R. Paul Oweh is a renowned medical doctor, and proprietor of Oweh Memorial Hospital, Oleh, former chairman of the Delta State Hospital Management Board (HMB), lawyer and astute politician. In an encounter with our reporter, FIDELIS EGUGBO, he bared his mind on so many issues that you will find educating.
What is your views on the review of Nigerian constitution?
Constitution review in Nigeria is on-going and as events unfold, deficiencies in the constitution would be corrected in the best interest of Nigerians. Yes, the constitution has been reviewed in the past but, Nigeria is very complex and one can look at it from different areas; ethnic lines, religious line, among others but, we deserve a constitution that must bind us together.
Do you believe in the creation of more states?
I support creation of more states. More states will bring government closer to the people. At a time, our headquarters was at Ibadan and I can tell you that most people never visited their headquarters because of the distance. But, when more states are created, government would be closer to the people, people can easily know and assess their state capital. It will also, mean the creation of more local government areas and this will bring government closer to the people. For us in Delta State, two states would be okay. While agitating for more states, we should look at what is feasible. If we call for two states out of the present Delta State, it is feasible and justifiable.
Some people are of the opinion that Nigeria may break up. Is it possible?
Nigeria has a lot of challenges facing it today and government, at all levels, are working to solve the challenges and to also, ensure that Nigeria remains one. We have to be optimistic because Nigeria cannot breakup. There was a civil war in Nigeria and did the country break up? What is happening now, especially as it concerns Boko Haram can be resolved by government.
How do you rate Governor Uduaghan’s administration?
Our Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan is doing his best. Don’t forget it is the people that elected the governor and as such, the best rating of government is from the people. He is doing his best, though, there is always room for improvement. I think we are on course, positively.
Is it right to zone political offices in Nigeria?
Zoning makes sense in Nigerian democracy as it reduces tension. In Delta State, our first governor came from Delta Central and it moved to Delta South and the people of Delta North believe rightly that they should have a shot at it this time around which is a legitimate aspiration.
Most people believe that PDP is losing its grips in Delta State…?
(cuts in) The PDP is very strong in Delta State. What obtains in our state is different from what obtains in other states. So, I can say that the PDP will continue to win elections in the state and the party will continue to be stronger. Notable politicians identify with or are members of the PDP. It is worthy to state that as democracy becomes more entrenched in Nigeria, the people are becoming more aware of their power through the ballot box. Voting for people is now based on ability to perform and that is good for our democracy and in Delta State, the PDP-led governments has performed and it is still performing. So, PDP will win elections in Delta State any day, any time.
As a medical doctor who is fully in practice, how do you combine management of your hospital and politics?
You are involved in politics because of high expectations. In my community, Emevor, the people are happy because of the street light in the community at night. That is one dividend of democracy for the people. As it concerns my hospital and politics, I have very capable hands, they are well qualified and you know too that the hospital is a system and I am part of the system but that does not mean that if I am not around, the system collapses. The hospital can function without me because if it collapses because I am not around, that means we do not have a system. Politics is such that I move around but do not waste time on frivolities. We ensure that things are done right.
Is it not challenging?
When you run a service-oriented organization, you know that our people are very poor. Some people come here very sick and no money, what do you do? We render services and do not forget too that what we make is mainly from services. Finance is the major problem when it comes to the hospital but in politics, the challenge is making our party stronger to ensure that our party remains in charge of government at all levels.
On a last note, what is your message to Deltans?
We should maintain peace at all times in this state and also, learn to be patient with government and governance. It is not easy to govern and if we support the government of the day, surely, dividends of democracy will go round.