One of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo State, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, has expressed reservations over Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s rumored anointed aspirant for the 2016 Governorship race saying, “Oshiomhole has one vote, the people are more, the people will use their franchise to vote the persons they want”.
The erstwhile minister of state for works said, “where people will be uncomfortable is when you notice there is undue favouritism, undue interference and I think that is what we should say no to”.
In an interview with Vanguard newspaper, Ogiemwonyi reviews the political developments in the state and his objective in the contest thus:
What informed your decision to venture into politics?
If you look at the records in the federal service in terms deliverables, it is evident that having served our country at the level I did, putting 34 years into the federal service and it is acclaimed generally that I did pretty well, the next obvious thing is to bring my expertise to serve at the state level.
So, I am encouraged to give back to my people all I acquired at the centre.
Do you genuinely consider yourself sufficiently qualified to succeed the incumbent who many believe will be leaving a big shoe for his successor?
No doubt the Comrade-Governor has done well, especially against the backdrop of where he met the state when they came on board.
He is going to leave huge landmark and whoever succeeds him equally has to be a man of same character with extra to offer.
How do you intend to weather the storm likely to be engendered by the public declaration of your ambition and what are your chances?
If you look at the people and the aspirants today, I am happy to see a good number of them have very strong credentials; that they are equally very capable.
I am happy that for the first time Edo State will be fielding their first eleven, a couple of them are my friends.
You know, I see about two or three that have the same type of credentials I am bringing on board.
Again, among these equals you still have a captain you know in terms of who you are in terms of acceptability. So rivalry will be there but again the people will equally make a decision that out of every number one will still have to lead and the rivalry is good for electioneering as long as it is done without thuggery, without fighting and you allow a level playing field.
But where people will be uncomfortable is when you notice there is undue favouritism, undue interference and I think that is what we should say no to.
So, what is your stance on rumours that Governor Oshiomhole has hand-picked a successor?
Oshiomhole is one man who fought godfatherism; he is an apostle of good governance, he is an apostle of one-man-one vote.
Oshiomhole is one of the reasons why I joined APC because he has some characters similar to mine, one of them is being very courageous.
I don’t think he will do it because he fought those who were godfathers to give light to this state.
He made a name through that one-man-one vote mantra, I don’t think too soon he will jump ship to now start saying a different thing.
Of course, people are now saying this is what he is doing, the man is too fine to do that.
Again, Oshiomhole has one vote, the people are more, the people will use their franchise to vote the persons they want.
Some allege that you are a fair weather politician on account of your defection from the PDP?
I joined the APC when PDP was still very strong. I joined APC in 2014 with a PDP president in Abuja.
Don’t forget they would have taken life out of me if they had wanted but it gets to a point in a man’s life to take some crucial decisions.
The day I joined APC, I remembered I received about three phone calls from three federal ministers asking me: ‘Chris my brother, this is a very big risk you have taken; our guys are not happy’.
But I tell you one thing, I believe in myself, I believe in destiny, that what I will be I will be and one day I will die, so in terms of being called a fair weather friend, I am not.
I joined the PDP when I left NNPC after my retirement; I worked with the government at the centre as a staff of NNPC, I had good relationship with the PDP that was the government we were serving.
However, I saw the dirty dealing in the party, I saw the opaqueness of the party, I saw the high level of impunity in the party, I saw the highest level of corruption in the party and what I saw was against my character, I was quick to tell my friends so two years after I left as a minister, I knew my spirit was never in PDP, I never attended any of their meetings since 2012, so it was obvious for PDP that I was exiting and I was just watching events and noting the weak points of that administration in terms of my security because lot of things happened to me between 2012 and 2014; a lot of things happened, I became a target.
Given your background in the NNPC, what is your take on suggestions of corruption in the corporation and what is your assessment of the anti-graft war of the government?
I am proud of the staff of NNPC, especially those who are in these operations departments. I equally know that there are some bad eggs, especially in the PPMC side of it.
The truth is that the problem of NNPC was that of leadership, the last six years that they worked under President Jonathan, Diezani ruined that company. She was madly in charge.
As an architect, she never worked as an engineer anywhere, she was just a maintenance staff.
So, without the in-depth experience of being an oil and gas expert, she wanted to be on the driver seat.
For the second question you asked about the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government, when the President was coming in I said one thing, this is one man I have worked with as a very young engineer when he came into the Ministry in 1975/76.
It is not a tea party to probe or to look into activities done years ago but let’s look at the last seven to eight years in order to track down the criminals. The anti-corruption should equally beam their search lights into all the various MDAs.