…Says He Is A Grassroot Man And Is Sure Of Getting The Quota He Needs For Victory
The race for who becomes Chairman of Ethiope-East Local Government Area is on.
Honorable Victor Ofobrukueta, the leader of the Legislative Arm believes he is best fit to pilot the activities of the council after the tenure of Chief Faith Majemite ends.
Elections are expected to hold next year and Oasis Magazine had an exclusive chat with Ofobrukueta who also is the Chairman of the pharmacy union in Delta State.
He unveils his inspiring Vision 2040 which he described as an economic developmental blueprint that determines how the local government area would be developed in the next 20 years.
His words: “…the key stakeholders would sit down and determine how we will develop this local government in the next 20 years. This blueprint is going to outlive me, it is not for my administration alone…”
Furthermore, he believes that the present Chairman has performed excellently well, and hopes to open up new revenue opportunities for the local government area.
Let us meet you sir
I am Honorable Victor Ofobrukueta. I am the leader of the Ethiope East legislative arm and I am a pharmacist by profession. I attended the University of Benin. My father is from Okpara-inland and my mother is from Abraka.
Sir, what would you say is the pushing force behind your decision to vie for the office of the local government chairman?
Well, I think my pushing force has always been service to my people. I attended my primary school in Okurekpo Okpara, I moved to Benin for my secondary education and university education. I decided to come back home because as a pharmacist I would have chosen to go to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt where the practice of pharmacy would be more lucrative but when I left the university, because of my passion to serve my people, I relocated back home. When I came back home, even as a pharmacist I decided to contest for the position of a councilor because I really wanted to understand my people, I want to know their yearnings. When I contested at that time, I did not win and that was in 2007/2008.However,that did not deter me to leave and I attempted again in 2014.I did not also win at that time but I still stayed put. That administration appointed me as the supervisor for health Ethiope East. So between 2014-2017, I was the supervisor for health Ethiope East.
Again, as a renowned pharmacist having practiced for over a decade, I still decided to contest for office of the councilor. So you can see that what is driving me is the passion to actually serve my people. For the past six years, I have understudied the local government, first as supervisor for health and now as a serving councilor and I can tell you that I know exactly what my people want and when I become the local government chairman by the grace of God, I’ll hit the ground running because I already have the requisite experience and what it takes to transform the local government. So my driving force is passion for service and bringing my people the benefits of leadership. Leadership is actually about serving your people positively.
Some politicians from Abraka are fronting that the chairmanship position should go to an indigene of Abraka. What do you have to say about that demand?
Every citizen of Ethiope East has a right to aspire for any position that is due to Ethiope East. So the aspiration by Abraka sons and daughters is a legitimate aspiration, the aspiration by Agbon sons and daughters too are also a legitimate aspiration. Coincidentally, I am also an Abraka son because maternally my mother is from Abraka while my father is from Agbon axis so that gives me a strong ground. If I am elected as chairman of the local government, an Abraka son has been elected because there will be no discrimination. The same way I am an Agbon indigene is the same way I am an Abraka indigene. So the aspiration of the Abraka people too would be met in me.
So what are your plans for the Ethiope east communities if you eventually win the election?
I think in talking about my plans, the first plan I have for the people of Ethiope East when I am elected as chairman is to draw the roadmap for the total development of Ethiope East. I call it vision 2040. It’s a developmental blueprint whereby I’ll put together the best brains in this local government within my first 100days in office. We would sit down and discuss the economic developmental blueprint of Ethiope East. The key stakeholders would sit down and determine how we will develop this local government in the next 20years.That blueprint is going to outlive me. It’s not for my administration alone because it is something that we painstakingly sit down and put together because for the past six years that I have been in government, I can authoritatively tell you that the local government is bankrupt. We exist only for payment of salaries because Ethiope East depends solely on the subventions from the federation account and I can tell you that what is coming from the federation account monthly cannot pay the wage bill of the local government. The Governor of Delta state has magnanimously every month since 2015 augmented for us to pay salaries .That is to say there has to be a deliberate attempt to take us from that predicament and that is why the vision 2040 is long overdue, it is something we need to do so that we can look at other source of revenue for the local government for our human and capital development.
Pushing further, you talked about vision 2040, what are the things we would see happen when you eventually emerge?
Vision 2040 obviously will bring some development in the long run. First of all, we’ll be looking at a PPP arrangement. We have so many youths that are unemployed but as it is today, the local government cannot employ anybody. The reason is that those that we have even employed now, we find it difficult to pay them. Every day we have graduates that are coming out of the university, we also have secondary school leavers coming out of the secondary schools, no jobs. Now, the vision will entail a PPP arrangement, Public Private Partnership. You see, we have a lot of people that are engaged in farming already but what they do could be termed to be subsistent because it’s not commercial farming. The local government cannot go into commercial farming because we don’t have the resources to do it. So what we intend to do is that we’re going to engage these private farmers in the PPP arrangement so that some of them could expand their farms. For those who are into poultry for example, they can expand their farms as Ethiope East can become an egg distribution hub in Delta State. When you have such a big farm where they produce over a million eggs per day, you would agree with me that the workforce of that farm would increase and that would lead to the employment of so many youths that are unemployed. That is one of it. Another one under the PPP arrangement is the tourism potential of Ethiope East.
You see the Abraka river that spans from Abraka to Ekpan ovu, it is something that can be harnessed and turned into a big tourist attraction. It is not something the local government can do but when you have people that can sit down and articulate this blueprint, we’ll be able to woo investors that would come and develop these potentials. Once these potentials are developed, we are creating jobs on the process. I’ll tend to also woo investors to bring industries and SMEs.
