Olorogun Jaro Egbo, is a APC chieftain in Delta State, a former prominent member of the PDP in the immediate past administrator, but dumped the party before 2015 general election and joined the APC with his followers, in this interview with some selected media organizations including Ovasa Ogaga of ADVOCATE, he spoke on wide range of issues; including the anticipated governorship election tribunal judgement, saying that should the tribunal order for a rerun, that the APC would give PDP run for its money, he added that the focuse of most of them is how to position the APC before 2019 in order to chase PDP out of Delta State, and many other burring state issues.
You are one of the leaders of Urhobo Nationality Council, what do you people intend to achieve with this group
Urhobo Nationality Council is a coalition of progressive minded Urhobos who are desirous of change and are not satisfied with the present state of the Urhobo nation as the fourth most populous ethnic nationality in Nigeria.
You would understand that this is not the best of times for the Urhobo people politically and economically. We are on a downward spiral movement and there is the need for us to halt that movement and people of like mind came together on the need to put this group together to agitate and also fight for the Urhobo interest for the benefit of all Urhobos most especially, most of us who believe in change are in the APC but some are still left back in the PDP but there is a common currency amongst all of us. There must be change, change in our lives, and the well being of our people. That is the major plank upon which the UNC evolved.
We are a new group that believes that in carrying on, there must be a modus operandi, and our modus is not to go and fight on the road in protest; because we need to aggregate our interest. For every action we take, we want to look at it properly, how it would affect the Urhobo people and the common man on the street. It is not an elite group that would want to dwell on things of interest for a selected few. We have written a letter to Mr. President given the way the political equation is in Delta State today and being the biggest ethnic nationality in the state and population, we should be given a ministerial slot for Delta State. But the president in his own wisdom has chosen Ibe Kachukwu who of course we know is imminently qualified, so that he can carry on with the reforms he has embarked on in the oil industry. So, with NNPC out, we are saying we should be considered for other key positions like the NDDC, NIMASA etc where it would affect the people positively, this is our agitation.
Though we are not registered with INEC, we are a political pressure group with bias for the Urhobo nation and very grassrooted. Very soon probably before the year runs out, we are going to be launching the group. It is basically for the people who believe in change though the mantra of the APC is change. Like I said, between the APC and LP who have an understanding in Delta State, 80% of our members are from there, but a few are still in PDP but our aim is to get them over so that we can move in one force.
What will be the Impact of APC in Delta if there is a re-run?
Because APC controls the national government; they try to compare the party with PDP. The party is just 2years old for goodness sake while PDP has been on ground for 16years. So they are tap rooted and are everywhere and it was unfortunate that it was only in Delta State that the newPDP did not fuse into the APC and there has been a lot of infighting because of some part of DPP and ACN that formed the coalition and some of us who had PDP background, when we came on board, we felt there is no need for that infighting. So we have been able to make them realise that if the fighting continues, the ruling party in the state would continue to profit from it.
So, we have given renewed vigour to our recruitment because we want to build a structure that can stand the test of time. We are very confident that with this renewed vigour, before 2019, because of the high level of discontent among the populace and acrimony within the PDP family, we can take the state.
But that is not to say that if there is a rerun we would not be victorious, we are going to give PDP a run for its money because the APC you see in the state today is not the same APC you saw at the time the election took place in April. The APC today is more vibrant, there are a lot of persons who are with use now but have not come out in the open. So if there is a rerun, there is going to be a big shocker.
Also, if there is a rerun, we would find a way in which LP and APC would present a single candidate. Whoever would be with that ticket, we do not know for now; but plans are in the offing and there is an understanding between the LP led by Chief Great Ogboru and Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege because divided we fall, united we stand. So we would sit down and work out the details but I can assure you that we already have that MoU so that we can push PDP out.
Is the APC Exco crisis leading to two factions not affecting the party growth in Delta?
You would recall that I was the pioneer state secretary of ACN that fussed into APC and my chairman then was Chief Adolor Okotie-Ebor. While I was away in PDP on sabbatical, there was some misunderstanding as a result of the congress that was held at Asaba. Chief Okotie-Ebor was dissatisfied and went to court and the court in its wisdom found that the venue were the congress was held was not made public to the other parties involved hence the congress should be repeated. However, the chairman of the party as it were, is Prophet Jones Erue. Being dissatisfied, with the decision of the national Exco of the party, they have gone to the court of appeal and you and I know that once a matter is before the appeal, the status quo remains. As I speak to you, the matter is before the appeal, both parties have exchanged their briefs and the APC as a party is also appealing the matter saying that Prophet Jones should be left as Chairman.
