Mr. Peters Omaruaye, who hails from Gbaregolor, Ughelli South local government area of Delta State, is the Delta Central senatorial candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. In this interview, Omaruaye speaks on his aspiration. Excerpts:
What informed your decision to represent Delta Central in the Senate?
In politics, when you are vying for a position, you should know that the essence is to come and serve your people, most importantly to give them quality representation and make them have that sense of belonging that they have somebody out there who can bring dividends of democracy to their door steps through legislative means.
There is also what you call time and chance. I think in the last 20 years there has never been a time in this political dispensation that my people have not come to ask that I run for an elective position.
Before now, all our energy was geared towards starting from the executive arm of government and my aspiration for Delta State has always been in line with Chief Great Ogboru’s aspiration, so it has been about supporting that vision for a better Delta State driven from the executive.
In the coming 2023 general elections, there are many people out there believing the Ogboru political family may not have the position we have been aspiring for over the years, not because we have not won it, but there has been a conspiracy against us.
We all know we have won it severally, indeed a lot of persons have won several seats from the Delta State House of Assembly to the Senate, and l know Deltans and Nigerians can testify to it.
So, at this point in time, I also thought that it is time for us who have been in the forefront of the struggle for a better Delta State to come out and take up some of these elective positions and, more importantly, this is the time God has approved for me to go.
Nigeria elections have always been characterized by rigging and other fraudulent act. What gives you the confidence that this election will be free and fair?
Well, in the first instance, we have won elections not once or twice, from the House of Assembly to the House of Representatives and Senate. Of course you know that from the last 10 to 12 years, Delta Central has been occupied by the DPP, LP and now APC through the leadership of Chief Great Ogboru. So, we have always been very popular at the grassroots; only that in the governorship, they have always denied us.
Now, if you follow the trend of elections in this country even more recently in the Ekiti State governorship election, you will see that people just sit and write results. Now you will have to have the people, and be popular before you can win elections and this is now more magnified because of the new Electoral Act. In the past, INEC had tried to improve the system but they couldn’t because of the flawed Electoral Act. We used the card reader in the last two elections in Delta and we won those elections going by the revelation of the card reader reports, but because we didn’t have the legislation to support it, it was thrown out in the courts.
But with the new Electoral Act and the additional technology of BVAS which is bimodal in operation, we are sure of winning, unlike in the past when people say if you cannot vote with the card reader you use incident form, this situation cannot arise anymore. So now you must be a popular candidate and you all know that we are the most popular in the state.
We have seen that with the new electoral law, rigging will be reduced drastically but the major concern is vote-buying. Don’t you think it will still affect the 2023 elections?
The issue of vote-buying and outright writing of results has been there for years. But the question is how many votes can you buy to win an election? For instance, in the just concluded Ekiti elections, the total number of registered voters was about 900 000, those who collected PVC was about 700 000 while valid votes were less than 400,000.
Ekiti is not a big state compared to Delta. But even at that what it means is that if you want to buy votes, how many votes are you going to buy? So what I know is that we are popular and our votes will stand. You see what happened in Edo State governorship election; so things are getting better by the day and the better they are the better for us because we are popular.
What areas are you looking to address when you become the senator representing Delta Central?
We have had several senators from Delta Central and they have tried but the structure of Nigeria today is such that every region must take from the Federal Government. As a senator, you must sit down and have alliances with your colleagues, negotiate for your people and work on whatever you have on ground. Delta Central for instance has eight local governments.
I am aware that a lot of the things that came in from the Federal Government to Delta Central seem to be concentrated in only one local government, so what is the equity there? I am from Ughelli South but l have to attract development equitably to all the local government areas of Delta Central because we can’t concentrate in one place, we must ensure that whatever comes to Delta Central must be shared among the eight local governments. So that is going to be the ground on which we are going to drive the processes. There is also a huge youth energy in this country today; that energy I also will bring to the table.
There are views that APGA may not have the structures that PDP and APC have for the 2023 elections. What is your take?
This is based on a wrong perception. What is structure? Structure is made up of people. You can’t be popular if you don’t have the numbers. If you follow what is happening in Delta State APGA in the past three months, and you are honest to yourself, you will attest to the fact that since we took over APGA, it has been something else. First and foremost, we have done it in AD, DPP and LP and then what you have in APC today is our strength.
Delta APC will soon become a carcass as our people move en mass to APGA. What has happened in APGA in the last three months is like a revolution. If you don’t have the people there is no way you can have 29 House of Assembly seats in Delta, 10 Federal Constituency, three senatorial and the governorship candidates clearly beating the INEC deadline. So, if you don’t have the people, and you are not popular, you can’t turn things around in such a short time. So, when you talk about structure, it is about the people; we have the people in and outside the party.
The Delta APGA governorship primary, which was a delegate election, was supposed to be about eight hundred plus delegates but it was a mammoth crowd at PTI and we had a Herculean task ensuring that only the delegates got into the hall. The delegates were there but the number of people that came was unimaginable. So we have the people and we have the structure and the goodwill of the people is overwhelming. Let me tell you something; you cannot take God’s blessing from the people, we have that blessing and you can’t take it from us.
You happen to have two major opponents to contend with in APC’s Chief Ede Dafinone and Chief Ighoyota Amori of PDP in the senatorial election. How do you intend to battle both?
Both of them are sons of the Urhobo nation. I think every son of Urhobo above the age of 35 years is qualified to contest the Senate position but election is about popularity, it is about your connection with the masses. Everything about Great Ogboru’s political family is the masses. It hasn’t been about ourselves but about what better deal we can get for the masses in Delta State.
So, the combination of popularity, and ability to cut across the elites with the means of BVAS and backing of the masses that vote will count, has left a lot of people with the hope that all will be well come 2023 general elections. We have won Delta Central back-to-back in the last 16 years.
We won it with DPP with the late Sen. Pius Ehwerido, then Chief Ede Dafinone came in as the flag bearer during the bye election but we lost. Then Ovie Omo-Agege came and we won in Labour Party and had won again in APC running his second tenure. So it is about the masses and we have the masses behind us and they also know.
Finally your message to Delta Central…
Those who haven’t registered should go and register for their PVCs. People have been disappointed because, over the years, they have voted and their votes didn’t count.
But things have changed now, the country has changed, elections in this country have changed. People are going to vote and their votes are going to count. So for those of you who haven’t registered, please go and register. I understand that INEC has extended the registration time, so please go and register and then come out to vote because this time, your votes will count.