissioners in the state who are part of the team. The whole idea was that it will serve as a think-tank to drive the developmental agenda of the state, and the areas we were asked to look at include the dependence on oil revenue, infrastructural development of the state, employment, especially youth employment and also to see how we can further realize a secured investment climate, diversify the state's economic structures, which is being achieved through the Delta Beyond Oil initiative as well as ensure effective use of resources and ways to curb corruption and promote Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
This is through partnership with the private sector as well as to improve access to education, water and health, thereby contributing to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the state level. We are also working towards wealth creation and value addition.
What is the game plan for reviving the ailing industries in the state?
With regards to the revival of ailing industries, the commissioner for commerce and industry who is a member of the Economic Management Team is the one anchoring this initiative because the governor has said that as part of his developmental agenda, what we have to do in terms of improving the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is to revive the industries, whether it is the textile mill in Asaba or the glass factory in Ughelli.
For this purpose, we divided the industries into different categories because we found out that many of them have peculiar challenges. Some have to do with management issues while others are cash flow issues, so we want to take them on an industry to industry basis, and the idea is to see what government can do to revive these industries and use them to create more jobs for our people.
This is why we have resolved that the Economic Management Team will work with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on strategies to revive the industries as well as with the Bank of Industry. We want to get more Deltans in the private sector and Nigerians generally who can invest and help revamp these industries because as you are aware, government does not intend to take over any of these industries.