Senator Domingo Obende, represents Edo North senatorial district in the Senate on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). He is now seeking a return ticket to the Senate. In this interview with PATRICK OCHOGA, Obende bares his minds on national issues and reasons why he will remain in APC.
The nation is currently witnessing wanton destruction of human life perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents. Do you think the federal government doing enough to arrest the onslaught?
Even in simple economics, where the raw material is, is where you move the industry to so in line of insurgency, it becomes the raw material for the military to act so people saying and insisting that the base of the Chief of Army Staff and others should be moved to the north-east, I don’t think they are missing it at all, they are right and they are apt with such suggestions and haven said this, the governor of Borno made a statement very clearly that the Boko Haram are more equipped than the Nigerian Army, it is possible he might be saying the truth and it is also possible that he might not understand the operations of the military but one thing that is clear is that all that he said has to do with the fact; he is seeing his people being killed every day and he needed to speak out and I don’t think he should be so castigated for saying so and as far as I am concerned, the federal government needs to buckle up in the sense that every soul lost, whether in the west, east, north or south, that soul is a Nigerian and of course that represents a whole family and so the federal government need to buckle up, it need to understand that if America can go to war because of one human being, then of course Nigeria should be able to go war because of more than 10,000 because as we speak, I know very well more than 10,000 must have gone in these insurgencies.
What is the Senate doing to support INEC for a 2015 credible election?
When you have a challenge, you must first of all understand it and when you understand the challenge and then discuss it, then of course you are having a head way to finding a solution to the problem. For me, in all elections that the INEC has conducted so far, they will always tell you that all arrangements are in place and that they are going to have a very perfect and fine election or outing as you will call it. But at the end of the day, you will always see those challenges steering them in the face. For me, INEC has never admitted that they have a challenge, if they admit that they have one, then they must tell us what these challenges are. Because if it is a human challenge, it is easy, do more of orientation; if it is financial, it is also simple, request for more funds to be able to tackle the election that you have at hand.
But as far as I am concerned, I am not seeing INEC to conduct a general election that will be free and fair If Anambra election went the way it went, how do we know what is going to happen in Ekiti and Osun states? Let me remind you very quickly in Edo state that but for the sagacity of the governor, his re-election in 2012 would have been messed up. So, I am of the view that the INEC needs to tell us what their problems are and it is only when the problems are placed on the table that the National Assembly will be able to discuss it and find a solution to them. We cannot do anything about it when we don’t know what their problems are.
There are fears of division in the APC in Edo ahead of 2015 and 2016, are you worried about this development?
For me, I do not see any problem in APC in Edo state, as we speak, the structure has not been put in place, what we are doing is registering for membership that will make us founding members of APC and there is no founder that is higher than other and then we will go for congress and after congress, the executives will be out in place, then we will now have a formal structure of this our great party called APC. I don’t know if there are grievances anywhere and if there are, I am yet to be told but as far as I am concerned in Edo North, I think all is well, the agitation you find in Edo North are agitations of those who want to go to House of Representatives, of those who want to go to House of Assembly and those who want to go to the senate. These are the agitations and it is clear that in politics, you have three periods in which there will be problem; before primaries, before election and during sharing of positions and APC cannot be excluded from all these but I believe the leadership qualities and capacity of Edo state that we are going to resolve all of these and we will not lose any member. I can assure you that
There is a rumour that as the only APC senator now in Edo State, you are planning to go back to the PDP, how would you react to this?
I am a very focused person, not just being focused, I know the meaning of shame because as a human being coming from a royal home, I should know what is called royalty. I want to say again that on the 12th of February 2010, I resigned from PDP haven rose to the rank of a senatorial chairman and I joined A C N. I also want to say that I was never kicked out, it was not under pressure, even after the PDP primaries of 2007 which was a clear case of robbery, I stayed in PDP to work for the PDP and brought victory to it, so I was convinced in my innermost heart that I needed to shift ground and I did shift and for shifting, I got probably exactly what I was looking for in 2007, then the question is this; somebody when you are hungry refuses to feed you now haven crossed over and you are eating and you have enough to eat, will you go and carry your food and give to that person? The answer is no. so the issue of defection is not in the dictionary of Domingo. It is not in my character, and it will never be in my character because every political stand anybody takes has a local stand because there must be a local reference of your action, so for me, APC is the party where I belong right now and that is where I registered and I participated in and I want to belong to APC.
There are allegations too that you have altered a rotational arrangement in the zone on which area produces the senator. Where you part of any arrangement as being alleged?
First and foremost, there is something I want us to understand, Nigeria is not operating a one party system so every political party have their positions and ideology on issues. It doesn’t matter how we
look at it, because we believe that every politician has permanent interest but haven said this, I was never in any meeting neither was there any meeting organised by the leadership of the party, the CAN then now APC whereby there was an arrangement, I was never there and if there was, I don’t think the arrangement has shifted because from day one, the party (ACN) said Akoko-Edo should have the senate seat and Akoko-Edo got the senate and I have not even done three years that is why I talked about the relevance of a human being that occupied an irrelevant position that is now relevant or the irrelevance of human being that occupies a relevant position that becomes irrelevant, my relevance in bringing to bare the quality of the senate is making everybody to crave for the seat and that will not scuttle whatever arrangement anybody believes that he or she has. It requires patience, four additional years is not four hundred years, so I believe that if we are patient, this thing will go round.
Your sponsorship of the same sex probation bill has generated so much interest globally, could that be part of the glamour that has gingered interest from various persons for this position?
I did that because first and foremost I see myself as an African that has a culture, secondly, I try to uphold the value that is attached to that culture, now the anti-gay bill is to protect the menace of importation of morals into Africa you will agree with me that the social media today as we speak has imported so much into this country and has made our youths to lose focus and derail either from their family values, culture or from their cultural values as it affects their communities so I believe that this anti-gay law is a way to strengthen our morals, we do not want important of morals, what we want is of course transfer of technology for our people to be relevant in the industrial world.
What makes you think you have done enough to merit a second term?
In 2011, when we were going up and down asking people to vote for us, I did mentioned that there is no foundation and if there was no foundation, then there can’t be anything that can be likened to a benchmark so in other words, I have been able to lay a foundation, I have been able to make the office of the senate very relevant because if I were irrelevant, it obviously means that the office would have been irrelevant. Like I cracked a joke with the Etsako people, that because of the relevance that is now attached to the seat of the Edo North Senate, a professor is now interested in the senate that shows that I am doing the best to bring services to the people and delivering on the services to the people pre-supposes that it must be verifiable and of course people must be able to testify to what we are doing. We have had eight years of unhindered representation coming from Victor Oyofo and we have also had four years of unhindered representation coming from Senator Yisa Braimah and I want to quickly add here that Senator Yisa Braimah was given the ticket for a second tenure and another political party feeling indifferent about that fielded another candidate in me and ofcourse we defeated him which is kudos to all of us that worked hard to make the then ACN got victory so if somebody in his own fallacy would want to imagine that what I have done is less than 30 per cent, at least he should show us somebody that did more than that before I got there.
Stay up to date, follow us on Twitter; @LeadershipNGA