By Festus Ahon
Olorogun John Oguma is the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Obakpor Engineering Limited and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State.
Oguma, in this interview, speaks on the 22nd anniversary of the creation of Delta State among other issues. Excerpts:
What is your comment on the 22nd anniversary of Delta State?
The journey so far has been very smooth. The creation of Delta State on August 27, 1991 has brought tremendous development to the state. Our leaders, Olorogun Felix Ibru, who laid the foundation, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, our political leader, and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the incumbent governor, have all tried in their own ways in developing the state.
How do you rate the civilian governors compared to the military administrators?
I keep saying it that the worst civilian government is far better than the best military government. During the military era, the office of the governor was being run by three persons; the military governor, the chief detail and the driver. They didn’t have special advisers, personal assistants and others. The office that was being run by about 10 persons is run today by many commissioners, special advisers, personal assistants and other aides.
When Chief Ibori came in as governor, he inherited eight ministries; I was in the meeting with the leadership of the PDP at Gordons Hotel, Ibusa when Ibori addressed us that he wanted to create two additional ministries to make it ten then. But today in Delta State we have 28 ministries being headed by commissioners who have SAs and PAs.
This shows that a ministry is equivalent to the then Military Government House. What three men were enjoying then is what over four million Deltans are enjoying today. There was no single infrastructural development during the military; the Ughelli/Asaba road during the military era was one lane but today the over 150-kilometre Ughelli-Asaba road is being dualized by the state government.
The state government has been able to build an international airport at Asaba; making air transport easy for the people. Another nine kilometer runway is being constructed at Osubi. The contract has been awarded and the contractor has been mobilized. There are proposed flyovers at Asaba and Effurun towns. All the money meant for these projects were being spent by one administrator during the military era. So there is no way you can equate military regime to civilian government.
What is your comment on the forthcoming senatorial bye-election in Delta Central, especially now that the PDP is seemingly threatened by the emergence of APC?
APC is not a party but an expired drug. APC has been removed from medical terms for a very long time. So anyone associating himself with APC must be an expired politician. When they brought DPP to Delta State with pineapple as its logo, I told them that if you take pineapple in a wrong way, it might lead to diarrhea as such cannot rule the state. They didn’t take me serious but today it has come to pass because Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is about completing his second term.
When former Vice President Atiku Abubakar registered ACN I laughed because I know that brooms are used in the kitchen and kept after in a hidden corner. So if a mature man after dressing you see him holding a broom, won’t you call him a mad man? So the only reliable party we have in this country is the PDP with the umbrella logo that is big enough to cover everybody. You will see what will happen in 2015. ‘A boaster can do but little’. The only area I think they will manage to win will be those states they won before now and if they are not even careful we will take some of the states from them. They can never penetrate any PDP state.
What is your comment on the seeming marginalization of the Urhobo people by the federal and state governments?
It is not true that the Urhobo people are marginalized by the federal and state governments. This is a democratic era; the governor didn’t get to Asaba though the firing of gun shots but through the ballot box and, like every other politician, the party must be taken care of first.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan didn’t get to Asaba as an independent candidate but as a candidate of the PDP and the party has a manifesto. Uduaghan’s actions and developmental strides are in line with the party’s manifesto. The entire Delta State is the governor’s constituency and not Urhobo alone, there must not be sentiment.
We are crying wolf over marginalization. Is Uvwie not part of Urhobo? Ovwor, Otu-Jeremi, Sapele, Kokori, Ughelli, are they not part of Urhobo? The dualization of Ughelli township road and other numerous link roads to the East/West Road and street lights, are they not in Ughelli an Urhobo town?
Our cry over marginalization is not also correct to the extent that of the about 28 ministries in the state, the Urhobos are occupying about 10. We Urhobos should not forget the fact that Governor Uduaghan has the entire Delta as his constituency. He is not governor of only Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Isoko, Anioma or Ika but governor of Delta State. We have a deputy governor who is also chairman of Delta Tenders Board; all the projects in this state go through the office of the Urhobo son who is the deputy governor. Since the inception of Udughan’s administration, you have an Urhobo man as the commissioner for finance of the state.
Are you therefore saying that the Urhobo are faring well in this present political dispensation?
Of course. We are faring well; the Osubi Airport after its upgrade will be bigger than Asaba and the contractor as I told you has been fully mobilized. Just wait and see what will happen as from October in that airport.
For the first time in the political history of this country the Urhobo man is absent in the Federal Executive Council. What is your reaction to this?
During the last elections, did the DPP members vote for Jonathan? No! They didn’t because they alleged that they didn’t have a candidate. So it was left for only PDP members to vote. Do you call that one support for President Jonathan? It all started when someone came from Urhobo that to say Ibori and Governor Uduaghan were not good and many persons in Urhobo followed him and at the end he went to Jonathan that he has returned Uduaghan as Delta governor. This person I am telling you now, his own son lost election in Delta south. Who then in Delta central went to Mr. President to say that we have returned PDP?
Some persons see the forthcoming senatorial bye-election as a means to correct the wrongs; what will be your charge to the electorate and aspirants ahead of the election?
The bye-election should be seen as an acid test for the PDP in Delta central because if we make the mistake again, that will be the end. It will affect us at the state and federal levels. The bye-election is going to be the first election the APC will contest and as such the shakers and movers of the APC across the country will relocate to Delta central. Failure of the PDP is not a thing the Urhobo should allow to happen. We cannot afford to be in opposition; that has been my stand and I will continue to support the PDP.