Prince Odi-Okojie husband of famous Nollywood personality, Mercy Johnson has joined the race for the All Progressives Congress ticket to represent Esan North East/ Esan South East Federal Constituency, promising an outstanding season. Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports
You are known as a businessman, why the decision to go into politics?
Politics is a serious business, and successful business people must take the business of politics very seriously. Businesses are operated based on policies and politics. A single policy can adversely affect your business and this will, in turn, affect your responsibility to society. You will agree with me that politics must not be left in the hands of professional politicians who have nothing at stake business-wise. Men of proven integrity who have performed excellently in the private sector must be encouraged to foray into Nigeria’s political firmament for the advancement of the economy. As a private businessman, we have achieved a lot . But when I think and realize that much can still be done not only in the business arena but in humanitarian and charitable services to society, politics becomes the noblest alternative to lifting more people out of poverty and empowering our people, thereby achieving more. This stimulated my interest to go into politics. With more resources, one can deliver more to the people.
Your poster was out sometimes back that you wanted to vie for Deputy Governorship of Edo state, knowing fully well that it’s an appointed position, why did this happen?
I should be aware that our laws do not permit any Nigerian to print poster sole for the purpose of contesting for the office of Deputy Governor or the Vice President. Those positions are usually filled through nomination by the Candidate in conjunction with the Political Party and Party Leaders. It was when that position was zoned to our place that my supporters who were mainly young people went overboard and printed posters with my pictures for Deputy Governorship based on what I’ve been able to do. I am are still grateful to those young people because they found me worthy.You will agree with me that at that particular point in time, there were misgivings about accepting people like us especially among some certain elements in the system because they felt i was a neophyte despite the ability to bring on board new ideas. They didn’t want me as a younger generation to be so nominated to that particular position, not because we were not worthy, but because the party leadership was not comfortable with our growing influence as at that time.
Why the decision to drop that now and settle for the House of Reps?
I am out to serve my people. I love to help the less privileged. I know what it means not to have. I feel the pain of those in need. And my interest is to serve. I may have dropped the deputy governorship bid, but we have not dropped the interest, willingness and readiness to serve humanity. At this moment, fate has thrust in on us to run for the seat of Esan North East/ Esan South East Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and we are all out to get things done for a seamless victory. The desire to serve is intact, I am passionate about it and by the Grace of God, we will serve the good people of my Federal Constituency from 2023.
Then, you were a member of the PDP, are you still contesting on that platform?
Certainly not. I am contesting on the platform of the APC.
Why the decision to pitch tent with APC?
Politics is dynamic. A lot has happened between then and now that time will not permit me to dwell on.One fundamental issue that consistently resonates with me is the issue of young people and of course, our sisters and mothers -the women. By the grace of God, we have a large number of devotees of young people and President Buhari’s-led administration has presented to Nigerians the “Not Too Young to Run” Act. Naturally, with the gesture, I and the numerous young people were drawn away from where we used to be. Then, because the ruling party in my state and the National Assembly collaborators in my Senatorial District are still lagging behind in developmental strides for the people. These and many more informed my change of decision to run on the platform of the All Progressive Congress.
What are the qualities you want to bring on board as a voice for your people if elected?
As a leader, there are intrinsically fundamental qualities that are necessary if one must succeed as a generationally accepted efficient leader. First, you must be abreast of the challenges and wants of your people. You must know them and they must know you. That is accessibility.
On our part, we have a comprehensive comprehension of the numerous issues affecting our people. We are very much accessible.We are very much accessible to the members of my party at the grassroots, and in a larger perspective, to my constituents. Because of the philanthropic works we have been doing, they know us and we know them. And when elected, we won’t stop. We will continue in our drive to substantially eradicate poverty through various empowerment programmes.
I do come along with a vivid understanding of what the people need and what they want, to achieve as a society that is fit for all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or gender considerations.
We’ve seen some lawmakers being only bench warmers by not contributing at all, either by pushing for a bill or debating a bill, what are the things you wish you can push to alleviate the pains of your people If elected?
