Ben Dunno, Warri
Former Minister of Information during the military era, Prof Sam Oyovbaire, is an erudite scholar and renowned political scientist. He has been in the main stream of Delta State politics since 1999 when he showed interest in the governorship race and participated in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries that threw up the former governor, Chief James Ibori.
Since then, he has continued to play a major role in installing successive PDP governments in the state, including the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Presently, he is in the forefront of ensuring the second tenure of the governor and also in bringing back PDP at the centre.
In this interview, he bared his mind on the preparation of the party to retain power in the state and take over at the national level. Excepts:
Apart from being the Chairman of the Delta PDP Campaign Council, what other roles are you playing in the ongoing campaigns to ensure victory for your party both at the state and national level?
I am also a member of the National Campaign Committee, but I spend more time at the state level because I am also the chairman at the state level and also the Chairman of the Central Senatorial District Campaign Council. In all of these, it is the community that matters. I take campaign in my village very seriously. I have four voting points by my house and I do not joke with it. So, you can see me with the lowest person in the community and you can see me with the high and mighty like the presidential candidate within the shortest possible time. As you can see, it’s only the PDP that is campaigning. I don’t see APC campaigning in Delta. Unfortunately, for APC and fortunately for me, there is so much confusion because only recently the list of their candidates has just been destroyed by the Appeal Court. Right now, they do not even know where they are. The village close to me, Adeje, I did not know that they were expecting Ovie Omo-Agage. When they saw me coming in a convoy, they thought it was Omo-Agege and they started dancing, but on approaching me, they realized I was a PDP leader, they withdrew to themselves and started telling me they were actually expecting Omo-Agege in their village, but as it stands now, they are nowhere to be found. At the national scene, apart from the little noise the APC is making, all the other parties are not on ground here. The PDP is taking the campaign seriously because mistakes were made in the past and we are apologizing for it and luckily for us the performance of Muhammadu Buhari has been disastrous. We have something to campaign with and they don’t. They are only telling us lies. How could somebody say there’s a functional rail line running from Aladja to Ajakuta on television. It is a blatant lie.
Remember just recently when the president said something about Bonny, somebody challenged him and said it was not there. The man does not know what is on ground, they just tell him anything and he believes. PDP is campaigning seriously at every level because we are determined to take over Aso Villa and retain our governorship seat here in Delta and we urged all Nigerians to help us in getting back to these offices, so we can improve on the present hopeless and helpless state of the masses, as we have the capacity to do far more than what’s on ground.
Having ruled for almost 20 years in Delta State, why should Deltans give PDP another opportunity to rule the state again?
PDP had always done well in Delta State, why do you want to change them. We have had three governors in the state. Ibori came and did a lot, but Uduaghan who is my friend, left little or nothing on ground. Okowa came in and is doing well and I supported him because he is a very calculative, intelligent and an intellectual ruler. He does not tell lies. If he tells you that he is going to do something, he will do it. But if he does not do, he will come back to you and plead for more time.
In Okpe LGA where I come from very little or nothing dropped down in the eight years’ rule of Uduaghan who is my friend. But Okowa in three years he has done a lot. In 2015, when Okowa came on board there was not much money coming to the state, but he was able to manage things until things became better. As a political scientist, I know what is going on in the world and I can tell you that Delta State is just a sub-state of the federation called Nigeria, but PDP has done very well in the state.
What are some of the selling points of the PDP government in the state?
There has been massive improvement in construction of roads. It is only when you stay in the village that you know the importance of roads. Each time the governor takes a proposal of roads in the state he spreads them around. He has also done a lot of roads in the riverine areas. In Okpe local government he has constructed a lot of schools and roads. It may interest you to know that before now, there are many communities where farmers, mostly women, found it difficult to get there farm produce to major markets to sell because they needed to cross rivers to get to those places, but with bridges being built across some of these rivers by Okowa’s government, it takes less than 15 minutes now for those women to get their goods to their various destinations to sell. In addition, those things that government ought to do to better the lots of the people, Okowa has been doing them, even to the admiration of the opposition in the state.
There is also this entrepreneurial thing he is doing very well. In Songhai Amukpe what Okowa is doing is monitored. They have been encouraging and empowering people. Public place is not where you go for employment these days.
What do you think Okowa would be doing differently if given another four years mandate?
A lot still have to be done. There are still many roads to be done in Okpe. The schools need a lot of improvement because they are in terrible conditions because of lack of maintenance. We are talking about technology, so we still have to improve the equipment for teaching. The same thing goes for other tertiary institutions. I know what is happening in the universities because we are managing to get accreditation for some of the courses. Next stage means a lot you are updating what you have. If Okowa can take all the roads in Okpe before he leaves, I’ll
be very glad.
What is your advice to Deltans?
I call upon Deltans because I am a Deltan who decided to stay in my village. My gates are always open. Deltans should support the government of Okowa because his equity is very high. He threats all the communities equally. There is one thing that people are taking for granted and nobody is taking about it. There is peace and security in Delta and I can authoritatively tell you that Delta is the safest place in the Niger Delta region today. This is not magic. It is because whatever security apparatus the Federal Government sends to Delta, Governor Okowa makes sure they do their job excellently well.
I have never ever heard him complained of any Commissioner of Police deployed to the state or any other security agents. This synergy with security agents cost him money and people don’t know this. So, I want to appeal to Deltans and tell them that it is in our best interest to let Okowa continue for the next four years. Delta Central and South have done it for two terms, so why should Delta North own be different.