‘I don’t want to be seen as fashion crazy’
‘Why ex-bankers ’ll make better politicians’
BY CHRISTY ANYANWU
Amiable banker-turned politician, Omorege Osifo-Marshal has been conspicous in the social circle recently. She was a two-time commissioner in Edo State. She was first appointed as Commissioner for Arts & Culture during Chief Lucky Igbinedion’s tenure and Commissioner for Sports in the administration of Adam’s Oshiomhole. Currently, the upwardly mobile tourism consultant is working round-the-clock to give a befitting burial to his late dad. Omorege has finally broken her silence and in this interview with Effects talked on why she was off the social scene, her marriage to Marshal and what she is missing in her late dad.
You’ve been quiet for some time, have you quit politics for good?
I have not been quiet. That I have not granted press interviews of recent does not mean I have left politics. I have been active in politics but talking with the press, I have reduced that a little. I’m as active as I used to be.
Aside press interviews, you are hardly seen at social events too?
I slowed down on social events a little bit. You know I got married as well. I have quite a lot on my plate, politically and my private life. So, I have to readjust and make sure everything is okay.
Which political party do you belong to now?
I’m still an APC member and a leader too. I’m one of the leaders in Oredo Local Government area; my local government. I’m one of the few women who fall into that group. It’s not easy for a woman to fall into that group of leaders and the men have accepted and have agreed to work with us. That’s to tell you that I’ve have not reallystayed off politics.
What’s happening to your business, I recall you had a shop in Abuja?
The shop in Abuja was closed a long time ago.You know that when you are not on ground, it’s difficult to run business. So, I had to let go of that one. I’m still into businesses, but basically, I offer consultancy services. I consult for foreigners who want to invest in Nigeria and such request for feasibility studies on areas they could invest in. I mean foreigners who want to come to Nigeria and invest. That has also kept me busy and I still engage in trading one way or the other.
You started out as a banker before you went into Politics. How were you able to marry the two?
I was able to marry the two owing to my banking experience. The same has been helping my consultancy job. As a Finance person, my first degree is in Economics and Statistics. I also hold a masters degree in Banking and Finance. When you’re coming from that background, it’ll help a lot, especially in the area of business. That’s why people want me to tell them what to do, how much we need to invest, the areas they should invest in and how much? I have been able to do that for several people due to my background.
Banking is also conservative in one way. It cautions you against spending money carelessly. Whatever positions you find yourself, you’re kind of prudent in your spending. You are careful about how you spend too. My training in Nigeria and the US has helped my Politics quite a lot. The other day, I was in a bank and someone saw me and said, I knew you, you were a commissioner. The young man was a banker and said he wanted to be like me. I told him it’s possible because I was a banker. The young man found my words encouraging. I think it’s a very good background, moving from Banking to Politics. His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki. is from that background too. He’s a Finance Economist. That is why he has done so well so far and he’s going to do better.
You were twice a commissioner in Edo State, what misconceptions do you think people have about you?
I don’t think people have any misconception about me. I have been in politics for 17 years. I came in as a very young lady. I was working in the bank and I returned back home. Many people love me and that is what has kept me going. The people want to see more of me. One day, I went into a pharmacy to buy drugs for my little boy and a lady ran to me with excitement on her face. She told me she had not been seeing me on the television. The people enjoy watching me on TV. They love to hear me talk, and they enjoy reading about me in the newspapers. When they don’t see me, they feel there is a vacuum. Many people would tell you that the person you can trust, rely on and work with is Omorege. I don’t think there is a misconception anywhere. I’m lucky and I’m blessed to be loved by my people.
What have you learnt from life?
Life has taught me that when you want something, don’t be scared. When I was leaving the US in 2000, I had a good job and people thought I was crazy. But I wanted to come back home and do something. I wanted to come home and serve my country, I wanted to be like Hillary Clinton in my country, but I could not be Hillary Clinton in America because I’m not from there. Those were the forces that drove me back home. I made up my mind and nobody could stop me. I was taking a big risk. It could have turned out that I had arrived but not accepted, not able to do anything, or be in politics and touch lives I came determined. With God and prayers I was able to achieve much. I have been a commissioner for arts and culture, youths and sports and special adviser to the governor in Abuja. I have been kind of consistent in what I do and people have seen that I have the quality that they like. I have the background, I have the qualifications too. Basically, I have learnt not to get scared. When you want something, go for it. With hard work you can achieve what you want to achieve in life.
You got married recently
It’s not recent now. It’s been two years since I got married and I have a baby as well. Within a year that I got married, I had a baby.The baby is about seven months, going to eight months.
Is your husband a politician too?
He’s a politician and a businessman as well. We help ourselves in politics. We discuss politics. Now that I have lost my dad, who was my main man, I have somebody to comfort me and be with me in this time of my loss.
What did you miss about your dad?
My dad passed on on February 21 this year. I was with him when he breathed his last. Before he passed on, I was with him. I brought him close by because of his age; I wanted to take care of him. He left his big house and moved in with me. We kind of bonded over these few months but before then, we had always been very close. If you see his picture, everybody says I look like him. He has been a father and mother to us. I lost my mum in 1977, that’s a long time ago. She was very young when she passed at 41 years. My dad was a great man. I have been getting calls since he passed on.
He was an educationist. He touched many lives. He was one of the young people in his time who had a first degree and masters. He travelled to Europe, US and Canada. He was a sportsman too and a mathematician. That’s why mathematics runs in our home. All of us, are either into business administration, economics, accounting or mathematics. Mathematics used to be my best subject in secondary school. Funny enough he was a politician in his time and he ran for election into the national assembly at that time under a zero party. He was the principal in many schools in the late sixties and beyond. Even our sitting governor was his student in Edosa Grammar School. He helped mould a lot of young men. He was a disciplinarian. He’s 83 now and we thank God that everyone has something good to talk about him. He was director of sports in Bendel State and retired as a Permanent Secretary (education).
How have you been maintaining your fine shape?
It’s just a blessing from God. I don’t eat much. I am a woman, I have to behave like a lady that I am. Eat a little bit here and there but not much. I try to eat like a lady should eat.
Fashion wise, tell us your style?
I don’t want to be seen as someone that’s into fashion. I don’t spend too much time on fashion. I just wear anything and God makes it good on me. I come out and people say wao. It’s just natural. I’m busy doing so many things. When I go out I just try to look clean and decent.