By Julius Oweh
Honourable Tonye Timi, a Ph.D. holder is a former university lecturer and a development expert is the legislature, representing Patani State Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is also the chairman of the Publicity Committee of the State Campaigns Organization. An unrepentant supporter for the second bid of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, he believes in the victory of the PDP at the national and state levels.
In an interview with Saturday Vanguard, he warned Deltans not to vote for people who will want to use the state for political experiment, rolling out the achievements of Okowa, the unique selling point of the PDP governorship candidate, the popularity of PDP in Delta Central senatorial district, the imperative of power shift and other issues.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State recently organized series of campaigns, as a member of the campaign team, how did it go and what were the responses of Deltans?
The campaigns were indeed well articulated and successful. The sensitization and awareness that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is the only party on ground and organized in Delta State was further reaffirmed.
If you look around, you would agree with me that the PDP is the only party that is engaged in serious campaign ahead of the general elections. What the party has succeeded in doing with the campaign was to take the PDP to the doorsteps of Deltans and non-Deltans resident in the State and marketing the good works of not only the party but also of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who, by his laudable achievements within four years has kept his electoral promises to Deltans.
The campaign team did a marvelous work, as all the senatorial districts in the state got educated on the PDP, which is, like I had earlier said is the only organized and well-focused party in state. We are happy that the responses from Deltans and non-Deltans resident in the state were encouraging and were indications that the PDP is a grassroots party that has and is meeting the needs of the people. All through Delta North, South and Central senatorial districts, the people came out in large numbers to attest to the good works of the PDP and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the past four years.
And to cap it all was the grand finale for the campaign/ rally at Agbor, where even the air that engulfed the venue said it all: ‘PDP, Okowa, Carry Go, Na You We Want”. :
Any time you people, the PDP, campaign you are always talking of Ogboru and the APC. Are you afraid of the APC and Ogboru?
% (laughter) we are in no way afraid of the APC and its governorship candidate. On the contrary, Delta state is unique because we in the PDP do not recognize the existence of opposition. Instead, I liken them to ants crawling into an elephant’s trunk. All the elephant needs to do is simply to get rid of them with one breath as they are more of irritants to its wellbeing. The same goes for the name and party you just called. As far as the Delta State Government is concerned, we just want to shake them off. We only talk about them to keep our team together and to warn Deltans not to be deceived. The APC governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru has been a serial contestant and loser which all Deltans can attest to and he is not worthy of any attention. Frankly speaking, the APC and its governorship candidate are insignificant and are not worthy of any serious attention and do not merit fear at all.
What is the selling point of your principal, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the PDP governorship candidate?
For us as a party, the strength we derive is a strong connection to the people of Delta State and this has been proven over time through our Human Capital Development Agenda in the state as demonstrated by this present administration of Okowa.
I am talking about job creation and human empowerment of which some of the programs include the Youth Agriculture Entrepreneurship Program (YAGEP), the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Program (STEP) and so many others which are driven by the need to diversify the economy of Delta State and explore other potentials aside oil.
On these platforms, young people are trained to acquire skills in animal husbandry and crop production. The STEP program for instance is an entrepreneurial avenue where vibrant men and women are trained to own, manage their businesses and be employers of labour. These government programs have created more than 30,000 jobs and with every sense of pride, I dare to say that these are our strength. Talking about infrastructural developments, despite the fact that this government came at a time when the funds from the centre were very lean, we were able to produce much juice from the rock.
Today, we have massive infrastructural development in roads construction evenly spread across the three senatorial districts in the state, linking towns and villages and this has earned the governor the nickname “ROAD MASTER”. This is because the people have seen the roads in their communities which have made their farms accessible and have also improved on their standard of living. Undoubtedly, this has brought about an unprecedented economic boom in the state and the earning power of our people has tremendously improved. These are just a glimpse of his inexhaustible achievements.
Don‘t you think the prosperity agenda of the government is a fluke and that there is no practical ventilation to it?
Well, I just gave you an example of how the Okowa administration has strengthened the economic base of the state with infrastructural development because when people have access to the market, the economy becomes stronger. When we talk of prosperity, we do not mean a situation where everybody has access to government funds with impunity. The Prosperity Agenda means to strengthen the people and make them able to earn a living for themselves.
