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I am not at war with Mimiko — Enikhomehin, ex-NDDC chief

How I was schemed out of  commission’

MR BENSON Enikhomehin, a former representative of Ondo State on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission,NDDC, in this interview, states that for his criticisms of the Olusegun Mimiko administration in the state to stop, the governor must ensure that there is an end to the selective implementation of projects across the state.

By Charles Kumolu

Benson Enikhomehin
Benson Enikhomehin

You were an integral part of re-election of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party in Ondo State. And at a time you fell out with him. At what stage did the relationship break down?
It would be a wrong notion because I never fell out with Mimiko. If I complained as a member of the family that the food being served in this house is not good enough, that does not remove me from being a member of that family.

It is because as a member I said ‘Sir, these areas are wrong’ I discussed with him privately and the issues are not being addressed. I even spoke with one or two persons but the issues still remained and I had to speak out. I have not left the Labour Party, they can’t sack me.

If they do it illegitimately I will take them to court. The point is this, as a member of the family I have spoken out. You know the fad in the country is that as soon as you speak out you are falling out. For instance, if two brothers quarrel and disagree over a point, does that mean that one of them would stop bearing the family’s name. So we should quarrel and settle because when everything is smooth we are telling lies to ourselves.

Have the things you complained about been addressed?
You know the sickness of 20 years that has made a man so emaciated may be difficult to address overnight. But a process must be put in place to know that the man would recuperate. And whether that process is put in place is another issue altogether. I have raised them.

For instance, the caterpillars that were used to flag off the road on the 12th of April were removed. And truly those caterpillars disappeared as soon as the flag off took place the following day. We didn’t see the carterpillar. Not even shovel. I drove round from Igbokoda to Ugbonla to see whether I could see a trace there was none. Then I shouted.

That shouting brought two of the caterpillars back and whether they are working is a different story. When I shout more they would bring additional two. By the time they bring more I would begin to praise them. Let the administration begin to work I would go back and praise them and tell the whole world that they are working. I am not condemning or shouting because I want to ruin the administration. No.

I sent a text message to his excellency Gov. Mimiko reading “My criticism of your administration is because your government has not done well for my people (the Ilajes)’. The criticism is not for me Benson. I am not looking for money though I am not a rich person and I am not begging. For instance, Kwankwaso is not from my ethnic group or from my state. I went to Kano and saw what he did.

I can recommend that man for any position in this country. I go to Lagos and see the transformation Fashola is doing. Is Fashola in Labour Party? I have been to Akwa Ibom and can see the development going on from a PDP man Akpabio . I am very objective and I will say it the way it is. So I am not at war with Gov. Mimiko.

Gov. Mimiko once recommended you to represent the state at NDDC in 2009. It seems the crack in your relationship with him was pronounced when your name was missing after it had been announced late last year when a new board of NDDC was being inaugurated. What is your view?
It was an abracadabra of the highest order. My name was announced along with other members of other states in the papers. I was cleared by the security agent and didn’t have issues. I didn’t steal on the board of NDDC. I maintained my integrity all day. When I was invited to the EFFC I replied them that I was coming and even got there on time.

I went with loads of document that I showed them. I didn’t stay extra one hour at the place because I was given a clean bill. I even went back with 14 page documents and 48 exhibits and gave to the chairman of EFCC. That was the end of the matter. In fact, they wanted to come and arrest those who wrote a petition against me that they gave them false information.

I had to plea because some of them were in their 70s and 80s. If they should take them to Abuja they would not come back. That is my life because I was not involved.

Do we see you play any role in the next dispensation?
As the event unfolds we would unfold with the event. The bible says it is not ripe for you to say I would do this and that tomorrow. So whatever will happen tomorrow is in the hand of God. Today is my own and I am going to maximize it. In future whatever happens I will embrace it.

If opportunity arises I will and if it doesn’t I will sit in my office and do my work because I belong to the crop of politicians who believe that your means of livelihood should not revolve around politics. By the grace of God I am not hungry and not begging for bread. Sometimes ago I said if they count the names of poor men in the world I would not be on the list. My desire now is God should give me the enablement to do more for humanity.

Don’t you think recent relocation of your Law firm from Abuja to Akure is a signal that you want to be close to grassroots as a build up to 2016 elections?
I don’t think people will have such notion because upon my call to the Nigerian bar on March 22, 1995, I resolved to do my best and contribute my quota to the development of legal profession in Nigeria. I first developed the Lagos office called Shalom Chambers but not to the taste of my dream law office.

My sojourn to Akure in 2003 could not have availed me of the law firm I dreamt about in 2005. When I moved to Abuja in 2008, I proposed to build a National Law firm which would be second to none in Nigeria and probably in West Africa.

I decided to invest in law books which culminated in the commissioning of my Law Library in Abuja. In 2010, my architect designed a five story law centre to be erected at the central area of Abuja.

The vision was killed by the invasion of Boko Haram ravaging facilities in the federal capital. So I decided to relocate my dream law firm to Ondo State. The office that was commissioned in Akure recently is the boys’ quarters to the edifice now under construction.

By the grace of God it will be ready in the next one year. So it has always been my dream to have a law center of repute and moving it to Akure did not have any political undertone.


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