Monday, 6 June 2016

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH A 2015 BENUE STATE GUBERNETORIAL ASPIRANT: DR. MATHIAS OYIGEYA.

 


While some people were born with silver spoon, others live with a golden heart. Dr. Mathias Oyigeya a 2015 Benue State Gubernatorial candidate and passionate politician is said to be one of those living with a golden heart. From spearheading the establishment of a standard health care center for his community, he has embarked on yet another laudable project which seeks to provide the people of Ogbadibo Local Government Area and neighbouring communities access to clean and drinkable water.


I joined the NNR, BFM media team to carry out an inspection of the water project and was also privileged to have about an hour exclusive interview time with the honorable. In the exclusive interview, he revealed how it all started, his journey into politics and his passion to impact the people positively.

Read the highly inspiring interview after the cut……..

 

QUESTION: CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started my life from this particulate hamlet – Efekwo here in Ogbadibo. I was born and bred here, started my primary school education within Efekwo after which I proceeded to Saint Augustine Primary School Otukpo, that’s where I finished my primary school education. Moving on I went to Mount Saint Gabriel, where I finished my college, then went to University of Calabar where I got my MBBS.


After NYSC, I did a post graduate course in Psychiatric. After that I started working with Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi in 1999, where I headed an office in the Psychiatric Department. After some years I got elected as the chairman NME Benue State Branch. Immediately after that, I got appointed as the Chairman FMC Keffi. In 2007 the board was dissolved. In 2008 I got appointed as the Medical Director for FMC., Benue State. I served also in the Benue State University Teaching Hospital Board till 2015 when the Board was dissolved. When I got the appointment in 2008 my people organised a reception for me and I was inspired to give back to the society by establishing a community health care center for them; following donations from the launch.

After the project started, I approached FMC Makurdi and the top management agreed to take up the health Centre, which eventually led to the establishment of three health care centres in various communities within Benue State. Through my influence light was also brought to the community.


The establishment of the health care center brought about the need for water. There is no hospital that operates effectively without water. For a more sustainable water source, we went to a nearby community in Orokam district where a river that never dry is located. From the water source to the hospital is about 7KMs. With approval and appropriation from National Assembly the Water Project started. The water project has gone far, what is left is to be able to transmit water to the various community and other finishing touches. The vision is to be able to serve the whole of Otukpa and beyond. Water has been the biggest challenge in Otukpa. In addition, we had to create access to water and we also created access to the hospital which is in Efekwo for neighbouring communities.


QUESTIONS: WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO EMBARK ON SUCH PROJECT?

All the things I was able to do for the community were things I did while in office but I must not allow the dream to die so I keep a good relationship with the present MD of FMC and the hospital was able to appropriate some money to the project last year. I am praying for support, I also extend my personal cash to the project because we are the government. Government will not come here to drink water; it’s the people here that need the water. I come from this environment, I have lived with the suffering of the people, and I appreciate the suffering. I feel if I have the opportunity I should do something to ensure a better living standard for the people and those coming behind should not go through the same suffering. A lot of people are picking up the challenge of a better community. I shouldn’t be talking about other people but I appreciate people who compete positively. People who push themselves to impact their people positively with community development projects. I am not campaigning for anyone, but in all fairness I must mention people like the present House of Rep member, Hon. Hassan Saleh, who is putting up a health care centre and a water project in his community too. Mr. Solomon Ochoche who works with Shell, he has established a factory in his community. A processing factory that processes yams and cassava, it’s a fantastic site. Arc. Abu has also done so much for his community. So many persons are picking up the challenge of community development. Practically, I am inspired by the suffering of the people of which I have a first experience with.


QUESTIONS:WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU ENCOUNTER.

The challenges are numerous but the first thing you need to engage in any community development project is CONVICTION. That is what will help you surmount all the challenges you will encounter. Because right from the community you want to help, you will receive attacks, people kicking against you. (Pointing to the man sitting beside him), he was the National Chairman of my community, to put up the health care center here was hell. Eventually when the land was secured, to handover to federal government was another hell. There were insinuations that he was the MD of FMC so handling over to them meant he will be spending all the monies coming from there. But that didn’t discourage me, because they didn’t have the kind of insight I had. So eventually when we reached a point, they now understood what he was doing. That kind of challenge is in every community. Dealing with the people of the community where the river for the water project is situated was also a huge challenge.


Fundamental challenges with the people are there but you have to be determined that even though they discourage you, you will not be discouraged.


Funding is another challenge. A project as big as this cannot be funded by an individual. In some other part of the country, people have money and they can do projects like this even in hundred places but around us here we are not that empowered economically and so we lean on government to do it. And as we know, government has a lot at hand to do, they cannot be focusing on one community. So the funding now continues to be a challenge. The appropriation we are getting are in palates. So you have to keep waiting for the next appropriation for continued work, sometimes 10 million, 20 million, 30 million. The mentioned amount don’t perform 100%; sometimes 50% 48% 30% etc. But once you have the spirit to go on, you don’t give up, you continue. So even though I am out of the office now, I am lobbying people to come and take over from FMC because the dwindling economy is affecting everywhere, everybody. I have made effort to talk with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to see if they can key in here because this is a community project and it can serve as such. It can also serve as a sort of irrigation farming; you need water to do irrigation so it serves as agriculture project too. So we are appealing to the Ministry to take over because it’s getting heavy for FMC.


QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE POTENTIALS OF THE WATER PROJECT WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNITY COVERAGE, IS IT SECLUDED TO OTUKPA DISTRICT OR OGBADIBO LGA ALONE?


It’s okay, you are not a politician but I will attempt to break it down. The place where the project is located is under Orokam ward 111, where the hospital is Ai-Oono ward 11 in Otukpa all in Ogbadibo Local Government Area. Ai-Oono ward 11 is very close to Ai-Oono ward 11 close to the Ede market. This water project if properly managed is big enough to serve the whole Ogbadibo. All that is needed is to empower the source, the water is already there. It can also serve part of Okpokwu, as I earlier said, even Benue State Polytechnic can key into this, you only need to keep relaying and set up tanks. I am positive that since the water runs year round, it can serve that much. It all depends on how you want to relay and reticulate the water; it can serve the whole of Ogbadibo and Okpokwu LGA.


QUESTION: WHAT IS THE COST ESTIMATION FOR THE PROJECT, HOW MUCH HAVE YOU SPENT SO FAR AND WHAT IS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT?


Well since I left the office I refuse to nose into the books, administratively it is wrong, so I can’t say precisely how much have been spent. As we go on with projects like this you meet challenges that give rise to variations and again coupled with the current inflation. We still need to get water to other parts of Otukpa, so about a 100 million Naira is still needed. Completion is going to be by collective effort. We all have to ensure that people don’t suffer too much.


QUESTION: PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE 2015 GUBER ELECTIONS.


Yes I came out for 2015 elections and I contested for the highest office in Benue State. The spirit is still what you are seeing. There was a lot of suffering which provoked me to vie for the office even though I knew I didn’t have the financial muscle to push it. I told myself I will not be fair to myself and to the people if I do not attempt it. It’s rather I try and fail than not try at all. Should the people give me the mandate of what I contested for, I will be able to complete this water project, create a very good access to the source. I will also help in alleviating poverty in other communities within the State, especially those with the kind of suffering we are having here. After providing water for the communities been highly agricultural, we can now start irrigation farming and real agriculture.


I also discovered we are churning out so many graduates and not too many jobs. Seeing the amount of graduates roaming the street, I said to myself, something can be done for these people. We can revolve funds by setting up about 10 graduates every month with N10 million Naira loan; empower them with businesses that will be own by government until the loan is liquidated. You can also bring partners/experts to help in building the companies. If we put in that kind of money into a revolving fund without consuming it, in few years from now, we will have the State full of successful young men and women. It is as a result of this vision to impact the State and its people that I joined politics and contested for the Governor’s seat in 2015.


I didn’t come out because I had money, no. In the process of contesting, I have learnt so much and I am so grateful to God for passing me through that experience which have also taught me that until you contest election in this country, anything you are saying, you are saying it out of ignorance. So if you really want to talk as a public commentator, go and contest even for Councillor in your ward, you will learn so much from it.


QUESTION: SIR, WHAT’S YOUR POLITICAL AMBITION FOR 2019?

Well, in 2019, I don’t have any plan now, I don’t have money. I have come to know that you cannot win election without money. It’s a raw reality that we can do nothing about. The people you think you want to help are not interested, all they want is money. The political structures have made it more difficult, that you have to pass through the delegate system. The stage of delegate is the most difficult stage, that’s where you have people that do not believe in anything outside money. If there is anything outside money you are not talking to them. They form less than 1% of the population but they decide who goes into the race. It’s a very frustrating pathway.


The general public may like me but I must get the ticket first, and again even the general public can betray you on the day of election. Your own brother can vote against you for a tip of N200, N500 or N1000. Politics is a very difficult terrain in Nigeria.


Well, of course if God says you are going, He will send a rich man to pull you through. I don’t have any plans to contest in 2019, but I am praying for an appointment that will help me continue my community development projects and help young people, following the policy of government. And the policy of government that I am talking about is when I read through what the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo, said about creating a functional primary health care center in each ward. That comes to about 10,000 centres, which made me happy and I pray they are able to implement that. Implementation has always been a problem, but if you put the right persons there, he will do the implementation. Outside the minister of health, you need only two persons now to do clinical finishing on this implementation, the Executive Secretary of National Primary Development Agency and Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme. The issue is if the people will drive the idea and vision of the President. The policy design is beautiful, but implementation is always a problem. The Federal Government must employ at least a minimum of 3 medical personnel in each of the health care centres. That's employment generation and a very good score for the Nigerian people.


QUESTION: TODAY IS DEMOCRACY DAY, WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON BUHARI’S ONE YEAR IN GOVERNMENT.

The Buhari led government present a lot of hope. APC is just going to implement the first budget, the 2015 budget was done before APC came to power and sometimes implementing someone else budget becomes difficult because your design and need maybe another person’s want and that person’s want maybe your need, so when you come to power you have to take the responsibility to ensure that the budget meets your vision. Your concept is what you pursue. With the new budget, even though there is problem of funding but with the people on top, I am quite positive that we are going to see something fantastic. If not everywhere, at the Federal government level. I am positive something will happen and it will later step down to the states and local government areas. With the policies on ground, a lot of people will be happy at the end of the remaining three years of the APC led Federal Government.


More photos from the project inspection tour soon.

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