Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs, candidate of the Accord Party in Rivers State recently addressed journalists in Port Harcourt where he spoke on his plans for the state and other issues.
VICTORIA KALU was at the press conference and recorded the interactions.
The right to live in dignity and freedom from poverty, the right to effective, efficient, visionary, polished and accountable leadership, the right to fully participate in the Democratic process, the right to nutritious and affordable living, the right to decent and affordable shelter, the right to accessible and affordable health services, the right to functional and qualitative education at all levels, the rights to gain full employment in the society, the right to sustainable social services and infrastructure such as, safe and uninterrupted portable water, stable electricity, affordable transformation systems, good roads network, etc, these are the primary responsibility of government.
Ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you that a wind of change is blowing across Rivers State, blowing away our tears, blowing through Ikwerre land, the wind is blowing through Ogoni land, it's blowing through the lands and grounds of Kalabari, Etche, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okirika etc. The strong wind of change is blowing through the main land down to the crest of Rivers State. And as we approach the forth- coming polls, especially the governorship elections on March 2nd 2019, political activities as we know are expected to get to the crescendo. We agree to the fact that the happenings in Rivers State for the past 20 years, especially the past three years and eight months, we agree that the state needs a new direction. Rivers State requires a new deal.
Since the year 2000, hundreds of persons have been killed in Rivers State due to political violence. Several companies have either closed down or moved out of Rivers State to peaceful state, forcing the rate of unemployment to rise to 41.8 per cnet, as against the normal average of 18.8 per cent. These are not my figures, these are from the national bureau of statistics. For every ten persons you meet on the streets of Rivers State, over four have nothing to do, they are unemployed, out of the remaining 6, another 2 or 3 are just getting by without enough to put Bread on the table.
The Nigerian human development report reveals that 58 per cent of Rivers people are down right poor, and more and more of our people are thrown into destitution even now. These are solid facts and figures. Recently, the business Rivers group raised an alarm that Rivers State is going down the hills with exit of multi- national companies and other businesses. The group said that Port Harcourt was billing by the number of family heads and bread winners that relocate to Lagos everyday, thereby transforming a huge spending budget to Lagos. Quoting the latest data from the national bureau of statistics, it said that Rivers State is 36 out of 37 states in the federal capital territory on the time spent on land registration. Port Harcourt is 32 on the latest ranking on the ease of doing business.
Leadership plays a key role in the advancement of the time of any human society, it is the foundation that determines progress, it is not the absence of national resources that hinders growth, or the age of a nation that determines growth. Countries like Egypt and India are 2000 years old but are said to be poor countries, unlike Canada that is 200 years old, but is a rich country. Sweden doesn't have cocoa but produces the best chocolates in the world. The pertinent question to ask therefore at this point is: whatpurpose has political leadership served Rivers people since 1999? This is a place where I should engage Rivers people. Have you had a leader that envisioned a feature where the greatness of Rivers State is to be focused? The current political leadership has to change, Rivers State must be the California of Nigeria, yes, and if we cannot, then we must be at least the Texas of Nigeria.
We have heard speeches like this in the past, what assurances do we have that what you have said is what you will do, considering the fact that politicians have told us since in the past that they didn't actualize?
I wish there is an act to find the mind's construction on the face. What does my life tell you? I live my life for people. There are two important moments in everybody's life, the day you were born and the day you realize why you were born. I had realized that I was born to serve people, I have been through all. I have sold pear in Port Harcourt, I have sold cold pure water on the streets of Port Harcourt. There was a time I had no food to eat, and so I remember what each and everyone of us are going through. I feel your pains and I have demonstrated that in my present capacity. And what I have always said to myself is that I don't have to be in that moment before I would do for people what I can do for them as an individual. We are going to create jobs for our people. But urge you to continue to pray, because perhaps, there is something that they have in those government houses that make people become different persons when they get there, so as you continue to pray for me to get into office, also continue to pray that in that office, I will still be the man that I am, and I will assure you that you will not regret it.
Tell us what your government is going to do in collaboration with the federal government to bring the two ports in the state back to life
It's simple; create industries for the ports to be busy, then of course, we can collaborate with the federal government. We shall be exporting raw materials. I spoke about the Ikwerre cluster, in collaboration with the federal government we have huge potentials, and if we realize just a simple thing that oil and gas account for 90 per cent of our earnings, yet oil and gas contribute less than 7 per cent of our GDP, so where is oil and gas? You can see all the wastages. One of the first things I did was to look at Rivers State and state what I can do in Rivers State, and so I took the advice that I was given by my father, that it is better prepared and not called, than not prepared. I am prepared.