Nigeria’s educational challenges are enormous not because we do not have the resource or manpower. But the inept attitude of understanding the importance of education. One cannot advance society without strongly educating its populace. Sometimes I am set back on the standard of education, which needs to be improved upon. Security has become a challenge, not that government is not doing much. But with the states comes greater accountability. One can’t imagine that with the security votes allocated to states to support and complement the security architecture of states, some states fall behind. Laws should be presented on accountability of such votes, as a way of improving the security architecture of states.
Furthermore, agriculture is what presents sustainability. With the increase in prices of food items in the Nigerian market and the vast array of fertile lands at our disposal, we must encourage our people to return to the farms. But security should be guaranteed in those farmlands. Agriculture is one aspect of the economy that we must embrace not only as a community but as a nation.More importantly, the Green Chambers just passed the financial autonomy bill for local government. With this, we can implement our ideas on agricultural expansion with the local government in our locality to better the populace. On the scope of human capital and capital empowerment, this has become a challenge to many representatives that has represented this Constituency in the past, because they don’t have an understanding of the issues. And this is what we can assure my constituents that we will focus on so that people can be self-sufficient through Agriculture.
Why do you think you can clinch the party ticket at the primaries?
We are loved by the people and the party. They are aware that we have better plans for them. This will give me an upper hand in the contest for the APC ticket. We are the aspirant with the people and we are the aspirant to beat. My strength is my bond with members of the party at the grassroots we know ourselves, and they know that I am accessible anytime any day. We operate an open-door policy. Our doors are open all day. We do not come from fanciful places, we have been moulded by the society, from a skewed position, we laboured with our hands, we have created that which the populace can accept to be true. We are very much confident that come rain and under the sun that we will clinch the party ticket for the House of Representatives Seat of our Constituency.
You have a famous woman as your wife, do you think this would be an added advantage?
I leave it in the hands of our creator. However, I will answer in the affirmative. Let me tell you a fact. Nigerians, are very inclined toward ethnicity and origin. No matter how well your intentions are as a person, they always look at your origin. Where does he/she come from? But with my people, they have accepted us(my wife and i) and integrated us into society. She can be an added advantage. Our people love her immeasurably. Because for the better part, she is even more inclined in helping humanity than most people can think. As a couple, we can do only a little, but with the empowerment of my people through their votes, we can do more collectively for the people.
How would you rate the current national assembly members in terms of their contribution to national growth?
With the 9th assembly, I can say they have done well. Although critics will make you believe otherwise. This current NASS arbitrarily dubbed “Rubber Stamp, has achieved some incredible feats. For example, the NASS has returned Nigeria to the January to December budget cycle, they have enacted the Deep offshore Act, the Petroleum Industry Act was also passed by this NASS and now, the Electoral Act. (Many other great Laws have been passed including the companies and Allied Matters Acts (CAMA).
With the important bill of the Electoral Act, now signed by the President, and also the ongoing Amendment of the Constitution to accommodate Local government autonomy, I can say that those two pieces of legislation as important as they are, we can kindly give them the deserved recognition and appreciation.
Hon Sergius Ogun, a PDP man is occupying the seat at present, how do hope to defeat him if chosen as APC party flag bearer?
With Hon. Sergius Ogun, I can’t dwell much on that, because politics is dynamic as I said earlier. He had the first term and is now in his second term. I think to the best of his ability, he has done his best. Of course, his best is not our definition of ‘best’. We will do more because the largest room in the universe is the room for improvement. With the wind of change blowing inwards and outwards, there is bound to be the new face in Abuja from our Constituency from 2023 and that new face shall be me by the Grace of God. We are confident in the victory that God has given us.
The Governor of the state used to be in your party before he crossed to PDP, do you think his influence will help the party’s candidate?
I don’t think he has that influence anymore to exert on the electorate. People remember you for your performance while in office. So I don’t see him as that who can bestow party fortunes on the PDP in the state and in our constituency.
The recent unfortunate robbery incident in one of my towns of Uromi, where the Governor failed to pay a courtesy visit to the Local Government and examine for himself first-hand the level of damage has further diminished his acceptability and influence in that Senatorial District.
People will say, he is not in charge of the security architecture of the state which we can agree with. But then, to the populace, he is very famous for always informing about being the Chief Security Officer of the state so I don’t see him as one who can influence the minds of the electorate in Edo Central. In Edo South, maybe, but in Edo Central, we are going on a people-oriented campaign to create that awareness of why the change must be now, and why the people must embrace that change.