President Jonathan deserves a Second Term ~ Chief (Hon) Paworiso Samuel Horsfall
Chief (Hon) Paworiso Samuel Horsfal was a member of the House of Representatives in 1991/1992. The one-time Commissioner of Environment and later Ecology in Rivers State is worried that a comprehensive study conducted by experts on how to eliminate flooding in Port Harcourt has been abandoned by the State Government. He says the amount of money spent on the mono-rail project in Rivers State so far does not justify the work done. Horsfal also warns that playing politics with the health sector is akin to conducting a requiem mass for the poor, stressing that attention should be given to the BMH hospital Port Harcourt. In this interview with The Reformer, Hon Horsfal says for equity, justice and stability to be in the polity, President Goodluck Jonathan should be given a second term mandate, which is predicated on his unparalleled performance in governance.
1. May we know you sir?
I am Chief (Hon) Paworiso Samuel Horsfal. I was born 51 years ago in Aba, current Abia State.
I am a former member of the House of Representatives, a-2 time Commissioner on Environment and later Ecology in Rivers State. I was a council member of the Federal Road Safety Corp etc and now I am the head of Nyemoniba War Canoe House in Buguma, Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
2. Nigeria will be 53 by October 1, 2013. It is a crucial time in the life of the Nation, everything seem to be falling apart. Is there really much to celebrate?
Yes there is much to celebrate; institutions are being established, democracy is being truly practiced and freedom of speech is allowed. The INEC has greatly improved, power has been improved and effort is high to conquer the power sector. There is sure and steady transformation in all sectors such as agriculture, education, science and technology, works and aviation etc. The current challenges in the education sector will only improve and strengthen it at the end of the day.
3. Will Nigeria break up in 2015?
I don’t see Nigeria breaking up in 2015. What I see happening is that the new found strength by Nigerians, especially as the majority in the North are seeking the re-election of our brother, President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 shall be used fully to re-engineer Nigeria for true nationhood. I see the political class becoming more eager to deliver the dividends of democracy with attendant good governance. The trump card will be show your stewardship to earn a second term mandate. There will be no pseudo projects, no Eldorado of achievements. The height President Jonathan has anchored humility, modesty, carriage, openness, transparency and governance is tall and up-coming leaders must work hard to attain it. Leadership must reflect the ideals and general aspirations of the electorate.
Infact, given an earlier statement credited to the United States that Nigeria would break up, the same US has denied the statement.
4. What is your take on Amaechi’s successor?
The next governor must lead by example, must deliver on all the critical sectors and leave behind a legacy of dependable infrastructure. What Rivers people need from their governor is the political will, inner stability and physical maturity to actively implement policies. It is one thing to formulate policies by egg-heads, but the arrow head must plug it on his shoulders. The infrastructural development of the state which the incumbent Governor Chibuike Amaechi started must be revived. Roads that have been untouched need to be re-constructed to open up the economy of the grassroot. With roads at the hinterland, local commerce will receive the boost. Education which has fared well under Amaechi shall be re-awakened, but the Governor needs to inject circumspection, because some of the universities where we spend money overseas to train our children on scholarship are not as equipped as some modern secondary schools we now have here. They are glorified secondary schools. The scholarship board should ensure that monies meant for our children are released to them early, so that they don’t go hungry and beggarly in strange lands. Hospitals should be equipped with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and beyond that modern equipments and medicine. A look at the BMH in Port Harcourt shows a scarce and decay in modern equipments. Even those installed are not working. There are no equipments for so many things. Any administration that plays politics with health is doomed. The health sector must be transformed. The health sector should continue to improve, attention should be paid to eliminate referrals abroad. As it is today, referrals abroad can only be afforded by the rich, not the poor masses. The money we claim to have should reflect in this sector.
Public safety and security should be properly addressed and handled by a mature and experienced hand. There should be employment generation. The so-called Ministry of Employment Generation in Rivers state cannot bite. The Ministry must be given the proper support and backing to generate employment for the teeming unemployed youth, who today roam the streets, hungry; hovering between hope and anxiety. The able-bodied graduates must be given employment without any favour from any political or social quarters. This at the long run shall secure even our environment. Hunger is evil and should be stamped out completely.
