My vision is to lead Delta into an age of significant transformation – Idike
LUCKY IDIKE, an indigene of Igun in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, is a graduate of Economics. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Idike, a serial entrepreneur, who has played in various sectors including fast-food, fashion retail, and professional services, was before March 2022, when he resigned to run for the governorship of Delta State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Special Assistant to the Governor, deployed to the Office of the Chief of Staff. In this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, the aspirant spoke on the motivation for his ambition and his plan for a new Delta. He said to the electorate in the state “we cannot elect people who have spent 20-25 years in government and expect them to deliver new ideas.” He also touched on other important issues. Excerpts:
May we know what really motivated you into taking the decision to join the gubernatorial race?
The fundamental inspiration for this aspiration is divine, but that is a story for another day. Over the last few years of working in the Delta State government, I have sharpened a transformational vision for the state, and believe that I have the soft and hard skills required to lead Delta into what I call the Age of Transformation. The vision is “To build ONE Delta, a United, Inclusive State with equitable development across our three senatorial districts, that sets the pace for the entire country.”
Our strategy is to take Delta to greater H.E.I.G.H.T.S. and our blueprint summarises what we intend to do in the areas of Healthcare, Education, Investment in the Productive Sectors, Government Reforms, Housing and Urban Development, Tourism and Entertainment, and SME Development. This blueprint is available on my website www.luckyidike.com for review, assessment, and feedback. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your declaration speech, you talked about challenges; may we know in specific terms how you hope to surmount such challenges?
There are three key challenges that I have identified that hinder young and capable people from getting into politics.
The first is the pervasive lack of hope across Nigeria, which has caused the belief that things cannot change in Nigeria. This reflects in the inability of our minds to accept that there can be a different paradigm, a different way to do the things that need to be done to drive change. That is one of the biggest challenges that our movement will face.
The second challenge is the fear that mortgages our future. People would rather go abroad than go into politics. The fear of the unknown, the fear that it is “a dirty and dangerous game,” and the fear for physical safety are just three of the fears that people have. One of the most common reactions I have received since my declaration speech is “are you not afraid for your life?” Yes, like everyone else I am afraid, but my conviction that I am doing what the Lord has asked me to do helps me rise above fear. I read once that there are 365 fear-nots in the Bible; one for every day in one year. And my father has always told me that fear is to make you careful and cautious, not to immobilise you.
The third challenge is the belief that “I’m not one of them.” People have told me that I’m not a typical Nigerian politician, and so I won’t succeed in the rough waters of Nigerian politics. But you see, he who dares, wins. We cannot all sit on the sidelines and complain, yet do nothing about the problems we so clearly see; problems we know we can solve if given the chance. I have had the privilege of working with His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and he more than anyone else, exemplifies the mould-breaker, that you don’t have to be a certain type to be a successful Nigerian politician. With his calm but razor-focused demeanour, he has overcome many obstacles in government and overcame the barrier of “typical politicians” at the PDP primaries during his time, where, in the face of great opposition, he prevailed, with no more than his will, and the grace of God.
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The second part of your question asked how we hope to deal with the challenges and the answer is simple; by putting ourselves out there and trying to sell a different idea to the people. To my fellow Deltans and particularly to the PDP delegates who ultimately will decide who their candidates will be. To them, the message is our vision, our strategy, our capacity by the grace of God, to lead Delta into an age of significant transformational change.
Like I said in my declaration speech, it is time for a new generation to take the baton and lead us into the age of transformation. But we are engaged in a battle not between two or three or four individuals, but between two Concepts; two worlds even. This is a battle between the old Delta – the days that have been, and the new Delta that can be. That must be!
Bachchan of India once said that there is a new India that is straining at the leash, and the old India is the leash that is holding them back. I dare say today that there’s a young vibrant generation of Deltans who are straining at the leash, wanting to unleash their full economic potential in an environment that allows them to create value; where each and every one of them can become a lucky charm in their immediate communities. So, we are putting out a clear manifesto that outlines what we intend to do with political power when we get it, and we want people to be able to hold us accountable for the words that we have written down clearly. The manifesto is not a complex document. It is not 300 pages that nobody will read. We have deliberately summarised it so that everyone in Delta can read and understand it. But we must appeal to the delegates at the PDP primaries. We appeal also to the fathers of PDP to look around the candidates and realise that in truth, it is time to usher in a new generation of leaders in Delta State.
In that speech also, you talked about Delta being about to get lucky; talk is cheap, they say. How would you convince an average Deltan that you are coming with the ‘lucky’ stroke going by the ‘promise and fail’ nature of many Nigerian politicians?
