•Explains why Deltans’ll not forget Ibori in a hurry; Scores Okowa very high
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
THREE-TIME Senator, Patrick Osakwe, who clocks 70 years, today, says the decision of the former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to rescind his plan to leave the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the All Progressives Congress, APC, is the finest thing that happened to the state in recent times because he would not have been a feeble opponent.
Senator Osakwe, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard in Benin City, Edo State, during the week, asserted: “He (Uduaaghan) has his tentacles and I can tell you that his not leaving PDP is one of the happiest things that have happened to me recently.”
He noted: “I do know what happened between himself and the current governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, but I do not want to go into that but I can boastfully tell you that his remaining in PDP has obviously enhanced our chances of victory in 2019.”
On the acrimony between him and his predecessor, Osakwe said: “Well, if there was anything between them; it was between the leaders at that level. Those of us at the lower cadre, we may not know the nitty-gritty, we may not know exactly what happened, but Dr. Uduaghan listened to the voice of reason and his dumping the idea is the best thing to happen to our state.”
His words: “Do not underestimate a former governor no matter how bad or good you think he was while in office. He has his clout. People prevailed on him, I am one of those that called him and told him not to leave our party. Clearly, the continuity we boast of in the party would have been dented if he had left for APC.”
The veteran politician, however, quipped: “Again from my own perspective, there is also no way the relationship between a former governor and the incumbent will be as some people think outside. But the good news there is that he is with us today and I am so happy because it makes the job of the current governor easier. Uduaghan is not a pushover by any stretch of imagination, anybody saying he is a pushover should have a rethink.”
What life has taught me at 70?
First and foremost, I have to give glory to God because it is not everybody that clocks 70. Well, I started life very early and when I tell people I am 70, they say are you sure you are 70. It has taught me to know that the ultimate thing in life is to be a child of God, live a life that will please God. At 70, I am already an old man, so I have to live a life that the younger ones can emulate and it is what you are that they will emulate. If you live a bad life, it means that you have nothing to offer them, but if you live a straightforward Christian life, not just your children, but others will have things to learn. And any day that God calls you, they have something to remember you for the way you have affected their lives. In all modesty, I can tell you that one of the major things life has taught me is to be nice to others and help people, especially the less privileged ones.
And that is exactly what I am doing, preceding my birthday, I just concluded a seven-day free eye medical outreach at which over 300 surgeries were done and over 6,000 eyeglasses given out. I did not even know that people were suffering this kind of problem in this manner. One particular incident that made me to cry was that of a seven-year-old girl that had not seen with her eyes before. When they operated her, she was just asking: Is this the world? So I will say that I have tried my best and I leave the rest for people to judge.
Not born with a silver spoon
My father was not a rich man, he was just an average man, I attended public school like others, but I ventured here and there and at the end of the day, they metamorphosed into what you are seeing today. I was once a motor dealer, Evidence Motors. I was in the pool business, Flash Pools, I had a foot ball club, Flash Flamingoes FC, I had an airline before, Cargo Airline. We had about three Boeing aircraft and I was also into property, though no more building but I am still into it, taking care of the ones I have.
Really, I was a pool agent, from there I became a pool promoter, which was where I actually took off and did that for 37 years. It was not easy; I started with bicycle, motor cycle and all that, which I used to do my pool business. There was a day I had an accident at Umutu in my area and I did not even know until the following morning when I discovered myself in the hospital.
In fact, when I rode my bicycle those days, people ran away, they moved to take their children away from the road, saying that Osakwe was running too fast and all that. They would be shouting as I passed, but that day, the sand just carried me, that was how I had the accident. Though I later went to university to acquire a degree in political science, read law and all that.
Turning point in my life
The turning point in my life was the successes associated with my pool business, that was where the money started coming from and I was investing wisely. I did not play with what came in at all. I employed over 1,000 people, bought over 300 cars free of charge to help them. It was the money I made that made me to venture into airline and when the airline, a different ball game all together, when I saw that the going was rough for me, I just sold the three aircraft and invested the money in property in Lagos.
Nastiest decision in my life
The worst decision in my life was to venture into airline business, which I was a complete novice. I am not an engineer and was milked to the bone, but my father used to tell us that you cannot tell a wise child to come out from the sun. I called it quit the way I did when the load was too much.
