Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Delta State, Elder Godsday Orubebe, in this interview with select journalists spoke on the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, his governorship bid and other issues.
What do you think informed President Goodluck Jonathan’s reluctance to seek re-election?
I played a key role in the election of Jonathan in 2011. I am still playing that key role to sustain the tempo to make him by the grace of God, the president of Nigeria again to complete his eight years. I do not think the President is reluctant to come out again to contest, there is always a time for every activity. He is waiting for the right time to come out.
That is what he did in 2011 and so at the right time, which is not too far again, Mr. President will come and declare for the presidency of this country again. The President surely will contest. That he is contesting for re-election is non-negotiable. Even if he was not going to contest, we will draft him to come and complete his eight years.
This is the first time somebody from the South-South has come on board to preside over the affairs of this country. It is only reasonable to allow him to complete his two-term of eight years, particularly when he is doing very well to take Nigeria to the next level.
How is he taking Nigeria to the next level?
From 1960 to the time he took over, power infrastructure was completely dead. He brought in the private sector, he is working hard. There is a power master plan now on how Nigeria can get power so that we can key into the global industrial revolution. Today, the trains that were dead are working, our roads are better, the East-West Road is about to be completed.
In the education sector, there is no government in recent time that has given concern to the education of young men and women. The other day when the education minister was having a meeting with the vice-chancellors and when they gave their reports, I was marveled that a lot is being done in our educational institutions.
So many activities, economic empowerment programmes are put in place for our young men and women to keep them busy, engaged and employed. This president has done very well in all areas. Talk about aviation and agriculture, there are a lot of programmes being enjoyed by grassroots farmers.
Jonathan has done very well, he is moving this country forward. My appeal to the rest of the country is that Mr. President should be allowed to complete his eight years. For me, it is not negotiable and Mr. President must have to complete his eight years to give to Nigeria what God has invested in him.
How do you react to the speculation that the President is worried by the opposition from the North and that that has prevented him from declaring his re-election bid?
Many people do not actually know the kind of president tthey have. If you get close to the President the way some of us have been close to him, you will know that the President is not jittery but he is calculating. A president who believes in the rule of law and that as president, he needs to show good example and that is what he is doing.
He cannot come out to declare now considering the regulations put in place by INEC. Once the time comes, Mr. President will do it and everybody will see it. He did it in 2011 and he is going to do it again.
Do you think Jonathan can win if you look at the scenario in the country now?
Mr. President is going to win massively again and again. Nigerians are becoming more aware. Nigerians are aware that our railways have started working; educational institutions are getting attention; airports are better; agriculture is seen as a serious business now, even at local level and that things are working. And so for the sustenance of what is on ground, Nigerians will definitely vote for Jonathan.
What is happening to your aspiration for the governorship of Delta State?
It is on and I am waiting for the INEC’s timetable to declare to the good people of Delta State that I am humbly willing to come and offload what God has deposited in me from the councilor level to the presidency level. God has done very well for me and it is
only reasonable that I should offload what God has invested in me.
With the people of Delta State, we are bringing a new concept of governance, concept of love and we all work together. We will take from the past activities of the previous governments and we will build on them to be able to contribute our own quota towards the development of the state.
Do you think it is right for the state government to embark on new projects when it has barely one year left?
The only time Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan should stop working is the day he hands over and that is May 29, 2015. Government is a continuum. If that is what they are saying now, then immediately after swearing in and the man knew that after four year he would go, people would have expected him to stop from that day. The man has to work till that day.
Uduaghan has been a friend right from when I was the chairman of Burutu Local Government area. He is well calculating. He started very well and he is finishing very strong. I cherish a lot of things that he is doing, particularly this new programme, Delta Beyond Oil, it is a noble programme.
Here you have a governor, who is already thinking about the future of his people, there is nothing that can be compared to that. By the grace of God when I take over from him, that is one of the programmes that we are going to run with to be able to provide a secured future for the people.
Have you been able to mend fences with Chief Edwin Clark?
I never had problem with my father and leader, so the issue of mending fences does not arise. Chief Clark remains my father yesterday, today and tomorrow.
But you are at war over the structure of PDP, especially in Burutu LGA where the two of you hail from. A recent court judgement that returned the structure to one of your loyalists did not go down well
with his camp.
I don’t think that is true. First and foremost, my leader is not involved in local political activities. The problem we have was that the chairman, who won the election from day one had some issues with some leaders in Burutu LGA, the thing changed and the man went to court. The leader was aware when they went to court and when they won the case I told the chairman that this is a family activity.
Whatever we do in Burutu, it has always been my style to go to the leader to ask for direction and then I go and work with his directive. In the same way, it has been a family activity, no victor, no vanquished. I will soon meet with my leader and whatever he directs is what we are going to do.
I have always worked with Chief Clark and I will continue to work with him. He is a great political leader not only to Elder Godsday Orubebe, he is a great political leader in this country. Some of us were encouraged to come into politics because of his activities in the past. We saw him as a role model, mentor, leader and father.
When I was contesting as a councilor in Burutu, I used to tell people that one day I want to be like Chief Edwin Clark. I will also make reference to him. There is no position I hold that will not make me go to him for advice and direction. I have been a minister for six years and God used him as one of the instruments to work for me to be a minister.
How do you react to the insinuations in some quarters that you are plotting to use the structure of PDP in Burutu LGA to frustrate the ambition of his son, Ebikeme, to contest the council chairmanship?
As one of the sons of Chief Clark, it has always been my wish to do things to recognize his leadership. This very son wanted to be a member of the House of Representatives. As minister, I went round the local government to discuss with leaders. I said we have to do this thing for our father and if that is the only thing we have to do as his followers, let us do it. I did that.
But somehow along the line, certain things happened and the boy did get not it. It has always been my wish to do something to appreciate our leader and father for all he has done for us. Though, the son has not told me that he wants to be chairman.
But any day, anytime, he tells me I am there to support him for the singular reason that if in this world, in the lifetime our dear father and leader, there are one or two things I can do to appreciate what he has done for the Ijaw people, the South-South and Nigeria, I will be too glad if that will add recognition to all he has sacrificed for the people of this country and particularly our people.
Are you embarrassed by the recent kidnap of Clark’s son by his own people?
It has nothing to do with his leadership, it was pure criminality. The people that are into criminality, if they are doing it, they don’t care if the victim is their own father or mother.
In my village, I built a Christian Centre, where thousands of people go on first Friday of every month. On that last Friday when we had all night, we spent about 20 minutes praying for his son. I said there is a verse in the Bible-Exodus 21:16, where God said that any man, who steals a man or a man is found in his house and he is selling, He says that person should be put to death.
I told the congregation to pray and we said we gave the people five days. After five days if he was not released, we were going to invoke that scripture on the people. Fortunately, the following day, Saturday, the boy was released. It was pure criminality. Every well meaning person in Delta State worked hard to ensure that the boy was released to make our father and leader happy