SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
… Says Buhari’s warning may start from Edo if Jonathan is not careful
Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo is a second Republic senator and a former Deputy Speaker in the old Bendel State. The elder statesman from Isoko, Delta State has been calm for a while now, but he broke his silence to Saturday Vanguard in Benin City last Thursday on national issues, warning President Jonathan not to allow sycophants derail his administration, saying that he should remain focused on the problems bedeviling the nation and not 2015 presidency.
Senator Okpozo who has also lived in Benin City since 1963, commented on the forthcoming July 14 governorship election in the state and declared that Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s developmental projects will secure him the desired victory. He warned President Goodluck Jonathan not to get himself involved in any attempt to manipulate the election in favour of his PDP in order to avoid crisis in Edo state and Nigeria in general. Excerpts:
You have been very calm all these while, what is the problem?
When you see certain developments in a country, you have to examine them critically before you speak. I have the interest of this country at heart, so I have been very careful. Some people when they see things, they just talk without minding the implications of their comments. They don’t care whether they are creating an atmosphere of peace or destruction.
For me, as one who have served this nation at local and national levels, I must be careful with whatever I say and what ever I say when you look at it you cannot fault it and I always stand by the truth. I have been watching what has been happening in the country and I feel bad some times.
You have lived in Edo state since 1963, what is your view on the forthcoming governorship election in the state?
I have lived in Benin City since 1963 when Midwest was created. I have been here as a public servant, I have been here as a politician. I know the terrain and being a former Deputy Speaker of old Bendel State under Prof.Alli’s government, I had good interaction with every body in Bendel State that matters. The truth is bitter but it must be told. The previous governments in Bendel state did well to establish Midwest.
Osadebey and others did very well. They were over thrown in 1966 by the regime of Aguiyi Ironsi. Ogbemudia and others later came as military governors. Alli was elected democratically and he meant well for Bendel state then. During Ogbemudia’s time, he tried to build the University of Benin and put a lot of structures on ground. But the major architect for building the educational structure came from Prof.Ali.
He established the Bendel state university now Ambrose Ali University. At that time, we established the Ekiadolor College of Education, in Esan and Akoko Edo and we established one College in Igueben. From there, we moved to the now Delta state. We established the College of Education at Agbor and another one in Warri. We built two polytechnics, one at Ozoro and another one at Ogwashi Ukwu. We were building the Abraka University before the military took over power. And when you see the quality of roads we built in Bendel state, very solid.
The NPN was jealous of us due to the resources we are using to develop our areas. In 1981, when we wanted to extend development to riverine areas, we brought a Company Edok Eter Mandilas from Greece because we know that Greece is a riverine area so that they can help us develop these areas. We carried a lot of burden then, making sure that we provided dividends of democracy to our people. I am recalling this because since 1999 it is sad that this PDP government brought suffering for the people of Edo and Delta states.
The administration of PDP in Edo state was a chaos. There was no road in Benin until Oshiomhole took over. Oshiomhole is not only constructing roads, he is building bridges, giving free education to the people, stabilizing the institutions that he met, building good markets, good schools and others. What can you say about that man? God sent him to come and remove shame from Edo state. And I am glad that His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin and all other traditional rulers are giving him support for his second term.
Oshiomhole has tried and anybody who is making noise that they will come and rig the election here will be wasting his time. Every body is backing the man and if any thing goes wrong in the election, Nigerians will now see sense in what Buhari said because the chaos and end of Nigeria may start from Edo state. So we don’t want chaos in Edo state, we want peace because a peaceful man is the Governor today. So, they must allow free and fair election here and if that happens, Oshiomhole will win with a large margin.
I have read PDP people boasting that they will use the President and Federal might to win. But the truth is that they don’t even have that Federal might because Jonathan cannot fool himself. And I want to appeal to President Jonathan not to give support to such illegality because that will dent his image and his good works. He should not listen to those thieves making such noise. They want to reap from where they did not sow and nobody should support such evil.
I pray they don’t push Jonathan into problem that will cause chaos in this country. But I know that Jonathan is a good son and will not listen to people who have deceived their people for too long and now want to come back to power through the back door. I don’t think Edo people want to go back to darkness, so the PDP should forget it, purge themselves and give the man the desired support for their people and not for their own selfish interest.
As leader from the South South, what it your take on the debate about 2015 presidency and President Goodluck Jonathan?
In politics, people say what ever they like, but in order to really make politics effective, people say what is true, what they can stand for. A lot of people have come out to say Jonathan must come back while some said he must go after his first tenure. Jonathan himself has not told Nigerians that he is contesting 2015 election. It is some sycophants around him that are saying that.
Jonathan has his own mind but I want to say that advisers have been the bane of defeat of democracy. Defeat of truth, honesty is as a result of sychophants. We have three years ahead so why don’t they wait for Jonathan before they start blowing his trumpet? Nigerians should be very careful in order not to spark trouble because if this argument goes beyond this stage, it can create anarchy and nobody wants anarchy in this country.
Insecurity in Nigeria has always followed the political terrain since 1960. In 1960 because of interest ,the British created three regions: Western, Northern and Eastern Regions. And that created a lot of havoc for the country. The situation caused so much insecurity. So, this problem of insecurity has been there. It is not a creation of President Jonathan.
It has been so because of our differences in culture and political interest. So it is a usual habit. We had the Niger Delta militants before, those ones faded away, now we have the Boko Haram. The truth is that Nigeria is not supposed to be one country. People should be allowed to take their destiny in their hands according to their culture and religion.