Senior Journalist of Anioma extraction of Delta State and Head, Security and Defence Affairs of the Guardian Newspapers, Mr. Odita Sunday-Udemaguna has urged the Delta State Governor-Elect, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori to make Asaba the tourism hub of South-South Geopolitical Zone, adding that there is so much to harness of the Capital Territory.
He made the statement during an interview with a frontline community newspaper – Anioma Trust, where he explained that Asaba as a capital territory should be the mirror through which other states should view and evaluate the rate of development in the state.
Below are excerpts of the interview with the globally recognised journalist who has made his mark in the Media and Public Relations practice in Nigeria and beyond.
Anioma Trust: You are a thoroughbred professional journalist who has traversed this country and beyond; what do you make of our current state of democracy?
Odita: Nigeria is going through its own rough road to greatness. The path to greatness is rough, narrow and it is not a rosy one. Every other great nation went through it, some other prospective great nations like Ukraine, etc are going through their own tough times. Nothing must thwart or interrupt our democracy, because this is a path we must pass to be great. In the journey to greatness, we must experience good leaders, the people must also experience average leaders and bad leaders to enable them make future decisions. As far as I am concerned, Nigeria is on a better stead to be great and become a reference point in Africa. I blame the youths involved in the ‘Japa’ syndrome. They will regret later for not tarrying here and become a contributor to our greatness. The Western countries welcoming them and giving them free visas through lotteries know their worth. After obtaining a fairly good education in your country, you should use your education to help oil the Wheel of greatness for your country and not export that knowledge to better another man’s country while your country is losing in quality human resource.
Anioma Trust: As an Anioma illustrious son, what’s your take on development with regards to various communities making up this land called Anioma?
Odita: Anioma is highly under-developed and this is worrisome. Development of the Capital Territory ought to have rubbed off fully on towns like Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku, Okpanam, Ugbolu, Oko, Issele-Azagba, Ubulu-Okiti, Issele-Uku upto Umunede, because they are all parts of the Capital Territory, but you discover only Asaba and partially Okpanam could boast of slight development, thanks to the present Anioma born Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who tried his best. Other Governors from the other senatorial zones did not really invest in Anioma as the Capital of Delta State and that was not good enough. The incoming Governor should be encouraged to invest in the Capital Territory. It serves us all better. Other states judge your performance as a governor by the look of your state capital. I urge our brothers from Delta South and Central to not see developing Asaba as an ethnic thing. Developing the state capital will help increase the IGR of the state, increase tourism and so on, and the state government is the winner in the long run.
Anioma Trust: Delta North Senatorial District (Anioma) has just produced a well respected son, Prince Ned Nwoko as Senator-Elect, what are your expectations from him?
Odita: I tell people that Anioma Nation is in its best of times because they have elected a man who had used his personal funds to lift many out of poverty. We are all elated that a humanitarian has been voted in as our senator this time around and, I am confident that the people would testify. I expect the Distinguished Senator to help churn out bills that would be highly beneficial to his people of Delta North and also be vigilant to ensure that Anioma, which is a part of Niger Delta benefits fully from NDDC projects and scholarships for our people.
Anioma Trust: As a keen observer of the politics of our zone, how did you view the victory of Prince Ned Nwoko?
Odita: I called the victory sweet victory for Anioma. As a professional journalist and newsman of over 2 decades, I have not carried any party card, so I am in the right position to tell how we the people of Delta North felt about his victory. Ned is a ‘computer’ and the latest version of any computer. He is passionate and in a hurry to see Anioma become the Dubai of Nigeria. He led by example as his Mount Ned Nwoko has now become a Mecca of sort for tourists in Nigeria. He did all that with his personal funds, imagine what he can do now that he is in power. A man who could call anyone by his name after a first time meeting is not a man you should joke with. He is an intelligentsia and he thinks like the white man.
Anioma Trust: There are palpable fears that this country may never get it right as a result of so much attachment to ethnic agenda other than the collective interest of the country. Do you foresee a break up or revolution sort of?
Odita: Nigeria will not break and we are praying against it. Revolution does not happen by violence alone. There could be intellectual or political kind of revolution, which is already going on as witnessed during the last election where we had “the Obidients revolution”. Similar revolutions would also happen in future without gun or weapons. My take on ethnic agenda is that those who play ethnic card always end up being the loser as experienced in Delta gubernatorial election. Wise and educated Nigerians always shun ethnic agenda. If you think, sleep, dream and drink ethnicity, you have a terminal disease and your life span is short. I have lived within the 3 major tribes of Hausa, Igbo Yoruba and I have been shown love by people from the North and Yoruba tribes. So why should I be tribal? If you are tribal, you limit your growth and prosperity and your education is a waste.
Anioma Trust: From your assessment, has the media fared well in terms of mobilising society for development?
Odita: The media has done its best and still doing its best. The media is highly challenged and I think it is part of the growth I spoke about. Every attempt by the media to speak loud truth to power right from the time we gained independence, had always met stiff resistance. Remember Dele Giwa and so many others who had died. It is better to write your report and stay alive to be able to write another day. Having said that, as the nation develops, the media industry will also develop along. The press is surely a mirror of society, and if that society is by any means influenced, the media would be handicapped. However, I believe the press, social media is doing well to make government accountable within its limit.
Anioma Trust: What’s your advice to our people of Anioma as we clinch towards a new dispensation of government?
Odita: Power has left us and it is not coming back soon. This is the time to agitate for steady development of Ndokwa/Ukwuani, Aniocha/Oshimili and Ika areas to be given priority attention. I am not a fan of the outgoing Governor, but it is now Anioma would realise that it is only an Anioma Governor that can truly work for Anioma. This is not tribalism, it is simply charity begins at home. Of what use will it be that your family is hungry, while your friends outside are feeding fat on you? When you have power, invest in your people and work hard to develop your area, because an outsider will not do that for you. To be fair to the outgoing Governor, he has invested hugely in Asaba and Ika and this is good because, if you don’t develop your area, your people will not be happy to receive you back home when you are out of power.
Thank you for the opportunity.