Hon. Fred AGBEDI is a third time member in the House of Representatives. He was former state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Bayelsa State. He also served as Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Political Matters.
Agbeti who represents Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal constituency in the House of Representatives is one of Governorship Aspirants in the forth coming governorship election in Bayelsa state. In this interaction with the members of the Federated Correspondents the Aspirant bares his mind on the development of the state and his plans if elected.
Can you speak briefly about yourself?
I am Fred Agbedi from Agoro community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, I am the member of the House of Representatives, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, of course the third time member in the House of Representatives. I was first in the House in third Republic which was 1992 under the National Republican Convention (NRC), today as a member of PDP, am serving my second term in the ninth Assembly at the House of Representatives. In Bayelsa state, I have held series of offices. I was the pioneer Secretary of NRC in Ekeremor LGA which office I contested and won to the House of Representatives. I have been chairman of PDP in Bayelsa state since 2005 to 2008. I have also been Special Adviser, Political Matters to Gov. Dickson and of course two times Director General of Dickson Campaign Organisation, the Restoration Campaign 2011-12 and also 2015
to 2016, I have led three campaigns across the length and breath of
Bayelsa State and that makes me an household name and a committed loyal member of the PDP.
I attended COE where I read English and History, I attended
Uniport where I read English, I attended University of Abuja where I read Master in Public Administration am currently defending my seminar
on my thesis at Uniport. I pride myself as a professional politician, I have
been in politics for about four decades, I believe that am the only
professional politician that is running for the governorship position in Bayelsa state.
my people and as graduate of Public Administration, am an
administration expert and for you to be a governor, you must have that
competence which I have as a development study student, a development expert of course
Why do want to be Governor of Bayelsa State?
why I want to be a governor is to develop Bayelsa and I believe that if you want to be a governor, then you must understand the essence of a governor, the essence number one is to realize that you are to be a servant and you must be able to render service, you should not see yourself as boss or rather you should see yourself as the servant of the people that is what I know very well and that is what I have come to do, to be the servant of the people. I also know that the position of a governor is a supervisor, yours is to supervise others, you understand the essence of supervision and you
too must have the capacity to supervise, because the governor does not do everything by himself, the governor identifies competent and capable hands who represent him in implementing policies and actions of Government and until you understand that a governor is a supervisor and that as a
supervisor, your first responsibility is to identify the right people
who have competency and capacity to implement policies of Government is what makes you stand out as a man who knows your job from day one and so I realize that as a governor your duty is to supervise and understand how to check, monitor and applaud your lieutenants when they have done well, the ability to call your lieutenants to order when you believe that they are straying out of the radar and of course treat where it’s important and necessary to treat policies and their implementation and if you see that they are not achieving the desired goals and because I know and understand this, and I feel that the only way to express this is to serve at a greater height, which is the geographical expression that we refer to as Bayelsa.
Can you talk about your contributions to develop your constituency?
I am serving at my Federal constituency, I have rendered projects to my federal constituency as a member of House of Representatives. I have attracted empowerment to atleast 16 to 20 communities in my constituency, I think that I have gone to the level that I have come to seek the same role at the center and that is why I have come and have been mandated to fly the flag of Peoples Democratic Party in the November 16, governorship election in the state.
What is your plan to develop Byelsa?
One of my plans is to render services, to serve my people. I feel that Bayelsa should be empowered. First and most important is the empowerment of Bayelsans.
Bayelsans don’t have financial
empowerment, if they don’t have skill empowerment, then of course
there is nothing you can bring to Bayelsans that will be worth more
Ques. What is empowerment?
What is empowerment, it is to make sure that Bayelsans have access to funds, how do they get access to funds, we have Bayelsans that have core competencies in business that as a governor, you must identify the
core competencies of Bayelsans and patronize them, you don’t only
patronize them, you ensure that the service they rendere is paid for
that is the only way to grow your people, as a contractor, business
men, the state patronises you, we should be able to pay you so that
you can make profit, revenue with which you move forward. Once you
empower Bayelsans very well, they will turn the state’s economy around, they will make the economy robust and they will move to compete at the national level and our government will not only empower them and leave them to go and compete at the national level, we will also assist
them where the governor needs to intervene where they are in a
competition and how they are going to have such ventures. Bayelsa government will
follow up and ensure that we support them to have ventures at the end of the day. Not only that, we want to grow Bayelsa, not only
to the national level but also to the international level because if we want to be a
national and world player, we must have financial muscle. No matter how competent you are, no matter how effective you are in delivery of
projects, if you don’t have the financial muscle, you will not be able to compete at the national and global level and so that is what our
target is that at the end of the day, Bayelsans, whatever, it will cost
them to be in competition at the national level and globally, we would ensure that they have that basis to be able to compete wherever they find themselves in Nigeria and across the globe.
What do intend to do about encouraging investors?
