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June 7, 2014


The concept of democracy has been defined in various ways by different people. The most popular definition is the one given by Abraham Lincoln who defined democracy as “the government of the people, by the people and for the people.” According to C.B. Macpherson “democracy originally meant rule by the common people, the plebeians. It is very much a class affair; it meant the sway of the lowest and largest class.” According to Lord Bryce,” democracy is government in which the will of the majority of qualified citizens rule.” But to John Plamentz, “democratic government means government by persons freely chosen by and responsible to the governed.”
From the above, it is clear that scholars are not in agreement on the definition of democracy. However, it is well established all over the world that democracy is the best form of government. Democracy is so important in the world today that it has become the driving force of development. In any case, different scholars put emphasis on different issues, which they consider to be crucial to democracy. For instance, Robert Dahl argued that “ a key characteristic of a democracy is the continuing responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens considered as political equals.” On the other hand, Thomas Hodgkin posits that “ the central concept of democracy has normally been understood in its classic sense as meaning essentially, the transfer of political and other forms of power from a small ruling European class to the mass of the African people…..the African demos”.
Despite the above differences majority of scholars agree that liberal democracy contains some basic principles which include citizen participation; equality; political tolerance; accountability; transparency; regular, free and fair elections, economic freedom; control of the abuse of power; bill of rights; accepting the result of elections; human rights; multi-party system and the rule of law. It is clear to us that Nigeria transited from military rule to civilian rule in 1999. But we are still very far from entrenching democracy. It should be recognised that establishing and strengthening democracy is an ongoing process demanding continuous effort and imagination. Meanwhile, democracy goes beyond mere regular holding of elections for as Fayemi has argued, “polling booths and voters are not all that make a democracy. Indeed, democracy at its core, is a state of mind, a set of attitudinal dispositions woven into the fabric of a society, the concrete expression of which are its social institutions. Undemocratic social institutions cannot there for sire or sustain democratic governments, no matter how often the ballot box ritual is enacted.”
In this paper, we examine democracy and grassroots development in Delta State. But first, we examine the different perspectives on development, the challenges of development in Nigeria and Delta State and budgetary allocation in Delta State from 2007-2014. I will also share my personal experiences of trying to mobilise for democracy and grassroots development in Delta State and conclude with the best way forward.

The challenge of development and poverty eradication has attracted the attention of scholars, leaders and the international community over the years. Although different scholars have different perspectives on development, most students and practitioners of development accept that it must mean progress of some kind. It is seen as a multi-dimensional process, one that changes the economy, polity and society of the countries in which it occurs. Amartya Sen sees development as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. According to him, development requires the removal of major sources of unfreedom: poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or overactivity of repressive states. In this conceptualization, freedom is central to the process of development and the achievement of development is dependent on the free agency of the people. For the people to be agents of their own development require advancement in five distinct types of freedom namely political freedoms; economic facilities; social opportunities; transparency guarantees and protective security.
Similarly, the 2010 human development report opined that human development is the expansion of people’s freedom to live long, healthy and creative lives; to advance other goals they have reason to value; and to engage actively in shaping development equitably and sustainably on a shared planet. People are both the beneficiaries and the drivers of human development, as individuals and in groups. According to Pat Utomi, development simply put is discipline. It is about how discipline drives the human spirit to triumph over odds of poverty trap, physical geography, fiscal trap, governance, cultural barriers, geopolitics, lack of innovation and demographic trap. Kambhampati argues that development requires growth and structural change, some measure of distributive equity, modernization in social and cultural attitudes, a degree of political transformation and stability, an improvement in health and education so that population growth stabilizes, and an increase in urban living and employment. Cowen and Shenton have argued that the modern doctrine of development was invented in the first half of the 19th century to control the social disruptions of poverty, unemployment and human misery caused by capitalism.
From the above, it is clear to us that even though there are different perspectives to development, there is a general consensus that development will lead to good change manifested in increased capacity of people to have control over material assets, intellectual resources and ideology; and obtain physical necessities of life (food, clothing & shelter), employment, equality, participation in government, political and economic independence, adequate education, gender equality, sustainable development and peace. However, the reality of the world today is that many countries are very poor and cannot meet their development needs. It has been documented that more than 1.2 billion people, one in every five on earth live survive on less that US $1 per day. Wealth is concentrated in the hand of a few people while the majority wallows in abject poverty. The UNDP in its 1998 report documented that the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 48 least developed countries. Similarly, the 1000 richest people in the world have personal wealth greater than 500 million people in the least developed countries. Recent report indicates that the 85 richest people in the world have property more than 3.5 billion people (half of the world population).
Robert Chambers aptly captured it when he wrote:
I am so angry at what has been done, and continues to be done, in our world. It is hard to believe that the nightmare is real. We seem trapped in grotesquely unjust systems, more and more dominated by power, greed, delusion, denial, ignorance and stupidity, fuelled by symmetries of terrorism and fundamentalisms.
In a similar vein, Amartya Sen pointed out that:
We live in a world of unprecedented opulence, of a kind that would have been hard even to imagine a century or two ago…And yet we also live in a world with remarkable deprivation, destitution and oppression. There are many new problems as well as old ones, including persistence of poverty and unfulfilled elementary needs, occurrence of famines and widespread hunger, violation of elementary political freedoms as well as of basic liberties, extensive neglect of the interests and agency of women, and worsening threats to our environment and to the sustainability of our economic and social lives.
There is no doubt that the challenges of development and poverty eradication are enormous. But in the last two decades, there has been a lot of discourse on what needs to be done to deal with the challenges. The UNDP has consistently argued that the Millennium Development Goals can be met if there is political will combined with good policy ideas which are then translated into nationally owned, nationally driven development strategies guided by good science, good economics and transparent accountable governance.
Nigeria, which was one of the richest 50 countries in the early 1970s, has retrogressed to become one of the 25 poorest countries at the threshold of the twenty first century. It is ironic that Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of oil and at the same time host the third largest number of poor people after China and India. Statistics show that the incidence of poverty using the rate of US $1 per day increased from 28.1 percent in 1980 to 46.3 percent in 1985 and declined to 42.7 percent in 1992 but increased again to 65.6 percent in 1996. The incidence increased to 69.2 percent in 1997. The 2004 report by the National Planning Commission indicates that poverty has decreased to 54.4 percent. But by 2010, the poverty rate has increased again to 65.1 percent. Nigeria fares very poorly in all development indices.
Delta State is one of the 36 states in the federation of Nigeria with a population of 4,112,445 according to the 2006 population census. Delta State was created on 27th August, 1991 when the former Bendel State was split into Edo and Delta States. The state is blessed with abundant human and material resources with oil and gas accounting for about 30 percent of the nation’s crude oil resources and 40 percent of the nation’s total gas reserve of 150 trillion cubic feet.

