MR.Oma Djebah, a Journalist, Senior Adviser (Foreign Relations) to the Delta State Governor and former Commissioner for Information, Delta State has two master’s degrees in International Law and Diplomacy (University of Lagos) and Global Journalism (Orebro University, Sweden) as well as a Certificate in Creating Collaborative Solutions from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA.
A Council member of both the International Forum of Global Journalists, Sweden, and the Peace and Media Network in London, UK, Mr. Djebah, who has been selected to speak at multilateral fora including the annual United Nations (UN) policy Roundtable on Africa at the UN headquarters, New York and the yearly Highway Africa Conference of over 500 policy makers and media practitioners in South Africa and an author of the book – Niger Delta Crisis: Media and Peace Building Options, in this interview, says if properly organized the national conference would lead to the emergence of a new Nigeria. Excerpts:
BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
ON the implication of the Delta State government’s concept of Delta beyond oil
Early in the life of the Governor Uduaghan administration, it envisioned that massive government investment in infrastructure on the one hand and in the agricultural sector on the other, would help to catalyze economic growth in Delta State and make the state to become a choice destination for investors and tourists alike.
It will not only arrest and eliminate criminality but also open up the state to diverse sources of revenue beyond a mono product called crude oil revenues. In this way, I can safely tell you that a comprehensive economic development framework which greatly recognizes the fact that economic diversification is the key has successfully been instituted in Delta State.
Delta State has embarked on several agricultural projects to modernize agriculture and in partnership with the private sector to boost agricultural production in the state.
The state entered into a partnership programme with Obasanjo Farms Ltd with the aim of propelling local young farmers while at the same time building up massive capacity for the future.
In this connection, the Uduaghan administration conceived the YETA-FSP, an acronym for Youth Empowerment through Agriculture and Farmers Support Programme early in the life of the administration. We are also promoting aggressively industrial and entrepreneurial spirit through the funding of micro-credit initiative.
The idea really is to consolidate on the foundations laid in the first term while systematically diversifying the economic base so that the state is not solely dependent on oil revenues and allocations from the federally controlled account.
That is the Governor’s vision behind a Delta beyond oil philosophy and we are making remarkable progress.
It was not surprising that the governor has won numerous awards for his remarkable transformation of Delta State. The latest being from the prestigious Vanguard Newspapers, which adjudged His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, its person of the year 2013.
His take on the propriety or otherwise of a national conference
I am quite optimistic that the conference will be a success if faithfully pulled through to a logical end. I believe that the Presidential Advisory Committee, having consulted widely, is better informed to recommend the best modalities for the conference and their recommendations, if adopted or approved, will go a long way in shaping the outcome of the conference.
The decision of the President to empanel a committee with a mandate of charting the course for a national dialogue was good intentioned. I have emphasized the notion of good intention because this has been the bane of previous attempts at a national dialogue.
But unlike previous attempts, the President has clearly not pre-determined the course or the end of this potential national conference. The Presidential Advisory committee was given the mandate to consult widely with Nigerians with a view to determining the structure of the substantive conference. The committee members were not asked to convoke a national conference.
They were basically tasked with the collation of diverse views and memoranda from across the country from which the committee has now submitted its report to the President. It is expected that their recommendations to the President would necessarily capture the views of Nigerians.
What should then matter most to Nigerians is that the desires and clamours of the people as contained in the recommendation are meticulously debated at the conference and the outcome realistically implemented.
On whether his optimism stemmed from the President’s phased approach to this particular National Dialogue
Not exactly! You can have the best structure and still retain a clandestine or even a sinister motive. We must acknowledge that President Jonathan has demonstrated a high degree of sincerity together with an uncommon zeal and transparency in dealing with otherwise difficult issues of national significance.