Transporters Are Happy With Governor Emmanuel –Orman
The Honourable Commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Resources, Rt. Hon. Orman Esin, in this interview 9JAECHO.COM, bares his mind on the alleged lost of confidence in him by transport stakeholders, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s second term come 2019, and other issues bothering the transport sector. Excerpt…
It’s nice having you here, Honourable Commissioner…
You are welcome.
We have seen some publications about your personality as the Honour Commissioner for Transport, on a certain local tabloid that you should be sacked, and transport stakeholders losing confidence in you; and that the Governor risks losing their votes in 2019. In the said publication, you have been accused of misusing the revenue accruing to the state government through the transport sector, and nepotism. Do you practice nepotism?
No. The truth is when you are determined to create a change and have a result to remain focused, naturally, you will have opposition. And off course there will be confrontation. So for me, those publications cannot deter me or for any reason make me lose focus on what I’m sent or set to do in this ministry.
I’m very determined to ensure that we have a very organised and well managed ministry especially in the sector which we all know in past used to be an all-comers affair. Our streets were loitered with touts, and I refused that this should be the norm in my time. I’m not worried about those publications, but off course the moment you assume a place of leadership, those things are normal especially for those people that are ready and set to do the job of delivering service to the people.
We need to call a spade a spade. I do not understand where you will manage a system and it’s not functional. I believe in setting up a functional system and things are being implemented, not just by words of mouth, not playing politics with what is expected to be done. I’m very much in line with the vision of His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel. If you understand the way he (Governor) operates, you will find out that he is a man that is very focus. Even in the state, people try to talk down, but then, what matters most is, what are the people saying?
You can go to the streets to ask about what people are saying, because sometimes we lose sight on the needs of the people and concentrate more on the needs of those who are in charge. We need to give back to the society. That is the bottom line. My ministry is a people-driven ministry; therefore, whatever we do has to be in line with the generality of the people in the sector.
Would you say that the publication came from the ministry?
Not at all, but some angles where I decided to take the bull by the horn and they are not comfortable with it.
Who are the they?
Some union people, chieftains, etc and I made those things very clear. For example, the tariff that was imposed on the transporters was on a very high side. They were imposed a fee of between N26,000 to N30,000 for registration. I came in to ask questions – what are we charging for? What are we asking? When they brought the breakdown, I discovered that it was too much, and we decided to cut down the tariff. We need to understand that times are hard. These people go about their businesses under the sun from morning till night. Don’t we have conscience? These are your fellow human beings. Would you have paid if the tariffs were on you? This attack is coming at the point the tariff was crashed, so some people area angry.
Would you mind mentioning names?
It’s not necessary. That is not why I’m here. I’m here to serve the people, and I take decisions for the good of the people. I don’t have to start focusing on the few people that would say it’s not supposed to be, because some portions of bread have been taken out of their mouths. That’s not my concern. My concern is looking at issues on ground, look at how it will affect our people, how they are responding to these issues and what we need to do to cushion most of the effects of the issues on the people. That’s what matters to me and we take decisions based on the generality of the people.
How much are transporters expected to pay?
We have cut it down to as low as N10,000 and all of that. I think it makes a lot of sense. For instance, if you check the breakdown of the NURTW, the emblem that is coming from national supposed to be about N500, but they are charging our people N5,000. That is totally unacceptable. Even at that, they are remitting the whole some to the national. It doesn’t make sense.
Where do you think the money is going to?
They are in the right position to answer that question. That is why I said I needed to know where tariffs were going to. It has to be properly channelled so that it doesn’t look as is government is extorting money from them.
Would you say that you have a robust relationship with transporters in Akwa Ibom State?
There is a very wonderful relationship between the ministry and transporters in the state. They are very happy with the government and the Governor that is why they use the “Transporters for Udom” stickers on their buses and tricycles. That was made possible because they are happy. None was forced to use the sticker. They all picked it willingly.