Despite the enormous resources of the State, the level of poverty is extremely high with official statistics putting it at 84.25 percent in 2001 and 63.6 percent in 2010. About 20-30 percent of children who enrol in primary school do not complete primary education. 26 children die in every 1,000 live births. 244 women die during child birth for every 100,000 deliveries. This is unacceptable for a state with the kind of resources in Delta State.

The challenges of development in Nigeria are enormous. In recognition of the importance and enormity of development, governments especially in Africa gave a lot of prominence to development planning in the 1960s and 1970s. It has been documented that in Nigeria, right from the colonial period, development planning was viewed as a major strategy for achieving economic development and social progress, particularly, in the spheres of socio-economic infrastructures, industralisation, modernization, high rates of economic growth, poverty reduction, and significant improvements in living standards. Three plans featured in the pre-independence era for the periods 1946-1956, 1951-1955 and 1955-1962. Over the 1962-1995 period, three major phases in the planning experience emerged, namely, the fixed medium-term planning phase (1962-1985), policy oriented planning (1986-1988), and three year rolling plan phase (1990 till date). Scholars have pointed out that the golden period of planning on the African continent, 1960s and 1970s, could not be sustained from the 1980s because of two major factors: failure of development planning to meet the high expectations of rapid growth and development; and the resurgence of liberalism and the implementation of short-term stabilization and structural adjustment programmes which are predicated on liberalization and deregulation. Meanwhile, these programmes that substituted for national development plans are counter plans which have failed to solve Africa’s myriad of economic problems. This is why some scholars have referred to the 1980s and 1990s as the “lost development decades” for Africa.
The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) identified the challenges to development in Nigeria to include among other things low per capita growth; inefficient, highly volatile and unsustainable public sector spending; domestic debt; low productivity; poverty; dysfunctional educational system and weak institutions. Similarly, the draft of NEEDS 2 identified the challenges of development to include growth without employment; high level of poverty; poor infrastructure; poor energy situation; abuse of human rights, gender inequality; weak institutions; capacity constraints; weak monitoring framework; weak data management culture; slow development of the private sector; poor public sector performance; ethnic and religious conflicts; desertification; import dependency etc.
The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) identified the fundamental constraint to Nigeria’s development to include institutionalized mismanagement of public revenue particularly from oil; institutionalized corruption and weak formal accountability; and a combination of “Dutch Disease” and institutionalized rent-seeking behaviour that has undermined activity in non-oil areas of the economy (particularly agriculture and manufacturing), reducing non-oil sector economic growth, fueling unemployment and exacerbating poverty and conflict. But according to the Economic Commission for Africa, the biggest threat to Nigeria is its structural vulnerability-problems of governance, volatile oil prices, and ethnic tensions.
Several scholars have written on the challenges to development in Africa. One of the most profound is that by Claude Ake who posited that:
Many factors have been offered to explain the apparent failure of the development enterprise in Africa: the colonial legacy, social pluralism and centrifugal tendencies, the corruption of leaders, poor labour discipline, the lack of entrepreneurial skills, poor planning and incompetent management, inappropriate policies, the stifling of market mechanisms, low levels of technical assistance, the limited inflow of foreign capital, falling commodity prices and unfavourable terms of trade, and low levels of saving and investment. These factors are not irrelevant to the problem, Alone or in combination they could be serious impediments to development. However, the assumption so readily made that there has been failure of development is misleading. The problem is not so much that development has failed as that it was never really on the agenda in the first place. By all indications, political conditions in Africa are the greatest impediment to development.
From the above, it is clear that over the years, various scholars, organizations and institutions have documented the challenges of development in Nigeria. The challenges include among other things poor leadership; bad followership; poor strategy for development; lack of capable and effective state and bureaucracy; lack of focus on sectors that will improve the condition of living of citizens such as education, health, agriculture and the building of infrastructure; corruption; undeveloped, irresponsible and parasitic private sector; weak civil society; emasculated labour and student movement and poor execution of policies and programmes. As a matter of fact, the lived experiences of many Nigerians have turned them to experts of the challenges of Development in Nigeria.
