Senator (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio is the current senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West in the Senate. He is the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State and a lawyer. The former minority leader spoke with a group of journalists led by WOLE ARISEKOLA in his house in Uyo on some national issues.
Bad leadership and corruption have been a canker stunting the growth of this country, how can we get it right ahead of 2019 elections?
It depends on what you mean by bad leadership because the followers determine the leadership, in my state for instance in 2006/2007 the people slept on the road and shouted let “Godswill be done” and they wanted me to be the governor of Akwa Ibom State because they felt they could trust me and they knew their lives would change and so I had the opportunity to be the governor for eight years. I don’t know the circumstances of other states and I haven’t had the privilege of running the affairs of Nigeria. So when we talk about leadership I would think that the society get the kind of leadership that they deserves my people got me in 2007 to 2015 and we brought about what we called ‘uncommon transformation’ we showed that it was possible, so you can talk about leadership. Leadership depends on love. When you have love in your heart for your people definitely you’ll go to any extent to make sure that they are happy.
How will 2019 election be and what type of leaders do we need?
I would be biased in that answer because I have just moved, I did not decamp, I moved from Peoples Party Democratic to All Progressive Congress(APC) administration because I saw a systematic attempt to bring down the government of the country by certain elements in All Progress Congress (APC) and I felt that as a Nationalist there was need for us to stem the tide so I moved from my former party then (PDP) to join APC to sterilized the government and to stabilizer the federal government. The reason was very simple that there is need for us to have a country before the elections.
2019 I would be bias because I would want to see APC going forward I would like to see all the policies of this administration being implemented. I would like to see equitable distribution of resources come 2019. I would like to see more participation of the South South people in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, I would like to see the unity of the South South people of Nigeria with our Northern brothers and our South East /South West brothers to. I’ll like to see the bonding on Nigeria through the next election and above all I will like to see President Muhammadu Buhari return for second term in office and actually to better because of the fact that the whole country have shown him love and the vote come from all and sundry that’s I’ll like to see in 2019.
Cross carpeting is another issue, why did you defect to the ruling party?
I did not defect, I moved to All Progressive Congress(APC) in the national interest , if you look at what is happening at the national level. I was surprised that People who founded the All Progressive Congress(APC) were also the same people determined to ruin that party , to bring down the government of President Muhammadu Buhari just because election is approaching they could go and contest under another political platform. I felt there is need for us to have a country before we talk about elections. People have always say statesmen think about the next generation while politicians continue to think of next election. I saw a trend where a lot of us are now becoming politicians thinking only of the next election without thinking of the next generation. I have a nine year old son, if his generation will inherit Nigeria, if we bring Nigeria down and the country crashes even before the 2019 elections, what will I give to my child? I moved in the National interest to stabilize the polity and in order to also support the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed and stabilize it. I think to a large extent my intention was achieved and so it was referred to as ‘uncommon defection’ because it was one defection that stopped a lot of defections, now people can only defect on Facebook, they can’t have confidence to face the public again some people will ask them and say ‘so you are not statesman because Godswill Akpabio said he is a statesman and he’s thinking of the next generation, he’s not thinking of the next election’. It’s true indeed, I was not thinking whether I will win election in 2019 when I was moving because at that time my state was totally PDP, when I moved people were shocked but today less than two months after the entire Akwa Ibom State 98percent has turned APC.
What are your chances of winning?
How can you ask me if I will win election when my people are all APC? This is a lesson to a lot of people that if you are a leader, wherever you hear footsteps behind you, look behind you to know whether your people are following you or they are running away from you. When people are following you, you’ll hear footsteps, if they are running away from you, you’ll also hear footsteps, in my own I give glory to God that God directed my people well. The people of Akwa Ibom state, their footsteps are behind my back and they are following me to victory in 2019.
Do you foresee war as some people assume in 2019 election?
