Olorogun Barr. Adelabu Ejiroghene Bodjor is the Vice Chairman, Central of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Delta State. By virtue of that position, he is the Chairman of the party in the Delta Central Senatorial District of the State. It is on this platform that the present Deputy President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege contested the Senatorial election that ushered him into the Senate and his subsequent election as the Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Olorogun Bodjor, in this interview, spoke on the victory of the Senator at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, the state of the party in Delta State and other issues of interest.
How would you describe the emergence of Senator Barr. Ovie Omo-Agege as the Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Well, first of all, I want to thank God Almighty because without God everything is impossible with man. It is God that has showed His infinite benevolence for the Urhobo nation, for Delta State, for the South South, for Nigeria and for our great party. The election of Most Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the Deputy President of the Senate, I will tell you, is a huge surprise to all bookmakers because, in their calculations, they would have thought it was going to be impossible. Like I have said before, when God is with you, He arranges whatever that is good for you, He deploys the equipment with which to fight every battle, He goes into the battle for you. And I want to say that God took the battle upon Himself, fought the battle and gave victory to our Most Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
What would you expect Senator Ovie Omo-Agege to do for the Urhobo nation?
I wouldn’t want to becloud the Senator with what he would do for the Urhobo nation. I want to make it very clear that today, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is no longer just a Senator representing the people of Delta Central. He is the Deputy President of the Senate of the National Assembly. So, what I would want us to look at is a bigger picture. What level of development do we need in this country that will be reflected in every nooks and crannies, every senatorial district including Delta Central Senatorial District? I would want to advice the Senator, my Senator, who is always on his toes, a hard worker who would never disappoint us, to increase the volume. He is a workaholic, he has to work more to ensure that the dividends of democracy get to every Nigerian.
Considering the myriads of oppositions both from among a handful of Urhobo people, particularly among some members of the APC in Delta Central and then the challenge on the floor of the Red chamber before the election, did you expect that Senator Omo-Agege would come out victorious at the end of the day?
The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory. God who told the children of Israel to go and possess the Cannan land did not say that they will not wrestle with principalities and powers. He has only given you the assurance that you go there and possess it. So, having given you the assurance, He will also make a way for you to make your battles easier for you. And that was exactly what happened. There were a lot of darts shot at Senator Ovie Omo-Agege from even his own kinsmen. But I tell you, the level of wickedness displayed by some personalities was beyond the comprehension of any reasonable human being. But be that as it may, he whom God has chosen, no man can curse. So, as a very practical Christian, I would want to say that although there were darts here and there, because of the effort which Senator Omo-Agege has put in and because of his relationship with people, his emergence did not come to me as a surprise.
As you have alluded to, some of the Senator’s adversaries were his kinsmen. And these include some members of the APC his party. As the Vice chairman of the party, Central what plans does the party’s leadership have to handle those who played anti-party or worked against the interest of the party especially in attempt to scuttle the victory of the Senator in the Red Chamber?
Well, as you are all aware, our party, the All Progressives Congress national has put in place a panel to handle all issues bordering anti-party activities. I wouldn’t want to put the cart before the horse. Our able national chairman has set the process in motion and I know that discipline which has been the main issue of our party is being gradually handled by him. Our national chairman in whom I believe, with the national working committee, will definitely drive the wedge and make sure that every dissident and everyone that is out to destroy the party are properly dealt with.
In line with what you have just inferred that the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is no longer just a Senator for Delta Central alone but for the entire country, reaching out to him may no longer be that easy by his constituents. What then would the Urhobos expect from him?
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, a man whom I have known for a very long time now, is always accessible. There is no office in which he finds himself that will render him inaccessible. So, if Mr. President can see people, then what will stop him from seeing people? He will always see people. Therefore, I don’t entertain any fear or worry that because of his new office, it will now be difficult to have access to him. Well, of course, the fact that the protocol may have changed with the new office does not mean people can no longer see. I can assure you that he will continue to be accessible to those who genuinely wish to see him to discuss our issues with him concerning our senatorial district, our state, the South South and Nigeria in general.
If those alleged to be working against the party, some of whom are in now in court against the party, decide to change their minds and offer the olive branch for peace and reconciliation by withdrawing their litigations, would that be acceptable to the party leadership and if so, what are likely to be the conditions?
I have said it that I am a practicing Christian. The holy scripture admonishes us to always continue to forgive because if you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven. If they turn a new leaf and show commitment, yes, there will be nothing wrong in forgiving them.
…Would there be any condition attached?
That will be a decision to be taken by the general house.
2023 is still far away, but some politicians will always say that the end of one election is the beginning of a new one. Assuming you are looking at a telescope of time, what position would you want your party to be in 2023?
I don’t want to stir up any form of controversy. But be that as it may, I can tell you as I’m seated here that a lot of the problems that we encountered in this party were the booby traps that were set and left behind for Comrade Oshiomhole to inherit. I did a post and I told them to compare what happened in 2015 and what we’ve just experienced in 2019. Here we were in 2015, a party that won presidential election, we had all that it takes to control the National Assembly but because of somebody’s incompetence we found ourselves in a very terrible situation. But today, the story is different. We went, we saw and we conquered. The APC has taken absolute leadership control of the National Assembly as a leading party in this country. And that is how it ought to be. And that is the practice all over the world. So, what I’m trying to tell you here is that there is a lot more to come. Oshiomhole is the man that we need that will bring the required level of high performance into APC. The game has just started. He is just a few months old in the office. And I can assure you that all the stories that you heard in the first tenure you will no longer hear them. Party discipline will be highly upheld and I know that Oshiomhole as the chairman of the party and with his national working committee and all his team of officials, will make sure that the party put up a very admirable performance to the satisfaction of all Nigerians.