It is important to point out that various theories have been propounded to explain the challenges of development and underdevelopment of Africa. These theories include classical theories; developmentalist theories and Marxist theories. The classical theories argue that underdevelopment arise from rapid population growth, lack of comparative advantage, low savings and investment and low economic growth. The developmentalist theories point out that underdevelopment arises from market failure, unbalanced growth, poor linkages and inability to reach the “take off” stage for development. The Marxist theories argue that underdevelopment comes from exploitation by external and internal collaborators with negative impact from colonialism, imperialism, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the general dependence of Africa on the developed world coupled with the stagnation and incorporation of Africa into the world capitalist system.
It is necessary to analyse the Nigerian situation and apply these theories to the Nigerian situation. In our view, Nigerians must change course for the country to develop. We are of the view that what needs to be done to bring about development is known. It is clear to us that every society has the capacity to develop and people are the real wealth of a nation. From past experiences, development scholars have concluded that while there are no silver bullets, some development approaches bring better outcomes. For instance, it has been proven that progress in health and education can drive success in human development. In addition, it has been shown that country factors such as policies, institutions and geography are important. Meanwhile, there is a lack of significant correlation between economic growth and improvement in health and education e.g. kerala in India, Costa Rica, Cuba and Sri Lanka attained higher human development than the countries at their income level. Similarly, experience has shown that markets are very bad at ensuring the provision of public goods such as security, stability, health and education and a capable, focused developmental state can help achieve development and the growth of markets. Nigerians must strive for the right kind of knowledge that can develop the country.
In Delta State, there are additional challenges to the development of Delta which are unique to Delta State in some ways in addition to the general challenges facing Nigeria. These include:
• Insecurity
• Governance
• Wrong priorities
• Lack of unity among the ethnic nationalities

Budget shows government priorities and serves as a yardstick for measuring government’s commitment to fulfilling to the letter, the ‘social contract’ it entered with the people. In other words, accessing the actual level and allocation of public expenditure is the key to understanding any government’s true expenditure priorities and coherence with the government’s policy objectives.

It is a great challenge that requires policymakers and civil society to demand for reliable and up-to-date information on the structure of the sectors and their financing with special interest in how much is budgeted for every sector. Other key questions which are of great help include: How much is actually released for every sector? What percentage of this actual release is spent? How equitably is it spent? What is the distribution of expenditure among the sub-sectors? Answers to these questions will provide a basis for understanding the government financial operations which ultimately will contribute to the goals of resource allocation, usage efficiency and fairly balanced spread of budget allocation among sectors.

Delta state for the period 2007-2014 has been implementing a 3-point Agenda for the short and medium term development of the State. The Agenda consists of key elements such as Peace and Security; Human Capital Development, and Infrastructure Development.

Delta state budget for 2007–2014 was analysed with special emphasis on the overall budget thrust and key sectors of HIV/AIDS, health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, water resources as well as gender. Applying simple percentages, priority and trend analysis, the report found that in the revenue side, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state dances around 8%-19% of the total revenue generation. Though this may be considerably higher than most states in Nigeria but this situation is not a plus to a state like Delta with all natural and human endowment available. There is need for a conventional and potentially viable source of revenue for the state government which will be far from oil. The state is currently benefiting from the 13% oil derivation proceed and hence should show serious effort towards state economy diversification.

There is also a concern in the level of recurrent expenditure including the overhead cost in relation to personnel costs in the state budget allocation for the period. Evidence reveals that the ratio of overhead/personnel costs for the period 2007-2014 were between 0.7 and 1.09 and the size of personnel budget is an indication of the ambit of service delivery duties/functions of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs). During the period 2007-2014 in the Delta state, overhead were disproportionately smaller than those for personnel hence may have impaired efficient and effective service delivery and put the overall budget targets/goals in jeopardy. Therefore, there is the need for an appropriate mix of allocations for personnel and overhead for sustainable service delivery in education, health, agriculture and other sectors.