There will be no war in Nigeria in 2019, people should not think of election of War. Election should not be of war. I appreciate that question because recently I made a quote which I love to make I said “War saw saw war” because the political leader in PDP in Akwa Ibom has said that the current administration should recruit people and prepare for war that 2019 will be war and that only the fittest would survive and so the youths and some elders of the APC met me in my country home and asked me that people are calling for war do you think that there is going to be war in 2019? And I told them that No! and that my believe is that those people who are calling for war have never seen war and that in those days even when the worst enemies of mankind Hitler went to Poland whose capital is Warsaw and went there to go and wage war on the people , he thought it was going to be a cheap thing but it wasn’t, at the end he was so shocked with the resistance and the resilience of the people that when his Minister of Information was asked how was the fight in Poland, he used the phrase of the capital of Poland being Warsaw to say he can only say ‘Warsaw saw war’ . People have misinterpreted what I said otherwise am saying those who are calling for war themselves will see war if that’s what they want. The reality is that there’s going to be no war in 2019. I believed strongly that we are going to have very peaceful elections. In 2015 the Ruling party lost the election and handed over to the current administration peacefully. Nigeria is progressing and don’t forget that Rome was not build in a day. Definitely there is not going to be any War in Nigeria in 2019 and then no politician is calling for war. I believed that it’s going to be a game that will be free and fair, votes would be meant to count under this administration, all I really know is that “carry go” syndrome that used to happen in those days under PDP would no longer prevail because today it is one man, one vote and today votes are counting.
Nigeria and daunting challenges, some people are of the opinion that out constitution is the problem, what’s your view?
It is a problem. It is the problem because there are many things in the Nigerian constitution today that really need not to be on the exclusive list of the federal legislature, so many things ought to be either on the concurrent list. Powers should be devolve in the state.
recently you heard of a governor who said he was resigning as the Chief Officer of his state, the reason he said so was probably because he was helpless, he was just a commander without troop because we have Federal Police, even the civil Defense is federal, Air force , Army, Navy is federal even Federal Road Safety Corps, everything that has to do with security is federal and so the state actually has nothing to assist the governor to be able to protect the people unless the various commanders, commissioner of police DSS and others that are sent into the state are obedient and subservient to the civil authority, otherwise the governor would not be able to have a say in the security of his state. This is one area the constitution should help us. We should devolve more power to the states or we should take a lot of things from the exclusive list because a lot of things are there. There are states that can do railway such as Lagos State for instance should be allowed to do railway. Railway should not be allowed in the hand of the federal government alone. You can’t even build a Port unless it is done by Nigerian Port Authority. Even in terms of power that we are talking about license are given from generating companies they call them Gencos and of course they gave license to Discos Distribution companies but the Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN) is still controlling the evacuation of the power, so when the Gencos produces the power you cannot even evacuate it, it must be evacuated by a federal government agency called Transmission company of Nigeria to go down to the next sub- station at the end of the day you have a three tier system of moving power, first you have to generate the power, second you transmit and third you distribute but then the other two legs have been privatized and they have allowed companies to get in and with state government that have the capacities but then the transmission is exclusively in the hands of the federal government and so you’ll hear of the embedded power, of inability to evacuate and so even though you produce 10,000 Megawatt of power today if you don’t have the infrastructure to carry up to 5,000 of Megawatt we are wasting our time and that is exclusively held by the federal government that means that you are taking one sleep forward and two steps backward. The constitution ought to remove something like power from the exclusive list and then put it in the concurrent list so that the state can now have the ability to legislate on theme as well as make laws to be able to help their people. They jam too many things and of course I have always used the word unbundling. I have always say there is need for us to unbundle the federal government.