Governor Emmanuel has given them task-free days. What we are doing is to crack down on extortion and illegal tariffs. They have to maintain the vehicles, fuel it, and cater for their families. That is why when you see them looking angry, it is not because they want to be angry. It is because of the pressure. What we can do is to take off the pressure on them and give them enabling environment to operate. Gone are the days that the tricycle (Keke) operators were complaining task force harassing them. We have been able to arrest that issue and the people are happy.
The issue of task force harassment has been eradicated completely in the state. Though it was not an easy task but we had to stand our ground. We had to dissolve task force and bring onboard the Compliance and Monitoring Unit into the ministry that will look into the compliance of operators in the transport sector, and they were instructed on what to do. They are not expected to harass, intimidate or threaten any operator, but go about their business as long as they comply to government directives and rules that we have in place.
Machineries have put in place to checkmate fallout of human nature because some might be doing certain things that they are not supposed to do. Generally speaking, we have been able to reduce those levels of restiveness within the space to its barest minimum.
So how can an Akwa Ibom son get to contact the ministry in case of default of rules given to the officials?
All the officials have their names on their uniforms. It is fully engraved on their batches, and if there is any issue with that particular official, you can report to the ministry and the matter will be investigated thoroughly.
Is it not possible for a common young man in the street to camouflage the uniform?
It is not possible because they know themselves. Everybody’s file is in the ministry and we know their numbers and routes.
How about a set of people around the former AKTC park along Ikot Ekpene Road?
I’m sure those are the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs). Their operation is constitutional. They are not allowed to use arms rather they are spice. It is part of their responsibilities to have spice in case any defaulter wants to make away, they can stop you through those spice. Generally speaking, we expect that people should be law-abiding. People have lost their lives in the process of trying to run away from the VIOs. When you see them, you don’t need to run. Just stop, and all they can do is ask one or two questions to ensure that your vehicle is road worthy.
We need to keep our rules. For government to succeed, it must enforce. This is just the basic rule of governance. Imagine what would become of the country if there was no police. Government enforces not because it hates the people, but for the good of the people.
Honourable Commissioner, in the said publication, it’s been alleged that in the ministry and transport sector, the head of transport groups are more of people from your area – Oron…
That is not true. I would like you to carry out investigative journalism. I’m not here to play ethnic politics. Yes we are politicians but we cannot play politics we governance.
Do you have any fear that you might be sacked?
No. Why are you afraid of something when you know that God is with you? When you are doing the right thing, you don’t need to be afraid of anything because God will be there to stand by you, and there is no level of blackmail that will work. God sent me here for a reason and I can’t fail God for any reason.
For about two or three times, we have seen you mobilise transporters to endorse Governor Udom Emmanuel on a street work to the Government House. How has been possible for you gather such a great number of transporters?
Basically, I don’t go about mobilising them to endorse the Governor. What I do is that I carry out the vision of Governor Udom Emmanuel and they are happy about it, and decided to pay solidarity to him. When people are happy, they will want to express their appreciation.
Do you see Governor Udom Emmanuel returning 2019?
Absolutely! And I tell you why. The battle is not to the swift neither is it to the strong, but by the special grace of God. One thing I have seen and noticed about Mr Udom Emmanuel is that he is a praying Governor. You can’t defeat him. He has handed Akwa Ibom State over to God, and God will hand the state back to him. People just need to understand that we lead beyond what the eyes can see. We have been brought here to deliver on mandate and that mandate is to give back to the people. That is what God is all about. The Bible says He (Jesus) went about doing good. So if He sends you to a place, your duty is to make sure you do good to the people.
Governor Emmanuel is busy striking deals with private investors to see what he can bring to the state. You can see that no matter what you write about him in the tabloid, he doesn’t respond. That is what makes a leader.
I’m telling you without any doubt that things will fall back for Mr Udom Emmanuel in 2019 and he will return as Governor for second term.
Have you communicated with the transporters concerning the 2019 elections?
You must work. Election is still ahead of us. It is your work that will determine if they will come in or not. What we need to do first is to concentrate on the job that needs to be done.
On a final note, do you believe in dialogue with these stakeholders of the sector?
Dialogue is key. It is the way out. But it has to be robust. Dialogue has to be all encompassing. It has to be reasonable. Dialogue cannot be with lock sided. I am totally ready to sit with them.