Nkechi Chima, Abuja
Businessman and politician, Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma is the former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Nigeria/US Parliamentary Relations.
The former lawmaker who represented Egor/Ikpobaoka constituency, Edo State, served as senior aide on Foreign Matters and Investment to former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshimhole.
Also, he served as board of director; chairman, mechanical, signal and telecommunication, Nigeria Railway Corporation under the leadership of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Presently, he is Senior Special Assistant to the Speaker of House of Representatives on political matters at the National Assembly.
EJ as he is fondly called started his political career in America as a lobbyist. He is an aspirant for Edo 2020 gubernatorial election, though he didn’t make it at the APC primary, but he promised to support whoever the people elected.
In this interview, he shared his political experiences, why he thinks elective position is not a do-or-die affair, among other issues. Excerpts:
How did you come to limelight?
I was already hitting limelight when my parent sent me to Benin from the village to acquire education. Honestly, it was a huge success for me. Jokingly, I told my villagers that I would leave the village someday and travel to America, they were abusing me, because of my poor background, but God granted my heart desire and I lived in America successfully for years, then relocated to Nigeria. Far back, 1988 in America, I won a campaign for the mayors and had good relationship with renowned leaders like former President Bill Clinton, George Bush.
Can you recall your tough moments in life before you became successful?
To God be the glory, I was able to give people accommodation in America, but when I got there it wasn’t rosy for me, because the family I went there to stay with abandoned me, I slept on the street for six months in the car, while I take my bath in any of the swimming pools. Painfully, I have tasted poverty, so I understand the pain of the less privileged in the society. Gracefully, my four children are born in America and they live there, because I worked hard with the grace of God to make life meaningful for them, because I don’t want them to go through my experiences. I wouldn’t forget the late retired commissioner of police one among the people who helped me to climb the ladder of success.
Aside politics, what else do you do?
I have a law firm, hospital, television station and an entertainment recording studio. Also, I have an oil and gas company and I’m a real estate practitioner in Texas Houston, America.
Narrate your experiences as former House of Representatives member?
I learned a lot of lessons at the House of RepresentativeRepresentatives, some were willing to help you learn to achieve your goals, while some would want you to remain stagnant instead of excelling. Before I became an honourable member, I was adviser on political matter to the late Chuba Okadigbo where I consulted for the National Assembly. So, I would say that I learned a lot and I made greater impact in the House not just sponsoring bills or moving motions, but I was able to bring dividend of democracy on ground in my constituency. I carried out skill acquisition programmes, built ICT hall, empowered the women, job creation for the youth, vocation activities and children I gave scholarships. I did that not because I had all the money, but because they gave me the opportunity, so I owe them the responsible to be accountable to them. At the National Assembly I opened a lot of cankerworms, because corruption is the major problem of Nigeria. I must commend the president on his war against corrupt. I have travelled to America and United Kingdom to investigate how Nigeria global economy was diminishing. I investigated NNPC, IOC, among others to better the lives of Nigerians and the economy with the support of my colleagues.
You contested again to return to the National Assembly, but didn’t win, how do you feel about this?
Yes! I contested to return to the National Assembly, but didn’t succeed, because my mandate was stolen. However, INEC officers involved in changing results were charged to court by the Federal Government. So, I leave everything to God. Painfully, after the judge received a phone call at the tribunal he dismissed the case. We went to Appeal, two days later the judge was kidnapped, her orderly killed just because of my election. God will judge everyone involved in changing my result.
What are the things you miss most in the House?
I missed my wonderful friends and colleagues. I admired how people from my constituency and those outside my state of origin were coming to ask for my support to write recommendation letter for jobs. In fact, it was so interesting working with people from different ethnic group, religion and tribe. Though, I don’t miss them much, because I’m still with them, I’m Senior Special Assistant to the Speaker on political matters at the National Assembly.
What is your stand in politics?
Painfully, there are people who don’t wish Nigeria well. I was born in 1960, the year Nigeria gained independence. Yet, we don’t have good electricity supply and other basic amenities. Earlier, we didn’t have cruel oil, but cocoa and God blessed us with basic natural resources. Look at electricity, those importing generators don’t want us to enjoy constant power supply. So, I’m worried for Nigeria. Advisably, we should stop collecting money from aspirants; instead do fundraising for a competent aspirant for the loyalty of his people.
With your wealth of knowledge as a lobbyist in America, how would you describe Nigerian politics?
Imagine, where people are been killed because of political ambition. So, Nigerian politics is ugly and dubious. I pray for this nation’s repentance. Commendably, we have Nigerians doing well in other countries even at home, but unfortunately we have not been able to be loyal and committed to our dear nation.
Why did you declare your intention to vie for governorship late?
I declared to change the narratives, thereby if given the opportunity to serve, whether you are from Edo North or South, we are one. I don’t believe in castigating my opponent, it’s not my style. I’m very worried and sad for what is happening in Edo State. Honestly, any man that has given you a ladder to climb should not be forgotten, because a day will come where you will need that ladder to climb. There is no perfection in humanity, we will offend each other, but forgiveness is the key, because we ask God for forgiveness. Honestly, the problem in the state politics is nothing but distraction, because the grass suffers when two elephants fight. Edo State is bigger than one individual, so there is no need for us as aspirants to fight each other, since none of us was born to be governor or a leader; it’s all about destiny and the grace of God with divine connection. My vision is to move the people of Edo State forward by giving them good governance, especially giving allowance to undergraduates, empowering our women and youth. If I win they should support me, but if another person succeeds, I will gladly support the fellow, it’s not a do-or-die affair, and it’s about the people deciding our fate for governorship.
The world is faced with COVID-19 pandemic, what lessons should we learn from it?
Nigerians should draw closer to God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. Honestly, we have sinned against God, taken laws into our hands, there are no longer family values, everyone preaches prosperity, instead of the salvation of our souls for eternity and the love of God. So, I think the virus has taught us a big lesson. There is no miracle without hard work; you must pray selflessly to encounter God.