There are almost 600 federal Parastatals with at least 600 Executive Secretaries and Director Generals who are on the same levels with Ministers, so by the time you finish the result is that 75% of the country’s revenue goes to recurrent expenses while what we have left for capital expenses is not up to twenty percent. It is only the APC administration that we can even think of almost thirty percent going into capital expenses, in this country in any budget you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. A lot of people are expecting infrastructures everywhere but where the majority of what we do on yearly bases has to do with recurrent expenses such as: allowances, monument, travelling expenses and all sort of things and then things that should lead to infrastructures will not event take up to 30% but then it mean we are paying lip services to development. We should unbundle the federal government, we should try to reduce the numbers of parastatals, reduce the numbers of Director Generals, and reduce the numbers of Executive Secretaries who are at pal with Minister. There are some ministries who have up to eleven parastatals, ministry like Justice has at least seven parastatals and that means seven Directors Generals who must be protected and that’s the reason we hardly have police when we have emergencies because we have more police men deploy towards VIPs protections and protections of parastatals than protection of the citizens, these are some of the things. I think a lot of things are endowed with resource and these resources are just wasting, the federal government should have time to think of them. When the crude oil is no longer relevant these resources are there in the ground and if we are able to take mineral resources out of the exclusive list of the federal legislature and put it in the concurrent list as well as devolve more powers to the state which means that states can have community policing we’ll have a better country. The state can also bring a lot of expert from outside, including Nigerians and investors to develop resources in their domain. These are some of the problems; over centralization is a major issue in Nigeria.
Where are we missing it and what are the institutions that we need to strengthened?
First we need to strengthen our democratic institution; I think we are working on that so that every vote can count. Second is that we must develop political parties with ideologies in order to stop cross carpeting. Today people just see political parties as platforms to contest elections; they are not based on ideologies. If you go into a place like America you can say that yes if you are a democrat automatically you’ll stand for something such as: better health care, and more masses oriented , on the other side if you are a Republican you’ll stand for strict laws on trading and capitalism and all that but here in Nigerian we do not build political parties based on ideologies, in the past these things were there and we should also emphasize on agriculture.
For instance a political party could be the one that could bring about the Green Revolution and everybody knows that if you belong to such political party or you become a governor under that political party your state will definitely be a state that would do a lot in the areas of agriculture and all that and there will be some other political parties that would now come up and said we are labour friendly and then because we are labour friendly once we win the election in that regard automatically they are going to look at wages of workers and will be people oriented and everything you do will definitely be to promote the masses. But right now all political parties have no ideologies.
The political parties need to insist or their manifestoes being implemented by those who win election. Most people who win elections have no ideas of the content of the manifestos of their political parties and so there are little checks and balances when it comes to the issues of implementing the manifestoes of political parties and that is the first thing we need to do. We need to improve on our security because a secured nation is a nation that will develop, our boarders are very porous all over the country the boarders are porous I can tell you that I don’t think Nigeria even have boarders. We are almost there a country without boarders because you can move from Kastina state into Chad and move from Bornon into Cameroon and move from Cross River into Cameroon without let or hindrance. This one you are looking at the East Africa, the other one you are looking at part of West Africa you’ll be so amazed that because the boarders are porous that is the same way there is movement of arms so there is a lot of proliferation of arms in the entire region which makes it difficult for us to have proper security. We must improve on our boarder control. We must improve on our security. We must improve on our population checks so that way if you are a Nigerian we’ll know that you are a Nigerian, when we see a foreigner we should recognize one. These lack of control at the boarders is something that must be rooted out because there is too much free movement in a way that those who come in and go out of Nigeria are not checked and so criminality has been imported and of course terrorism is almost an imported item into Nigeria because we are not born terrorist that is one other area. Customs should look after goods and the boarders but immigration should look after people.
