Comrade Daniel Ovwigho Idonor, an accomplished journalist and Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Social Works and Geriatric Studies, has over 25- year work experience, 10 years of which was spent, covering activities of the Presidency in Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power.
He was until last year, the Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Presidential Villa, a position he successfully occupied for five years.
In this interview, Idonor says he has all it takes to build a bridge of trust among all interest groups in the state to promote the much needed unity to move Delta State to the next level, especially as 2015 draws close.
Which elective office are you seeking in Delta State?
Well, as a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party and someone who is always in touch with the people, I will be willing to offer myself to the service of my people at whatever capacity in which they want me to serve them.
What are the glaring challenges in the state that needs to be urgently addressed?
All over the world, challenges of development are glaring and visible. These are even more in third world countries including Nigeria.
Indices of under development become even more pronounced in a State like Delta which is geographically located in the most difficult terrain and underdeveloped region of Nigeria, as a result of age-long neglect by successive governments particularly at the Federal level. In fact, the mere mention of the State signifies under development.
Of course, there exists great challenges in the areas of social amenities and infrastructures, security, power, flood, erosion, environments, urban renewal and new towns development, unemployment and under-employment, over reliance on Federal revenue allocation as the mainstay to the neglect of agriculture and agro-allied industries, to mention but a few.
In this regards, the Delta Beyond Oil initiative of the Uduaghan administration is a commendable policy but more efforts should be channeled towards partnering with the private sector to revive ailing industries and or setting up new agro- based and import substitution industries as the case may be.
I know that the vast human and natural resources that abound in the State still remain untapped. For instance, a good chunk of our food needs especially plantain, cassava, fish etc can be sourced from the vast land, long coast line, many rivers and the huge population that exist in the rural areas of the State.
My town, Orere, for example has the capacity to produce up to five percent of the total food needs of the State but due to lack of storage facilities and access to market many of the agricultural produce including cassava, groundnut, yams, plantain /banana, palm oil and kernels, seafood, fruits and vegetable are wasted away on daily basis. There are also challenges that border on increasing the access of the teeming population especially in the rural areas to education and health care.
Assuming you become the Governor of Delta State, how do you intend to go about fixing these challenges?
(Breaks into a long laughter). Well, to be fair to the State Governor, His Excellency Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, he has good developmental agenda in place, that is capable of taking the State on the path of economic recovery and industrialisation. For instance, with what his administration is doing, Delta would emerge as the only state in Nigeria with two international airports at Asaba and Osubi near Warri.
The Warri industrial park, the Delta Beyond Oil initiatives to mention but a few are all good developmental programmes by the current administration.
Supposing I become the Governor of Delta State after His Éxcellency, Dr. Uduaghan, I will build on the current efforts of the government, there is the urgent need to open up the entire state in terms of infrastructural development; make every community accessible. This will curb rural-urban drift that has over the years over-stretch existing infrastructures in the urban areas.
This we can all achieve through public private partnership because it will be foolhardy to think the state government can achieve all these with state funds.
You are a green horn as far as politics is concerned; do you have the capacity for the intrigues, the deception and back stab that go with politics in Nigeria?
I don’t agree with you that I’m a green horn in politics. To the extent of seeking for an elective position outside my professional bodies and student union elections, yes, I am a new comer. But don’t forget that I have contested many elections and won especially at the level of students union and professional bodies politics and as a journalist who has reported from the peak of the seat of power, Aso Rock. To that extent, I am not new to politics and politicians.
By the grace of God, I have close relations with many leaders and I am also close to many people at the grass root. I have no doubt that this will help me to wade through what you call murky waters.
You still need endorsement no matter how laudable your programmes are. Who are those behind you?
As a journalist and a professional communicator, I do know that for a man to be truly successful in life, he has to learn to relate to and be accepted by both the high and the low, that is being a man of the people, being at home with everybody irrespective of their status. Politics as a life endeavour cannot be an exception and if this is what you call endorsement, then so be it.
The issue of marginalisation in terms of appointments and execution of projects has been the cause of crisis in some states including yours.
How do you intend to address that?
There’s hardly any zone and section of society that does not cry of marginalization. Nowadays, even within ethnic groups and families, people cry of marginalization. But on a serious note, if I am given the opportunity to be in position of political authority, I will be guided by principles of equity and fairness.
I will also constantly consult with the people, imposition is what brings crisis but if your decisions have the blessings of the people, indeed you are on the right path. It is do-able and it is achievable.
Politics in this country, is still money based, who are your godfathers and financial backers and how do you intend to avoid settling political commitments after you get into office?
Like I said earlier, the people are my backers, once they want me to serve them, I know the means of achieving it will come from them by God’s grace.
I believe that it is possible to apply the Obama model in Nigeria where the high and the low contribute to the overall success of the candidate as long as you get your acts right.
What would possibly be your greatest asset and strength in Delta politics?
My interest and strength in Delta politics is based on the fact that I represent the bridge between the weak and strong, the rich and the poor, the low and mighty, the rural and urban dwellers, the organized private sector (OPS) and public sector, the governments at both the state and federal levels, and the masses.
I also represent the bridge between the Urhobos and the Itsekiris, Aniomas, Ijaws and Isokos. And above all, I represent the bridge between Deltans and non –Deltans.