•Says young people will resist messing with Obi’s vote on election day
•Regrets recent party primaries were a disgrace
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Hon. Serguis Ogun is a two term, vocal lawmaker representing Uromi, Esan North-East/Q
The primaries are over and the country is now gearing towards the general election. Looking back, what were your observations?
For the two major political parties, the APC and the PDP, what turned out was a disgrace. Firstly, I don’t think there was anything wrong with section 84 (8) because we just copied the Electoral Act 2010.
Since 2010 till now statutory delegates have been voting, so where did the brain wave come from that we now said we will not allow statutory delegates to vote and we now have to amend it. It was not necessary because I think we were dabbling too much into the political parties’ affairs. These are areas that we should leave to the political parties if we really want them to deepen our democracy.
It is a shame that a lot of money was spent just for somebody to emerge and this is a country where we are borrowing for everything; borrowing to pay salaries, borrowing to subsidize petrol and yet we had that kind of money in circulation just to buy votes at that level.
Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party was a member of your party just until recently when he left. Some people said he would have become the running mate to anyone who emerged as the presidential candidate if he had stayed.
You can’t be too sure that Atiku would have picked him because there was a rumour here and there that the Delta state governor sank in so much money. Maybe that deal was already closed before the day of the primaries. It is said that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. It is possible that the stew was already cooked before the real event took place but I don’t know.
There were speculations that Obi was forced to leave by the activities of some governors before the primaries.
It was a good thing he left. He was not going to be able to match Wike, neither was he going to match Atiku. He didn’t have that kind of war chest and this is a private businessman. So, serving in office is a public service and the office is a public office. So, why should you spend your entire savings, family savings to come and serve? He has the appeal.
He served as a governor and he showed to the world what he can do. So, why does he need to go and break the bank to become a candidate of a political party? People should be begging him to become the candidate because we can see clearly that he has the footprint to take this country to the height we desire for it to get to. So for me, I think he saw the handwriting on the wall and it was a good thing he left otherwise he would have been humiliated.
People say that Peter Obi has no structure and all those who are really campaigning for him are basically on the social media.
I believe that the structure will come. We need to know how TUC and NLC are standing because they are supposed to be a major party of the Labour party. Usually, when the NLC is on strike or they are picketing any establishment, you see the way they come out in their numbers. So, they have people.
They have road transport workers, they have the teachers and you can find this set of people everywhere. But I think we need to go and study how the Labour party works in England. It might not work like that here because we are emotionally attached.
It seems you believe in the candidacy of Obi and in his person too?
Yes, I do because I have heard him, I have listened to him and I have also read a whole lot about him and that is the kind of person we need right now in this country. It is just that most Nigerians don’t know how bad things are but we are in a big mess.
We are sitting on a huge deficit. We are borrowing so much as a nation and we cannot afford to have Champagne drinking, private jet flying president in this country again. Or the one that will allow his cronies to be flying private jets all over the world with borrowed money. We want a man who knows how to manage resources and he has proved this in a state for eight years.
So, who else do you need? I strongly believe in his candidacy and I believe he is the kind of person we need today, I don’t know about tomorrow.
Things get very bad and you have certain people that can turn things around. This is a man that can afford to say I am going to take a square meal because there are people out there that cannot even take one square meal, I will not sleep well if I am taking three square meals, going to bed with a full stomach when people are going to bed with empty stomach.
So, we should be begging such a person to come out to run for that office. So, If we can locate NLC properly in this sense, he shouldn’t have problems with structure. And you saw the EndSARS protest and we know that the young people can be very organized.
So, if they are determined because I am sure you recognized the fact that from the minute Peter Obi went to Labour party, the young people started trooping out to register and there is a frenzy now to get PVC. So, if they mobilize people like this, it is already a movement and that automatically will form the structure. So, which other structure are you looking for. If anything, he has more structure than any political party today.
About 178 lawmakers in the 9th assembly are not likely to make it back to the 10th House because they lost their tickets. How does that make you feel talking about the loss of institutional memory?
I feel bad because it is just a waste. We’ve had speakers here, they were very understanding. You will see first timers struggling to do certain things and they would patient with them knowing that they don’t know the procedures and they would guide them. So, you can imagine the torture.
If you have a house of 360 and you have almost, more than 300 as first timers, it is going to be a torture for whoever emerges as the speaker to guide them through that process. And then, to imagine that the bulk of them might not even come back in the next House, you know it tells of the signs of the time. It is not that most of our colleagues haven’t done well, you know people blame it on the fact that they only used adhoc delegates but I think there are so many other things playing out.
Unfortunately, what people have invested in this election, they will not get it back. A colleague told me that somebody running against him sold his house to run against him, a serving member. So, it is painful that we have to go through this route. Maybe someday the country will stabilize when we have good leadership. If anybody is seemingly doing well, buying houses and cars and splashing money everywhere, in government, in the civil service that person is a thief, you should go and investigate because there is no money in government.
The N100m cost of APC’s nomination form appears outrageous.
You see, that is what we cannot understand. This is a party that claims that when their presidential candidate, the current president, in 2014 didn’t have money to buy form, the people raised money to buy form for him. Seven years down the road, you are saying for anybody to contest, you have to pay so much. I thought this was supposed to be a progressive party. I thought this was supposed to be the party for the people. It is an aberration but this is what we have got use to in Nigeria.
On economy, how will you assess the government of the day seven years down the road?
I feel for the president. In the last few years, we went through COVID and then the invasion of Ukraine but I also think it is because of poor planning on our side.
What we are going through with subsidy today, if our refineries were working, we would have been making more money now. Companies like BP are celebrating what is happening because they are making big money from refining now because Russia, I think, used to contribute up to 40% of refined products globally.
So, now would have been time for us to make money but because of the poor planning in the past, we have not been able to benefit from it. The price of crude oil has gone up now in the international market and this would have been the time for windfall but it is not there.
We can’t even meet up with our own quota again because things have gone terribly wrong in this country. People are stealing the crude oil. How can you run a country like this and we are all supposed to accept that everything is okay. It is not okay. We must speak up.
Do you think APC has a chance of coming back?
Well with what is happening in Ekiti, I don’t know anymore. People are hungry and on an election day somebody offers you N10,000. It is a lot of money. In the city, people can look at you straight in the eyes and say look, I will not take this money from you but in the rural areas N5,000, N2,000 is a lot of money.
So, it is difficult for them to resist that. We have to do a lot of talking and sensitizing, conscientizing them to say look, you are selling your future. Just hold on a bit and do the right thing. Then over time, doing that right thing will materialize into liberation for you. So, that is where we need to be doing the talking today.
The national orientation agency should get involved because the earlier we stop this the better. If we really want to vote, I don’t see why APC will really get any vote.
In all the polling units, they should be scoring zero because their agent will even vote against them.
You once said that if PDP fails to zone the presidential ticket to the south, you will consider leaving the party.
Yes, I still stand on that.
Are you disappointed?
I am disappointed but that is why I am “OBIdient” right now.