We must strengthen the institutions like Obama said it is important for you to have stronger institutions in Africa than to have strong men and that is what this current administration is doing. The current administration is strengthening the institution of fighting corruption creating the NFI/NFIB in strengthening the EFCC and ensuring that civil service is well taken care of and people are train and retrain, those days if a civil servant writes a letter that letter he/she will not miss a comma or a dot but that is not the situation today. A lot of people have infiltrated the system that when an administrative officer writes a letter it will take you over two hours before you can finish corrections ,type and re-type everything it’s almost like a copy typist doing something and yet the person has a master degree. These are a lot of thing that we must strengthen in Nigeria and then things that we got well in the past we should re-emphasize them in the present and things that the developing world is doing now we should look but in terms of foreign policies Nigeria should look inwards, it is important to get it right here first before you think of the outsiders. We lost so much money being big brother trying to liberate South Africa, but I don’t think we have got a lot of appreciation because so many Nigerians have being killed in South Africa due to xenophobia. We lost a lot of money to the Britain, Liberia of course it was good we took care of our brothers in Ghana it was good, we did a lot even in small Gambia that had problem we moved in even Cote de viour and so of course it is the same thing in Sudan we did a lot of foreign mission in a bid to take peace to foreign countries and in the process we bought back insecurity into our country so what it means is that in terms of foreign policies it is time to look inwards. It should be West Africa centered but mostly it should be ‘Nigerialized’ so that Nigeria’s foreign policy should begin to look at Nigerians. Nigerian abroad must have respect there is no way we can lose one life abroad as a Nigerian without going to ask why? So many Nigerian are not well respected in foreign countries or outside, many are turned into slaves, they cross the Mediterranean sea, they try to go to Spain, they are raped and treated as nobody and the country does not react and yet many of them are now slaves in Libya, Sierra, Iraq, and all that, it’s like Mary Joe said that if you shout a Nigeria is coming there will be stampede people will start running because they try to associate us with terrorism and all that but that is totally not Nigerian.
These things were all imported into the country, because of the disorder of our foreign policy; we take peace to the people in other clans while we brought back insecurity into our system. Let’s remove the lump in our eyes before we look at the specks in other people’s eyes especially where the foreign policies is concern. Nigerians are not yet free; we are not yet totally free. I believed we are freer in my youthful days than now because of insecurity, I should be free to move around in the night from here to Nassarawa without fear of being killed.
My children should be free to enter the train to travel on their own to Zaria without fear of being taken into slavery, we are free nation when it comes to democracy but we are not free because of insecurity, I think that was why I said we must tackle insecurity and of course what gives rise to insecurity is poverty and what depends poverty is corruption so you can see there are certain things we must address squarely. We did not plan well when we are expanding the universities because we are not expanding the opportunities in terms of employment so we didn’t get a lot of things right but all hope is not lost but that is the reason why some of us who know must join hands to do what the right thing is and that is why this administration must be supported and that has always been my policy. We have too many problems political parties come and go but it is important for us as Nigerians that when we enthrone a government we should join that government to succeed, we should join hands for that government to succeed because the success of that government is the success of Nigeria and that government will definitely come to an end and another one will come and so if we do not join that government to succeed and of course take actions capable of bringing that government down it means that either we are either stunting the growth of Nigeria or we not going to leave a better country to our children than we met it we are a free-nation in terms of the ability to say what we like and yet movement is still restricted as a result of insecurity. There is fear in the land as result of insecurity.
Challenges of Insecurity, can we overcome?
We shall have total security in this country; it’s just a function of strategy. How do other countries succeed? You can’t have a perfect system but you can reduce insecurity to the barest minimum. I believed that with the right quality of people working with the President we shall succeed.
Advise to youths as 2019 approaches?
The youths should shun cultism. One of the problems causing insecurity in Nigeria is nothing but Drug addiction and cultism Youths in Nigeria should shun cultism and drugs because the sue of Tramadol , excessive cocaine and those things have led to actions they do not have control over which have resulted in pains to their parents and cause a lot of insecurity in the nation. I want youths to realize that we should have one Nigeria and make sure we do not have religious sentiments. We should deemphasize the issue of religion in politics. Religion should not come into politics. Bishops and Arch-Bishops should not bring religion into politics. Religion should preach about salvation and taking us to heaven not telling us when to vote for and when next to vote for. Religion leaders should not throw themselves into the arena of politics. Let us make sure that we love one another irrespective of our tribe or religion. Let us deemphasize ethnicity but let’s go for the best hands, if we know those who can do it better let’s give it to them. Love should remain the key word for the youths. Nigerians should live together in love irrespective of ethnic or religion differences. We should stand for unity in diversity. We should not put too much tribalism and ethnicity into politics. We should all love our country as well as see ourselves as one Nigerian. Nigeria has shown that there can be unity in diversity having stayed together for 58 years; some countries would have broken up.
