A former Federal Minister of State for Education under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi on Tuesday spoke with selected journalists at his country-home in Oginibo, Ughelli South Council Area of Delta State on his plans to contest the 2023 governorship election in the state, why he started consultations early and other sundry issues. Our correspondent, ONOME OGHENETEGA, brings excerpts of the interaction.
His Take On Okowa’s Performance
When this government came to power, the state was in a state of comatose. There was no money to pay salaries, and no money to do any business. We’re bankrupt as a state. I must say, there is no LGA that this government has not tarred roads or has not built or fixed schools. I’m a stakeholder in the affairs of this state. I was one of those who started this election and contested the primary in 1999, and there’s none that has done so much like this present administration led by our amiable governor, Dr. Okowa.
His Chances In 2023 And Take On Not-Too-Young-To-Rule
My chances are bright and I have planned for this in the last 24 years and it will be very dull of me that I have planned for this in the last 24 years and I planned to fail. On that note, wait and see. Suffice to say that I have a job to do and it is now left for my constituents and people (Deltans) to accept it that I can do the job. But as it is, there is no room for dullards. There’s no room for children who are still being pampered. There’s no room children who are still using diapers. This business, particularly for a state like Delta, is a serious business that requires big nob, and we are not going to leave those chances to children.
Place Of UPU In 2023 Election
We have looked at the issues of UPU, and we must be careful. When we were to start the campaign for Okowa in 2014, the UPU had taken a decision that Okowa can never be governor. Believe me or not, my father was one of those who founded UPU. That time, UPU was more structured. My father was controlling the whole of Sapele, Jesse, Oghara and co. They coordinated UPU differently. At that (UPU) meeting, I made it clear that it is Okowa or nothing. Few hours later, the UPU dissipated, and till today, we (UPU) are still find our feet. Okowa is finishing his second term strongly. Where we need to talk as I did with the current President-General of UPU last Saturday, we will consult them. Put UPU side by side with all the traditional rulers of Urhobo people, they are important. They are people we should talk to but they’re not politicians. UPU is the custodian of Urhobo people but we that are politicians, we’ll do what we know how to do best and report back to them.
Infrastructure And Finance
You cannot put something on nothing. If Okowa gets one million, he cannot spend two million. He can only spend after paying salaries from that one million before thinking of infrastructure. If you have any strong evidence that he has done less than he had received, let me have the evidence and I will work with you in that direction. The information I have is that Okowa has done his best with the resources that he has gotten.
The money does not get to the governor as received. 64 per cent of it is deducted right from the bank because of an agreement earlier signed. So, instead of making damning remarks about the performance Governor Okowa, we should appreciate the job he is doing and criticize him constructively when we have the facts and figures to do so.
Delta Governorship Rotation Not By Tribe
We started PDP in 1999. My senior brother, James Ibori (Delta Central) finished his eight years. Former Governor Uduaghan equally did eight years from the Delta South, and the leader of the party today and my boss, Governor Okowa is doing his eight years now. We didn’t zone the governorship to tribe. I want us to get this clear. We zoned it to senatorial district. When it is the turn of a senatorial district as it is with Central, it is left for the people of Delta Central to discuss and come up with a candidate but it must be within Central. But we need the brotherhood and support of the people of the South and the people from the north. The people of Delta Central alone cannot make the governor in Delta. We must work with ourselves and work together as we have done before to ensure it’s a win-win situation. If it comes to zoning, zoning by itself has come to Central and by the grace of God, we the Central will manage our affairs.
Why He Started Consultations Early
There are some of us who are politicians. There are some of us who are civil servants who want to contest election. We are aware of some commissioners who say let’s collect small money or allowance and in two years time, we’ll resign and start the race. That’s his business! I don’t need to wait or collect allowance. For me, I have started my race and I believe I am doing very well. We cannot wait because some commissioners want to run. I don’t know if they will be able to get money to pay for expression of interest form and pay delegates. If what they are waiting is what they have collected in the last two years…at the appropriate time, we’ll separate the boys from the men. I am Kenneth Gbagi, and I am unblemished. If you think I have stolen money, please say so. I am spending my own money. I am driving my own vehicles to consult our people. Is there anything wrong in consultation? I am qualified and I want to be governor. I have what it takes to be governor.