On the expenditure side, priority analysis reveals that on average, education, transport, works and infrastructure, health as well as Government House and Governor’s Office in the above order were the top five priorities of the Delta state government looking at the percentage shares of the sectors for the period 2007-2011. It is also quite interesting to note that on average for the period 2007-2011, government house cum governor’s office received more budget allocation than agriculture, commerce and industry, women affairs and social development and water resources put together.

The period 2012-2013 marked a significant shift in spending as works comprising of roads, bridges and drainages got the highest allocation followed by basic and secondary education and unfortunately lands, survey and urban planning before the health and higher education sectors. Within the period 2012-2013, the office of the executive Governor receives more allocation than housing and urban development, agriculture and natural resources, water supply and resources as well as commerce and industry put together while the office of the secretary to the state government receives more allocation that women affairs and social development as well as environmental sewerage and drainages put together.

Further analysis shows that only works and infrastructure, education and health sectors attracted more share of the budget than Government House and Governor’s office while commerce, industry and technology, agriculture and natural resources, women affairs and social development, youths and sports, water resources, lands and housing as well as environment attracted allocation less than that of the Government House for the entire period.

The above findings in summary suggests that priorities as shown in the state budget may not be people/policy/legal driven but government driven priorities hence the sharp switches over the period without a look on the achievement so far. Such practice may also be as a result of not following the state policy thrust (three point agenda) as well as the individual policies guiding the sectors which the budget should finance rather than the interest of the few (ruling class). There is the need to always ask the questions: how has the budget performed in financing the policies as well as how has the budget provided funds for the attainment of the required obligations under the sector?

Sectoral budget analysis for the period shows the presence of locations in most of the line budget items unlike some other states of the federation which shows some level of transparency. It is also noteworthy that control of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases attracted only a capital allocation of N460 million or 2.37% of total capital allocation to the Health sector while preventive measures for other illnesses attracted N917 million or 4.73% of total capital allocation to the Health sector for the period 2007-2011. The period 2012-2013 in the health sector was not better off as over 70% of the capital health allocation went to construction, renovation and rehabilitation with 0% to HIV/AIDS, 17% to drugs, medical equipment and medical consumables, 2% to administration issues as well as 10% to preventive measures. The above situation makes one wonder how the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases will be won in the state if funding is inadequate and unsustainable?

Also noteworthy is the fact that health sector budget in the state were full of construction while drugs and medical consumables attracted only 22.48% in the period 2007-2011 and reduced further to 17% in the period 2012-2013 which is less than a third of the amount meant for construction, rehabilitation and renovations of healthcare outfits (71%) for the entire period 2007-2014. Such diminuendo of funding for drugs and medical consumables as well as preventive medical cases is an issue to be worried about because of the effect on the out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses incurred by Delta State households. Also conspicuously omitted in the Delta State budget for the period 2007-2014 are issues and provision for mental health and dental health, immunization against the major infectious diseases and the provision of care during pregnancy and childbirth which is the main strategy identified in its vision, including access to emergency obstetric care for mothers.

Delta State three point agenda Vision 2020 recognised education as a major tool and a strategic lever for the socio-economic development of the state and for individual socio-economic empowerment and poverty reduction under the human capital development. The agenda and vision identified payment of NECO and WAEC fees for public secondary school students in Delta State; as well as the establishment and equipping of various skill acquisition centres across the State as key strategies toward achieving the above goal. An analysis of the education capital budget for the period reveals a 25.46% to primary, 44.81% to secondary and a 29.73% to tertiary education. The same trend were maintained in 2012 and 2013.

For the period (2007-2014) apart from N100 million for teacher training colleges in the state in 2007 capital budget no other line item was provided for capacity building of the teachers (teacher training, teachers exchange programme, etc) were found in the respective capital budgets. This is a clear contradiction of the state education mission which is to use education as a major tool and a strategic lever for the socio-economic development of the state and for individual socio-economic empowerment and poverty reduction under the human capital development.

Further analysis of the education sector allocation for the period shows the need for another look at the allocative and distributional efficiency of the sector and by so doing there is need to answer the question: Are the right programmes being financed that will have the greatest impact? Answer to this question will help Delta state education sector to make headway in achieving its set goals and targets.