How will you assess President Muhanmadu Buhari led administration?
I believed the present administration could have done well if all Practitioners were very sincere particularly from the National Assembly; they’ve not had a very good relationship with the executives. If the relationship was not frosty, I believed so many things would have been done expeditiously because a lot of things have been delayed in the National Assembly, certain bills that would have made a difference have been delayed but I do know things will get better. I think the present administration has done well in the area of security. President Buhari’s led administration has been able to ensure that Boko Haram is not holding any territory or any local government and most of the communities are actually even free of insurgence and now they are resulting to Gorilla tactics here and there though you cannot really have a country without crime. By nature of what we are facing now, if you trace it you will know that it is as a result of collapse of many countries in the Middle –East such as Lybia that led to a lot of arms entering into wrong hands, some of them you can buy it on the street in chad and other places. To a large extent the government has done well and the government has been able to imbued confidence in Nigerians. I think unless of any unforeseen circumstance, I believed Nigeria will definitely do better.
How can we improve our educational system in the country?
I think the train the trainer has to come in. In the past we used to have colleges of Education, Teachers’ training colleges and all that. The mere fact that you have a degree does not make you a teacher , you have to go to Teachers’ Training College before you can teach even in primary school, those things are no longer existing , today we are just taking people who have qualifications in terms of degrees. We should make sure that anybody who wants to be a teacher, who wants to go into the teaching profession in this country, is a professional. We should professionalized education and if we do so it means we are going to have a well-trained force. Also, we should embark on training and re-training. It’s not just the function of a degree holder that comes in because it is not everybody that is trained to impact knowledge, you may be the best brain with the best qualification but you are not a trained teacher that can impact knowledge, you cannot train well. We should make sure that we build schools not just in terms of building too many schools, we should equip them. We should deemphasize the issue of just certificate, we should ensure that we go more into technical training because outside this country a lot of people make more money and live well even as repairers, technicians, people who deal with television set, ICT equipment, telephones, people who deal with plumbing and all that. They earn salaries even more than the politicians, what is happening in our country is that everybody just want to get degrees in humanities. I think it is important that we go into a lot of technical training. Two major things, first, we should bring back the idea of Teachers’ Training Colleges. We should bring back the idea of training people before we send them to go and teach. The teaching profession should be professionalized. Secondly, we should emphasize more on technical education than just any kind of education. We should emphasize more on technical education so that our people would become resourceful, when you go more into technical education you are not training people to search for lobs but you are training people to become self-reliant. There is no way a country can move unless the small and medium scale industries are developed and they will need this technical manpower and technical expertise. We should also make sure that at least every state of the federation has good technical educational institutions. We must not limit it because if you train state A and you don’t train state B, the illiteracy in state A will eventually permeate into state B. That was the reason when I was doing my free and compulsory education, I extended it to all Nigerian children resident in Akwa Ibom State with a strong believe that if you educate your children and you don’t educate your neighbors’ children, you are preparing illiterate armed robbers to come and attack your graduate children. When I was the governor, I was able to turn around the mental Psych of my people before unleashing infrastructures, that’s why people call me uncommon transformer.
Nigeria at 58, where are we?
I want to congratulate all Nigerians for the 58th independence anniversary. I particularly congratulate the 58th independence president, President Muhammed Buhari GCFR and the Vice President, our own Osinbajo and the entire National Assembly including the red chamber that I belong. Congratulations to all Nigerians.
58 year after looking at Nigeria, I used to make a joke that we take one step forward and two steps backward but today my opinion has changed, I believe strongly now that Nigeria is making progress after years of colonization and the developed world use the brains of the blacks during the days of slavery for so many hundreds of years and developed their regions and of course the infrastructures they developed in Africa were only channeled towards areas of resources to develop their industries aboard, and so railway will go to places where they can see coal in Enugu or they’ll do railway to the Ports where they can evacuate some of our resources to go and use as finished products and use the same Ports to bring those things to sell to us. From colonialism to neo-colonialism, Nigeria has suffered though hard but there is something about the country, after independence we suffered a very sever civil war for three years and there after we suffered a lot of political interventions, what I mean by political interventions were the military interim rule but we have survived all and today Nigeria is celebrating almost the 19 year of stable democracy starting from 1999 till date and by the time we make the 20th year of free and fair democratic experience we would have become more recognized all over the world.
