By Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos
Chairman of the Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC) in South West Nigeria, Amb. Ochi Emmanuel Ode, has urged the governors in the Middle Belt and North Central geo-political zone to endeavour to provide the people with the democracy dividends they promised during their electioneering campaigns.
Amb. Ode who spoke with Independent in Lagos, stressed that the governors in the region should stop giving excuses of lack of finance and face the real business of governance as time is going fast since they took over the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2015.
He maintained that any government that wants to perform must develop structures and strategies to generate internal revenue with which to provide services to the people, whether they met money in the treasury or not.
According to him, “The idea of governors folding their arms to be expecting federal allocations should be discarded. Everything they do in terms of expenditure should be able to generate funds and not wasteful spending.
“The era of wasteful spending should be discarded if they want to make meaningful progress in the region in the next four years.”
Ode also called on the Middle Belt governors to stop the practice of diverting funds meant for projects to other things apart from what such moneys are meant for, stressing that it is wrong for some of the governors to have diverted the recently released bail-out funds meant for the payment of workers’ arrears of salaries to other things.
He maintained that the diversion of the bail-out funds by some of the state governors have caused severe hardship to the hapless workers in some of the states in the Middle Belt zone.
Ode stressed: “My take is that whatever money the Middle Belt governors get, there should not be any diversion. Whatever particular money is meant for should be executed with it. It should not be diverted for any reason. That is hew whole essence of transparency.”
He stressed that the major problem of the Middle Belt states is that they lack ways of sustenance, lamenting that none of the governments in the region can sustain itself.
He therefore urged the state governors in the region to work out ways they can sustain their governments with resources generated from their states.
On the protracted herdsmen and farmers’ bickering and ethnic crises in the North Central, Ode urged the various groups to respect each other and allow this respect to translate to love among them for peace to reign in the region.
“If you know that if a farmer kills your cow, you will not like it, you should also know that if your cow eats up the farmer’s produce, he will not like it. When we love ourselves and respect ourselves, there will not be problems,” he added.
Ode therefore called on the governors in the Middle Belt and North Central zone to call for peace meetings regularly, where peace, love and respect for one another will be preached.
He reiterated his call for the Middle Belt Governors’ Forum, a proposal which he said the Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC) has been selling to the governors in the region.
Ode also urged the governors in the region to reach out to themselves for the formation of the forum, although he noted that there are some forces that will definitely go against the unity of the region.