Dr. Paul Ebije Joseph was recently appointed as Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Kogi state by Governor Yahaya Bello. In this interview with Uji Illiyasu, the honourable commissioner unveiled his blueprint for the development of the vast potential of the culture and tourism sector of Kogi state.
Congratulations on your recent appointment as a commissioner in Kogi state
Thank you very much. I want to use this opportunity once again to thank our new direction governor who has the prerogative only in Kogi state to appoint people who he deems qualified as commissioner in the state for counting me among those he deems qualified for this exalted office. THANK YOU,Sir.I also want to assure the good and development loving people of the state that impacts I shall make in the given assignments so that the new direction mantra of our reformist governor shall be felt in all sectors of the state.
You are assigned the portfolio of the culture and tourism ministry of the state. What is your view about this sector?
I am in no doubt and I say this to those that are close to me that I am greatly proud that I was assigned this portfolio to fulfil the implementation of the new direction policy of this administration. I want to assure you that I am greatly honoured to be assigned this difficult but achievable role of taking the culture and tourism sector of the state to a new enviable height that shall make the sector’s contributions to the development of our dear state noticeable through its growth impact assessments felt in no distant time.
Where do you want to see the culture and tourism sector impact the state as your priority in no distant time?
Peace is commonly considered as the absence of war. Nevertheless, peace-the so called positive peace -implies a lot more than this. It implies the creation of a society based on social justice through equal opportunities, a fair distribution of power and resources, equal protection and impartial enforcement of law and above all, mutual cultural understanding and respect. Thus far, from the pessimistic views of classical realists, who assume that conflict is an intrinsic part of the human nature, we claim that peace is an architecture requiring firm, specific foundation such as a wide spread education to peace and the promotion of intercultural dialogue. We shall strive to quickly use our cultural apparatus in the state for the promotion of peace which is a sine qua non for the growth and development of the state.
What about the tourism aspect of the state?
Yes, I was coming there. There is a concrete argument about the relationship also between tourism and peace which are evident in the construction of positive peace in developed societies. We shall thus offer a pioneering approach by proposing and implementing the positive part of the association between tourism and cultural diplomacy for our state.
What do you expect the tourism industry reforms will do for the state?
A lot. Today the tourism sector has and continues to be a gold mine for many nations across the globe. We shall harness the potential inherent in that sector, make the state more safe security wise and provide enabling environment through friendly business laws that will translate into more economic dividend for our dear state.
What will you do to provide the needed tourist infrastructure for the state?
I can assure you that our governor is a firm believer in the potential inherent in the tourism industry and the place of tourism in the enhancement of growth and development of our state both economically and in the employment generation capacity for our youth. He has promised to tap on the potential of that sector through the provision of the needed infrastructure in this sector.
What are your political visions and philosophies?
I believe in the powerful enriching manifesto of our governor which he branded the NEW DIRECTION policies for the development of our dear state and the vision for the total development of the state through a systematic departure from the past which was symbolised by the implementation of retrogressive policies which stunted our growth and development, to a new pragmatic way of doing things through the implementation of policies which will ultimately lead to development in its physicality.
I am a social democrat that believes in the democratic ideals and not in the minimal democratic principles.
What do you think are the greatest qualities in your governor, Yahaya Bello?
My leader, the governor is a likeable personality. In the area of leadership, the most important ideal, though there are many good qualities attributed to our governor, there is one that distinguishes him from others. He believes that lasting and positive results will occur when leaders practice inclusion and cooperation rather than authoritarianism. This is because he believes that those who lead don’t have all the answers. Our governor has many attributes as a leader which I share – steadfastness in pursuit of his goals and flexibility in determining how best to achieve those goals. The best quality he has as a reformist governor is the courage to make a hard decision, and the confidence to stay with it and explain it. The common sense to listen to others and involve them in reaching decisions makes him the most transparent leader I know. I am proud to be associated with him.
Why do you choose the APC as the platform to achieve your political destiny?
That is a very important question there. The APC as a party just the slogan ab initio entails it is a party that believes in collective progress and the shared vision of development by the people. You will agree with me the ambience and transparency personality of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari has given our party perceptive dividend over all parties. Above all, it is not a party that encourages vested interest against the people. In the APC, we believe in the principle that every life has equal value.
We heard you are a political ally to the chief of staff of Kogi state, Chief Edward Onoja. Is you appointment attributed to him?
We are all Kogites and I think we should always recognise those among us who work tirelessly to advance our cause. Chief Edward Onoja is one of the noblest of the Kogi young men who has given his all for the advancement of the common cause. A goal getter par excellence and a very unassuming young professional, he has been one of those from whom we have learnt good morals. He loathes failure and that is why he has consistently worked very hard to see to it that this government is a resounding success. Personally, he has never abandoned a friend because of the lessons he learnt from his father that there is no price on a friendship. Today, in answering your question, I think gratitude should go to him for what he has consistently done for Kogites.
What are the chances of the APC in the general elections?
The APC is a progressive party and it has consistently shown it shall remain true to the virtues that make it progressives. From the federal level to the state and local governments, our party leaders and political appointees have shown that the change mantra of the APC led administration is not a fluke. We came into government in time of identifiable recession and a huge slide in oil prices at the international market. The insurgency in the Northeast has been degraded. In Kogi, we have witnessed unprecedented levels of development.
The APC in your zone, that is Kogi East, seems to be getting stronger. What is the secret?
It is no longer a secret because everybody in the state, particularly this zone, knows that our leadership in this zone has been wonderful. Our zonal Chairman, Hon. Ahmed Attah, and his executives have been very wonderful and living above board. Our leadership recruitment system in this zone has been rancor-free because the people have been allowed to have their way and the manipulative system you see in other parties completely eliminated. Hon Ahmed Attah has also made it a point of duty for the supremacy of the party to be entrenched and recognised by members at all times. Our reconciliatory process is also good. In fact, the zonal chairman’s organizational acumen is an asset to the party.
What do you expect from the party in the next general elections?
Victory. The party is sure to be victorious. Our action governor has done wonderfully well and I can assure you that this has given us the assurance that victory is ours.