Nigeria is becoming more recognized in the world today and more respected and of course wherever you see a country that is making progress there is bound to be a bit of hiccups. We have passed through different phases, the phase of civil war, we have passed through the phase of ‘warwar’, we have passed through the phase of military, we are now facing what I may regard as Boko Haram and terrorist invasion from outside Nigeria and of course there is escalation of the herdsmen/farmers clashes and yet Nigeria has continue to survive. I believe that we have developed so many infrastructures today in Nigeria but the bane of Nigeria’s economy has been lack of capacity to sustain and manage exiting infrastructures.
The maintenance culture in Nigeria has not been very good. We need to develop a very serious maintenance culture in this country, so that at the end of the day, when infrastructures are put in place for use by the people and those infrastructures are maintained I can tell you that Nigeria will be adding, it will be like a building block where you add one, two or three but when we build and we don’t maintain, we’ll start afresh and that leads to a lot of wastages. I believed strongly that we need to develop the educational sector to a point where there will be no need for Nigerians to school aboard.
Also, I believed that we need to develop the health sector to stop a lot of capital flight to India, Europe and other places. We should have hospitals in Nigeria, at least one good specialist hospital per state, if not one per local government that our “big men”, wealth people, business men, our billionaires and millionaires as well as the ordinary people should be able to go to for treatment without let or hindrance. They should be able to have confidence in the health care delivery system in the country. I believed that Nigerians are dying from avoidable disease as a result of ignorance and so there is need for a lot of sensitization and education about even come thing like diarrhea and management of it, even things red cross need to teach us on management of accidents and post operational patients because people die more from post operational management after operations than they die in the theatres.
I believed that we should reduce maternal mortality by today 58 years after. I believed that infant mortality should also reduce drastically; immunization should be stepped up so that children should no longer have polio.
Nigeria ought to be free of polio by now but significance progress has been made, of course maternal mortality has been reduced and like when I had the opportunity to become the governor in Akwa Ibom State, it was reduced to be barest minimum and of course we were also able to improve on education that we have free and compulsory education in the state because ignorance is entirely costly. It is important that continue to embrace education, things are moving from one or two universities it was in the past, 58 years after we now have private universities that are doing very well and producing very well baked graduates in addition competing very seriously with the federal and state institutions and individuals are plowing the money back into the educational sectors, setting up things.
Looking back I think the area we have not fared very well would be the area of power because by now it is said that a place like Ghana can even afford 24 hours of power or even one week of power without outrage.
Nigeria must work on her power. I believed we can get it right whatever it is we must work on power. I want to thank the current President for addressing seriously the issues of corruption even though a lot of people believed that anybody who had been a governor or has been in public office must be corrupt, it is not true because a lot of us are very concern that corruption has actually led to the impoverishment of the country but my advice is that we fight corruption and its twin brother which is poverty because poverty leads to corruption and corruption deepens poverty. What it means is that we must fight corruption and poverty as twins and I think that is one area that we have not done well.
The area that the president has tried his best is in the area of fighting corruption and also fighting insurgency. Today many territories are not held, if any by Boko Haram. We have had Boko Haram now, we had militancy in the South South a movement at a time and of course we had the insurgency of IPOB. I think to a large extent these challenges as they rare their heads we must face them squarely but one thing is certain we can no longer have a centralized policing system because any country that does not have proper security cannot attract investors, investors are shy and run away from areas of conflict and therefore we advocate decentralization of the policing system in order to allow community policing so that people who know the bad eggs in their various communities will speak out and would also be in the position to fish them out so that people can sleep with their two eyes close.
