In this interview with Mr. Goddy Jedy Agba, who is aspiring to succeed the incumbent gorvernor, Liyel Imoke under the umbrella of PDP, as the governor 0f Cross River State in the upcoming governorship elections, discloses his plans for the state to TheNEWS.
The race to succeed Governor Liyel Imoke has started in earnest. Why are you interested in governing Cross River State?
In the past seven years, Governor Liyel Imoke has been doing a good job governing our state but come 29 May, 2015 he would hand over the baton of leadership as our constitution demands. I want to be the recipient of the baton. This is not a decision I take lightly, but one that I arrived at after careful and persistent consideration as well as the need for a servant leader who places people over politics and service above all else. I took the decision to run for governor of our state in 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after a great deal of thought. I consulted widely with my family, friends and close political associates in Cross River State and nationwide.
I am running for governor because I believe I can add value to the governance of a state I love so much. My love for the state and its people knows no limit. I love the diversity, the can-do spirit, the communal life of neighbor-helping-neighbor of the people, and I believe in what Cross River State can be. And my passion to serve compels me once again to stand for what is right for all Cross Riverians: to make Cross River State what it can be. I offer myself as a Cross Riverian who is concerned about the widespread unemployment that is destroying the very fabric of our society.
What is your assessment of Imoke's government so far?
I will say fantastic. Let me remind you that, in this democratic order we started with the Donald Duke government and the Duke government could be described as a government that laid that irreversible foundation for growth and development in Cross River State. What we've witnessed right now with the present governor is that he's been able to consolidate and actualize the dream of the foundation, of that growth and development. He has not faltered or wavered. He has been someone focused on the goals of the party and he has delivered. No matter what anybody has to say, he has performed.
It is rumored in some quarters that Imoke is not disposed to you succeeding him as governor. What do you have to say?
Well, thank God, you said it's a rumor. I don't dwell on rumors; neither do I interact with rumor mongers. I will answer in this form: Most people don't even know how to assess relationships. They assess it from what they hear from hangers-on and rumor merchants. It's impossible for humans to exist without conflict. My people have an idiomatic way of expressing it; they say teeth and tongue fight but still they are always together. A sociologist or human scientist would not base his assessment on these factors. Let us look at the interest and future of our people and then situate our relationship within it, though, some people, for whatever reasons, do not just like you. But in all, Governor Imoke is a perfect gentleman and a man of honor and as far as I know, he knows what is good for the state and we enjoy a very cordial relationship
The challenges of governance are enormous. What makes you think that you will make a better replacement for the current governor?
My belief is that before our party can decide on a person that will carry the flag of the PDP, it would have been unanimously agreed that such a person is sound and competent enough to be the candidate. Beyond that, I bring cognate experience that is not shared by any other aspirant in Cross River. I believe strongly that the years that I have worked and the experience that I have shared with the top management staff at the NNPC give me that competitive edge to be able to continue to drive the vision of Cross River State. If it is in terms of character, if it is in terms of capability, I possess all the good qualities that you can find in anybody that will want to become the governor of Cross River State. It's more about the people and it has to be a people person. I know that's where my strength is. A people person is one that can be a good caretaker of the resources of the people. That's why I see myself as the best aspirant that you can muster right now.
What about economic development. Do you have a blueprint that would buoy the economy of Cross River State?
Of course! As a start, our dependence on crude oil as the main source of revenue not only exposes our economy to foreseeable shocks, it endangers our security because unemployment is presently our greatest security risk. The petro-dollar made us to unwisely ignore every other sector, particularly agriculture and tourism, with their huge job creation potential, thereby robbing us of a source of massive employment for our teeming youths.
This must change because there is the real possibility that revenue from oil could fall drastically in the very near future. The discovery of shale technology to produce synthetic crude oil from oil shale has the potential of making almost every country in the world an oil producer. The United States of America which used to be Nigeria's biggest customer is no longer buying our oil. Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and Estonia are already using the technology to extract oil while Morocco and Jordan have announced plans to test the technology. Coupled with growing new discovery of crude oil in African countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya, there could be oil glut in the international crude oil market that will inevitably result in falling of oil prices and revenue. By acting decisively to restructure the economy of our state through massive investment in agriculture and rural economies, modernizing and expanding our infrastructure including affordable housing, promoting tourism, entertainment and sports, assisting existing and moribund industries and encouraging new ones to set up aggro-based industries, we can jump start job creation and achieve greater, more sustainable economic prosperity.
What is your greatest fear?
Fear? No. I have since conquered the fear of failure, which is the most common for most people. Only those who dare, stand the chance of climbing the ladder of success. I am not afraid of failure because I have used the strength of courage to succeed thus far and in this new calling, we are going to succeed. There are many of us in the race. We are all qualified. We are all good men and women who mean well for our state. But I can do a better job of transforming our state and taking it to the next level of development. I need the support of everyone in the party to make this happen. I also believe that my candidacy will ensure easy victory for our party in the governorship election and help our dear president.