Recession compounding SME activities—Eyeoyibo

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Honourable Bemigho Eyeoyibo is the CEO, Roseview Global Concepts Limited, owners of Roseview Court, Hotel & Catering Services and Club 3sixty Reloaded among other companies. He is a philanthropist and politician who contested in the last general elections in his constituency,Warri North LGA, Delta State. In this interview with Moses Nosike, he argued that  the Buhari administration was not responsible for the current economic recession in the country but our dependent on foreign goods as well as  failure of  previous government to save for the future.

How do you see the current economic recession in the country?

The economic recession in the country today is like the dooms’ day we’ve been long awaiting, which is now staring us on the face. The recession we are talking about didn’t start instantly, it has been accumulating over time through the failure of previous governments. However, the new administration has to come out and tell Nigerians the true position of the economy and what they are doing to get things right. But like every other patriotic Nigerian, I’m optimistic that the recession is a phase that would pass over. Nigeria is not the only country that has experienced recession. Some advanced countries like America had gone through numerous recessions and it came out of it. Nigeria is not an exception and we will come out of it. Recession is a global thing and countries that are plunged into it take their time to come out of it with good economic policies in place. Nigeria’s case is however caused by over dependence on foreign goods and oil and the crash in the Naira.

Nigeria’s economic challenge today is not the problem of APC or those in charge now. It is a result of long accumulated socio-economic and political problems which previous leaders refused to address. So it has got to a melting point which is near explosion. So accusations and counter accusations among political parties are not important now. What is important is that everybody should come to the table to chart a course for the survival of  Nigerian economy and polity. We don’t need all these distractions for now.

Eteoyibo

Small and Medium Enterprises and other business are facing some challenges because of the problem of forex, does it affect hospitality business like yours?

Every facet of the economy is affected, hospitality business is not an exception. Things are not just working,the cost of running hospitality business now has gone up in the mist of zero energy supply. And to worsen the matter, people don’t have the economic power to patronize these businesses as they have to consider their stomach first. The situation is tough now in the country and hospitality business in all ramifications is badly hit.

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What is your take on Niger Delta youth development?

Well, I would not ascribe what is going on in the Niger Delta region as crime, insecurity, terrorism or whatever negative name anybody would like to give it or government would choose to label it. Unfortunately, the Niger Deltans, in the mist of plenty and as the major source of income generation for the Nigerian economy through oil, are the most impoverished with their social and economic environment destroyed from pollution from the wells of oil companies and the neglect from government. The avenue through which they are making their demands might not be appropriate, even though they are fighting a just cause. I therefore advise that rather than resort to arms they should use diplomatic approach and peaceful means to achieve their goals.

On the other hand, I think the way forward is to keep these youths busy and provide alternative to oil. Over dependence on oil is the bane of our economic problem. Government should come closer to those regions, communities and provide them with social amenities such as roads, potable water, housing, electricity etc. The youths should be empowered with skills and  introduce them to agriculture. In the riverine areas if the water is not polluted by the wicked tendencies of oil companies we can plant rice which the country needs now. At the river banks we can plant sugar cane. There is no part of the Niger Delta apart from oil that is not fertile because of the water there. Let’s spend money to develop agricultural and crafts schemes.

Federal Government has met severally with Niger Delta elders on development in the area but there seems to be no result…

Those who have been going to dialogue with Federal Government on behalf of the Niger Delta people are not sincere. They not only dialogue with government but they go into shoddy negotiations with oil companies in the region, get things for themselves and it ends there. The outcome of their dialogue has always favoured them and their cohorts, meanwhile the communities are not getting any impact from their dialogue with government. My suggestion is that government should directly get involved and any project they want to carry out should be done by government itself, and that is the only way result will come in Niger Delta. They should do away with intermediaries. So, there is need for a blue print, a mission statement for Niger Delta from the government that should be executed directly by government.

Insecurity appears to be on the increase, for instance, your recently concluded conference at Sapele was allegedly invaded by local vigilante and group of people in army uniform. Why is this so?

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I was actively involved in that conference that was held on February 18, 2017 in Sapele, Delta state where I was one of the guest speakers. The Neo Black Movement of Africa is a registered organization with Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria. Apart from that registration, they also have a Federal High Court declaration in Lagos that the Neo Black Movement of Africa is a legal entity and they must be allowed to exercise their fundamental human  right to gather without harassment by anybody for that matter. I was ably informed that necessary permission was sought and same granted by the officer in charge of Sapele divisional police station. The humiliation, embarrassment, attack of the members and non members, men, women and children in Sapele on that day was unimaginable. It’s an abuse of our fundamental human rights as citizens of Nigeria. We have finished with the seminar proper and the organization was treating members, family, friends and invited guests to dinner and cultural display and refreshments within the hotel premises, Richard Continental Hotel, Sapele. Suddenly, some soldiers came in with over 20 Hilux vehicles with policemen, mobile policemen and army officers numbering over 50 with two young men identified as commanders of the local vigilante from a community in Sapele. People then started running helter skelter on seeing military men. But these military men led by a lieutenant had no tags. They took over the entire premises and forced over 300 people to sit on the ground, gave them thorough beating with planks, gun boots. They came into my room dragged me out, stripped me half naked, pushed me to the ground and humiliated me. Some people sustained injuries while the hotel lost over N2m as a result of the mayhem. All entreaties to speak with them fell on deaf ears. Myself and about 30 persons were bundled into Hilux trucks like animals and taken to the police station where we were paraded with our hands tied and pictures taken. Due process was not taken and the security agencies acted very unprofessionally manhandling innocent citizens. The organization is seeking legal redress, so also my humble self and the owners of the hotel premises that was invaded. With this kind of scenario what confidence  can the common man in the street have in our security operatives? Government needs to step up proper training programme for these operatives.

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