Hon Itiako Constantine Ikpokpo is the chairman, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State and chairman, Association of Local Government Of Nigeria (ALGON).
In this exclusive interview with our correspondent in Asaba, he spoke on the upcoming Isoko Summit and the need for the Isoko Nation to come together to harness their God-given potentials for the overall development of Isoko
What is the concept behind the Isoko Economic Summit? Well, myself and my brother Emmanuel Egbabor, chairman of Isoko north, felt the need for us to have a talk-shop and a workshop. What do I mean by a talk-shop and workshop?
There is need for us to talk Isoko and work on Isoko. I believed that Isoko is the investment hub and it is ripe for the taken in Delta State and I say that because two measure ingredients that we need: Peace and Land we have, the environment is key and for us, there is need to begin to harness our potentials as a people and Isoko is one area where agriculture will boom, oil and gas, industrialization and all the major companies.
And we felt that in getting that there was need for people who are stakeholders to come and give us the foundation on how we need to move forward as a people. We are also of the view that there is need for us to properly harness the full potentials of our identity as Isoko people and that is probably the summary of why we are having this summit.
And we believe very strongly that it will begin to open doors and ensure that our people, I will give an example, V-Power and Thinks Energy, they are doing something through BEDC and the commissioner for Urban Renewal and you that without power industrialization is not complete and I can tell you that we have gone very far and so we want to know what are the things we need to on ground.
The traditional institution will be there, private businesses will be there, His Excellency will be there. It is about Isoko, we are just driving it really. A lot of private sector people are involved and they want the best for Isoko and they want us to harness our potentials as quickly as possible. We are a sleeping giant, I think that is the word I will use.
When exactly is the Summit coming and what do you people intend to achieve at the end of the day? 30th of March, a Thursday at Civic Centre and what we want to achieve. At the end we will have an Economic Technical Committee that will guide our thoughts and that will give us a road map. Looking at all that has been said and we will try to make sure that it is a non-political committee, a small committee of 8 or 10 proven people in their different fields who will be able to guide moving forward and see how we can industrialize Isoko.
Sometime ago, a similar South-south economic Summit was held in Delta State and till date, we have not really felt the impact of the summit. What are the things the two local government chairmen have put in place so that the outcome will not be a replicate of what the South-south economic summit was? Well, you know it is the first one and the difference will be that it will be driven by Isoko people. The difference will also be that we will try to ensure that we sell our message in such a way that it is heard loud and clear. You see, people must drive a vision, if you don’t drive a vision, the vision will sleep. So, it is the people you give the vision to sell that will determine who comes to buy. I think that will be the difference. We have the vision, we believe that we have enough potentials to sell the vision and we believe that in return people will buy.
Because people are looking for investment destination and we are saying that our people are peaceful, we have lands, we have materials and human resources. That is what people are looking for, once we are able to give them the foundation, we are able to tell look, we will not fight you, bother you, ask for kick back once we are able to give them those assurances from our traditional rulers, youths I think that is what they need and you will start seeing them, it may not be one or two days but eventually small scale and medium businesses will start growing.
Like I told you about V-Power and Thinks Energy, you see the way it is coming by the time people see that we are serious on our own, it is SMEs that make up what you see today as big businesses and once small businesses are thriving well, the economy is doing well and that is what we planned for Isoko.
Can you shed more light on the V-Power Energy? You want me to say everything in one day? When you come to the summit, you will hear.
So, who are you expecting outside the local government councils in the state? Well, we are expecting people from all works of life. I will tell you the truth, we are expecting non-Isoko people to come and tell us their experiences. The CBN, Bank of Industry will be there to tell us how our people can access these federal government loans.
NDDC is a body that supposed to play a role in the development, DESOPADEC is also a body that is supposed to play a role, they cannot be walking across purposes. We have expectations of them. It is important for them to come and hear so that in their own planning, they can plan towards what the summit is looking at for economy growth of Isoko. A lot of people will be coming, we are discussing bio-diversity.
Is it a partnership kind of programme? Well, we try to manage what we have to run it. We didn’t want to depend too much on people, yes times are hard but we didn’t want to make look as if it was about funding and that is why we try to manage the resources but we have had people who have assisted us, trying to make it happen and we are going to acknowledge them at the right time and BEDC is also coming there live.
Apart from the official declaration. Is there any input from the state government financially? No.
What message do you have for your people in regards to this economic summit? The fact of the matter is that we have worked hard and it is by grace but I have found out that a lot of our people don’t have opportunity. You don’t need N1 million to start a business, sometimes you need N200, 000, N100, 000 or even N300, 000 and maybe N50, 000 and sometimes you even find people who don’t know what to do with the money even when they have it. The economic summit will guide us.
We have seen people who started grayfish, Kpokpo garri businesses in their houses, today they have gone wide and I think it is an opportunity for our young men and women to look inside them and see the potentials they have because we do have potentials. So, our message is come and listen, come and help join in chatting a way forward. It is about Isoko, there is a vision; we are great, wonderful people and we have great capacity to move from where we are and that is my message.
Why is the summit coming at this time? This is the time that is best suited. I don’t need to do an economic summit to do an election if I want to. I think we must stop being myopic. We have come this far. I don’t need to have an economic summit to win an election. Am answering you because I am trying to be honourable, ordinarily I will say no comment because that is a lazy man’s attitude of looking at issues.
Because I love my people, I am a businessman. I think that there is nothing wrong if I want people to hear and see how other people made it and tape from it. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it.
The fact of the matter is that as an individual, I am a public servant and I have given myself to public service and so wherever I am able to serve, I will serve. Is just like asking a governor who have a vision to build an airport but some how they were a lot of logistic problems and it eventually scared through six months before the end of his tenure. Are saying that he shouldn’t award the contract to build the airport if the state needs it? It think that we shouldn’t throw away good projects because of timing. Our people say it is always better late than never.
Source: The Nigerian Voice (local news)