Extra-ordianry thing that has happened to me in life
I will say that the strangest thing that happened to me in life was that I did not know that my people would elect me three times to represent them. It is not easy to go to the Senate three tenures consecutively. It was really amazing to me for I did not know that they would trust me in that way and I am happy that I did not disappoint them.
Chief Anenih is my political mentor
I attribute my venture into politics to the person I call my leader and mentor, Chief Tony Anenih. There was a day we traveled and he told me, ‘Patrick, people like you should go into politics; you have the money, so you are not going there to make money. You know that in the United States, people go into politics to add value to the life of others, which is what I want you to do.’ He did not leave at that, when I joined politics, he was very helpful and remains my mentor till today. Everything I achieved in politics can be attributed to him and former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori. Those were people that really supported me and on Saturday, during my birthday, we are going to honour Chief James Ibori. Both of them encouraged me.
At a time during your senate days, you had to run on the platform of Accord Party, what happened at that time because you were in PDP?
Pressmen, you do not forget things, you have magnetic brain. It was in 2007, we finished our PDP primaries, I won and we were just drinking, jubilating in my house when somebody called me from Lagos that they had brought Delta result that my name was not there. I asked why my name should not be there, they told me that the name there is Marian Ali, I said but she was not in Delta for the primaries and did not participate. I was told that the result was sent and Ahmadu Ali just canceled my name and put the wife’s name.
We put our heads together, not that I had the plan before, but we had to register a brand new party, no party like Accord then, I did not want to run on the platform of an existing party. I told my people that it is not the party, but the person and they should vote accordingly. I am happy Accord Party is still in existence till today. I scored 222,000 and Mrs. Ali scored 16,000. The defeat was amazing; it is not really the party, but the person. The party is just the vehicle that you use to market yourself, but the voting public vote for the person. That is why in United States, you have independent candidate.
Executive interference in NASS reprehensible
What is happening to the National Assembly is a big shame. The truth is that the National Assembly is no longer what it used to be during our time. There is no more dignity in it. The main cause of the problem from my perspective is executive interference in what happens in the National Assembly. It is an independent arm of government and is supposed to be left to handle their affairs. The moment the executive is interfering, you will continue to see what we are seeing and except the three arms of government are allowed to operate independently, things will not go well for our democracy. However, it is the only the executive that interferes, the judiciary is there to interpret. Time has come for the executive to learn that the fulcrum around which democracy revolves is the National Assembly.
I did over 200 projects in Delta North
I did a lot of things for Delta North while I was in office. I think over 200 projects and on Saturday, we have a book in which we have unveiled them. In fact, I am still doing my best to help my people, whether in office or not. It is not only when I am asking for vote that I reach out to the people, I cannot remember how many roads I influenced at the time, but they are all contained in the book. I touched the lives of many people and I am continuing till date.
As a political leader from Delta North, will you say that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is meeting the expectations of Deltans from him?
Yes, he has met the expectations of Deltans from what he met on ground. One good thing is that Chief James Ibori handed over to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Uduaghan handed over to Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, you can see the continuum there, which can be explained from the point of view that they have been executing the programme of one party, PDP. Where our leader, Chief Ibori stopped is where Uduaghan continued from. And where Uduaghan stopped is exactly where Okowa also started from. Looking at it from that point of view, I will say Okowa is doing very well.
He has brought relative peace between and among communities. He came at a time when the finance of the state was low because of the fall in oil price. I will say that he was able to achieve this much because of his experience because he has been with us since 1999, so he passed through the mill, he knows how to reach out to people. I will score him a very high mark.
Talking about Ibori and the Ibori political family in the state, the man has been able to evolve power from his Delta Central senatorial district to Delta South senatorial district, now it is in Delta North senatorial district, which is a calculated inculcation of power rotation in the state, do you see something unique in Ibori or it is just fortuitous?
Yes it is something unique and no matter the way it is, nobody will forget him for that in Delta state and he still believes it is the best way for the state.
Deltans, Nigerians should learn to be patient
My advice to Deltans and Nigerians is to have the principle of perseverance Rome was never build in a day. They say the patient dog eats the fattest bone, politics is not like electricity where you put the switch and it lights, sometimes, you have to go around it to achieve and end, and sometimes, you end may be a means to an end. So I will say let us allow our votes to count, that is the only way our democracy can grown. Nobody should tamper with our votes, when you tamper the votes, you are tampering our choices and destinies.