If we are talking about investors, the people that can invest locally are the Bayelsans and if Bayelsans have access to funds that enable then build factories, industries, it’s the business men that are going to enter into partnership with other business men to come and grow industries, to come and build factories and so we want to empower Bayelsans in such a situation whereby Bayelsan business men can pull N2 – N5bn together to say this is the factory we want to built and they will use the financial muscle and strength they have to
attract partnership to build that factory, to build that industry.
What does government need to do actualize this?
What Government needs to do is to create enabling environment, a conducive climate, build infrastructure, social amenities and security that will bring a driving economy base, that is what our Government is going to do. Anything about factory, industries and funding of public projects that are industry oriented will be the responsibility
of businessmen to partner with other businessmen to bring them. Take for example, we are talking about Aggae Deep Sea Port, where the state government has done so much and has done a lot of works and are still looking for investors to come and invest, if we have Bayelsans who can
pull together 3 to 5 Billion Naira, am sure that we would have achieved
a lot or long mileage as it is today because government funds are not
sufficient to develop Bayelsa as it ought to be. So, once Bayelsans
have good money, once they have financial muscle and financial
capabilities they can attract partners that can put-in so much
billions to bring such projects into fruition, you will see that
Bayelsan money will be domiciled in Bayelsa and they would be financially empowered to strength Bayelsa economy and to attract other investors to come and partner with our business men to invest in factories and industries and to grow Bayelsa, employment will come. Its by so doing we will have robust economy in Bayelsa, and as a
government we will also attract revenue to boost our internally Generated Revenue.
Do you have any plan to establish a refinery?
Yes, our government when we come onboard will also bring to the table the issues of oil production. Bayelsa state has oil wells, we have the attala farm, the marginal oil field and what do we need, do we need to sell crude, which is between 40 to 60 dollars per barrel and failed like the way Nigeria fail in selling raw materials? For me, the right way to go is to tell our partners with the Bayelsa oil company to build refinery. We don’t need to sell the raw crude, we need to refine. If people who don’t have access to crude oil want to built refinery, what about us that already have access to crude oil. What we need is a refinery to process the crude and this will bring down the cost of this finished products. Because in Nigeria, Bayelsa is paying more than any other state and other part of this country because Bayelsa has deep riverine areas and anything you are buying at deep riverine, you can never determine what the cost is, so for me, Bayelsa oil company will encourage our partners
to built refinery, process the crude to what ever finished products that is going to come out of the crude
oil. If we have a refinery,
people will be employed, the petrol, diesel that we are going to
process in Bayelsa will reduce the cost of the finished products in
the state, it will create employment opportunities and of course the
government will also draw revenue from it. I am also saying that as a
chairman House Committee on oil and gas resources in the eight
Assembly in the House of representatives, I went into a number of discussions with the major players in the oil industry. You all
know that the Bonny NLNG is a success story and it’s one of the
highest finance contributors to the Federal Government
and if the Bonny NLNG will bring two more NLNGs will certainly solve the financial problems of the country, whatever amount you want to fund your budget with three NLNGs in Nigeria can solve that problem and they are desirous of getting it done. In the course of our discussion with SHELL, we have agreed that the bony NLNG should invest in Brass NLNG and shell has also volunteer to invest in that project and so, that dream is ongoing, as chairman of that resources in the House of
Representative, we have taken discussion largely to implementation level such that it’s only when some of us come on board, having realise it to this point, as a governor I can drive it to completion. And what do you
expect, an NLNG in Brass will open up the brass axis, it will bring
employment opportunity for our teeming youths and will also promote businesses and then as a state we are going to drew revenue from it. That is the way to go.
What will your administration do about the brass fertilizer company?
The Brass fertilizer company that has been on the dream line, I have discussions to the extent that the former Managing Director of NNPC has said what will need to do to make it come on stream and by that discussion their expectation is not much
beyond Bayelsa state government’s power and having understood that
this is what they want to have Brass fertilizer company to come on
stream because it will also generate employment again, which will generate business, which will generate income, I think that, that is
the way to go because if don’t address the issue that will create
employment, issues that will, bring about robust business environment, issues that will create more
revenue base for the government, then of course, we will still be
relying on feeding bottle democracy.
How do you mean?
We say we are a federal government, but we are practicing unitary system of government, at the end of the month, we all go to Abuja to collect whatever they appropriate to us, we do don’t know what they are given to us, they just say this is what belongs to you and you pick it and come back, which is not enough to sponsor our budgets and as for some of us, the first and most important thing to do is to look inward and generate an economy that will be self serving and we talk about this because if investors are coming to Nigeria and they land in Lagos, the moments they talk to Lagos audience and they know that it is a business that is going to succeed, Lagosians will tell you am buying it half a billion naira, or one billion or two billion and of course
they don’t have any reason to come to Bayelsa when there is already
money, when there is local content that is going to boost their
investment of course they have to talk to that audience and then move
away from there, that is the sentiment we are coming to government to solve. Bayelsans will have the capacity to put money on the table in negotiating and creating business partnership that will develop our state.