It’s A Sin to Owe Somebody That Worked For You | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Niger Delta

It’s A Sin to Owe Somebody That Worked For You

Posted: Aug 7, 2015 at 6:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

What is the drive behind your achievements less than a year in office?

First of all, I must thank God for a day like this. Don’t forget during my campaign, I made promises to add value to the life of the people of Isoko North and provide them dividends of democracy. We have always believed in the popular saying that health is wealth. The only way to add value to the life of people is to look at areas that will affect their life greatly. I have found out from my research that a lot of people especially from the rural area have one eye defect or the other and the best way to be relevant and more productive is to first of all ensure that they see, walk, do things and fend for themselves. Someone who cannot see or walk is not just a liability to his family but to the society at large because he or she can’t provide for himself. So we felt we should bring in experts through partnership with Restore Sight Africa Initiative to ensure that we offer free eye care service/screening/treatment, which is what we are doing at present. We projected screening of 1000 people and provision of eyeglasses to 500 people and also carry out surgery if necessary. But we have surpassed the 500 eyeglasses benchmark on the second of the third day event. As for the surgery, they have booked for more than 75 people, which is more than the 50 projected. From my findings from this ongoing programme, it shows that a lot of people have eye challenges. You may not even know because they are in the rural area. Some of the people I couldn’t see for years, I didn’t know that they are in their home and they couldn’t come out due to eye challenges. So I decided to bring on this initiative as part of giving back to the people and fulfilling my electoral promises. They believe so much in my ability and I cannot afford to let them down. Though, we have our own challenges in the council like lack of funds and the rest, you need to make sacrifices for the general wellbeing of the people and to also touch their lives. If you can do these things, God Almighty can also bless you in other ways.

You listed paucity of fund as one of the challenges affecting local government administration, how have you being able to sustain this initiative?

Well, the issue of lack of fund is not just Isoko North or any other local government council alone; it’s a nationwide challenge. Like I told you, there is no money but with the little resources that we have, we were able to pay three salaries as at now. The money wasn’t even enough to pay the three months salary. The records are there to show, but I deemed it necessary as good manager of resources, human, financial and material because I studied economics both in first degree and master and I majored in monetary economics. So you need to bring your ingenuity into play when you have to do things like this and also you need to make sacrifices. There might not be money, but there are times you look elsewhere and think about what to do to save and assist the people. There are times you will deem it necessary to go borrowing. In this case, from what we have done, we can say that the people are happy. Happy in the sense that some of them find it difficult to raise money to go for eye treatment. Some of them understand the eye challenges they have, but how can they raise the money for treatment? People have been coming from far places like Warri, Ughelli, Lagos, Port-Harcourt bringing in their mother, father and relatives for eye treatment and this is totally free like I said to all Isoko North indigenes and it cuts across all the neighbouring villages and communities. It’s not about one community alone. The massive turn out is a testament to how much people value this initiative. I want to thank God for the wisdom and this great idea that He has given.

Beside your partnership with Restore Sight Africa initiative, what other help have you received?

I have not received any support from anybody. There is no support from anybody. It’s the initiative of the council in collaboration with Restore Sight Africa who is expert in this area and you can see they are very committed because in the whole of the state, this is the first time a local government council decided to do something like this. You can see the crowd. They are even overwhelmed but I must assure you that the people of Isoko North are very appreciative of what we are doing today and I want to tell you that you will see the testimony of what is happening today. It may not be now, but in future, it will go long ways to that show the mandate given to me wasn’t in vain. It will also show that they voted for someone who has the experience and the qualification of a good leader. Accountability and transparency is also very important which has been the guiding light of this administration.

Like you said earlier, you are overwhelmed by the turnout. Is there any plan to extent the exercise? 

I just discussed with them now. They are going to extend it to Friday morning. But like I have said earlier and from what we have seen, all these people might not be attended to because they keep increasing in number. From our observation now, we may likely plan phase two in the nearest future where more people will be attended to especially those that wouldn’t get attention in this exercise. We never expected this massive turnout. I want to also appeal to corporate organisations and well-meaning Isoko sons and daughters who will be willing to support or partner with the local government in this aspect. If they are willing to support us, we can bring back Restore Sight Africa Initiative and carry out another round of exercise in no distance time so that our people will not wait so long for another round of exercise because the council doesn’t have money to do what they are supposed to do. I know their expectation is high, but thewy should bear with us and I also thank them for their understanding.

What are some of the challenges faced by local government chairmen across the country?

Well, you know when you challenges will always be there. The ability to manage the challenges matters a lot. Yes, I am in support of local government autonomy, but don’t forget that the chairmen cannot do it alone. There is a process. It’s a constitutional process/amendment that needs to be done. For the purpose of this question, what I will appeal is this, if the state government will agree to take responsibility of primary school teachers and not teaching staff, local government will be able to do something in their area of jurisdiction. We contribute about 70 to 80 percent to primary school teachers’ salary if not more than that which ought not to be. It is explicit in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the local government is supposed to contribute. If we are contributing, our contribution should not be the highest. I am appealing to the state government, though they are also having financial challenges, but when allocations improve, they should support us by taking over entirely salary of primary school teachers so that we can be able to pay workers’ salary and also embarked on some meaningful projects for the benefit of our people in the local government. How most local government council survives in the country is a mystery.