Some of the major agricultural products from Delta state include oil palm, plantain/banana, rubber, timber/wood, cassava, yam, maize, melon, cocoa, cocoyam, fruits and vegetables, as well as livestock and fisheries products. Interesting programmes and projects initiated by the state include:
• Farmers empowerment programme (mobilization of rural women for sustainable Agriculture (MORWSA) which has a total allocation of N103 million for the period;
• Young farmers’ club/farmers associations which has a total allocation of N129 million for the period 2007-2013;
• Procurement of modern tractors for farmers with an allocation of N3.5 billion for the period 2007-2013;
• Small holder cocoa scheme which has a total allocation of N54 million for the period;
• Food productions programme/live and own a farm (LOAF) which has allocation of N253 million for the period;
• Rice production programme with allocation of N200 million for the period 2007-2013;
• Cassava development initiative programme with a total allocation of N3.13 billion for the period 2007-2013;
• State subsidized fertilizer procurement programme with an allocation of N970 million for the period 2007-2013 and
• National programme for food security (NPFS) with a total allocation of N70 million for the period.

Further analysis reveals that during the period, there were allocations to assist farmers, allocation to farm settlements and allocation to communal farms. It is commendable, the introduction of the above programmes and projects but more funding and proper monitoring and evaluation as well as details cost-benefit analysis have to be carried out regularly if the targets of the sector must be met. Sustenance of these newly introduced programmes as listed above is also necessary if research founds them beneficial to farmers.

An analysis of the state budget for the period 2007-2013 shows no significance budget allocation that will lead to sustained improvement of the welfare of women, children, physically challenged persons and the aged as necessary in reducing social exclusion. Evidence from the detailed capital allocation analysis shows that the state is still tackling gender and social development issues using the charity model whereby activities by society “help” disabled or vulnerable person or group, who is “helpless”.

Analysis of water supply capital budget for the period 2007-2010 shows allocation to different water supply schemes in the state to the value of N3.899 billion in 2007, N2.842 billion in 2008, N5.482 in 2009, N5.978 billion in 2010 and N2.386 billion for 2011 through allocation were provided for retinue of projects in 2012 and 2013. The trend of capital allocation to water shows a gangster swagger movement which is not healthy for Delta state. NBS (2008) put access to drinkable water in Delta state to less than 50% hence this movement from high to low and back to high allocation makes planning by the state water authority difficult.

It is also noteworthy that issues around water sanitation and hygiene have no place in water supply capital allocation for the state during the period which is unfortunate for the state. This is because better water, better education (especially for women), better sanitation and hygiene, better nutrition etc., are important complementary factors leading to better health. The impact of better health services in part depends on these other influences. This implies that government should not treat any of this issue in isolation rather be handled collectively and comprehensively.

Delta state has two ministries dedicated to issues of roads, transportation, bridges, drainages and housing. The Ministry of Works and Transport handles roads, transportation, re-surfacing, bridges, and drainages while the Ministry of Housing is in charge of housing issue in the state. Analysis reveals allocations to several roads, transportation, bridges, drainages and housing over the period 2007-2014. Road construction, maintenance, reconstruction, and rehabilitation dominated across locations dominated the state works and transport capital budget during the period as well as the allocation for Asaba Airstrip. Other major allocation went to flood and erosion control measures, drainage construction as well as construction of concrete drains. Major housing capital allocation expected to benefit the populace during the period include N450 million, N246 million, N115 million, N100 million and N70 million to low and medium cost housing scheme in oil producing area in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Based on the findings, several issues and questions were raised both at the overall budget thrust as well as the sectoral analysis and possible recommendations were given at every level of analysis to help improve the budget and the budgeting process of the state. The major recommendations include:
• Elimination of all forms of repetitions of line items that abound in almost every MDA in the state which shows lack of transparency and weak legislative oversight function both at the enactment/approval and monitoring/evaluation stages of the budget process.
• Capital budget provision for planning, research and statistics in all the MDAs in the state.
• The adoption of the principles of zero budgeting than just incremental budget since zero budgeting is based on the evaluation of the sectors and their expenditure need i.e. budgeting process assuming that the sectors under consideration require a new budget outlay every year, according to the development in that sector. Zero budgeting is more development oriented and with the introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budgeting will be more focused and help in achieving the MDGs if implementation is carried out appropriately.
• Given the role of education and health in all spheres of development (social, economic and environment) there is need for an upward surge in allocation to act as tools for the total socio-economic and political empowerment of every citizen of Delta, irrespective of gender, age, geographical location or terrain and tribe and to make Delta economically vibrant and politically stable.
• Overall, current avenues for political participation are insufficient and consequently youth in many places are perceived as apathetic or disengaged. In Delta therefore, the reform of political structures is necessary so that democracy may truly engage and utilize the populace. There is need for more young people breaking through the mold of traditional political avenues and moving beyond voting as their sole civic responsibility. This includes the release of timely, detailed information to allow the involvement of civil society and the media also.
• CSOs and other stakeholders participation can facilitate the strengthening of these linkages and ensure equitable and, in particular, gender and youth sensitive application. Civil society organizations can play an important role in complementing and substituting for the traditional social networks.
• The budget is an effort to continue the government’s multifaceted and holistic approach to addressing the situation of unemployment and poverty in the state: ensuring security and also focusing on developing infrastructure, grass-roots empowerment, and the preservation and restoration of the environment should be highly encouraged in achieving this overall goal of the state.

