The Chairman of the Governing council of Delta State University, and, Chairman, Delta State Advisory and Conflict Resolution Committee, Professor Sam Oyoibare who recently clocked 77 years, spoke with Some Reporters in Orerokpe. During the Interview he bared his mind on issues that bothered on the Nigerian society, politics and governance. He talked on the happenings in the national assembly, defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the understanding of the Africans About the presidential type of government, internal democracy in the PDP, and Okowa’s government.
By Emmanuel Enebeli
Question: What is your assessment of the Nigerian State?
Prof: As a professor of history, and someone who studied world view, I believe that Nigeria should have been better today. For example, what is happening in the national assembly, happened in the second republic. When Nigeria attained independence, we took the British system, the parliamentary system, where a party in the majority, forms the government, produces the prime minister. In 1976, 77, and 79, a good well packaged document for the first time, by Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, with Chief Rotimi Williams produced a documentation, insight and recommendation for a presidential system of government which we practiced at that time, and people didn’t know that there is a difference between the presidential and parliamentary system, that is still what is happening today.
In the presidential system, you don’t have to have the majority in the senate to rule, the president is elected by the people, and with the wisdom of the people, his party may not be majority in the parliament, that does not stop him from been president. Actually when you have such a situation, the best comes out of a president, to rollout his skills, his best to get his bills, laws, budget from the parliament passed. But here we are arguing, we are in majority, and therefore we must be in charge. That is not presidential system, but parliamentary. The confusion is painful, we ought to have travelled beyond that point, but that is where we are.
For people like me, we can say it’s no big deal, but conclude we are having attitudes, but we will overcome it.
Question: How do you feel about the defection of the Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio moving to APC, and with the rumour of the former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan also moving. With these movements from your party, the PDP, what will be the fortune of your party, come 2019?
Prof: In 2015, we lost, but again, those who want power in Africa, do not want the power from the intellectual politicians, or ideological politicians, so they want to be moving all the time, even in the winning group, is a bad group. And talking of Senator Akpabio, when he as a governor, he found people were moving from PDP to APC, he cracked the joke; “What am I going to do with a broom, that the broom is for the housekeeper”, he then PDP, have the umbrella in the house, now today he had gone to become the house boy to carry broom. That was how funny it is. I don’t want to go into speculation, Some people said he may had moved because he is one of those being accused by the APC of looting, and to avoid being arrested by the EFCC, he have to move to become a change agent. It’s a pity that all that is happening. You can see that on both sides. That is where we are, the continent as a whole, has a real problem. South Africa came out of revolutionary situation, but that is also changing gradually, as the successive governments are re-enacting the typical African situation, Ghana and Senegal had travelled a little bit, but Kenya, Ethiopia, Ugandan and others are in trouble depending on which angle you are looking at it, weather governance is driving by ideas that is good for the people or bad for the people, and Nigeria is no exception, including my own party.
For example when PDP was inaugurated in 1998, 1999 I took part in drafting the PDI, Peoples Democratic Institute, that institute is still there, but it wasn’t well funded. People were not interested in ideas, the youngman in charge got frustrated and left. These were the type of institute that people comes from America, Germany to teach us. That was an institute that was set up to generate ideas all the time to help the management of the local government, state and federal governments. That centre is dead today. Society is driven by ideas, including the family. We may not be conscious of this.
Question: As the Chairman of the Governing Council, Delta State University, Chairman Advisory Peace Building Council, what is your impression of the Okowa’s Government?
Prof: First I became the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Delta State University, during the last government of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. Yes, I am the chairman of the Delta state Advisory Peace Building Council, and recently a member of the Board of Trustees, of the PDP. To begin with. Delta state is in firm hand. I was at the beginning of Okowa’s campaign. We went through a lot of challenges. Luckily we may not face such challenges again. I am not so sure whether anybody we get up very soon to challenge Okowa. But, what I am sure is that Dr Okowa is likely to be returned. Okowa is working, a very organised person. As secretary to the state governor, he resigned to contest election. And I sent him a text then, telling him, who I think he is, and I wished him well. You couldn’t believe it, the day the youngman came to me that he wants to contest as governor, he showed me that text. That was three years. He is a very organised person, intellectually focussed, and there are all kinds of persons around him. I like working with him. He likes discussion. We can spend minutes talking. He likes ideas.
