Great Ogboru, candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party in the last governorship election in Delta State, says the judgment of the federal high court, which says he was not qualified to run for the 2007 election, lacks merit
What is your reaction to the Federal High Court, Asaba judgment, which ruled that you were not eligible to have contested the 2007 governorship election?
As a journalist, does that make sense to you? Elections were conducted in 2007. Most elections did not take place. We went to the court of appeal. The appeal court returned our matter to be heard on merit. The case was held on its merit and it ordered a re-run election. We participated in the re-run election and now we are at the tribunal challenging the return of the re-run election and then you come up with an issue, which should have been dispensed with in 2007, which is a pre-election issue. You raised the issue in the tribunal, this re-run tribunal, and you abandoned it only for you to come from the high court which has no jurisdiction to hear a post-election matter and to say that my nomination was invalid. By what reason?
We have millions of supporters in Delta State. To procure 50 nominations in Delta State is not an issue. If the requirement had been 500,000, I am sure we could have met it. But to say that we didn’t have 50 people to sign our nomination form, that is a fallacy of the worst type and I consider the judgment of that court pathetic and a sad day for the Nigerian judiciary. A very sad day. Actually, (this) makes me to say that the issue of elections, which should be determined at the polls, is being decided by one man.
This is to say that you are appealing the judgment?
I am 150 per cent confident that the court of appeal will dismiss that judgment immediately. It will be dead on arrival because it lacks merit, it lacks substance. It is not factual and it is based on the imagination of the judge.
Concerns have been raised in some quarters about the recent trend of politics of ethnicity in the state and you are being accused of introducing it. What is your reaction to this?
How could I have brought ethnicity into Delta politics? Delta politics in anyway is not ethnicised at all. (You will) remember that James Ibori is an Urhobo man and I contested against him in 2003 and we went all the way to the Supreme Court. Why? To prove that he was not qualified to be governor of Delta State. The people of Delta State are far more enlightened than that. They will not follow you on the basis of where you come from but listen to you about what you intend to do and that will be the basis of persuasion and action.
Zoning has been a key issue in Delta politics. The people of Delta North expects that in 2015, it should be their turn and they say your coming into the picture is an attempt to rob them of that opportunity, which has never gone their way since the creation of the state. What is your position on this?
It’s unfortunate that you made such a statement. The people of Delta North are not deprived of the governorship of Delta State. Eric Opia contested against Chief Felix Ibru and that was a very keenly contested race. Then if you look at Obielum and Okocha, they came at one time or the other into the governorship contest in Delta State, but unfortunately, they did not make it. So, it’s not a question of an ethnic thing. The truth of the matter is that the best candidate for that position today is myself.
If tomorrow an Urhobo man comes and he is not as good as myself, and you have a man who is better from Delta North, the people of Delta State will vote for him. Delta State is where we have more mature minds — people who can make up their minds on the basis of merit, on the basis of achievements, on the basis of precedence, pedigree. Of course based on your persuasion and your manifesto. If you are good, they will vote for you; if you are not good, they won’t vote for you. The very day you put forward a better candidate, the zoning issue will collapse in Delta State.