Four governorship candidates in Delta State, representing the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) have promised good governance, quality education, youth employment, adequate security and free healthcare, among others, if elected governor.
They made the promise during a debate organised by ARISE NEWS on Wednesday.
However, two governorship candidates – Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sheriff Oborevwori – were absent and their letters of apology were read out during the debate.
After reading the letters which explained that the debate time clashed with their other engagements, the moderators offered both candidates another opportunity to make themselves available for another debate today.
The other four candidates who were present however took offense with that and the development angered the APGA governorship candidate, Great Ogboru, who decided to stage a walkout at the middle of the debate. He however returned to the debate after some minutes.
While speaking about their investment plans, Ogboru said he would invest in critical sector of the econony such as agriculture and oil refinery.
On his part, the governorship candidate of Labour Party, Ken Pela, said he would create private sector investment in 10 new cities of the state.
The governorship candidate for SDP, Kenneth Gbagi, said he would invest in infrastructure and develop all the 25 local government areas of the state.
Also, the governorship candidate of the YPP, Sunny Ofehe, said he would invest in oil and gas sector of the economy, industry and revive the moribund Asaba Textile Mills and attract money to the state through corporate and income tax.
When asked how they intend to develop Delta State seaports, Ogboru said he would make idle seaports in the state to become active and generate revenue for the state through the seaports.
On his part, Pela also said he would revive seaports in the state and make them money spinning ventures.
Gbagi said he would ensure he makes Delta seaports to be functional like Lagos seaports and ensure that the President of Nigeria implements all seaports agreement in the state. Ofehe said he would create a liaison office that would create and manage seaports in the state.
Addressing unemployment in the state, Pela said he would set up social investment plan that will address the unemployment in the state and create jobs, while Gbagi said he would remove unemployed youths from the street, and pay each unemployed youth the sum of N30, 000 monthly. Ofehe said he would
consult with international players to create 20,000 jobs within few years of his administration, if elected as governor of the state.
In area of pension and security, all four candidates said they would ensure prompt payment of pension to retirees and also ensure security of high standard across the state.
Gbagi said he would ensure that all herdsmen were taken away from the streets of Delta State, to avoid herdsmen clash with farmers in any community, while Ofehe said he would use technology to address the issue of insecurity across the state.
The four candidates while blaming insecurity in Delta on poor governance, unemployment, poverty among others were however divergent in their solutions as to how to handle the issue if elected as governor.
Similarly, the contestants also held varying opinions on the issue of state police as solution to insecurity in the state.
In his own response, Ogboru, was opposed to having state’s police as at today on the conviction that Nigeria is not yet ripe for such. According to him, the issue of state police is a long term project that must be done gradually.
He observed that having state police in the country today would be too dangerous and risky because, “A lot of governors are not matured enough” to handle state’s. Ogboru while expressing confidence in the ability of federal police advocated for re-organisation of the Nigeria Police Force, in a way that will make the police more home or communal base, stressing that the police cannot be effective when some police officers are “alien” to the state they are serving in.
He said if elected governor, he would work with the police towards ensuring that police officers serve within their own locality where they understand the people as well as the terrain they are working in.
He also dismissed the allegations that herdsmen were responsible for the high level of insecurity in the state particularly as it affects rural and farming communities.
“A lot of activities are taking place under the guise of herdsmen”, he said, pointing out the factors such as unemployment, poverty have created a situation in the state for jobless youths to take the laws into their hands.
On his part, Pela who is an advocate of state police however noted that before state police would come on board, he will work with the police as well as other security agencies in the state in tackling issues of insecurity.
“If we cannot do state or community policing, we will work with the Nigeria Police Force, we will equip them, train them to help secure the state,” he said.
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party was of the opinion that the insecurity challenge in Delta State was not just an issue of “lack of political will” but one created on purpose.
He, however, assured that as Chief Executive of Delta State, he would never use state police against his opponents or the people of Delta State, adding that he hope to run a transparent, responsive administration with the people involved in every stage.
He said, “Deltans should be able to hold their governor accountable, I expect the people to ask us questions”, adding that he plans to put machinery in place where the people should be able to interact with his government.
“If I fail, I expect Deltans to throw me out, if I fail I will not hunt anybody,” he added.
For Gbagi, security in Delta State is “self-inflicted and self-arranged”, just as he argued that there is nothing like herdsmen in Delta State. According to him the issue of herders is a private business and must be treated as such.
He disclosed that to handle the issue of insecurity associated with herders in the state, he will put in law in place stipulating that all herders must arrive with their cows through transportation between 12 and 5pm in the state.
However, Gbagi said: “I do not subscribe to state’s police,” emphasising the need to work in stronger synergy with the federal police in tackling.
Responding to the issue of whether he would not use state police against his opponents if elected governor, Gbagi pointed out that only people without character would do such, pledging to release his asset declaration on June 1, if elected as governor.
Also speaking on the issue of insecurity Ofehe, who observed that there were modern technologies available to combat the issue of insecurity disclosed that if elected he will, “fortify all entry borders into Delta State”, as well as work with security agencies and local vigilante in tackling insecurity.
He promised that as a right advocate he will not use state police to hunt anybody, adding that he would organize monthly security meetings with relevant stakeholders.
On the issue of funding of state police, Pela on his part argued that once wasteful spending and corruption is tackled there would be enough money available to take care of the state police, while Ofehe promised to set aside five per cent of social corporate funds to take care of state police.
On the issue of pensioners in the state, Gbagi while promised to release a monthly sum of N2 billion to offset all backlog on assumption of office.
Emma Okonji and Alex Enumah