5. And the multi-nationals?
Yes, they must give employment to our people. They must empower our people economically, with a deliberate policy to open the flanges and award contracts to them. But, our indigenous contractors must also execute the contracts. The gesture must be reciprocated. This is the symbiosis in governance. The environment must be friendly and conducive for foreign investors that wish to establish on the soil of the state. The atmosphere must be enabled for investment to thrive. But, like I mentioned earlier, such investors must empower and generate employment for our people for peace and security to endure. The so-called stories that our people don’t qualify for certain jobs is unreal and a figment of the imagination of those who do not mean well for us. We have the materials here, even the erudite intelligentsia. The multi-nationals must give room for in-service training to fix the so-called perceived short falls. They must interact with the people- that is an aspect of public-human relations. The human resources and administration department should be handled by a competent indigene. environment must be friendly and conducive for foreign investors that wish to establish on the soil of the state. The atmosphere must be enabled for investment to thrive. But, like I mentioned earlier, such investors must empower and generate employment for our people for peace and security to endure. The so-called stories that our people don’t qualify for certain jobs is unreal and a figment of the imagination of those who do not mean well for us. We have the materials here, even the erudite intelligentsia. The multi-nationals must give room for in-service training to fix the so-called perceived short falls. They must interact with the people- that is an aspect of public-human relations. The human resources and administration department should be handled by a competent indigene.
6. Since the vacancies and job openings are saturated, what next?
Self employment! Self employment is key and assures self esteem. It is only in our clime that we believe that once the academic gown is off the shoulders of graduates the next thing is to look for jobs in the Ministry. No, we should encourage self employment through skills acquisition programmes, but the government should open ways to enable skills acquisition graduates to access loans and funds.
Bad governance simply means that your people are hungry, dejected and resigned. My brother, the advanced countries of this world are envied for their greatness, because they deliberately plan for their development and sustain it for their comfort and wellbeing.
The next governor must build an economy that is not only dependent on oil revenue but also animate other sectors, creating new Industries, ensure a transparent-dependable IGR and a Micro finance project that works. Micro-Credit should be given to the needy, divest from all political undertone; encourage a money spinning tourism sector, and ensure the youths are taken off the streets. The governor should ensure that water flows in the taps in Rivers State and encourage civil servants by providing affordable houses for civil servants.
The people must be made to believe in the government. The era of bringing in political jobbers, mediocres, and sycophants to occupy very sensitive offices must be erased completely from the heart of the next administration, if it means well for the people of Rivers State. Political supporters should be encouraged along the line of their ability, capacity and skill.
Our leaders travel out to some major, grown economies, but what do they return with? I can assure you that distribution of raw materials to flood victims, among others is medicine after death. We must be proactive, even in our speculations!!
7. How far do you think, the PDP would go in 2015 following the numerous internal wrangling rocking the party?
That is why we are consulting and making peace and peace overtures. The issues will thin down sooner than you may have thought. There is no crisis, what you find are shades of heterogeneous opinions. Mr A wants this, while Mr B says it would have been better if done this way. The law of homogeneity is fundamental for anything striving towards union. PDP is a union of various and varied opinions, and within the umbrella, there are different colours and shapes so, the aspirations are all geared towards one goal-better Nigeria. It is not just in the PDP that you experience challenges even within the micro-family system, the husband may hold a similar view with the wife, while the mother-in-law holds a dissimilar opinion. They all want a better-family setting. In a macro-society, it replicates itself. No political party or association can beat this law.
There is an organogram of leadership. The structure keeps the party strong, afloat, vibrant and enduring. It has to be hallowed and respected. Any attempt to drag it to public ridicule amounts to attempting to destroy the sanctity of the party. There must be discipline in the party. Unnecessary rascality should be discouraged.
The PDP leaders at the various levels of governance have done well. President Jonathan, our leader for one is a silent achiever, doing very well. What you call security threat by some extremist-elements such as Boko Haram today did not begin with Jonathan’s administration. You remember Maitatsine during the military era? You remember the militants during Obasanjo’s era? OPC uprising, MASSOB uprising, APC uprising and the rest. These things have been there. It will be wicked for anyone to attribute their eruption to the Jonathan leadership. How many leaders have dared to declare state of emergency in 5 states simultaneously in Nigeria?
I am not talking of ethnic biases. His intellectual prowess is unequalled. If we keep a tab on transparency, we find it in Jonathan. If we search for doggedness and ability to wade through storm, you find them in him. If you look for courage, you find same in him. He is giving the PDP a new face and Nigeria, a meaningful sense of direction. You see, the political class knows very well that Jonathan is the leader we need at this page of our history; that is why he commands the support around him today.
We in the PDP are proud of his sterling qualities as a worthy, visionary, committed and passionate peace loving leader. He is a ray of hope for this page of our political sojourn. In years to come, when we shall recall our past and perhaps awaken the old, those opposing him today will bury their head in shame. We should be humble enough to learn from him. A philosopher was right when he said “you see things but ask why, I dream dreams that never were and I ask why now”. him. A philosopher was right when he said “you see things but ask why, I dream dreams that never were and I ask why now”.