First, let me assure you that in Delta State, the foundational fathers delivered on most of the promises they made. And now, we as the transformational generation can stand on their achievements and start to fulfil our vast potential as a people.
It is safe to say that the best ideas rule the world. Our strategy is specifically designed to empower the working-age population in order to improve their human capital index.
To the good people of Delta, I ask one question: should we continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results? It is time to be daring and try new ideas; ideas that have worked in other places (developed nations), ideas based on measurable indices, ideas that create a level playing field for all. What I’m promising Deltans is something they have always known is possible, not a tall tale.
You alluded to big names in your declaration – former governors James Ibori; Emmanuel Uduaghan and the incumbent. Are they in any way rooting for you – overtly or covertly? The question becomes necessary because, in Nigeria, godfathers determine who gets what?
A godfather is not a negative circumstance. It is like having reference points, which can be a huge advantage in times of confusion and uncertainty. And so, what I simply did, still doing, is to give credit to the foundational fathers for the structures they have laid down for this new chapter in the life of Delta State. In truth, without their efforts, we would be faced with insurmountable odds in this race to greater heights.
I strongly believe that our foundational fathers want what is best for Delta, going forward. And if that is the case, and it must, of course, be the case, and I know with certainty that I, more than anyone else in the field, represents the face of the new Delta, then I believe that my destiny is fully aligned with the desires of our foundational fathers, and indeed the desires of the patrons of the Delta State PDP.
Unemployment is a national problem and the incumbent administration in Delta is doing a lot to encourage skills acquisition and empowerment. In practical terms, how do you hope to tackle unemployment should you become the governor in 2023?
I am an Economist, and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, trust me, this is my forte.
First of all, in the area of skills acquisition and empowerment, there is a need to give continuity to the initiative started by the ‘Ekwueme.’ The programmes will be expanded on for optimisation and infused with new ideas based on our reality come 2023. But then, our strategies for investment in the productive sector, and SMEs are both aimed at job-creating activities.
States are getting poorer with the inability of the Federal Government to sustain the humongous amount of money it shares every month as a result of dwindling resources; could you share with us some of your plans to reduce the dependence on Abuja by increasing your state’s IGR?
Let me reiterate that our strategy for the transformation of Delta state is based on tried and trusted ideas that foster innovative practices. We don’t have to look too far in order to improve our fortunes; we just have to look within. We have clear ideas on what needs to be done. For instance, the role of infrastructural upgrades and the role they play in a state’s development cannot be overemphasised. The reactivation of our ports in Burutu, Warri, Sapele and Koko- ports with a combined capacity that surpasses that of other ports in Nigeria – represent an untapped goldmine in terms of IGR. We will also kick-start the tourism industry and give adequate support to the entertainment industry. These two sectors can guarantee a fine sum in terms of revenue. Then you have the SME hubs and industrial parks. Projects that can actually give Delta state a foothold in international markets.
Are you really for the race or you are using your declaration as a bargaining chip for something, as many politicians do?
If I did not think that I could make a real and measurable difference in Delta state then I would have concerned myself with my easier life and its affairs. But I dare say that I have a dream that unites every Deltan with one purpose – the hope and actualisation of a better tomorrow with ample focus on Health, Education, Investment, Government reforms, Housing and Urban Development, Tourism and Entertainment, and SME Development. And I am willing to push to make that dream a reality for all Deltans. Leadership is a divine mandate. It is God’s ultimate will who gets to be governor of Delta State, and I believe it is my destiny. In fact, everything I have done consciously and unconsciously has led me to where I am today and will lead me to where I am going.
Insecurity has remained a serious issue in Delta State today with many farmers being driven away from their farms. What in your opinion is the solution to the menace?
We must improve surveillance systems as a means to provide security operatives with intelligence reports. Effective surveillance is the first tool in crime deterrence, and we must make it a priority in Delta State. In addition to this, it is also imperative that the security agencies work together with communities to better safeguard lives and property. Community policing is a tested and effective strategy used the world over in fighting crimes of all manner. And I am not just talking about vigilantes now. I mean an intricate network of information involving petty traders, schools, commercial transport workers, and of course, the government security agencies.
What final words do you have for Deltans as you solicit their support?
There is a wind of political change blowing across the country, one where younger, fresher minds are stepping up to shake things up for good. We don’t need to look too far. And we’re seeing it at all levels of government, right up to the presidential level. And as ‘Delta no dey carry last,’ we must key into this positive trend. In fact, the trend should have started in Delta! Now, we will be playing catch up to Anambra State, and Oyo State, where the PDP has won the gubernatorial elections with visionary men, uncorrupted by politics and public office. My people, we cannot elect people who have spent 20-25 years in government and expect them to deliver new ideas.