Antony Prest, a successful Warri born business man and politicians in this interview with Ayodele Samuel explains why he want to govern Delta State in 2015.
As a successful businessman, are you contesting for Delta Governorship?
My entry into politics dates back and has been in the area of ideology as influenced by writings of great men like John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jnr, Lenin, Wole Soyinka, Walter Rodney, Franz Fanon, Gadhafi’s Green Book on Direct Democracy before Gadhafi veered and most of the revolutionary Literature of the 21st Century. As recently as 1998, I and a few of my co ideological travellers came together to propagate the unregistered political party called Minority Rights Party. Our Minority was however defined as women who are mostly marginalised, the Youth, physically challenged people, Ethnic minorities, Northern Muslims who leave in a Christian dominated south and Southern Christians who live in a Muslim dominated north. Following this definition, our Minority turned out to be the true Majority!
Fundamentally, I am qualified as a Delta indigene to contest the Delta State governorship position. When you add this to my wide experience in business and understanding of the positive impact good governance will have in the development of Delta State, I would deem it a crime against the good people of Delta State for me not to present myself for service to my people. I want to challenge the existing primordial system of recruitment of political offices based on ethnic, religious, federal character, zoning, catchment area and other atavistic considerations instead of ability and merit. If or when I succeed, it will be a turning point for our coming generations as we would have established merit and ability as the vital ingredient for achieving political success. Another reason why I am contesting the governorship election of Delta State is because in my sincere view, Delta State has not achieved its full potentials. Looking at the resources that abound in the state apart from its oil resource, from the arable land for agriculture to rubber, cocoa, cassava, yam, maize and other forms of mineral resources relative to the level of development and industrialisation of the state, I will say that a lot still needs to be done. Hence I am presenting myself to my people for service. I know what it means to create jobs as this has been my major pre occupation from my days as a student at the University of Benin in the 80s till date. I know what it means to harness resources and mobilise men to achieve economic development. I know what it will take to get financial support of the EXIM banks from around the various continents of the world to our state for the purpose of economic development and emancipation of our people. These and many more are reasons why I am contesting for the governorship position of Delta State.
Can we get an insight of some of the plans you have for Delta State, if elected?
Through good governance, transparency and a strong anti-corruption orientation we shall create the enabling environment for the private sector to drive our economy. We shall create a government enabled, private sector driven economy for Delta State.
When we take the area of security for a start, we all know that there cannot be a conducive environment for economic development if we are not secured, if people do not feel safe, many intending investors will look elsewhere. Therefore I will give serious priority to the security of lives and property in Delta State. We would immediately engage the Nigerian police and Scotland Yard for a comprehensive training and re training of officers and men deployed to Delta State. We shall set up a State SWAT squad to respond to security challenges as they arise in the state. We will partner with Government Security Agencies (GSA) on better modern Communication / Surveillance equipment, improved logistics and community policing will be a key priority. Delta State has the resources and human capital to address our current state of insecurity.
On transportation, we shall immediately implement the cheapest form of transportation in the World which is RAILWAY LINES with the huge resources of almost $4 billion yearly that Delta State gets. This will in itself massively reduce youth unemployment, as the project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs by extension. The rail line will crisscross the whole state from Warri and Koko Ports to Asaba and Orerokpe moving passengers and also take advantage of the movement of goods from the Port cities of Warri and Koko to the commercial cities of Eastern Nigeria.
Every Local Government must have a well-equipped hospital with residential quarters for medical personnel.
Delta state gets $4 billion about N680 billion a year. We will immediately implement a monthly social security payment of N10, 000 to 500,000 Deltans from our 13% derivation God given oil wealth. It is clearly the responsibility of government to establish a social security system that will provide relief to the good people of Delta State who have been suffering all these years in spite of their 13% Oil wealth derivation. During the reconstruction and development period which we will commence as soon as we are in Government House, I Tony Prest promise to pay N8, 000 to every unemployed single adult above 18 years and N10,000 to the unemployed head of every family of resident Delta indigenes monthly. This social security system will be funded from our constitutionally provided 13% derivation.
How do you wish to use your experience in business to develop Delta State?
With the huge resources of almost $4b that Delta State gets annually and my experience in business, I will turn Delta State into an investors’ heaven through a zero tolerance for corruption and massive infrastructural development in for example railways, sea ports enhancement, good roads, electricity, security, human capital development, etc. I shall expose our raw materials and agricultural products in a way that will attract the right investors to set up processing and manufacturing industries in Delta State. All these steps will create the enabling environment for industries to thrive in Delta State and thus create job opportunities for our teaming youth population.
We will encourage the production of goods and services by making funds accessible to medium and small scale enterprises. We will therefore set up a Business Development Bureau to provide advisory, financial, logistic and business support to ailing businesses. The Bureau will also help package the businesses to access local and international credit facilities and expertise. The Bureau will also have a database of professionals who may be chosen to sit on the board of businesses which require revival or state financial support. The Bureau shall also provide support to patent owners, manufacturers, franchisees and manufacturers’ representatives of various goods and services to set up businesses in Delta and employ Deltans.