58 years after, if you go round the entire country we now have from regions, we entered into 12 states, and from the 12 states structure today we have 36 states and the federal capital territory. There was no FCT, when we started but 58 years after the FCT is not really expanding but it has come to stay, its real and Lagos is booming as a major commercial hub for Nigeria but we need to decentralize the Ports so that we do not have ships coming down to our ports and staying there for drugs to expire and then we have no very attractive destinations for shippers because some of the good that we bring in end up staying at the ports and they end up expiring before they are brought into the market. But on the whole local government by local government the structure of 774 local government areas in the country has worked out very well; there is one item or the other to show that we have moved from where we were. We have more road network in Nigeria than we had when Nigeria attained independence in 1960, we have more hospitals, and more educational centers now than we had. We have more educated Nigerians now than we had, but unfortunately we have not be able to control our populations and so from 50million or so that we had then in independence, Nigeria has now bloated to over 180 million and we need to plan for these population because the country that fails to plan has plan to fail. We must do our best as universities and institutions of learning are expanding we must also expand opportunities for employment of our children, otherwise we will be producing educated militants, educated kidnappers and educated armed robbers and this is a real problem in the country now. Creation of employment opportunities, tackling of the security challenges and ensuring that we do everything possible to stabilize power because once we have powers industries will follow. These are some of the challenges that we are still facing but I could say that the development of Nigeria is relative to the availability of funds because you cannot tell me that a country that produces just 2.4 million barrels of crude oil to feed up to 150 million people, you cannot compare such a country to a place like Iraq or Libya with a population of four million and produces over 4.8 million barrels of crude oil or a place like UAE that when you go to Abu Dhabi they produce so much oil and their indigenous population is not up to two million and so they were able to build Dubia. We need to also deemphasize on the mono-economy of oil 58 years after independence because very soon oil will become a resource that will not become very useful you can scoop it on the ground you’ll no longer need license to handle crude oil, there will be no need for NNPC because people are moving away from oil, a lot of products in the world are no longer oil dependent, people are going into renewable energy I think Nigeria has to move with time, we need to move with the current situation for example people are trying to develop flights, aircrafts that can go with the winds, they want to develop aircrafts that can run on batteries and all that and if these things become realities what that will mean is that the crude oil will become extinct and of no use but there is something we have that the world would need for a longer time than the crude oil and that is gas.
The entire Niger Delta region is full of gas. It is a gas belt for Africa and I think we should focus on gas. The greatest thing about Russia today is that they give gas to Europe through major companies called gas pop. Nigeria must seriously engage in gas development, we must build a lot of gas processing plant. When I was a governor I had a privilege to partner with a company from United Kingdom and I built the first PPP gas processing plant in Esit Eket and we were able to produce about 220 TCM of gas. It is important that Nigeria should look at majorly gas development as opposed to so much emphasis on crude oil but all is not lost.
Nigeria is such a rich country; I saw a report saying in 1960/1961 that Nigeria has more mineral resources than we have crude oil. What it means is that from Nasarawa through the whole of Adamawa belt and through Platue we have a lot of mineral deposit. We have regnum, we belt and through Platue we have a lot of mineral deposit. We have rhenium, gold, bauxite, we have all sort of things but you know these things were illegally mined, I think we should also emphasized on that, we must do everything possible to move away from mono economy and try to look for alternative means of funding our resources and also this sharing of money on monthly basis is good but then restructuring is important so that states could also think on how to survive let the states also do like what is happening in Australia, the Regions actually entered into external trade agreements where they develop the resources within their domains those things are not happening in Nigeria and so we just stay almost like centers of payment of salaries and centers of payment of teachers monuments and all that and not centers of development, if we restructure and every region develop at its own pace or every state management to develop at its own pace, I can tell you that Nigeria will fare far better but on the whole 58 years after, I look around I know when I was born, when I was five and ten years and I can say yes indeed in some areas and some sectors we have far tremendous development and progress. I look upon the future of this country with hope that definitely in our time we will equip a better Nigeria to the new generation.