Mr. Toby Nkagudeh is the former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Akwa Ibom State and current Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Nkagudeh in this interview with TONY ANICHEBE speaks on some trending state and national Issues and decried the continuous erosion of party supremacy among other salient issues
What is your impression on the recent crisis that almost crumbled the party?
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is a movement. What you see is what happens anytime there are plans to move from one regime to another via transition. This movement reoccurs. It is happening in all the parties, the bigger the party, the bigger the impact.
What is your take on the current situation in Nigeria?
I don’t really like comparing two governments because the situations can never be the same. I don’t know what the current government is facing but I know that their performance is below the expectations of Nigerians.
When they came, they promised the change mantra but rather than the change lifting Nigerians up, we are drifting to the unknown.
Sadly our leaders appear not to recognise we are drifting to put a stop at it and presently we don’t know where we are heading. When I look around the situation in the country today, what comes to my mind is Sunny Okosun’s song, “Which Way Nigeria”.
As an indigence of oil-bearing community, what is your take on the three per cent in the Petroleum Industry Act?
I don’t know why people should be in the Senate and be playing party politics rather than playing Nigeria. Nigerians are yet to cultivate that patriotism of seeing ourselves as Nigerians first before party in national issues.
The problem is that there is no adequate record of the quantity of oil produced from the state; all efforts I have made through goggle and other means are yet to yield result till date, and until we have accurate records, we will always be deceived. We will always be given pittance.
A situation where communities which just have pipeline running through their areas are classified as oil-bearing communities is unfortunate. Can oil spill affect them like it does on communities on the coastal lines, which sometimes destroy their ecosystem which they survive on? What has happened is an error before God and man.
The governor’s said at least five per cent but I don’t know how they even come about it. To me may be they hope to get it and bargain for more tomorrow because the five per cent is grossly inadequate while the three per cent is annoying.
The 13 per cent derivation is meant to graduate with time but as the Constitution is being reviewed, it is not yet mentioned?
We did not know what has happened to the 13 per cent because I hardly believe if any state has ever collected the complete it. I know they collect seven per cent and others not even the 13 per cent in full. There was no accountability to know if ever any state has even collected the full 13 per cent before now.
We have heard that fuel subsidy will soon be removed and still no functional refinery in Nigeria. How do you see this?
We should start by knowing the cost of producing a barrel of oil otherwise you can never explain the politics of subsidy, we are paying the price of corruption. How can Nigeria leaders not tell the citizens the cost of producing a barrel of oil? Where is the NNPC budget?
Nobody knows it. It is like somebody is dipping hand into national treasury and saying go to desert to find oil, whether you find it or not the citizens bear the brunt of the corruption and mismanagement. Nigeria doesn’t do the exploration as a country which on its own is a shame.
Outsiders do the exploration, as foreign companies but all you hear is NNPC joint ventures this and that. You take 60 per cent and they take 40 and they do exploration, take the oil, have the measurement parameters, the scales, the destinations of the oil and in all these are confusions.
When you put all these and now come to remove subsidy which the common man enjoys, it is unfortunate. The partners refine their own 40 per cent, make high profits and when you visit New York, you see how Exxon Mobil people live like a king.
They use the resources to develop themselves and own property across the world while our own 60 per cent cannot be accounted for. Why do the partners refine their own crude and make profit but we refine ours and add subsidy to bring back home?
I want Economists in Nigeria to explain to common people the reason why we have products and always send abroad to refine and add more money to receive it before distribution. What I see is Nigerians are paying the price of corruption.
What is the way out?
The way out is the Petroleum Industry Act, if there is sincerely applied to it, unbundle it, privatise it and the price will collapse. By the way why don’t we adopt the resources control, why is resource control on hold in gold in Zamfara State and no resource control in oil in Niger Delta.
For me the way out is resource control, oil companies will deal directly with the communities and pay the adequate price to them and pay a percentage to the federal government.
What is your view about resource control which is akin to talking restructuring Nigeria?
We need state police but so many people are afraid that the governors will abuse it, but who will not abuse it? We have to start from somewhere. By the time we start, we will wobble and joggle until it stabilises, after all, we will not have one governor forever.
The governor will go and another will come and still use the same platform, he will inject his own people into the system left by the former governor.
The state police will save us a whole lot of problem, why do we approve vigilante groups which is contradictory? If local police was not good enough, why do they approve vigilante.
They are using the vigilante to help the police, why don’t the turn it to police and still keep the federal police.
The state police will contribute to the efforts of the federal police, if you arrest me because the governor does not like my face, I can petition the federal police and there will be balancing and fairness.
The judiciary is a good example. We have Magistrate, High, Federal, Appeal and Supreme courts. If people mismanage local or state police, I can assure you that at a certain stage, the interplay will create a balance and we keep moving.
The same method can be applied in policing from local police when the matter is above them, the state takes over and when above the state, the federal police takes over and they come in as neutral persons and create a balance, that is how it should be done.
We have it in politics too, the local government sacks a vice chairman, the state assembly steps into the matter and where they don’t agree, they go to court to interpret their roles according to the constitution. The fear of the unknown should not be allowed to kill a good idea.
Now let us discuss Akwa Ibom 2023 gubernatorial election. The governor will leave soon. Do you see the PDP retaining the state against the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
The governor of a state plays a vital role in every transition and election. At any situation you go for campaign at that level what the government presents as their score card becomes the campaign tool.
The achievement of the government becomes the measure to rate the party in the next election, the achievement of Governor Udom Emmanuel will become the scorecard of PDP, people are looking up to the government because party is the midwife of government, but a lot of times, party becomes like a mere observer.
The party should realise that whatever the government does affects the party and should not just be following Government blindly and being a mere observe in the governance issues of the state.
Our dear governor will leave the stage in the next two years and hand over to the next governor. PDP will assess the situation on ground before going into the next election. I was in the forefront when we brought this government in 2015;
I was in charge of ACA in Ikot Abasi and what we did then under Chief Godswill Akpabio was to go on a town hall meeting all over the federal constituencies and that helped us to know the gap between promises made and those delivered. It afforded the then governor used the opportunity to feel the mood of the people and how to deal with them.
It was also an opportunity to tell the people thank you for electing him two good times. You have to shape the perception of the people, it is not enough to make broadcast on radio or send propagandist to start talking.
Since all senatorial districts have had taken its turn respecting governorship, some have argued that it should be open to all. Secondly, there is agitation for governorship position to be micro-zoned to Itu Federal Constituency against being open to all from Uyo Senatorial district. What is your view?
Peace is a factor. Certain things must be there to create peace. You create peace before maintaining the peace. We created the peace we have in our time. It is the need for peace that took the governorship seat to Eket in 2015.
Definitely you have to talk about zoning and micro- zone it to avoid confusion. It is a deliberate thing. It is not something to leave to chance because for peace to rain, you need to bring it to a manageable size. In looking for peace, we must create platforms to bring out the peace and one of the platform is zoning and if possible you microzone to manageable size. Uyo Senatorial District is full of political titans and if you close your eyes and allow them to fight, it could be disastrous to the party.
It is a deliberate thing the party must dialogue with people across the state and later bring the discussion to executive conclusion. When you include the people in decision making process, they follow you blindly and that is the way to go. PDP is for the people, when you return the power to the people, they will tell you where to go.
As a person, I think Etinan Federal Constituency has had its share. Uyo Federal Constituency has had their share and it remains Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency and they deserve to have it. In 2013/2014 some said there is nothing like zoning and the leadership of the state toured the 10 federal constituencies were firm decision was taken on zoning. But for that PDP would have been in disarray.