Senator Obinna Ogba, who represents Ebonyi Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Youth and Sports. The former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State, in this interview, speaks on his 2023 governorship ambition and the charter of equity that is raising dust in the state, among other issues, UCHENNA INYA reports
How would you describe Ebonyi State since 1999 and your assessment of the various leaders it has produced?
Since 1999, when the first governorship election was held in Ebonyi State, our history has been shaped by values of democratization which is the primacy of the people in deciding who rules them. This process has thrown up men and leaders like Senator Sam Egwu, the first elected civilian governor of Ebonyi State, who succeeded by Chief Martin Elechi, and currently Engr. Dave Umahi, who is concluding his second term in office.
Each of these leaders has contributed their quota in various aspect of growth and development of Ebonyi State. However, despite their efforts, youths and human capital development is still suffering in Ebonyi State, while poverty is still massively prevalent in our homes which among other things is the reason I am declaring my intention to run for the position of governor in Ebonyi State with the intention to do things differently by the grace of God if given the opportunity to serve my people.
You have declared intension to contest the 2023 governorship election in the state; do you think you have what it takes to occupy this exalted position?
When I look at my experiences, I realize that God has prepared me for this moment. I served Ebonyi State for the first time as council chairman of Ishielu Local Government Area. I believe that my contribution in the governing process made possible my appointment as commissioner, special adviser and elected chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State at various times and our legacies are abound. On federal engagement, I served as the board chairman of Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki; board chairman, Usaman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto State.
In the area of youths, sports development and capacity building, apart from currently serving as the second term senator representing Ebonyi Central District and doubles as chairman, Senate Committee on Youths and Sports Development, I served as the first National Vice Chairman of Nigeria Football Federation and currently acting Chairman of Nigeria National League.
My achievements and legacies in these areas are visible and properly documented. With the above experiences and more, my governorship race will be in total engagement with the youths, the suffering workers, artisans, middle-class, core professionals, our elders and those who desire human and rural development of Ebonyi State.
What areas are you going to look into if elected governor?
My administration will be basically welfarist, and will focus on building on our economy, so that we can provide jobs for the youth and make Ebonyi attractive, suitable and secure for businesses. It is on this premise that my campaign slogan is ‘Ebonyi will be happy again.’ My administration will be humane and welfarist driven, while maintaining the existing structures and focusing on rural development.
If elected, I will immediately embark on full restoration of the glory of Ebonyi State and make Ebonyi people the cornerstone of government in order to revamp the environment that has become a den of hunger, anger, politically induced hate and communal clashes. My administration’s focal point will be to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people in Ebonyi State.
So, I am inviting the people of the state to join me in the journey to take Ebonyi State to a new dimension by transforming our programmes into action. I am making a clarion call to our party members, men and women, youths and the elderly that there’s a lot of work to be done to achieve the Ebonyi State of our dream.
So, I present myself as a capable, competent, and tested hand to make Ebonyi people happy again. I will be a party man in the real definition of the word by running an all-inclusive government for the long term benefit of the respected citizens of Ebonyi State.
Since 1999, there has been governorship rotation in the state based on a charter of equity between the three senatorial zones of the state. Don’t you think that your declaration is against that charter of equity as you are from Ebonyi Central given that many believe that the Ebonyi North should produce the next governor of the state?
Let me make it clear that there is nothing like charter of equity in Ebonyi State and I challenge anybody to produce the document on charter of equity, so that we can know the signatories to the equity. Secondly, there was no time in 1999 the governorship was zoned to the North.
That time, the three senatorial zones contested the election. In the North, there were late Polycarp Nwite, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo, late Andrew Nwankwo, Prof. Eke, Dr. Sam Egwu. From the Central, there were late Opoke Odu, Chief Martin Elechi, Chief Frank Ogbuewu and Chief Nwagu Onele, among others. From the South, there were Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Dr. Emmanuel Isu of the blessed memory, Chief Abara and Onu Odii. All these people I mentioned are Ebonyians; they contested that 1999 election and in PDP, Sam Egwu took first, Dr. Emmanuel Isu came second.
At a round table discussion, we brought Dr. Isu, who took second to run as deputy governor. So, you will agree with me that there was nothing like equity. When Sam Egwu was going, Elechi was contesting; myself was also contesting. We were 17 in number that contested that governorship. In the Central, I was contesting, Elechi was contesting, Enyi Ukpor was contesting, Opoke Odu was contesting. In the North Polycarp was contesting and so many of others. In the South, a lot of people were contesting but at a stage, Elechi won.
When Elechi comleted his tenure, Engr. Dave Umahi was contesting, Chief Edward was contesting and Senator Igwe Nwagu was contesting from the Central. So, all the zones were in the contest. At the end, Engr. Umahi won. So, there was no zoning. I want to make it clear that I believe in a gentleman agreement.
If there is any discussion today; if there is any meeting today by Ebonyians and they decide that that we should start zoning and the discussion is agreed and documented, I will abide by it. And do you know whether they will start from Central? They can start from the South, they can start from the North but before now, there was nothing like zoning. About those who are talking about zoning, everybody is free to say what he wants to say. I have a leader, I have a boss. Sam Egwu is my boss, I will not challenge him but he is entitled to his opinion. I respect him highly, so, I won’t make any comment on his position on zoning of the governorship.
How prepared are you for the contest for your party’s ticket?
The first thing is for me to show my interest, which I have done and don’t forget that I said that when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declares the campaign, we will go into it. The issue of the ticket belongs to members of our party; it doesn’t belong to me. I am only informing them that I am interested. When the time comes, we will go to them and the choice is theirs. So, when we get there, we will see what will be their choice.
Will you be open for harmonization or is it a battle to the end?
You asked this question but you have answered it for me. I don’t believe in do-or-die politics; I don’t believe in it at all. Anyhow my party wants to use to produce its candidate, I will abide by it.
There is this perception that the PDP in the state has no leadership. Who is the leader of the PDP in Ebonyi State and going by the clash of interest that is already manifesting in the party, don’t you think that leaders of the party may fight dirty because there is no direction?
I want to assure you that such wish is the wish of the enemy. The PDP Ebonyi State is united and formidable and nothing will come in between us. Our party’s constitution is very clear about leadership. So, if you want to know who our leader is, you should consult our constitution and our constitution will tell you who our leader is.