Published On: Wed, Sep 7th, 2016

Why government should declare a state of emergency in the power sector – Fred Majemite

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Fred Majemite

Fred Majemite

Fred Majemite is a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party in Delta State. He was commissioner for lands and political adviser in the immediate past administration of former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. In this interview with NAIJ.com’s Austin Oyibode, he speaks on the developments and the challenges which the present government needs to look into in the state.

Excerpts:

You have been in government over the years. You have served as commissioner and special adviser, what is your view on the development of Delta since it was carved out of the defunct Bendel State?

Though it is not yet Uhuru, we have made tremendous progress as a state. Today, we are still in one state living as Deltans. In terms of infrastructure, we have done well -above average by my standards. In terms of human capital development, we have a lot of rooms for improvement, health-wise; we are not doing badly if you consider the number of hospitals, including cottage hospitals, existing in the state. We also have a teaching hospital now. Of course, in the education sector, I can score the state average because, just within 25 years, we have four polytechnics, one university with about three campuses and these are all running. Most importantly, these schools have been accredited but one area we need to improve on is the area of agriculture. We have not done well in the area of agriculture. It is the only area that can improve our economy and absorb our teeming youths who are becoming restive as a result of idleness.

I know the state government is also laying a lot of emphasis on that sector that is why there are some programmes to train our people and at the end, give them starter packs. But, I think we can do more with massive orientation so that we all should know that gone are the days of white collar jobs, which we should go back to the farms. There are industrial farmers now and government should create the enabling environment while the private sector should also come.

In the area of housing also, we have not been able to get it right. Government needs to encourage private developers to invest in that sector. We also know that revenue is dwindling, so, as a state, we should lay emphasis on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We are not still paying taxes, tax comes in different forms. For instance, I was the Commissioner for Lands, I am aware that people still build houses without government approvals and I also advised that for those who have already built on government lands, government may not be able to move them out but, should ratify their stay, so that these people can pay to government. For instance, for every 20 houses in these developing areas, about 11 don’t have approval. So, if there is awareness that for every house that does not have approval, government will pull it down, you will see that people will rush to get approval for their buildings. Government should also ensure that for every favour you need from government, you must show your tax certificate.

Many people will believe you are saying these because; you are actively involved in government affairs. The roads are in deplorable state and generally, infrastructure is in a bad shape?

I said above average. The season that we are in has made it impossible to fix the roads. It is not only peculiar to Delta State but, government does not have enough money, so, instead of spending so much on a road, they decide to spread it. Maybe we will have a rethink, so that we can spend more on the construction of one road and be sure that we have done such, otherwise, no matter what, in the next season, there will be failed portions. Even the Lagos/Benin road, the roads are failing but, we should also change the style by using interlocking in areas that are marshy or waterlogged.

 

But, after 25 years of creating Delta State, Asaba, the state capital, does not look like the capital of Delta State. The drainage system is still very poor?

The drainage system, we have not gotten it right. Asaba has a master plan, let proper survey be done; the flow of water should be channeled. The kind of drainage we have now cannot stand the volume of water, you can see the type of drainage used in Onitsha,

Okowa Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor

Okowa Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor

along the busy expressway, and we can still use such.

I know it is going to cost us more because some people will lose their houses but, yes, it will enable us to get it right. Asaba has opened up but the drainage system is taking it backward. In the last administration, when I was involved, you will agree with me that there was massive road construction in Asaba. Even the NDDC was involved. Asaba is still one of the fastest growing state capitals in the country.

In the area of security, how do you see the situation in Delta State?

Insecurity is a thing we are all worried about because there is hunger in the land. The only way to resolve it is to engage the youths meaningfully, but, how are you going to engage them when the resources are not there? It is for all of us to encourage and support government by bringing people to invest in the agricultural sector. That is the only way we can move people to be working, otherwise, with the wage bill of the government of Delta State, they cannot even think of employing. The only thing government can do is to encourage people to go into farming. It is not about subsistent farming as we used to see in those days, but farming at higher scale, we need investors in that area because that is the only way to employ a lot of people now because, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Farming is the only sector that can employ people now. Those who go into crime should also think of positive things they can do for themselves, government cannot do everything alone. It is never too late to be positively engaged.

Now with the political differences and the hate speech from some quarters, do you see Deltans as a united people fighting a common cause?

As a people, if we are not united, we would have Balkanized by now but, the last election has shown that we are beginning to accept ourselves as one people because the governor did not just win the elections as a result of votes from Delta North but across the state. We are beginning to like ourselves as Deltans. Gradually, we are beginning to see ourselves as brothers but, if you travel, we see ourselves as brothers; the things that bind us together are more than things that divides us.

You have been very active in government having being commissioner and political adviser, what do you think has really affected the industrialization of Delta State?

Niger Delta Militants 2

Militants

Whether we like it or not, we are in a recession and things are not going the way they ought to be and our economy is more of import economy. The price of oil is not stable and it is affecting every other sector. Another thing you may also know is the power sector. Electricity is not steady, even the barber operates at a very high cost. Cost of production has spiraled because of power. Running a factory on generator is not the best. Industries closed down because of unstable power supply. Delta state government tried to have its own Independent Power Plant but, how many states have got it right in that sector? If you even generate you will feed it into the national grid and the fact that you generate does not determine what you get. Until we get it right, most industries will not come up.

What do you suggest as the way forward in this direction?

Government should declare emergency in that sector. They did it before but, I don’t know how far. One big problem is that depends on gas and whenever there is problems in the gas sector it will affect power supply. I recall that when we visited Boeing in the US, about 60 per cent of their electricity depended on hydro. You won’t believe it and we have a lot of water in Delta State. Water is what we have so, if some states in the US can depend solely on water for the supply of electricity, why are we still talking about turbine? We should start to think of alternatives. What I have discovered is that it is difficult for us to move from what we are used to. Otherwise, nobody will talk about gas, the water is there. I recall when I was doing my A levels at Government College, Ughelli, the school had a generator that is hydro-powered. It never failed for once. So, as at then, there was no need for diesel. So, we should begin to think of alternative because, the power sector is one important sector for the growth of any business.

Looking at the situation of Delta, what do you think is the future of the state?

Well, as a state, we are very hopeful. Delta State is blessed with a lot of human and natural resources and once we are able to harness those resources, Delta State will be great. As a loyal party man, I urge all Deltans to support this government ably led by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa so that the prosperity agenda will come to pass.

The situation is very bad that many people are grumbling, including those in government but, I told those in government, not to grumble because, if they do, what do they expect from those outside?

My experience is that if you must complain about the government you are in and then exit yourself. There are a lot of people who want that your position so, if you are grumbling, you are not doing the government any good, you should instead give the people hope because, everybody lives on hope. It cannot be worse than this but everybody should play their roles by supporting the government with ideas, and draw attention of government to issues when necessary.
(SOURCE –NAIJ.com)

 

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