The years of neglect and chronic lack of maintenance, misplaced funding priorities from successive administrations are the eyesores today. The man is struggling with robust energy to clean the mess.
Distractions plotted against the President by some politicians should be avoided. They are a factor that slows growth. No matter how strong you are as a human being, you are trying to think and somebody is dragging you back… so, you are battling with administration and development. You are battling with Boko Haram, factions and other distraction; The President is conquering the odds.
8. What should the next administration in Rivers State concentrate on?
Industries! Industrialize the state and put food on the table on the citizenry. If a people have no food, how can they buy the cars to ply the roads.
Food first, food second and food last.
This is a contemporary world, so the next administration should accommodate ICT in its robust budget. It is strategic in this age of our infrastructural development. Power is key. If we build the Gas turbines and electricity is not distributed to Rivers people, it is needless. Ensure there is an understanding between you and the distribution company before you commence, otherwise you may just be beating your chest, yet the people still groan in darkness for lack of electricity.
9. People still say that our democracy is quasi-military or dictatorial, what is your take?
For democracy to fully succeed, those at the bottom should listen to those at the top, because they see more, while those at the top should always seek inner guidance. No man is an island. There is no democracy, even advanced democracies such as the United States of America and Great Britain that does not experience one form of challenges or the other. That is why they still have to refer to the constitution. I don’t rule out a situation where a leader knows what is best for the people and insist must be. Is that what you call dictatorship? For instance in Rivers State, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology allegedly conducted tests and interviews for Vice Chancellorship aspirants, the very one that came last was the one, Gov. Amaechi chose, while those that come tops were rejected. Is that dictatorship? What is in vogue in Nigeria is quasi-federalism, where the centre is power. In Britain, for instance, the word of the Queen is Law. Some economies such as Singapore grew because their leader at the time refused to stoop to blackmail.
10. What do you have to say on the clamor for power shift at the Presidency?
For our democracy to grow without hiccups, each geo-political block should be given the opportunity to occupy the number 1 slot. The North-East, the North-West, the North Central, and the South-West have produced the leadership of this country.
Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was Prime Minister, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was Head of State, Gen. Murtala Mohammed was Head of State, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo was Head of State, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was military President, Chief Earnest Shonekan was head of Interim National Government, Gen. Sanni Abacha was head of State, Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar was head of state, Chief Olusegun Obasajo (dropped his kharki) and returned as President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua was President, and now a man from the South-south geo-political zone, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Though late Maj Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi from the South-East was Head of State for barely 6 months and was assassinated in a military coup.
If you study the data carefully, you will see the need for all Nigerians to support President Jonathan if he seeks a second term bid. It will ensure equity, Justice and peace. Between 1960 – 2011, the people have been enduring and supporting other ethnic groups.
11. Now back to Rivers State: How do you see the Mono-rail project?
Nobel idea, but must be executed properly to address the transport difficulties and traffic challenges. Mono-rail cannot start from station road bus stop and end at UTC. No! First this area does not have traffic difficulties. Judging from the experience of other countries that have it, ours in Rivers State is feeding-bottle Mono-rail. Perhaps the thinking at conception was greater than what we see on ground, yet billions of our money is being washed down the Mono-rail drain. A workable mono-rail must run through Eleme junction-Igwurta via Port Harcourt Township etc. It is very capital intensive, but workable. The money spend so far does not justify the work done, does not have traffic difficulties. Judging from the experience of other countries that have it, ours in Rivers State is feeding-bottle Mono-rail. Perhaps the thinking at conception was greater than what we see on ground, yet billions of our money is being washed down the Mono-rail drain. A workable mono-rail must run through Eleme junction-Igwurta via Port Harcourt Township etc. It is very capital intensive, but workable. The money spend so far does not justify the work done.
12. How do we address the perennial flooding of Port Harcourt?
Good question. I once served as commissioner for Environment and later Ecology under former Governor Peter Odili. I presented a blue print at the time. A comprehensive study was carried out by experts. The report should be picked up from the ministry of environment and implemented. I started the work on Ntawogba Creek. National flow line should be traced and interconnected with drains. They should be properly cleaned and expanded to increase the carrying capacity.
If you aggregate all these together, by the time the next administration winds down in 2019, it will be clear that the flooding of Port Harcourt whenever it rains would have been addressed. It will be clear that the administration has made a difference. So it will be, not rhetoric.
13. What advice do you have for our youth and Rivers people in general?
Patience! Just be patient, 2015 is around the corner. Rivers State will not, shall not and cannot break. In 2015, it shall return be the “garden of beauty” we are known for, and our treasures shall be prudently managed.