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Hon. Cairo Ojougboh is the chairman, House on Petroleum Resource and represents Ika Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He is generally seen as giving his people quality representation. Ojougboh is not stopping....
Hon. Cairo Ojougboh is the chairman, House on Petroleum Resource and represents Ika Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He is generally seen as giving his people quality representation. Ojougboh is not stopping at serving the people of Ika alone, he has the desire to be the governor of Delta State at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent, in 2007. He, in this interview with Peter Okhiria, lays out his plans, if elected. He particularly talks about his vision to create one million jobs in the state, in four years. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:
How is the reconciliatory efforts in your party, the PDP, going?
We thank God that the party has found it necessary to fix such a laudable programme. The reconciliatory matter, the people visited and then they spoke for themselves. Before that, they thought that the party in Delta state cannot win an election. They have now gone back to the National Working Committee of the party and to the NEC to submit their report that they were now confident that the team that came, led by the National Deputy chairman North, Alhaji Shema, would be in a position to advise the party properly, because Delta state is a very strategic state for the PDP and they would want to continue winning. The party’s structure as it was previously done, could not even win a council in the state as it were, but now that this reconciliatory effort is going on in the state, we are now sure that people would be accom-modated. That people, like myself personally, who was not accommodated at all in the last dispensation, but have made our petition to the National Working Committee and to the NEC via this reconciliatory effort. We know our followership was in bad mood, we have the support of the grassroots but they were weakened. We have advised that something has to be done urgently as time is against us. This will enable the party go back and reactivate its machinery to win election convincingly.
Would you say the reconciliatory efforts has fully put to rest, the controversy on Delta State PDP chairman?
You know that the state governor is a very good man. He is the man who loves peace and is God fearing. As a leader of the party, he is able to bring everybody together. Our prayer is that the nation should realise that and give the governor the trust to run the party so that as the governor of the state and the father of all, he would be able to accommodate everybody and give everybody a fair playing ground. That’s how it should be because the governor is not contesting election, so he would be an unbiased umpire because we have every confidence about that. A situation where a foreigner or somebody that is unknown comes up and everybody is against him, well I do not see how you are going to win an election there if the issue continues to be like that. Even if you have to kill the people I can assure you that Delta is not a state of that nature. We have men of integrity, men who have the good record, men who are men, men who have the fear of God, men who in the real sense of things, are men of the people.
Other parties, especially the ACD, are getting stronger. Are you sure the PDP is still on ground to win elections in Delta State?
Yes, the PDP is aware that the ACD is trying to come in through the back door but this reconciliatory effort is what would determine it. If the party handles it well, which of course I am sure, because the national chairman of the party is a God fearing man and Mr. President indeed, who is the father of them all. The president himself, the national chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and the governor, four of them should be able to sit down and decide and handle this entire thing the best way because this good thing we have, this party is a monotonous PDP machinery we have in Delta. As at today, there is no other party in Delta state ,but if we allow people to come in, it would be unfortunate. As we speak, a lot of people have not been registered. Somehow, some gangs of persons or elements got their hands in the party where they are not supposed to be and it is now a fight to get it back from them; but as usual, when a thief comes in through the back door, you chase him out through the back door. I am sure they are going to jump the fence and go back to the place where they came from because we do know where they come from.
The hostage taking in the Niger Delta still exist. How do you hope to tackle it, if you become Governor?
The problem in the Niger Delta stems from the fact that the youths are idle- no job. We need to provide jobs for the youths. As soon as you provide jobs for the youths and their parents, then they would now have enough money to pay for their education, to provide for their accommodation and look after their social and religious affairs. And then, they would be happy. But where you live in an environment where tons and millions of barrels of crude oil is extracted everyday, you are just there looking at the oil and gas being flared, you wake up in the morning you have nothing to do, you have no trousers, no shoes and no shirts on your back. What do you do? The idle mind is the devil’s workshop. It just stems from there. So what we want to do is create one million jobs in four years. We want to give employment that will earn them living wages.
That is where, again, I come to the good job the governor of Delta state has done. Every time I have the opportunity to speak about my governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, I do not hesitate to speak so. When Ibori took over the governance of the state, there were no roofs over classrooms. Today, he has been able to roof our primary schools and construct roads to where it was thought impossible. He has built human and physical bridges across the state. He has been able to bring the people of Delta state to limelight, created employment and generated a lot of resources, with which the people of Delta state are now moving forward with. This is what I consider a perfect foundation. Now is the time for us to build a magnificent edifice on what this governor has built. And that has been what we have been saying, let God touch the hearts of the people of Delta state, let them consider me, let them give me the opportunity to bring a change that will bring prospects, the mercy and the glory of God to all Deltans. That is our programme.
When you talk of jobs, you have to specifically say how much of that job you think government can create? Is it going to be government job, private sector or what?
We didn’t just want to say we want to go to Delta state to change Delta, we have studied the state and the country for the last ten years. We have consultants who have visited China, Malaysia, Indonesia and a host of countries that have made it. Incidentally, some countries have made it very seriously in Africa. We have also gone to these countries. If you go to Harrolds in London you pick a towel or a bag, you will see them, some made in Malaysia, Botswana, South Africa or made in Egypt. And that is the truth of the matter. How did these countries make it? We have gone in to ask questions and that is what we are going to plant in Delta state, private-public partnership.