For the past three years Okowa had been working, prior to 2015, this state was in complete red. I am not judging who made it red, but it was. We couldn’t pay salaries. Income coming to the state was less than 7 Billion, and salaries alone were more than 7 Billion. So to manage that kind of situation was terrible. But right now, it’s now moving from red to amber. For somebody to manage that situation, without plunging into more borrowing, is wonderful. Evidences of his works are everywhere in the state, and the Peoples Democratic Party in the state is working, and it’s the major party in the state. It’s not the only party in the state, as there are others, because there can’t be just one party in a place. There must be two or more. But for now, PDP is the ruling party. And we are working.
The important thing in democracy is for one party to defeat the others, it cannot be hundred percent, even in my own village. And I can say I defeated you. We must not fight, and kill, that is not democracy. Democracy works for you to defeat your opponent.
Our party, the PDP is in firm control of the state. And there are records of what had been done to improve life in the state.
Question: The PDP is always being accused of lack of internal democracy, with the continuous instruction from the state governor, and chairman of the state PDP, asking aspirants to go back and campaign to the delegates before the primaries, in your sincere believe, do you see this to be true position of the party. And there will not be any form of imposition of candidates on the party members?
Prof: In the past years of the party, when Late Awoniyi quarrelled with President Olusegun Obasanjo, and at most times I found that the party is guilty of imposition, impunity, and this is what you now call lack of internal democracy. After the defeat of the party at the national level, Senator Ike Ekweremandu also has a document, commissioned to reposition the party. So those two documents are enough to practice internal democracy. What is internal democracy. This simply means, allow those who are aspiring to get their approval from the majority. And competition is only for good things, as nobody competes for bad thing. Anybody that wants to contests for any position should be allowed to be voted for by the majority, by the processes that are set out by the party. I don’t want to go back to the past. When persons were dusted up from somewhere, and imposed it on the people. That annoyed quite a number of people. Well, the New PDP, the PDP we have today is very conscious of this. And this is while, to some extent, it affects me, as the Chairman of the State Advisory Council, that the chairman, the governor, people like me, and by extension the executives at the local government, should not carry themselves in such a way that shows you had already chosen a candidate. Just imagine in my local government, where the chairman of the LGA executive came to my house with an aspirant, and I had to caution him against it, because that shows that he had already anointed that aspirant as his candidate.
I am a leader, I have the right to vote, and I will vote for somebody. There is a different between rigging election, and not allowing anybody to get involved. If my wife is a delegate, and I am not a delegate, I can tell my wife, the person of my choice, and she will vote for that person. And in the face of everybody my wife will go there and vote for the person and if the person wins, he had not rigged the election.
I want to believe that we can uphold internal democracy. People are jittery. Every aspirant rely on rumours, part of that rumour could be true. The aspirants have to work to ensure they win, instead of rumours. They have to do the little exercise as prescribed by the party guideline for primaries, by drawing a list of the delegates, identify the statue delegates, like me as prescribed in the party constitution. Also identify the adhoc delegates, and any other would be delegates. If you are a politician of a certain constituency, you will know who the leaders in that area are. Identify them, and talk to them in your favour.
In 2013, 2014 my younger brother and friend, stressed Okowa, stressed all of us, backing one person at any point in time. But because will knew the delegates, we were working. When he finally jumped on Edevie, we began to be afraid, that the Urhobo delegates will shrink. But at anyone point, we knew Okowa we win. And very luckily too, very luckily, I am not sure he did it because he loves internal democracy, he conducted the primaries free, and fairly. It was done live, which was good. At that time we knew. After they had counted Edevie’s number, and we know more will come, we shouted. At that time you can’t quarrel. As it was free and fair. And that had been my own admonition to our people. There are people who are bad losers. Even when you had lost, you want to still make noise. You want it to be given to you, because they are handsome, very tall, you have so much money. Know you don’t do a thing like that. Meet the delegates turn by turn. Once that is done. Then you had done your work. And when somebody emerges, you queue behind that person, as a good party man. That is internal democracy. And I hope that a lot of it will be practiced this time.
Question: What is your Assessment of the Hosting of the CAA by Delta state?
Prof: I know that when the athletes arrived there were complains in Lagos from what I heard. But in Delta, when they arrived Asaba, I don’t know of such neglect and abandonment. I was at the opening, and I saw the event, and how people attended. On issue of finance, let us not forget that there was a fund raising for it. And I don’t know how much the federal government released, the minister of Youths and Sports was there. So I cannot speak on that.