Part of my administration even with the critical situation will still train our youths, that is the ones the local government can handle at our level. We can train at least 3per ward yearly and that would give us like 33 in a year, in three years we’ll have over a hundred people that we have trained in different skills and we’ll also empower them with the material to start up.
If you were asked to describe your agenda in one word, what would that word be?
Well my agenda for Ethiope East community is a gradual, systemic development that will begin with my administration. I tend to set up a framework for the complete development of Ethiope East at least in the next 20years.
I believe strongly that you would have tried to sell your vision to stakeholders in Ethiope East. How far have you gone with that? How has the acceptance been like?
I have been in the administration of the local government for the past six years and that is to say I am a grass-root person. As a leader, first as a local commissioner and now as the speaker of the legislative arm, you know that the people know me and I know the people.
First of all, the election is in two phases. First is the party and the second phase is the generality of the people. What I am doing today is to sell myself to the party so that the party would believe strongly in my agenda and my capacity to deliver on behalf of the party of which I can tell you that I have done very well. The acceptance level is high. Any leader I engage, with all sincerity, they look at me, they look at what I have to offer and they are convinced that when they support me, Ethiope East would move ahead.
Once we start engaging the generality of the people, of course, we’ll also put our score card on the table because obviously no matter how critical the local government is, even at our capacity, we have been able to affect the people at our level. What we believe that our people need. For example, as a supervisor under the administration of Chief Mrs. Faith, even in the scarcity of funds we were able to set up a health center in the local government where we know that they needed it.
For example, Okpara waterside is a big community but there was no health center there. Before the advent of Chief Mrs. Faith Majemite’s administration, they had to travel to Igo or Eku for their primary healthcare but when I was supervisor for health, we were able to set up one health center for them which they are enjoying today.
Just like I said earlier, we are going to do so many things. Today what you are seeing from Ethiope East is fantastic. When you are a father and your salary cannot pay your rent, cannot send your children to school but in all of that you are still surviving you have not gone borrowing, anybody will applaud you as a father .That is the situation of Ethiope East .The only thing we would do differently is the blueprint we are going to introduce. We now know that we need to diversify, we need to implement PPP, we need to bring the private sector into the system and we need to convince them to come and invest because so many private sector will not even believe now but what we are going to do is that we are going to sell this vision to them and try to convince them to become part of the development of Ethiope East.
How would you access this present administration?
This administration has done above average. Judging by the economic situation that is prevalent. Looking at security, this administration has done excellently when it comes to security of lives and properties .Before the advent of this administration, Ethiope East used to be the hub of kidnappers. But when this administration came on board since 2014, you can judge for yourself .Also, within the resources available to this administration, you can see that there were also some projects that were done .That is to say, if everything were to be normal, it would have been a bomb.
How would you describe the relationship between the legislative arm and the executive arm in the local government area?
The relationship has been very cordial. We listen to the executive, we don’t antagonize the executives. We listen to what they want to do, critically appraise it and once we see that their actions are in the interest of the people, we key in .
So the relationship between the executive and the legislative has been robust.
Is this the first time you are vying for this position?
Yes this is my first time of vying for the position of the executive chairman.
What are the achievements of the legislative arm so far?
Our achievements are very glaring enough. I am also the chairman of the leaders and councilors forum in the state. Before, the rancor between the councilors and their chairman used to be rampant .However, for the past three years, there have been relative peace between the legislative arm and the executive arm. We were able to do that because we have deployed wisdom in handling issues that involve the legislative and executive arm. No people or government will develop in the absence of peace.
How are you able to balance your personal life, your business life as the chairman of the pharmacy union in Delta state and your political life?
It’s just about planning. its adequate planning. There’s this saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everybody that knows me tells me that I’m a workaholic. I sleep for maybe three to four hours and that is because I do most of my planning at night. So careful planning has helped me to be able to execute all of these assignments that I have.
Being the leader of the pharmacy union in Delta State this makes you a stakeholder in the state. How would you access the state of things in this oil-rich state?
Yes, Delta State is on course. Under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State has done excellently well and I will tell you without mincing words, most especially from the areas of road construction, healthcare delivery system and so on. Except the issue is not brought to the attention of His Excellency, so long the issues are brought to his attention, he attends to them almost immediately. That is to say the governor is a listening governor.
Five years ago when he took over, he took over in a recessed economy where to pay salaries to the workers in the state was an issue but he has been able to manage this crisis and we are gradually coming out of this crisis on the state. Look at what he has done in terms of road construction, renovations of primary and secondary schools. The Governor has done well and the state is moving in the right direction.
What is your word and message to party leaders in the local government area?
I think my party leaders are fantastic and I also believe that my party leaders will always do that which is right. I know that the next dispensation in this local government my leaders will take the right decision. All of us contesting for the position of chairman are competent people in PDP. What I will tell them is to access us critically on the 3Cs which are Competence, Commitment and Character. Those are the three Cs you need to be a great leader. Any leader with the 3Cs will do well.
My message to them is to look at this 3Cs when coming to a conclusion on the candidate of the party for the next dispensation.
Are you confident of victory in the coming election if it is conducted free and fair?
Yes, very confident of victory. I am a grass-root man and I have been in the party, I have been fraternizing with the party. The people in the party who will do the primaries are my friends, I interact with them and they believe in me. So, if there is primary, I am confident. I may not get 100% but the quota I need to get victory is what matters and I have the majority.
What is your message to residents and indigenes of Ethiope East as the election is fast approaching?
I want to admonish the people of Ethiope East to be calm because there is hope ahead. They should be law abiding and do what is right.
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