By Perez Brisbe
Businessman turned politician, Olorogun Otega Emerhor is the leader of one of the two factions of the APC in Delta State. In this interview following the brawl between the two factions at the party’s convention ground in Abuja, he gives his perspectives of what happened.
How the problem started
As secretary of the accreditation committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege decided to ignore the officially approved Exco and delegate list for Delta State. You know Chief Cyril Ogodo was sworn in as chairman of the party in the state after the appeal committee had done its work.
In all the states that there were parallel congresses, the National Working Committee either upheld either one faction or the other. In Delta State, it is our own that was upheld hence our delegates were supposed to attend the convention. But Omo-Agege planted himself or rather manipulated himself to be the secretary of the accreditation committee, and he was responsible for collating the list of delegates and printing them into a booklet that would be used for accreditation.
It is that position that he used to exclude the approved delegate and put his unapproved delegate to replace our own in Delta.
And then he was in charge of hosting those who would do the accreditation, so you would see that he took control of the list and those that would do the accreditation. So when the day of the accreditation came, he refused to accredit our people and accredited the Jones-led Exco and other persons who have not been recognised by the party. So clearly, he was acting outside the authority and recognition of the NWC.
How we were accredited
So what transpired was that when our delegates went to the place of accreditation, there was some fight there. They had hired buses to carry their so-called delegates to the venue. We complained to the Governor of Jigawa who is the chairman of the national convention committee, and through that, we were able to accredit our people, and we gained access into the venue.
But by the time we got in, they had taken the stand of Delta delegates, as we approached the stand to take our seats, they decided to attack us by throwing chairs and stuff at us, and that is how the fracas happened.
We led our delegates to go to the stand that belongs to Delta that they were illegally occupying and that is what happened. But we did not go there to attack them; we went there because we were the authentic delegates and that is the only place meant for us to seat and they occupied it illegally.
It is in that process that as we approached them, argument ensued and their people started attacking our people. I can give you names of three people that they broke their heads. They broke the head of Mr. John Onojeharho from Ughelli South; they broke the head of one Akarohowe from Agbor and Rev Israel Unutame from Patani.
After the fight, to let peace reign, they prevailed on us to go and occupy another place. So their delegates and ours were in the arena until about midnight. After Kogi governor had reviewed and seen that they were the fake ones, he now announced that all fake delegates should leave the venue.
We voted as Delta delegates
All fake delegates were given one hour to leave the venue with the police, and other security agents mandated to take action, and it was at that time that they all now left, but we stayed there till about 5 a.m. When they called on Delta delegates to come and vote, and we voted, and we didn’t finish voting until about 7 a.m.
Now, they are claiming that, oh, they have already counted, and our votes do not count. But that is not true because as they were voting, while other states were voting, they started counting immediately because they do not want the thing to spill over for too long so voting was going on and counting was going on as well simultaneously.
The question to ask them is why did they run away at 12 o’clock for something that lasted till 7 a.m? How come they did not vote if they were the real delegates? So they are just full of lies all the time telling stories.
Expectations from Oshiomhole leadership
We have a new chairman now who is going to look into all these issues, and I am sure a solution would be found. The problem is that, for Ogboru and Omo-Agege, it’s either them or nobody. Let me tell you, if you do congress, somebody must win. In states like Lagos and other places, after winners emerge, they would protest, but that is why they have appeal committees, and the worst thing you can do is go to court which they (Ogboru supporters) have done. They have sued us to court, and they do not want to wait for the outcome of the court. They claim they have a judgment which they do not have, they do not want to wait for the outcome, and they want to take the law into their hands by pretending to swear-in a parallel executive in the state.
So, those things are not good but we hope that with Oshiomhole coming in, he is going to look into this/ we know they have some strength just like we too do have some strength, but our combined strength is better. Whatever reconciliation that can be promoted we would support it but this idea of trying to supplant what is correct, what is true, people that have been sworn-in, would not work.
I hope that they would listen to the voice of reason and retrace their steps.
Was it because of the brawl you were absent at the meeting of Urhobo leaders with President Buhari?
Well, I booked an appointment to lead Urhobo leaders to see President Buhari. I booked the appointment over three months ago. Last week, they approved for us to come on Monday and I led them, we went to the meeting.
But before the meeting started, I was invited by the CSO to the President who wanted to confirm what happened at the convention on Saturday and I told him what happened. Omo-Agege and co had already told a false story that I led thugs and not delegates to go and disrupt the convention.
It was just for him to clarify what happened and by the time I finished, the meeting with the President had also ended, and we all came back.
Why did Jones, Edojah, and other associates leave you to join Ogboru?
This is a political party; people realign their interests. Ogboru came into the party and is using Urhobo sentiments to win Urhobo people to his side. Those people are supporting him because they feel Urhobo must be governor. (Jones is Isoko) I want APC to win so people who disagree with me can move to his side. As he is gaining such people, I am also gaining acceptance across the whole state.
People like Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Ochie, Leroy have joined my side. Who is Edojah, Edojah is an Urhobo man supporting an Urhobo man, people who are myopic. Ogboru has been playing politics and has been failing for the past four or five times; only Urhobo cannot produce a governor, we need the three senatorial districts to win. Turner Ogboru went on live television to say I am supporting an Anioma agenda, how does that make Anioma people feel? Doesn’t he need Anioma people to win? Ogboru cannot continue to spoil the chances of APC winning the governorship by making it an Urhobo party. APC is a Delta party, and we need the Anioma, Ijaw, Isoko, Urhobo, and Itsekiri. Unless we do not want to win which Ogboru doesn’t want to do.