We have a programme that will turn Delta into something nobody in this continent has ever thought of. And this programme will be implement from the first day we enter into governance. The jobs we are talking about revolves around the entire industrial philosophy of life. We are going to look into petroleum, agriculture and other technologies. We are going to look into basic manufacturing, automobile industry and essentially, we have both the financial and human materials with which to achieve this. All we need is the will power and the sincerity of God so that by the time you leave governance after your tenure, Deltans would realise that, indeed, it was not a tribal man, it wasn’t an Urhobo man, it wasn’t an Agbor man, Itsekiri man and it wasn’t a Delta South man, but a true Deltan and infact, a good Nigerian, that passed through that road.
How do you hope to fend off the battle in Delta, on who becomes governor?
I have constantly said in interview after interview, that I do not believe in ethnicity in politics. If you look at the Urhobo nation, they are very republican. If you look at their voting pattern, they are very republican, from time immemorial, they are sincere people, they fear God, they love God and they speak the truth. If the Urhobo man sees a material from the Delta North that would do well, he would not say because this person is not an Urhobo man I would not work for him. They are not like that and I give it to them. So, the important thing is, just like their leader said, Chief Benjamin Okumagba, he wants to see a candidate from the Delta North that would come for a programme and say look, I am a Delta man, so I come to you. And that is what I have done and that is what I am doing. We are going to them that we have a programme that we are going to run and they are listening. That is why I respect Chief James Onanefe Ibori, I speak with him everyday, he's been my friend for over 30 years and I know that when the time comes, he is not going to say this man is from the Delta North I will support him. No, he is not like that. Okumagba too will not say because this man is from Delta North I would not support him.
He is not like that. What Okumagba is looking for is jobs for his children and children yet unborn. What he is looking for is education that would make his children human beings. What he’s looking for is to see development in Delta State, that in his life time or the time for him to answer the call of God, he would say thank God that this gentle man became the governor of Delta state when he did. He is not looking for anything more than that. And that basically, is what all Nigerians are looking for. Good roads that you can pass through, not that when the rain falls, everywhere will be blocked. What are you looking for, your kids, having enough money to send them to schools, get good healthcare services and want to be able to have a roof over your head. You would want to be able to live a Christian life, you wake up in the morning and say I want to change my pair of trousers, the one I wore yesterday I don’t need to wear it. These are the things we are looking for. Are these things the responsibilities of government to give them? Yes, it is the responsibility of the government, father of all.
There are so many candidates from your party, in your state, vying for the same position. Are there alliances now?
Oh, that is the beauty of democracy. If you look at the history of the PDP, it has never been like this,but as soon as the candidate emerges every other person would follow because I know I would surely emerge. And when I emerge, every other person would follow. And you will see it because the party will grow from strength to strength. The issue that the candidates are very many shows you that there is something good in PDP that everybody wants to be part of it. If it were to be some parties, for instance, some are fresh, some are old, some are acid.
I don’t even know their names. So, you see other parties nobody is rushing there to go and contest. The reason is that they don’t have followership and as a matter of fact, the bible is very clear, it says by their fruits you shall know them and that is the truth.
When Chief Anenih was in total control of the party, there were no break-away factions, suddenly things are not the same since the total party machinery is not in his hands again…
When the question comes to Chief Anenih and I speak about him, people feel I am biased but they forget that I am speaking from the point of knowledge because I know the man. I am not just a political son to him, I call him father, I call him father because my father died when I was just 13 and then I met Chief Anenih and we began to appreciate him. I, naturally, assume him as my own father that died long time. So I listen to him, everyday I talk to him and listen to him. If we have five people like Chief Tony Anenih in Nigeria, then this country would have changed. You see there is no substitute to dedication. And in running an organisation, except people see you that you are sincere, things don’t work. If you look at Chief Tony Anenih what he tells you today is what he will tell you tomorrow. If you look at him at all times, he has a map. There is somewhere he want to go.
He does not just go anyhow, left, right. He would draw a road map and follow it religiously. If you do that and spell it out, everybody would know where you are going. That way, it is easier for you, you are transparent, everybody would know where you are going. That is why he has always succeeded. You see, when Anenih says that is the election I will want to win, he will then put structures on ground and maintain them and follow them.
On the third term, for instance, which other zones have the cooperation of the people other than the South-South. South-South zone had at least 96 per cent, why? It was a single individual, Chief Tony Anenih that all of them followed. Whether you like it or not, that is the truth of the matter. There is no other political zone apart from the South-South that one or two persons did not say no, because the man is in control. That is why they call him the Leader. There is no official position called leader, but that has been bestowed on him because he is truly, truly, the leader.
I do not fully understand how you want to create the jobs. Will it be civil service jobs, menial jobs or top grade jobs. Because job creation is very important…
I do not want to go into details because it is like a copyright material but what I am telling you is that we have a programme that will generate one million jobs in four years and that this one million jobs will not come from the civil service. They will not come from government employment because you cannot pay one million people as a state. What would they be doing? We are going to generate gainful employment for people.
We are going to teach people how to fish and how to earn their own money because government will finance it, we have the money. We have the wherewithal to make Delta state what it is supposed to be. Look at the Ijaw marshland for instance, these are fertile lands that you can farm on every day of the year. Delta state can feed Africa with rice when we enter into governance. There are a lot of things that the government has not taken the pains to develop in Delta. For ten years, we have studied how to pull Delta State and indeed, Nigeria out of the doldrums and we ask that God should give us this opportunity to demonstrate what we can do.