Delta state is dominated by agricultural population and there is need to remember that MDG 2 which is about universal education has the most indirect linkage to agriculture. A more dynamic agricultural sector will change the assessment of economic returns to educating children, compared to the returns from keeping children out of school to work in household (agricultural) enterprises.
Delta state government should also have in mind the economic stipulation of the Nigerian Constitution. The economic objectives in Section 16 of the Constitution provides for a number of general issues but the most relevant and pointed part of Section 16 of the Constitution provides as follows:
(2) (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, unemployment and sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.

The desire to mobilise for change in society that will benefit poor people was inculcated in me at the University of Benin in the 1980s when I joined the League of Patriotic Students (LOPS), a Marxist-Leninist organisation committed to revolutionary reconstitution of society. Since then, I have tried in all circumstances and organisations that I am involved in to struggle for change that will benefit the poor and down trodden. It is this drive that made me to make a career change from a thriving Pharmacy practice into the development sector in 2000 when I joined the Centre for Democracy and Development.
From my knowledge of societal development, it is clear to me that the greatest arena to bring about change to society is government. Therefore, during the transition to civil rule in 1998, I contested the primaries for election into the Delta State House of Assembly during the Abatcha regime. When Gen Sani Abatcha died and Gen Abdulsalami announced his transition plan, many of us did not believe him and I did not participate.
The conduct of elections especially in Delta State in 2003 and 2007 where voting did not take place in many of the places including my polling unit and ward and results were announced made me not to consider participating in electoral contest. But in 2011, there was voting in many places including my unit and ward and this encouraged me to join the gubernatorial race for Delta State in 2015.
The process started in 2011. Along with fifteen other professionals, we formed an organisation known as Delta Development Initiative (DDI). The DDI noted that over the years, there is progressive degeneration in governance and development in Delta State. Violence, brigandage and mafia style behavior has been introduced into the body politic. Merit, professionalism and decency for which Delta State was known in the past have been completely jettisoned. The cliché Delta- Number One has gradually become Delta no dey carry last. Instead of our usual first position we now struggle for last position in many aspects of life especially the standard of living of the people. There is degeneration of values. The values of respect, hardwork, integrity and self pride are being completely eroded. Deltans, both young and old have been turned to beggars in the name of empowerment. Begging which is alien to our culture as Delta people is now being entrenched. Immorality is increasing. DDI opined that the present state of affairs in the social, economic and political affairs of Delta State need collective rescue by all well meaning Deltans. It therefore argued for the need for awareness and re-orientation of who we are as Deltans. It emphasized the need to introduce decency, professionalism and accountability in governance and make the welfare of citizens and the development of the state the primary purpose of government.
After much reflection, we formulated a framework for mobilisation for change focusing on strategy, organisation and people.
1. STRATEGY: It is clear to us that we can utilise at least three strategic approaches to mobilise for change in Delta: monopolistic strategy, oligopolistic strategy and distinctive strategy. Monopolistic strategy will involve an approach that will annihilate all opposition to the change process and emerge as the only dominant force to take power with little or no competition. Oligopolistic strategy will involve forming alliances with power caucuses across the state to overcome opposition to the change process to wrestle power from the ruling clique in Delta. Distinctive strategy will involve a process of mobilising citizens for change with a clear programme and approach that is different. It was clear to us from the beginning given our strengths and weaknesses that we will use distinctive strategy but will align with several groups across political, class and ethnic groups.
2. ORGANISATION: The movement started with the inauguration of Delta Development Initiative (DDI). The inaugural meeting of DDI was held on 4th December, 2011 with 16 professionals to mobilise for the development of Delta State. The first project was analysis of Delta State budget from 2007-2011. The report was published. The second project was on Strategic Transformation of Delta State for holistic development. The report was published and a workshop held on 12th March, 2012. It then dawned on us that we needed a more politically focused organization to mobilise for radical change in Delta State. In March, 2012, the Delta Rescue Mission (DRM) was formed with a core group and six directorates: Mobilisation, Education, Youth, Women, IT and Communication.