The national Exco in their own wisdom have sent a panel to come and look at the situation on ground, the panel sat and they took memorandum from all stakeholders and am sure before long, the national body would come out with a clear position but I can tell you that my chairman is the recognized chairman of the party in the state, so in all, the leadership and executive of the party is not in dispute. But you would understand that some persons are not happy with this; just the same way they are not happy that we crossed over to the party because they believe that the party should remain as a portfolio party that takes subvention from the PDP government in the state and seeing the number of persons trooping into the party, they believe they have lost out in their dubious business because of the tough challenge we are going to give them. So, these are the people that are naturally not happy that the party is growing. These are agents of PDP because any genuine member of the APC would be happy as they receive new members because no party grows without new membership.
Imagine if not for those 5 governors that came on board, the story would have been a different thing entirely. If you deduct the votes APC got from the states of these governors, PDP would have won the election, so anyone fighting, just know that such a person is an agent of the PDP.
What do you expect from the governorship tribunal as an APC chieftain?
I do not want to run down anybody, but so far, the judgement that has been read out by the tribunal has been less satisfactory, because for everyone that they have read out, they have not proved the point. I just believe that it doesn’t go that way with the governorship because; it would be a broad day robbery for the people of Delta State and not just the APC or LP.
Because the evidence before the court shows that the election did not take place in several places and there were over voting. But if the tribunal believes they can shot their eyes to some of those irregularities, I just pray it doesn’t happen that way because it would rob Deltans the opportunity to elect the governor they have chosen. So, we believe that given the evidence we have placed before the court, there would be a rerun and if there is a rerun, we would do our best.
You would recall that in a state like Yobe state, N10million was paid into the electoral officer’s account and they are trying to prosecute him and same was discovered in Rivers state that for the presiding judge, there were reports that were not favorable to him. So, I think change would not come easily because these judges are not people from another planet, they are part of us and this corruption is very endemic but the good thing is that some of them know that there is change now and you stand the risk of being jailed and dismissed if it is found out that you compromise your position.
So my prayer is that they should not be compromised because having being a member of the PDP, I know what they can do. People lobby to serve as security operatives and INEC officials here in Delta because they believe we can bribe God but I believe this time around, the hand of God would touch their heart so that they can resist the devil and do justice.
What impact would the decamping of Apkeki and other to APC make?
What people do not understand, is that the announcement of Akpeki’s defection was just to show what is in the offing. We took Misan Okubenje from Delta South, Akpeki from central and Ebifa Ijeomah from North. For each of these persons, there are like a hundred standing behind them. As I speak with you, there are 5 former members of the House of Assembly and house of reps, a former senator and other top government functionaries waiting to move into APC. We have asked them to wait till the ongoing ministerial screening has ended, then we are going to plan a very big rally to formerly welcome them into the party. Outside that, this is just a tip of the iceberg. The Governor of the state owes so many people, they have confided in us, as soon as they get their monies; they will announce their defection to APC.
We are very confident that by February 2016, PDP would be a cacas in the Delta State. You would have noticed that for the past 16years, what at the end of every election, those who contested in other parties, would move back enmass to the PDP but that hasn’t happened after the 2015 election rather, they are calling us with the intent of joining the APC. In some weeks, we register an average of 2000 leaders across the state. We have a former speaker and other principal members of the house and serving members too who want to come in, but we are telling them to hold on. For the first time in the state, we are seeing a party that is standing up to the government of the day. Recently, I read in a nationally daily that a governor who claimed to have inherited over N600billion has appointed 1, 500 aides. With these appointments, what has he put in place to cut down cost? The past governor appointed 120, even the federal government does not have that much aides.
Also, I read that owing to the way and manner the Lagos state government has reorganized the state, they have been able to save N3billion monthly. Another question begging for answer is that why has the governor not enter into the treasury single account with all the stories of stealing and misappropriation going on in the office of the accountant general? So, Deltans should ask these question who claims to be smart. We want to know how much the Sapele and Ofuagba poly project was awarded, the bidders and the beneficiaries. These and many others are what endearing people to the change mantra are because people are tired of PDP deceit.