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66 Senators are with Buhari on rejection of Electoral Act Bill, others —Dr Ojougboh

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OjougbohDr Cairo Ojougboh is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and governorship hopeful in Delta State. Ahead of the party’s primary, he says zoning should not be an issue in the selection of the party standard-bearer. He equally expresses confidence that the face-off between the federal lawmakers and the Presidency on the amendment of the Electoral Act will be resolved amicably in favour of the latter.

 

YOU are in the race for the All Progressives Congress (APC) 2019 elections governorship ticket in Delta State. Why are you interested in an elective position at that level?

In 2007, I contested under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform at the governorship primary in Ogwashi. That was my first attempt.  Emmanuel Uduaghan won that and later became the governor. When Udughan was leaving in 2015, I was already the national vice chairman of the PDP and as a result, there was a concerted effort by the traditional rulers and leaders of Delta North that everybody must make sacrifice, that the position of governor in 2015, then, must come to Delta North and then we all cooperated. In fact, since I was the national vice chairman, if I resigned to contest that election, that position might not come to Delta North. So, I swallowed my ambition to support Okowa who incidentally, as predicted, has no capacity and it has shown that it was a mistake the Delta North leaders made to ever support him to become governor. Other persons that would have done better than him then if we had known he had no capacity, are people like my humble self, Professor Mohen and so many others that contested that election.

 

But you are in APC now, what gives you the assurance of getting the ticket and how sellable is this party in Delta?

Let me start with the marketability of the party in Delta. You see, the PDP government and Okowa have failed completely. So, Deltans can’t wait to vote them out. When I launched the one- man –one- vote campaign in Effurun, on the 10th of March, we have changed the passion of the people and since then, they have all charged to the registration centres, that they have now seen somebody who can do the job and do it properly. So, talk about marketability, the only party right now in Delta State is the APC. The PDP is non-existent. All the people in the PDP are all waiting for crumps from the master’s table. And the only reason they are in PDP is that they are waiting for their monthly emoluments and they are waiting for tips that they can get from the governor.

There is nothing that is ever sure in life. I’m not even sure that I will be here tomorrow. However, I believe in the dictum that nothing ventured, nothing gained.  But I do know also that I am not contesting this election because and I am from Delta North or because the governorship position is zoned to Delta North. No! I am contesting because I know very confidently that I will make not just a difference but I will transform Delta. I’m not saying that I am the only person who can do that. So, many other people can do that. On the platform of the APC, there are also very many beautiful and great aspirants. Any of these persons can do the work but if the party decides that I’m the one, I will not disappoint.

However, if I get the ticket, because there is an agreement or a system on ground that every senatorial district will do eight years, if I get the ticket, I will do only four years. I will not mind sycophants who will come and deceive me.

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Where you were coming from — the PDP — was a fractured party and so is APC. You squealed against lack of internal democracy in PDP. The APC constitution says the national convention is the highest organ of the party, why is your party shying away from convening a national convention? Are you not bothered?

No, I am not bothered, don’t get it wrong. This constitution says that the national convention is the highest organ of the body. It also says that, “In the absence of the convention, the NEC runs the party.”

 

Why is it difficult for APC to convene the national convention?

You see, I am not trying to make excuses for anybody but, of course you know that governance is not as easy as you find it. Your job as a reporter is very easy and as an Editor, yours is to ask questions, look for trouble and fire, but people who sit on seat to look for ways to solve this thing, they don’t find it easy.

My mother had a parable she told me. She would say if you want to know how difficult it is, take a tuber of yam, roast it and share it for just two people, then you will know. The manner of sharing between two people, you can never get it right. You give this one his portion and another one his portion, the other one would not look at the one in his hand; he would be looking at the one in his other one’s hand and comparison, and things would start.

 

If you look at APC now, you will also see that even governors don’t want to see their senators, members of House of Representatives from their home states to even have a say in what goes on in the party in state chapters like Kogi, Kaduna, Bauchi and so on. Are you sure that what happened in the PDP will not repeat itself in APC?

But you can see the difference between PDP and the APC. When the president, in his wisdom, saw that all is not well and that something should be done, he brought the Jagaban, Bola Tinubu to solve the problem.

 

Are you confident that Tinubu would actually achieve success in that troubleshooting assignment he has been saddled with?

The Bible is very clear, “Oh, men of little faith, why do you doubt what God has done? Be positive! Why are you thinking negative about it? This Jagaban is capable and he’s working.

 

Are you not worried that the crisis between the Presidency and the legislative arm of government is affecting governance, because as of today, the budget hasn’t been passed and Nigerians are really concerned.

Have you read the constitution? The constitution is very clear. It says once the president sends the budget to the National Assembly, he has the right to spent 50 per cent of the budget for the first month.

 

Supplementary budget or the one that has not been approved?

The one that has not been approved. Go and read the constitution. That is what the constitution says. So, as far as the constitution is concerned, the budget is operational. Go and read it. Whether it is passed or not, once it has been submitted, it is allowed to operate the budget for the first six months. So, if the National Assembly, I pray that they do their work and do it properly because they are receiving their pay.

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Is there party discipline in APC? It has the majority in the National Assembly and it decides to delay passing of the budget. There is also this, lawmakers are bent on overruling Buhari on the amendment of election sequence…

As of today, it is not possible because almost 66 senators are with Mr. President, that I can assure you.

 

Going to 2019, it seems APC might have only one presidential candidate. Nobody will contest against the president. That is the calculation in some quarters, what gives the party assurance of coming out victorious?

That is how democracy is all over the world. If the President of the US does well, that is an automatic ticket. We are copying it. It is as simple as that, take America as an example.

 

The goodwill that brought Buhari overwhelming victory in 2015, has it not been dissipated? Are you sure it is intact?

Again, this is where I like to also talk. Let me tell you, as with everything in this world, even when you want to build a house, you don’t just take your block and put on the floor, you have to dig down to lay the foundation, and then from the down where you have dug, you will now start to lay the foundation.

So, Buhari didn’t expect what he got, what he inherited. But today, thanks be to God, we have seen what hasn’t happened in the last 30 years in this country. Number one, as we speak, for the first time in the history of this country, we generate 7, 500 megawatts of electricity. For the first time in the last 30 years, the Port Harcourt- Aba road is now an eight-lane road. The East-West road, the road that passes through the home of immediate past president, for six years, we couldn’t complete it. Today, it is nearing completion. In fact, about a month ago, the road that leads to Otueke was commissioned and, of course, former president was very happy. For 10 years now, our foreign reserve has hit $46bn. It has not happened before. The TSA has close to N7 trillion. The era, when you used to enter or board British Airways into Nigeria, then you would see the first-class section full, has stopped.

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