From April-December, 2012, the Delta Rescue Mission (DRM) moved across the three senatorial districts and 25 LGAs of the state mobilizing for change. From our contact and work with the grassroots, two things stand out clearly:
1. Deltans are yearning for a radical change and a complete break from the past.
2. They are looking forward to a leader that they can trust. They have been deceived several times in the past and are very suspicious of anyone.
In December, the core group was constituted into a task force of three groups, one for each of the senatorial districts to register members for each of the wards across the 25 LGAs of the state. The response of Deltans to our mobilization for change has been to say the least overwhelming.
Any organisation that want to struggle for change must realise the importance of platform. The platform for organising for change is political party. From analysis of political parties in Nigeria and Delta State, it is clear to us that the best political party to mobilise for change is the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The importance of political parties in a well-functioning democracy in a modern state in the twenty first century cannot be overemphasized. It has been documented that representative democracy cannot exist without political parties and attempts at having democratic government without political parties have consistently failed. A political party is normally formed with the main purpose of gaining political power. In the process of organizing to win power, political parties formulate programmes and manifestoes to make the citizens to vote for them.
We have argued in the past that the manifestoes of political parties in Nigeria contain no clear ideologies, diagnostics and strategies to address the challenges of development in Nigeria. However, the registrations of the All Progressive Congress (APC) appear to have changed that scenario in Nigeria.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) was registered a political party from the merging legacy parties (ACN, ANPP, CPC and APGA) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 31st July, 2013. A few weeks later, the party released its manifesto. The manifesto of the party is refreshingly different from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and even the parties that merged to form the party in many respects.
First and foremost, the manifesto of the party clearly states that its mission is “to construct a progressive state anchored on social democracy, where the welfare and security of the citizenry is paramount.” (p.1).
Secondly, the manifesto clearly recognizes the role of the state in the development process and the need to protect the weak and vulnerable from the vagaries of the market. The manifesto clearly states that the party will work for the promotion of “broad based market economy providing opportunities for developing our abundant natural resources and harnessing the economic potential of individuals and groups, but protecting society against predatory capitalism.” (p.4).
Thirdly, the party has a clear programme to tackle corruption. In fact, war against corruption is number one among the seven cardinal programmes of war against corruption, food security, accelerated power supply, integrated transport network, free education, devolution of power, accelerated economic growth and affordable health care.
Fourthly, the programmes of the party are deliberately formulated to favour the poor. The manifesto states clearly that “power must be used in the interest of the people rather in the interest of the public office holder.” (p1). Indeed, the party commits to “the primary purpose of good governance which is the welfare of Nigerians and shall strive to eliminate poverty and create job opportunities.” (p3). Some of the pro-poor programmes include Free Education; Farm settlements; rural electrification; programme for persons living with disabilities; one million housing units per annum by direct social housing programme and others; promotion of human rights, poverty safety net for senior citizens above 65 years old and youth programme.
Finally, the manifesto of APC recognizes the place of women in governance and development. The party has clear programmes for women including political empowerment programmes, economic empowerment programmes, Nigerian women’s charter and free education for the girl child up to tertiary level.
These features are revolutionary in political party manifesto in Nigeria. They represent a marked departure from the past of wholesale adoption of unbridled neo-liberalism and anti-poor programmes and policies.
The challenge is for the leadership and members of the party to know and understand the implications of these progressive pronouncements and put in place the right kind of leadership, systems, structures and people that can deliver these programmes.
Given the philosophical and programmatic direction of APC, it was not difficult for me to align with it and register as a member.
3. PEOPLE: We are very conscious of the fact that great people make great organization. The key to organizational performance are people. Organisation scholars have pointed out that any organization made up of selfish and indisciplined people cannot go far. We therefore carefully selected our core group made up of committed people to change in Delta. We deliberately avoided political entrepreneurs and chalartans.

We have faced a lot of challenges in mobilising for change in Delta. Let us outline a few of them.
1. DEMAND FOR MONEY: One of the greatest challenges that we faced is unreasonable demand for money. The demand ranges for legitimate demand for school fees which I was doing for many people before my declaration to run for office to support for marriage and burial ceremonies. The greatest number of demand is for vehicles. Many groups daily inundate me and the Director General of Dr. Otive Igbuzor Organisation, Mr. Tive Denedo with proposals for mobilisation for my success. Most of the proposals have budget with outrageous amounts. Some of the items are just ridiculous and when you look at the prices, you just wonder whether the people think that you live in another planet. When they are told that the campaign must be in phases and that the first step is to mobilise people to register as members of the party, they go about saying that you do not want to spend money or you are not ready for the election.
2. POLITICAL ENTREPRENEURS: There are a lot of political entrepreneurs in Delta State especially in opposition politics. Many of them do not have any reasonable means of livelihood. They openly proclaim that they are professional politicians. They target small parties without base in Delta State to become state executive members. They have no intention of winning any election or fielding any candidates. Politics is their means of livelihood. Their intention is to be invited to national meetings of the party and paid transport and accommodation allowances. On Election Day, they will collect the money from the party for the state and do little or nothing to mobilise for their political party. In fact, they go to the polling unit for the major parties to settle them and be allowed to rig the elections. I heard a story of a situation where one of the political entrepreneurs went to Zamfara during the preparation for the 2011 elections. He collected the money for the delegates from Delta State and it took the intervention of the police for the money to be given to the delegates who would have been stranded. Their popular refrain is that receipts are not normally given with political money and therefore cannot be accounted for. There are many of the political entrepreneurs in Delta State.
3. BAD POLITICIANS WITHOUT ETHICS AND MORALS: The popular belief is that in politics, there are no ethics and morals. During the preparation for registration of APC members in Delta State, I met the Chairman of the registration committee in Abuja-Mr. Ben Oranusi. For effective registration of members that will be able to face the ruling party in the State, I thought that all the leaders should be involved in the mobilisation of members. I therefore gave the name and contact of leading APC members in the state to Mr. Ben Oranusi including Olorogun Otega Emerhor; Olorogun Festus Keyamu, Senator Adego Eferakeya, Major Okobia, Sir Fedelis Tilije, Mr. Tive Denedo and so on. Many of my supporters could not understand this and many have not forgiven me till today. In their calculation, some of the people are my potential opponents during primaries and should be excluded from the registration process if possible. I do not think so. In addition, many of the politicians have consistently told me that you cannot practice Christianity in politics. In a meeting to review the challenges of the congress at Emonu-Orogun on 9th May, 2014, many of the speakers counselled me to separate Christianity from politics. It is clear to me that those people do not understand what Christianity is otherwise their advice would not have come. What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his soul? In my view, politics in Nigeria need more godly people to bring back ethics and morals into politics.
4. INTERNAL PARTY DEMOCRACY: APC REGISTRATION AND CONGRESS. The first thing that happened after the formation of APC is formation of Interim Executive for the national level and states according to certain criteria. The first major activity was registration of party members. As a team poised to mobilise for change, we participated actively in the registration process using our structures across the 25 LGAs in the state. The next major activity was the party congresses to elect officers for the party at the ward, local government and state levels. Unfortunately, the congress elections was hijacked by undemocratic elements within the party. Results were written without election in many of the wards. Petition has been written to the national secretariat of the party and the trajectory of the party in Delta State will depend on the response of the party because a house built on sand cannot stand.

