‘It will be unfair for any Ijaw to run Delta South Senatorial race’
The Immediate past Secretary to Delta State Government, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay, spoke with SONY NEME in his Asaba office. A former Delta State chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), broke his silence on issues bordering on his rumoured romance with All Progressives Congress (APC), the Delta South Senatorial District electoral battle and more.
As a major stakeholder in Delta State what do you think should be the prospects for the 2019 political year?
When you talk about the political prospects for 2019, all I can say is that it has different layers. You must look at it from the national level which controls the state because, whatever happens at the national level trips down to the state. Then you to look at the various players and the major political parties and in most recent times what is now been referred to as the third force which is metamorphosing into the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Generally speaking, we are moving towards elections. What bothers me most is the insecurity. The security challenges currently facing the country must be a matter of concern to the key players or anybody who has this country of ours at heart.Generally every political year normally poses security challenges. But when the security aspect is properly handled, of course, the people will be rest assured that the political situation can sail with minimal conflicts. From what we are seeing today the general insecurity of the country should be of more concern to even us the politicians, than the election we are talking about. Because if there is no security, its affects the elections. And when democracy is challenged, then we all have problems.
So, like I have stated before, for now, every right thinking Nigerian, should be concerned with the security situation. We should put away our party differences and begin to combat and collectively handle the security situation in the country. We should be vehement in this drive because insecurity has no friend. It has no respect for identity or political poise; it doesn’t care whether you are a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressives Congress (APC). If you run into a mob or a crime situation, you run into it. By the way, generally speaking, how many people have the means to provide security for their selves?
What is your position on the Inspector general of police position on the withdrawal of security details attached to politicians and other VIPs?
The insecurity question may even get worse now with the Inspector General of Police throwing up such orders. This idea of withdrawing security attachments to all public office holders, politicians, corporate bodies, multinationals and corporate individuals. I think that is going to be another great challenge in this country. You can imagine even now that people have security details to protect their selves and their families things are not easy as people are still living in fear. Imagine a situation where the politicians and society big wigs who are hated by society naturally for one reason or the other – as no politician can say that he is a friend to everybody – are left without security.
These days, that you are doing well to people in your community is enough reason for other persons to pick offence with you. You make money and you are living well also becomes a problem for you. Some people will say it is only politicians who are bad that should be worried. It doesn’t follow because once you are doing well to somebody, you are displeasing other persons.
Economically, this will discourage a lot of multi-national corporate bodies. I think the Police should go back and ensure due diligence in this decision. Agreed that there are some people who are abusing this police men, it’s also possible that there are some people who are using the police illegally. However, for those who have the official approval, of the Inspector General of Police should be left to continue.
If their validation expires and they fail to go back for revalidation then it’s a different case scenario. It should not be a blanket sweeping. Of course, I can imagine what it will be like if for three days there are no security details attached to these set of individuals and corporation, what this country will look like. It will worsen the situation. This type of thing should not be done; not especially when we are approaching an election.
The lives and property of Nigerians should be protected by the government. It is even sad enough that individuals are being made to provide their own security because these details are not for free. You pay to have them and pay to keep them. They are not free. It is sad enough. I don’t think a parliamentarian in the United Kingdom or a legislator in the United State will hire a police to protect his family or self. That we are doing it here is sad enough. I must ask the police to review that decision. It is not going to be a popular decision and the fall out of that decision will be worse than the problem they intend to solve.
The Presidency and National Assembly have been at logger heads over the timetable for the 2019 general election. What is your position on that?
Yes. The debate on reordering the election timetable has been dominant in national discourse of late. My worry about this situation is that this came from the senate. And the ruling party has the majority in the senate. It has nothing to do with the opposition trying to truncate the process. It is an internal problem of the APC which I think they should be able to resolve indoors and not to throw the whole country into chaos.