The young people who were hopeless are now hopeful and using government programs like YAGEP and STEP to empower themselves and make meaningful and productive lives. The older people, among the farming population are getting value for their farm produce because of the friendly environment provided by the government. Indeed prosperity is here to stay and there is joy in the land. We have moved from ‘prosperity for all’ to a stronger Delta.
What message can you get from the various mass media organizations awards to Okowa?
The awards are recognitions of excellence. If you are doing the right thing as a governor and people from far and near recognize it, then it goes to justify the saying that “good products do not need loud advertisement”. They are just recognitions of hard work and deliverance of democracy dividends. We are happy as a government and as the governor has spoken at the various fora, these awards are dedicated to all Deltans.
PDP has been in power for about 19 years in Delta State and there is the suspicion in some quarters they do not have new ideas, should Deltans continue to trust them with the reins of power?
(Laughter) ln the past 19 years, PDP has been performing in the state. In my whole life, I have never seen a footballer who is being retired for scoring too many goals and PDP is like the proverbial striker in all sections. You have no choice but to continue fielding such a striker to score more goals and win your matches.
When PDP started, there was no Bomadi bridge; we did not have these numbers of polytechnics, let alone of the Technical Colleges that have been revitalized and upgraded. We did not have 20,000 roads constructed and about 100,000 jobs for the youths. The government has achieved peace and economic stability and so the better thing to do is to give the governor another four years to continue on the path of progress, prosperity and development.
Is the PDP in Delta State not perturbed that the opposition might snatch victory from it, given the huge number of voters in Delta Central, as released by INEC that may be sympathetic to Chief Ogboru ?
You must also realize that we equally have Urhobos in PDP and they believe in the principle of power shift as regards the governorship position. The next governor after Okowa may come from Urhobo land according to the subsisting arrangement.
Those in other parties who say that they do not believe in power shift are only deceiving themselves. The biggest beneficiaries as regards the power shift arrangements, at this historical moment are the Urhobos. This is because the cycle that started with Chief James Ibori in 1999 ends with Okowa in 2023. The majority of Urhobos and the bigwigs who are in the PDP and so they have no choice but to honor the gentleman political agreement by supporting Okowa and Delta North to complete their turn of eight years.
If we follow your line of reasoning, the PDP in Delta State has encouraged one man to monopolize the senatorial seat of Delta South Senatorial District for years, a position meant for three brothers – Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw. Where is the spirit of power shift in this case?
The power shift is more pronounced at the governorship level because of the peculiar nature of the state. However, in the recent primaries of PDP for senatorial position, there were moves to ensure rotation among the ethnic nationalities in Delta South. The leaders of the party met at a round table conference to map out how to implement power shift in the zone in the nearest future.
The general elections are just a matter of days , what is your message to members of the PDP in the State and Deltans?
PDP is the only party that can continue to deliver the dividends of democracy in the state and the party will continue to provide the peace and security that we enjoy today. PDP is the only party that can give Deltans world class infrastructural development. We cannot afford to experiment with other parties that have not been able to prove themselves satisfactorily in governance and do not know the intricacies of how government works. Delta state is not an experiment ground. It is for people who are competent, seasoned, and capable and not for political rookies.
The Presidential election comes before the governorship election. Should the APC emerge victorious at that level, what is the signal to PDP, your party?
Unfortunately, the APC cannot win the presidential election. They do not have the number and the goodwill. They are not connected to the grassroots. The electorates are now wiser. No one will reinforce insecurity. We learnt that they want to use the “federal might” but the only might we have and know in a democracy is the “people’s might” and the people are with us.
PDP remains the most popular party in Delta State and Nigeria. We have the experience and we are not contemplating defeat at all.
Vote buying has become one negative incident in our electioneering process in recent times. What is your advice to Deltans in this regard?
Do not sell your vote. If you sell your vote, you mortgage your future and that of your children. Vote according to your conscience and for the party that will fulfill its electoral promises and will continue to see to the welfare and security of the citizens. That party remains the Peoples Democratic Party.