BY DAPO AKINREFON
DR Olusegun Kokumo Agagu, former governor of Ondo State in this interview explains why he petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, over the judgement that ousted him as governor in 2008 and reasons for his running for the Senate.
Having been a Minister, deputy governor and governor, what really informed your decision to vie for the Senate?
There are two sides to my decision to run for Senate: one primary and the other one normal. The ordinary is the fact that the leaders of my party and even people who are not into partisan politics in Ondo State and especially people from my Southern Senatorial District, came initially with suggestions that it would be nice for me not to go and sleep with all the experience God has given me.
They said they needed good representation, that, why don’t I go and represent them in the Senate. Then, it moved from urging to almost even blackmail and you are only a leader only if you have followership. I felt there was no point acting too stubborn, so, I decided to yield. On the other side, it makes sense for people like us to go to the Senate. Senate is the highest decision making establishment in the country where laws are made for Nigeria, where government programmes are supervised to ensure governance progresses and to make life better for our people.
Though I have been part of the system, our country is still not running efficiently, we are not making the best of our resources. We need a lot of reforms and restructuring; and all of these are based on laws and decisions by the legislature to be able to drive the country the way it should be driven.
I don’t think we have been doing enough of that and we need men and women, who have seen a lot in governance. I felt this is the time to go in there and try to use my varied experiences to steer the ship of things in the right direction. People like us cannot be driven by ambition anymore, so all I want to do at this stage of my life is to see how we can re-shape, re-model and re-strategise Nigeria towards greater service delivery to the people. So, my people wanted me to do it and I also think that people like us should be saddled with that responsibility, not new people.
Having said that, there is the incumbency factor in any state especially during election. What are your chances of winning the election since your party is in the opposition?
Incumbency in Nigeria is a major factor because many people who are in office don’t want to subject themselves to the will of the people and therefore, some people try to ride the system rough. Some of our party members are being arrested indiscriminately, with cooked up charges. They don’t allow a level playing ground, but we cannot say because there is incumbency and there is a governor who is doing everything to stop you, abandon the entire to such people. So, we’ve got to give it a try.
I have taken myself to the market place for the people of my senatorial district, to compare me with the other candidates and then, they will decide whether it’s me or the other candidates. The will of the people is the most important ingredient in this matter.
What an incumbent governor will try to do, is play games, we will also try to ensure that we scuttle as many as those games as possible. I have contested elections before as an underdog, contesting against an incumbent governor, late Chief Adefarati in 2003 and we won. It has happened before and I’m sure it will happen again.
You recently petitioned the National Judicial Council on the tribunal judgement that ousted you as governor. Why did you have to wait until now what do intend to get out of this and?
Right from the day the Court of Appeal gave that judgement, I have been crying foul that the judgement was fraught with all manner of irregularities, with some bordering on fraud. But all I have been saying is that judgement belongs to God and that God will judge all of us at the end of the day. But injustice is something that keeps agitating the minds of the man, who has been cheated, especially when things look obvious.
Take for instance, the substantial part of the decision taken by the judges, was based on a set of security reports, purportedly written by the State Security Service, which were tendered by the Labour Party. It led the court to cancel elections in Irele and Okitipupa local governments, where I won with convincingly. Directly lifting from the judgement, it clearly stated that the result was cancelled based on security reports. It is inferred in other documents and several other local government.
So, the first thing I did was to do some under ground investigation myself and I was convinced that those reports did not look genuine; our lawyers had raised that while the tribunal was on. The director of SSS was subpoenaed to court and the officer that came to testify for the SSS, in court, said those were not their reports; yet those judges based their decisions on those reports. Being governor is the motive behind the petition, but that it is not good for Nigeria, for judgement, at such high level, to be based on reports.