Nigerians who are vast with the constitution should be able to interpret it. We should not behave as if we live in a country where there are not laws to guild our actions. We should be able to interpret the law, abide by it and if it is to be amended, so be it. Of course, it will pass through the legislative process. There is division of labour in government. Nobody should try to arbitrate the other’s function. With that the country can stand a better ground.One thing I know is that 2019 may not be as rough as projected. But if we don’t play by the rules and hinge our actions on sentiments, and individual interest then, there are bound to be problems. At an election time like this we must be careful of unnecessary party politicking. Who the people want to vote for, they will vote for. You don’t need to coheres people or make laws that will coheres people to vote.
Nigerians have become better enlightened. We are no longer in 1999 or 2003. So politicians as far as i am concern should think about wooing the people the right way. As far as I am concern, you are not a politician if you don’t have constituency. And if you don’t have the confidence of your constituents then you have failed. These are the issues I see in 2019, but I believe that with the level of Nigeria’s maturity, we will be able to surmount any problem.
How prepared do you think the Peoples Democratic Party is for 2019 in Delta State and beyond?
I think the party is doing what it should do. But I expect that it should do more than it is doing. Because coming from a ruling party to an opposition party, means you have a lot of challenges. Your first challenge is how to get back to power. You lost and accepted it. Is that to say that you permanently want to remain in the opposition? I think the answer is no.
What were the reasons that led to so many people leaving the PDP in 2014? Have you addressed those issues correctly? – The issues of impunity and imposition? I think as we move towards the general elections especially the primaries, the PDP should throw its doors open, do more consultations and in term with the grassroots, if they must get back the central government and other states back.
It was about this time in 2014 that a lot of people started pulling out of the party which gave way to then opposition to become the ruling party. For me today, if I was the national chairman, the first thing will be to put down a group of people whom I think he should have done by now. And also he was part of the national leadership then in the national secretariat. He has always been with the party and should on his own know that these are the things that are always causing problem for the party.
One major thing that can save the PDP is transparency. If I were the PDP, I will ensure that the next primary is option A4 – open primaries- if you are popular, go and show it in the field. Because if more people queue behind you in the field it means more people will vote for you in the community. Most people in other parties today were ab-initio PDP members. It was impunity, recklessness and disrespect portrayed during our primaries that drove many of them out. We must learn from our mistakes. Once that is done, I see PDP still winning Delta State and other states as well as the Presidency.
So far the Ijaws and Itsekiris are aquaring up for the senate slot for the Delta South, does the silence from Isoko means they have thrown in the towel?
First of all, let me correct the impression that it is not in every election that you must push somebody forward. You must study the scenario. It is not for fun. I know there are so many political jokers. Politics is beyond that. Secondly, I don’t think the three ‘I’s – Isoko, Itsekiri, Ijaw forum- have gone political. If you talk of the G3, that is the political body.
The three ‘I’s is a body of elders across the three ethnic groups in Delta South Senatorial District who are interested in the development of the region who come together at their own time. We once in a while as politicians interface with them when it’s an issue of common interest. Politicians are out to grab power so they don’t really have the same agenda. But there are areas where there interests meet.
Yes, as at today, no Isoko person has seriously come out to run for the senate, but there is still time. It is not how far but how well. I am sure a few persons must still be studying the situation to know how it goes. It is not limited to the PDP. In other parties, Isokos have not really come out. But I don’t want to rule it out that they may not come out. At the appropriate time if they come out we will look at it.
For me, I am interested in who can carry the flag and carry it well. It must not be a particular place. But then what is paramount is the fact that out the three ethnic nationalities that make up the district, one particular nationality has held it for 16 years. Majority of the now feel it cannot continue to be so. And that if this thing belongs to our parents, then every child should benefit from it; I think that is the issue on ground.
For now, the Isokos are still on the drawing board. If they think they will come out, somebody will. One thing about politics too is about building alliances. Maybe they will work out an alliance. Because it left Isoko that did one term in the person of Senator Stella Omu from 1999 to 2003 and after that the Ijaws took over through Senator James Manager who has been there from 2003 till date.
