-Erue-led Executive Has Performed Poorly, He Declares
-Gives Reasons Why Ogboru Should Be Father Of APC, Not To Contest Again
Olorogun Jaro Egbo is a lawyer by profession and a politician by vocation.
He is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State.
In this interview, he responds to questions on his party’s loss during the 2019 guber elections, as he hints on his ambition to be the governor of Delta State, come 2023.
He is of the opinion that Great Ovedje Ogboru, the party’s governorship candidate in 2019, should assume the role of ‘Father of APC’ in the state rather than contest.
Egbo also scored the state executive of the party low and adds that except they up their games, they will be replaced.
Many doubt if you are still a member of the All Progressives since in recent times, you have been sighted on several occasion in the company of your old friends in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some allege that you have decamped to the PDP?
Well that is very far from the truth. For those who are politically aware in Delta State, they know that we are the people that sold APC to Deltans. I actually started this ‘APC Take Over Delta’ thing. This eventually became the slogan of the party in Delta State. Yes, I was dissatisfied, unhappy and angry with the treatment meted on me by some leaders in the party. Imagine after I won elections, while getting ready to be sworn-in then I was manipulated out. But, you are also aware that those who did not win elections but found themselves in the Delta State House of Assembly have been thrown out. So, they have met their waterloo already. I have moved on and I am in the process of rebuilding and reconciling the party so that we can be ready by 2023. I stepped aside and withdrew from the activities of the party because I was not happy with how the party was been run- where someone we brought into the party was acting as a dictator. So I just kept to myself and withdrew to my shell. But, if you see the social media everywhere is agog and I am already selling the party. I never left the party and I will never leave the party.
Has the issue of you been replaced by another aspirant in APC that made you dormant been addressed already?
Of course yes! The man was thrown out. The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court affirmed that I won the election and the man who was pretending to be there is a pretender because he never contested the election. The constitutional requirement states that it is only those that pass all the stages of election that can be sworn-in. I did the primaries. I campaigned and did the general elections and I won. I was issued the result but before I could be issued the Certificate of Return, those people in Abuja that believe that they are more than gods took my mandate away and there is nobody who will be in my shoes that will not be angry. But I prayed to God that they meet their mates. They even took the matter to the Supreme Court which ought not to be and they were told that they have no right and asked them to go back to their houses. So, I should be satisfied because my God is fighting for me and I don’t have to fight for myself. So, I am happy and at peace with myself and I believe that we must reconcile whatsoever mistakes we made then because we need to take over power in 2023.
Reconciling aggrieved APC members of your party looks like an impossible task. What do you think?
There is a virus that has eaten deep into the fabrics of our party. Once we can remove that virus the party will regain its full health and form. I am sure that those at the national cadre of our party have come to realize that this individual I am talking about is a virus. It is not about me. If you hear those who are supporting Ogboru they will mention the same person; Uduaghan supporters will mention the same person; Ochei supporters will mention the same person…em…all across the state they know that the man is a virus and once you remove that virus from the body then the body will grow well. So, we believe that we can sit down as a people, as politicians and leaders and agree that this is the way forward for APC Delta. Then of course, one man cannot hold a party? If he doesn’t want to move ahead then either he falls in or he falls out. That is the process we are now. We are trying to meet. Our plan now is how do we strengthen APC? If they can do it in Bayelsa, why can’t we do it in Delta? PDP has been here for 20 years and we believe the time is ripe for us to take the state.
Can we get the name of this virus you are talking about?
You are a journalist and I believe that one of the vital ethics of journalism is investigation. Sample opinions and of course you will find out who this is. I don’t want to mention the name so that it will not be said that Egbo said you are a virus. But when you sample the opinion of members and party leaders across south south, the picture will become very clear who this virus is.
What lessons must your party learn from 2019 elections to improve your showing in 2023 elections?
In 2019 we were fighting ourselves… the division and the issue of I am always right was a big obstacle to our winning the governorship election in 2019. Also, when we threw away zoning…we have come back to it now. If we have respected that zoning arrangement we would have fared better anyway. So, the first thing for us to do is unity. Like I earlier said, if we can remove that virus from our system we will all be united, strong and we can face PDP and take the fight to them and I believe that if we take the fight to them we will win.
Are you satisfied with the leadership of your party at the state level?
No, I am not satisfied. That same virus has pocketed the exco. As I speak to you, in Ughelli where I am from, the party chairman will not pick my calls because if he does the virus will go after hm. The state chairman has since stopped coming to my house unlike he did then when he visited me here to dine and wine. But today, he cannot even face me and that is how they have ostracized several members of the party. Imagine a former two-term governor will not be invited to the state caucus’ meeting. We have former Speakers in the party. Ochei and Igbuya are all members of the party but they don’t invite them. Why? Because they are all afraid of the virus. So, we are not happy. If I say I am satisfied with the party I won’t be saying the truth. We will wait for our time. We are waiting for them to complete their tenure and then congresses will come. Then, we will pick those we think can move the party forward. But, if they change, we will return them. But, it will not be game as usual.
With these issues you have raised, talking about the virus and many very aggrieved, how would the reconciliation you talked about happen?
The leaders have realized themselves. Some said let us wait till the Ogboru verdict before we make statements. As I speak to you, I am sure we are done with all litigations. We have seen the result of the litigations; we have also seen the result of the disunity and what it cost us. So, if I say that 80 percent of the people are moving in one direction then I can also say that we have done our job. It is not possible to get a 100 percent agreement. But, if the majority has agreed, that this is the way forward then we have done well. Of course we know that the problem of APC can be traced to just one man. But, if that individual wants to have his way and leaves then we will go on but if he changes then we will welcome him.
You talked about Bayelsa and now even Imo State has APC in charge. Is there hope for APC in Delta State, come 2023?
More than ever before, I am very confident that we will do well in 2023. Some of these people have retired. The rumour is everywhere that I want to run for governor in 2023. I think I am qualified. By age, education, experience, capacity and other indices I am qualified but we are still talking. We are talking and at the end of the day we will agree on where to go and we don’t want any rancour.
PDP’s zoning arrangement has shifted focus to Delta Central to produce the next governor. Runour has it that Ogboru will join the race. What do you make of that?
I don’t believe Ogboru will run. If he does run, it will make mockery of everything. I respect him so much. He is very popular. But, what is his popularity like today? We have given him enough chance. He ran under minority parties. Now he ran under the ruling party. What excuse will he give next? I don’t think he will run. He should rather be the father of the party in the state.
Rumour has it that you are supporting Edevbie to become governor in 2023. Is that true?
How can I be supporting someone that is in PDP? Edevbie is a big brother and also from Ughelli where I come from. He is someone I respect. Those of us in Ughelli believe that we will produce the next governor. I am a son of Ughelli that is why I am in the race.
Some say Agege is interested. Are you…..
Cuts in! I am not aware. He has not told us. Several persons will show interest. Being governor of Delta State is not a child’s play. There are several things you must consider. Some of them have burnt their bridges by saying that it is only Urhobo that can be governor. If you go to my history you will see that I have supported people like Obuh of blessed memory. In the last election too my own group supported Ochei. Some persons running in the race will have to deal with that issue of how they said it must be Urhobo only. No one senatorial district can make a governor. You will need the support of others and show respect if you want to be governor.
What do you make of Ijaw’s call to be given a chance to have their indigene take over from Okowa?
It is a comic relief. What will inform their decision to at this point indicate interest in the race? It is not a matter of ethnicity. We are talking about the senatorial districts here. They have right to run for governor. But, I think they will work with us.