Barrister Andrew Oru was one of the young men, who at the inception of the Fourth Republic, put the
then governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori on the spot and waged a trenchant media war against that administration and its top figure. He subsequently went underground and has lately re-appeared to position himself among the top gladiators for the vacant Delta Central seat in the Senate. In this interview with Vanguard, Oru, in a posture that gives the impression that the seat is his for the taking, talks of his plans in the Senate and the place of the Urhobo ethnic group in the polity among other issues. Excerpts:
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Kelechi Azubike
You have been quiet after your agitations against the immediate past governor of Delta State. What happened?
Well I have been around, I decided that it was time to change certain directions, what we came up to do that’s about ten years ago, as far as am concerned was purely political and based upon the existing circumstances at that time, and those circumstances changed and I had to change along with the change of circumstances.
So, what have you been doing lately?
Well lately I have been attending to my personal business and family, both here and outside the country. However with the demise of Pius Ewerido there was a clarion call by my people that I am the proper person to come and fill up that gap which Pius Ewerido left behind. So I am presently throwing my hat in the ring to contest for the seat of the senate which is presently vacant in Delta Central District.
On which platform?
PDP of course. I am of the PDP stock.
There is a perception that PDP is diminished in Delta Central?
Well that is true! I must admit. The PDP has not have a good run in the Delta Central since Pius Ewerido’s opponent, Chief Ighoyota Amori got the ticket of the PDP to run for senate.
That really upset a lot of Uhrobo people who in protest against the establishment of the PDP moved over to the DPP and we of the PDP are still believing that if I am the candidate of the PDP this time around I’ll be able to turn things around because am one person I believe whose suave cuts across political divides. So I believe with me, am in a position to actually get the Urhobos back into PDP.
What is your magic wand?
In Urhobo land the people respect pedigree and I believe with all due respect to modesty, I believe that I have been of immense service personally to the Urhobos and even without seeking office all these years, I have done everything by way of publications, speaking out and counselling and participating in every Urhobo activity. So I believe that I have endeared myself to the heart of a quite lot of Urhobo people.
But the PDP is regarded as antagonistic to Urhobos and for the first time in recent history no Urhobo person is in the top echelon of the Federal Government?
You see the truth is this, Urhobos have been thoroughly emasculated, thoroughly marginalised and left as a weeping child of both Delta politics and national politics by the PDP, both at the state level and the national level and I am one person who has stood out openly against it and that is one of the reasons I believe that made the Urhobos come together, rally round and say, I am the only person who can actually represent their interest.
I have never hidden my feelings, I have never been afraid to speak out. The Urhobos deserve a much fairer deal and if given the opportunity I believe that would give me a better opportunity for the Urhobos to be heard and truly represented.
Have you been able to sample what Senator Ewerido did in the Senate and to what extent do you think you will continue in his path?
Well, Senator Ewerido was very much in contact with me all through his presence at the National Assembly and he was about to start executing some of the programmes which he and I discussed. He hadn’t really settled down enough to address specifics concerning the Urhobo nation, but he was going to get there.
Personally, I am going to hit the ground running, I can tell you. I have been in the fore front of Urhobo politics and agitation I don’t believe that just appointing an Urhobo man for example as Minister or Commissioner for the sake of so doing is enough. When you even appoint somebody from Urhobo land, the portfolio you give is even instructive and it determines the extent to which the Urhobos are represented.
It’s unfortunate that Urhobos who are the fifth largest tribe in the country are not represented in the any sector at all. We have over 400 parastatals in Nigeria none of them is under the headship, direct headship of an Urhobo man.
Issue of child marriage
I intend to take this up very seriously when I get to the National Assembly and there are so many other issues some of which are too strategic to talk about right now and I am consulting with the UPO, the executive, individual members of the UPO, traditional rulers and opinion leaders and community leaders already, and each of them are giving me their own voice and I am taking them down.
If you were in the National Assembly what would have been your position on the issue of child marriage?
The first thing I would do, I would consult with the senate president because I heard his explanation on it and may God bless him for that effort. It’s unfortunate we are in a country where certain persons believe they can use religion to black mail their fellow Nigerians. Based on the explanations the senate president gave, certainly therefore I believe that there was really no concrete move to institutionalize child marriage.
Under no circumstance would I be railroaded into belonging to what I call the pedophile brigade and it is something that is quite scary because of the way certain senators reacted in support of it purportedly on account of their being Muslims. I intend to bring a bill to criminalize the action of any person who indulges in marrying any person who is a minor.