So the issue we have now is that, it will be unfair for any Ijaw man to show interest in the senatorial seat for 2019, haven occupied it for 16 years. I think the matter is between Itsekiri’s and Isokos.We are three brothers. It does not call for fight or mudslinging because the person you want to destroy today may be the one who will help you tomorrow. If the Isoko want to go they will need the Itsekiris and Ijaw and vice versa, hence it is a matter for all to sit at the table and discuss. This is where the interest of the three ‘I’s and the G3 come together. They should be able to guild the children in order to minimise acrimony.
For close observers,, Isoko should be more favoured on the bargain since Itsekiri’s just finished a part of the pie with governorship, while Ijaws have had sixteen years of uninterrupted deal at the senate. Do you subscribe to this?
Well, the Isokos have always made sacrifice to stabilise politics of the Delta South political District. Like I said earlier, it will be too early to rule out that they may not come out. Politics is about strategy. There are so many things in that senatorial district. The problem is that we may not have been sitting to work it out. That is why a particular people can get senate and get every other office and are comfortable, forgetting that they also have brothers who they supposed to allow it to spread to.
So if we sit we can discuss how to make it go round. Isoko people feel a sense of been cheated for now. There is no doubt about it. The others have been senate for 16 years and governorship, Isoko has had nothing that they can proudly say they have.
Recently, you advocated the need for Isokos to be given ministerial appointment or federal appointments with a proviso of moving to other parties if the need be. Do you still maintain that stand?
First let me state that I don’t need anybody to tell me how to think politically. Let me it clear that if my people have never occupied any high powered federal position, do I need anybody to tell me to request that my people are entitled to a federal position? The answer is no.What I am saying is that Isoko people have not been given their proper place in terms of political appointments. Even at the state.
The highest we have gone is the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) which I held for four years. So if I say we need a federal position I am saying it with all conviction because that is the true picture. It is a struggle I have taken upon myself.Nobody pushes me to a struggle. I get myself convinced and push it. I requested for it. The speech was not written for me. I wrote it an dread it that Isoko people deserve to serve at the national level. At the national executive council, an Isoko man should be there. At the senate an Isoko man should be there. We need Isoko persons in Abuja; that is the point I am making. Let anybody fault it. From 1999 till date we have not been made minister or appointed into any federal board, as chairman. It’s both painful and sad especially since Isoko has from time immemorial contributed to the electoral victory of the PDP. Now there is the APC.
I am not saying give it to Macaulay. I am saying that if the APC can do it, I may start thinking in their direction. It means they have done something other political parties could not do in how many years. It has nothing to do with political bias. It’s what our people want; federal presence, institutions and all that. It is disheartening that after Oloibiri where oil was first found in commercial quantity in 1958, Uzere is the second place it was found in the country. Uzere was almost a desert- when did they get a road to Uzere?
In my own local government area alone, do you know how many oil wells we have there with gas everywhere and we don’t get anything for it? It’s painful. And if calling for requisite recognition means I am going to be called names, I don’t mind. But do it. Nobody will be in the situation that Isoko is today and be happy, except the person is a boot licker. And when he finishes with the bootlicking and come back home, the people will slaughter him, because people are now more aware that they are been cheated. This may affect the next votes.The way we are been treated will affect the results of the elections.
Perturbed by the agitation of Isoko on the 2018 budget and the response of the government, you demanded an apology from the Delta State Government for Isoko. Has that request been granted?
I don’t want to go into the issue of the apology. It is not personal to me. I have made my statement and I have rested on the matter. The only thing I will want to correct is that i was not concerned with the percentage. I am saying this because some people are saying that I insulted the Delta State Government by saying that Isoko was given one percent of the budget. That is not my concern because the Governor has the right to distribute projects in the state the way he wants.
My concern is for anybody to desist from calling Isoko names. That was why I called for the apology. And if the situation repeats itself again, I will do the same thing.
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