Although it is still very early how prepared is APC in Delta State to take over the Government House?
Well, as you have just observed that it is still very early, we are still in court. We don’t know the outcome of the court. I do not know what the court will throw up. But I can tell you that the flow comes from the head. What is happening in the National Assembly will definitely simmer down. You will have a better well-coordinated APC going forward.
What will the next level vision of Mr. President translate to at the national, state and grassroots as he commences his journey into the second tenure?
The indices are there for you to see. The next level is a reality. You can see inflation dropping, you can see influx of foreign investment and so on. These are long term projections that are now gradually coming to fruition. So, I want to assure you that the next level hope and projection of Mr. President is going to be a harvestable reality to the entire nation. And you can take it to the bank, Nigerians are going to live a better life; there will be more quality governance and a more veritable peace. You have been hearing of insecurity before now, but all that will be properly taken care of. And once there is peace, the economy runs faster and better. I can assure you that the President is going to hit the ground running. The processes he has started before are already moving. All that is needed is proper coordination to make sure that all his projections are on the right path. I see a very wonderful economy.
The Supreme Court gave a judgment in the case of Zamfara State and there were complaints from the APC against the judgment. Presently, there are plethora of cases in courts in Delta State and outside the state, some between factions of the party in the state. How firm is your faith and confidence in the judiciary?
I’m a lawyer, a legal practitioner at that. I should be the last man to say that I have lost hope in the judiciary. I have a lot of hope in the judiciary. There are problems here and there, yes. Complete perfection belongs to God. So, the imperfection of the human being, once in a while, will come into play. But that, again, does not overrun the good percentage of what the judiciary stands for. So, for me, the judiciary still remains the last hope of the common man. Having said that, going into the Zamfara issue, I would want to be excused so that I don’t speak as a party man. I would want to speak from my own perspective as a lawyer. The main fulcrum of what the judiciary stands for is the protection of rights. Now, if you put into perspective the Zamfara issue, elections were conducted, people voted, somebody won and somebody lost. This process has no bearing whatsoever with what happened whether there was primary or no primary of APC. The people of Zamfara who voted did not go to vote because APC as a party was better than PDP. In voting you have the personalities who fly the party’s flag. So, the electorate have the right of choice and this right ought to be protected by the court. But what the court has done now in Zamfara is taking out the victory of APC flagbearer and saying the next person has won.
If I have the choice to make among five persons on the queue, I have the right to choose to vote for one and leave the rest four. So, what the apex court has done is to play the role of the electorate. But I want to disagree with the court that it ought not to play the role of the electorate in the case of Zamfara. For me, the best way to go was for the wise men in the court to say, well, sorry, APC, you did not conduct primaries and the time to conduct primaries was over going by the dictates of the Electoral Act. So, APC is out, the remaining parties have to come back and participate in a rerun election. And based on that premise, the electorate will go all out to vote for the people of their choice. What the court has done now is declaring a winner who was not the choice of the people. So, what happened to the people who chose to elect the person whom the court has asked to go just because of the competence of a few persons? As I have said earlier on this issue, I would want to believe that the Supreme Court can reverse itself. This is because if it does not reverse itself, this whole judgment as a precedent will go a long way to fault our political life because, for me, it is in a bad taste.
You are a lawyer. The issue you have just emphasized borders on the fundamental rights of the people of Zamfara who cast their votes for a particular person. But with the judgment of the apex court now, that fundamental right exercised by the people seems to have been violated or breached. Can the people of Zamfara, in a representative capacity, approach the high court to seek for the enforcement of their right? Would that make any legal meaning?
It will make a lot of legal meaning. I would strongly advice the people of Zamfara to take it upon themselves and approach the court to fight for their right to restore the person they have chosen. If the present APC governor-elect in Zamfara, for reasons of the incompetence of whoever handled the issues of the party in the state, is disqualified by the law, yes, that is in order. But for the people of Zamfara who cast their votes to now have their rights taken away from them without redemption, I think it is the most unsavory thing a court can do to anybody. So, I want to advice that the people of Zamfara should approach the court to fight for their right and also to plead with the apex court to go back into their closet to consider how well the impact of the judgment they have delivered vis a vis how best to serve the interest of this country and how dangerous it is to the progress of democracy in our nation. I think if they give it a second thought, they may consider reversing themselves.
As the Vice chairman of APC Delta State for Central, what is your message to members of the party at this moment?
As a founding member of APC in the state, all I want is peace, harmony and the growth of the party. Everybody should sheath their swords. There is always an end to litigation. There is always an end to quarrel, there is always an end even to eating. There is nothing that does not have an end. As a human being there is a point in time where you should look back and say, well, if God has decided it this way, so be it. Let’s move on. I think it is better for everybody to wear this coat of reconciliation, this coat of believing that the best party is yet to come to power in Delta State. And not until when we come together and work and APC comes into power in Delta State to right all the wrongs of these years, it is only then a reasonable man who calls himself a Deltan, a reasonable man who calls himself a member of APC, can say, yes, it is now Uhuru. For now, it is not yet Urhuru.