Delta State Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has expressed unflinching support for the ongoing National Good Governance Tour of projects and programmes of all tiers of government across the country. He made his position known in Asaba when the delegation of the National Good Governance Tour led by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, paid him a courtesy visit to flag-off the programme in the state.
He said the tour is necessary at this point in the nation’s history and confirmed that all 36 State Governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum had agreed to be a part of it. “To confirm and reaffirm that we all collectively agreed on this programme which I believe on a personal note that it’s very very necessary at this time of the history of Nigeria.
“Like you said a lot of issues take the front burner in the media but issues that have to do with development, especially when they are positive are put away in one small corner in the media, which I think it’s not encouraging and might not help us to move forward.
“As a state government, we are very very supportive of this programme,” he said.
Dr. Uduaghan therefore urged the Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku not to be discouraged and that he should remain focus in the objective of the tour.
“I want to appreciate what you are doing and to say you should not be discouraged. The hallmark of leadership is that you hear the good, the bad, the ugly and let the ugly not discourage you from your focus,” he remarked.
He reiterated that the National Good Governance Tour was not a Federal Government project, and thanked Mr. President for releasing the Information Minister to pilot the programme. According to the Governor, in releasing the Minister, it shows that Mr. President is open and has nothing to hide.
He commended the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government, which he rightly observed had drastically reduce insecurity, particularly militancy in the Niger Delta Region.
He added that as a state government, they are also doing their best to ensure security of life and property, which is cardinal in their three-point agenda to promote development.
Dr. Uduaghan informed the Good Governance Team that the biggest challenge of the administration is job creation in order to engage the youth in productive ventures. He said they are tackling the challenge by de-emphasising the reliance on oil revenue through exploring alternative sources of income under a strategy tagged “Delta Beyond Oil”.
Earlier, Information Minister, Labaran Maku, reiterated that the tour is a national programme which is aimed at starting a national discourse that will aid in the country’s development.
“The National Good Governance Tour, contrary to some comments usually that will go along with a programme like this, is not a Federal Government Programme. It is a national programme supported by all the 36 Governors and the Federal Government,” he said.
He stated that when the programme was designed along with the National Planning Commission and the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring, it received the approval of the Federal Executive Council and the National Economic Council.
Mr. Maku added that in order to factor in the input and observation of the Governors, the Nigerian Governors Forum set up a special committee headed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Godswill Akpabio to take a second look at the programme and agreed on a common template for the tour. “It’s important to explain this because as we go round sometimes you hear comments that it is a Federal Government Programme. It’s not and if you look at all the people that are seated here, they come from all (segments) of society. So what we are doing is to simply lead the path to show them what is it the governments are doing ” Mr. Maku said.
He said Nigerians must set aside their political differences by removing governance from political partisanship if the country’s democracy is to develop.
“We are a young democracy, we are just 13 years old and it is important we come together to reassure citizens that we are here for their progress,” he said.
Mr. Maku said though progress is seen to be made in all the states visited by the team so far, there is still room for improvement.
“Progress and challenges are not at the same level because resources are not at the same level either; some states are as old as Nigeria itself. We cannot say progress has not been made but we know that we can do better to achieve greater results”.
He urged all states to invest in security and the maintenance of law and order so as to ensure development thrives in the country.
In his remarks when the NGGT went to inspect the Asaba Airport, Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring Professor Sylvestor Monye confirmed that all the State Governors had made commitment to support the tour.
He said the issue was beyond just funding the tour, it included among others the security needed to go round the state. “It is a lot more, the security that you need to go round the states I am sure you have seen for yourself. It’s not something that the Honourable Minister has budget for. So you expect a state government to support the initiative with such and I expect that all the states will support. All the states have committed to supporting and in fact the Governor of Edo State even told me that he is happy to host the Governance Tour and that he would accommodate the Minister and some people. I think he has been quoted out of context,” he said.
Professor Monye confirmed that the programme was not an assessment tour, which he said Governor Oshiomhole told him he was not comfortable with.
In his comment, the President of the Nigeria Union Of Journalists, Comrade Mohammed Garba said the Information Minister discussed the concept and modality of the tour with the union before they accepted to participate.
“We were invited by the Minister. He discussed the concept and the modality. The concept of course we agreed that it’s part of our responsibility ordinarily without even the Good Governance Tour for the media to round and look at the progress in this democracy.
“In terms of modalities, we have also discussed. Part of the issue which I think we agreed was that we have to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, which I think we have been agitating for quite a while. And I want to believe that throughout the states we have visited so far that freedom has been guaranteed,” he said
The National Good Governance Tour is a non-partisan tour involving the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists; (NUJ) the Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU); leaders of women and youth organisations; National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); National Council of Women Societies (NCWS); leaders of non-governmental organisations; operatives of security agencies; representative(s) of the Nigeria Governors Forum Secretariat; and reporters from the nation’s print and electronic media houses.
The tour also incorporates a robust Citizens Forum which enables citizens of every state to engage Federal and State Government officials on all key development policies and challenges in their state. The Citizens Forum which is attended by the Governor of each State or the Deputy as the case may be and officials, runs live on radio, television and Social Media Platforms. In every state, citizens ask their leaders questions without restriction and Nigerians all over the world take advantage of the Social Media to file in their questions, comments, opinions or suggestions on the major programmes and activities of government.
So far, the NGGT team had visited 14 states in the North-central, South-East and the South South geo-political zones where most of the Governors including those from the opposition parties, hosted the NGGT team and personally conducted the team to project sites and furnished it with relevant information that facilitated the inspection.
It would be recalled that a statement was recently credited to Governor Adams Oshiomhole Edo State in the media, where he was quoted as saying that the state would not use its resources to fund the National Good Governance Tour being a Federal Government Programme.