Hon Osarodion Ogie, is the Commissioner for Works in Edo State. Prior to his current position, he was the chief of staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole. He is one of the aspirants vying on the platform of the All Progressives Party, (APC) in 2016 governorship election in the state. He spoke with PATRICK OCHOGA on some issues in the state.
What is your mindset as far as Edo State project is concerned?
For me, Edo State is still work in progress. As I used to say, we have left Egypt but we have not gotten to Jerusalem yet. When Adams
Oshiomhole took over power things were in a mess, the state was in paralysis, there was nothing like healthcare facility. The people had virtually given up hope but because of whom he was, his antecedents, they believed in him and he didn’t disappoint them. He had a clear vision as to what he wanted to do, he started and for the first four years people were convinced that they took the right decision to vote for him. And at the end of the first term it was clear that he has moved Edo to a higher level and we have left Egypt. And so the second term election in 2012 was a walkover for him, he won in the 18 local governments. He contested that election on the basis of his achievements and there were things that the people could see and feel. So, yes like he promised he has taken Edo to a higher level but the journey is no complete yet; it is still work in progress. I believe that a lot of grounds have been covered and a lot of grounds are left to be covered. That is why I said we have left Egypt and we are not yet in Jerusalem. But the truth is this, we will never return back to Egypt that is the decision we all have to take. Yes, Jerusalem is the point of hope, we should look forward, work for it and it is my believe that we can get into Jerusalem very soon if we take the right decision.
But even a drive around Benin City, the state capital, shows that there is still much to be done, so how do you quantify the ground that has been covered or what is left to be covered?
There is this saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. I just told you now that a lot of grounds have been covered and
a lot of ground is yet to be covered. If we say that the challenges are much we won’t do anything we will never do anything but if you take a decision and face the challenges it is a matter of time and he did that in 2007 and 2008 and we can see that in seven years he has covered some grounds. So, I am sure at the end of his tenure he would have covered a lot of grounds. So, if in that challenge we can get somebody with the same understanding and perception, I believe in another four or eight years we would have covered more grounds.
But there is this impression that not much has been done in the second term compared to his first term in office?
I like talking with facts. When you say not much was done you present me with the facts. Second East circular was not done in the first term, teacher’s house in Upper
Siluko was not done in the second term, Ewohinmi-Orhodua road was not done in the first term. What are we talking about; the Central Hospital was not done in the second term. So, what are the facts to the contrary?
What is your thinking on the APC primaries in the state and Oshiomhole’s influence because there is this fear that the governor might impose somebody on the party?
Is it the governor that is supposed to conduct the primaries?
Primaries are the responsibility of the National Working Committee of the party, so, why should anybody speculate that the governor is going to conduct the primary and tilt it in his favour? Why? The governor knows he is a party man. Must the governor be denied his right to vote for somebody?
If you were in his shoes won’t you have a choice? If you have ten children looking for something and you have one of them to give that thing to wont you sit down and say this is the one I think I will give that thing to? What offence or sin has he committed if he even does that? But he has not done that now. Assuming he decides to do that what is his sin? Tell me if you were in his shoes will you do it differently? If you were in his position will you not be more concerned as to those aspiring to succeed you? If you are in office for eight years and you are going to leave will you not be bothered about whether your legacies will be sustained? If you are a father and you have an estate at old age you know death will come, will you not be worried whether your children will be fit and proper to manage your estate? What is his sin? Tell me because it is very easy for people to sit down and judge other people. If you are in that position, will you do things differently?
Some council chairmen were suspended recently in the state. As one of the closest aides to the governor one would have expected that there should have been some level of interaction with some of the suspended council chairmen before?
I don’t have any access to that information; it is only when I have access to that information that I can talk about it. I am not speaking specifically about those four suspended chairmen, but generally because we are one, because we are one party, because we are in government and we are associates, if I get to know or receive any complaints concerning any of them I call them. For instance, In Esan Central, if I get any report I call the chairman and if he has any explanation or additional information he gives to me and I will be personally informed and when I come across the person who made the complaint I will take time to explain the situation and that is how we work. But I cannot remember any specific instances now because during the NULGE crisis with some chairmen some of the leaders who were attending to the matter called on the chairman and he explained why. Like Ovia North.
East and even Ikpoba Okha there was a time they were having crisis, yes my attention was drawn by the leaders and I had cause to call the chairmen and the two explained to me and the issues were resolved.
There is nothing wrong with that. Don’t forget, at the time I was the Chief of Staff for four years there was no way you will not interact with all the council chairmen as well as that every other public or political office holder.
How would you describe Governor Oshiomhole having worked for him as the Chief of Staff and now the commissioner for works in the state?
Oshiomhole is an enigma, he is an encyclopedia of knowledge across board; he is a man who is well informed, he is a man who is well educated. He knows something about everything. For me as a Chief of Staff every day I go to work I am like a student who is going to the classroom and when he closes from work you have learnt something from him, from your teacher. I think he is a man who was prepared for the office. A lot of people who are in offices are not prepared for it but he is one person I believe is well prepared for it. He has tenacity for the work, he has the passion for it; he has a heart that is required for anybody who want to occupy the office of the governor.
And he has conviction, he has the courage to do what is right. How many people have those qualities? He has it I can say that, a man that is quick when he is convinced that he is wrong to apologize. That quality is not common. If you listened to the words I used to describe him some of those actions he took, he has the passion. It is not everybody who has occupied that office that has the passion. So, everything he did you can explain them. Yes, he arrested some officials, were they wrong or not? But he needed the people to also know that he was not in support of those actions. He is a man who has the courage to punish when you do wrong and to compensate when you do right. Some of those people he arrested today where are they? When they did right were they not promoted? So, it was not as if it was a personal thing, no.
The governor’s tenure is going to end next year, what kind of person do you subscribe as his successor?
It is logical and commonsensical that having tasted a good soup, people will not want to go for a soured soup. I said we have left Egypt and you want us to go back to Egypt? We must not go back to Egypt. But we must go ahead and get to Jerusalem. Oshiomhole has laid a foundation, he has set a standard, Edo state cannot afford to go below that standard again.