My Vision For Deltans
Twenty years ago, I came up and said the problem we are having is infrastructure. Take it or leave it, when I constructed 500 shopping mall long Deco Road, I gave it out technically free at a price of N1000 for people to trade. It’s my own idea. It was not government money. I have never spent or done state or federal contract in my life. I don’t believe in it. I know what it takes to have your brain. I have worked for myself from day one till today. And even when I was privileged to be appointed, and in all the appointments I have gotten, I refused to take salaries and drive government vehicles. I can tell you, I will run Delta without using the vehicles of Delta State.
If you talk about infrastructure, I have come to change the landscape of Delta State. If you go through Effurun, Warri and Sapele road, and go to Lagos, I owned the second tallest building in Lagos State. But it’s not enough to talk about infrastructure and how I will change things, I know what to do. Suffice to say that at the end of one year of my government, if they don’t see drains, magic, if they don’t see things happening in reality, if they don’t see me removing every Deltan who has no job from the street and they don’t see industries coming back to the state, I’ll tender my resignation.
Why People Say I Am Tough
One of the speakers asked why I am tough. Christ himself was tough. I will do my best in the middle of what you people defined as tough. What I see as toughness is discipline but unfortunately my father that brought me up was tough and principled man. That’s the same reason I am tough. People asked me how I managed to build Robinson Plaza, Signature hotels, second tallest building in Lagos and what have you, it is because of the toughness and discipline. Nobody had ever invited me to discuss how I made my wealth. Cheques of money I have received all my life up to date, I still have them, and people consider that as toughness. I am disciplined, and that is why today, I am free from troubles.
On The Platform He Will Run
I founded PDP. Forget what you might have heard. In the means of impossible calculations, I rose to become a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria under PDP. There’s time for everything. I have planned this in the last 24 years and by the special grace of God, I’ll contest the election under Peoples Democratic Party.
On Okpe/Sapele And Uvwie Agitation For Guber Ticket
What I will add to make you more comfortable is that I was born in Sapele. Sapele is part of the Okpe, Uvwie and Sapele Federal Constituency. If you want to come from there, ”I dey gidigbe.” If you leave there, my father is from Oginibo. Oginibo is situated in Ughelli North, Ughelli South and Udu Federal Constituency. That’s where I will finally be buried. However, my mother is from Ethiope East and Ethiope West. All the three constituencies that made up Delta Central, my head and my legs are from there. When we go to Sapele, you can’t beat in election. Forget detractors you are seeing on social media. They have been paid money to do what they are doing. I am too honest, too matured, hardworking and blemish for that. I am the biggest investor in Okpe, Uvwie and Sapele Constituency. If I close two of my markets in those areas, there will be anarchy.
His Take On Unemployment In Delta
As we speak today in this country, modestly put, I spend between N18m to N27m to pay salaries every month in this country. I have a strategy but I am not going to discuss the strategy. Suffice you to say, in my one hundred days of my government, no Deltan will be on the street looking for employment. There’s a lot on how we are going to do it. A young man said few minutes ago that all the companies are gone, who drove the companies away? It is you and I. The companies left for Bayelsa, some left for Port Harcourt and other places. Do you know there are 360 Nigerians that are flown into the land of Delta everyday? Everyday! They don’t pay their taxes here, they pay in Lagos. Why? My friend says his responsibility as a journalist is to report the land. At a point people started calling for war, and then kidnapping, and journalists were busy writing. There are times what you (journalists) do hurt. When what you are reporting is war, Urhobo is fighting, Itsekiri is fighting, Ijaw is protesting but now all the companies have now left. Are you still getting what you were getting? We used our own hands to destroy and mess up the place. If not that we are lucky that we have a man like Okowa as governor who has brought peace it would have been difficult for us. What I am saying is that we should say good things about this state. What happens here happened in many other climes. When you were reporting that they are bombing in the creeks, what were you expecting? It was to drive the companies away, and today, they are all gone.
When I was growing up as young man, we were going to Mosheshe Estate and the Oyibos we have in Warri were more than Port Harcourt and Lagos put together. But today, where are they? They have all gone. Today, the oyibos you see in Warri are Indians. Journalists restructure yourselves. I also know that you guys have not suffered less. Some journalists have been kidnapped, killed and refused to take bribe. Join hands to ensure that the state is better. Where the governor has issues raised them constructively. Don’t destroy the state because you are doing your job as a journalist. Which other governor has constructed roads as much as Okowa has done? No one! If Okowa has done what other persons did, we won’t have had a state. Okowa has done his best within the resources at his disposal.