I have always argued that change is inevitable in any society when the conditions for change (objective and subjective conditions) exist. Objective conditions exist when situations are evidently abnormal with huge contradictions which can only be resolved by change. The subjective conditions are the organizational preparations required to bring about change. In our view, the objective condition for change is ripe in Delta State. There is poverty in the midst of plenty. There are huge contradictions and gap between the poor and the rich. The development strides in the state cannot be compared with the resources of the state. The State cannot continue in the way it is presently being run. The challenge is to build the organization with dynamic and visionary leadership as well as a committed followership that is dedicated to change. Therefore ongoing attempts to build the requisite organization, leadership and followership for change must be assisted, nurtured and consolidated for the necessary change to occur in Delta.
The drive to struggle for equity, fairness and justice runs in my blood. Anywhere I find myself, I will continue to struggle for change. Whatever position I find myself, I will continue to fight for change. Struggle for change is not a dash-it is a marathon.

In the past few years, Delta State government has brought out some good concepts and slogans that apparently resonates with the people such as Delta without Oil and Finishing Strong. The concept of Delta without Oil is premised on the vision that Delta State will remain self-sufficient and be able to cater for the needs of its people in the absence oil. The strategy is to leverage revenue from oil and diversify the economy with special emphasis on manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture, mineral and human resources. There is no doubt that the concepts and slogans are good. But as Emmanuel Addeh has argued, “the highly publicised attempts to shift Delta from its current dependence on federal allocation remains either dawdling, stunted or a complete mirage.” For instance, oil revenue still constitute over 90 percent of Delta State revenue after many years of sloganeering. Meanwhile, we are yet to reap the benefits of huge budgetary allocation for the development of Koko Export Free zone, Warri Industrial Park and State Independent Power Project.
The concept of Finishing Strong comes from the book titled Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar. He argues that for a Christian, it does not matter if you had a great start or poor start. What matters most is how you finish which will determine your eternity. Therefore, for a human being, if you are an armed robber all your life but you repent one minute before you die or rapture takes place, you have finished strong. This concept cannot be applied to government. A government cannot spend seven years poorly for instance and finish strong within one year. It will be better for Deltans for every government to start strong and finish strong.

Delta State is at a cross road. It is clear us that the people of Delta are yearning for a change. They need leaders that they can trust. But there is a huge challenge of the strategy, organisation and people that can bring about the required change. There is no doubt that you cannot use the strategy of the status quo to bring about change. Change requires correct strategy and effective organisation built on a solid foundation. A house built on sand cannot stand. The people must be ready for change. There are many good people in Delta State with the required knowledge, capacity and resources to bring about change. But many of them are standing apart and watching. Let us be reminded by the words of Frantz Fanon that every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor and by the words of Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.


otive igbuzor1
Otive Igbuzor, PhD
President, Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria (ISMN) and
Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD),
Headquarters: Suite 27-28, Second Floor, Tolse Plaza,
4, Franca Afegbua Crescent,
Off Mariere road,
After Apo Legislative Quarters,
Abuja, Nigeria.
Niger Delta Office: No. 1 Ralph Uwechue Way,
Off Okpanam Road, Opposite Legislative Quarters, Asaba, Delta State.

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