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Nigerian Politics

Drama as Oshiomhole, Okorocha, Oyofo clash at book launch


Drama as Oshiomhole, Okorocha, Oyofo clash at book launch

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A former Governor of Edo State, Adam Oshiomhole, on Friday, shed light on his political differences with a former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, saying it was purely on issues of obeying the law and nothing personal.

He also tackled former Senate Whip, Victor Oyofo, for alluding that former governors go to the Senate to display opulence.

Oshiomhole stated these at the first Senator Ekpe Moriri Lamai Memorial Lecture organised by Senator E. A Lamai Foundation where Okorocha who was one of the panellists jokingly alleged that Oshiomhole was one of the problems of Nigeria.

Okorocha had thanked God that Oshiomhole would be going to the Senate to fix the problems.

Drama ensued thereafter as the comment did not go down well with Oshiomhole

Oshiomhole said, “My brother (Rochas Okorocha) said I am the problem of Nigeria and he is happy that I am going to the Senate. I will take the last part. He is happy for me so he would organise a dinner in my honour. There will also be a dinner to mark your exit. So as you are going, I am coming in.

“When people say a small man like me because big people think that mere reference to their size should not obey the law when a small man is presiding.

“And when they say we are short, I hardly see what I am short of. There is nothing anybody has that I don’t have. When they talk about economies of scale, they don’t also forget to talk about dis-economics of scale.”

Turning to Okorocha, he said, “So, my brother, my brother, you know what caused our misunderstanding? You are my good friend until tomorrow. It is just that for me, laws are meaningful when those who are powerful are subjected to obey the law.

“So, sir, be rest assured, I appreciate you, I respect you but you must learn to obey the law.

“Don’t look at my size, particularly, when I am obliged to take an oath that I shall defend the constitution. Once we go out now, I am going to hug you and I must insist you organise a dinner for my coming to the Senate.”

Oshiomhole also responded to Oyofo who said governors retire to the Senate to live a life of opulence

He said, “Nigeria was already on its way to Zimbabwe when you have a life president. When President Obasanjo wanted to amend our constitution, which should have been the beginning and the end, no gun was shot, just the power of AIT and other media, covering the session life to the credit of the National Assembly, shut down that third term bid.

“But the other thing with my big brother. My pension is N1,250,0000. So when you talk of opulence and corruption is not something that is restricted to the government. For every government official that is corrupt, there are three, four, or five businessmen who are even much more corrupt. They are the treasurers of public officers.

“So if my brother left the oil industry wealthy, and went to the Senate to live in luxury, then why are you envious of me that left the labour movement? One kobo gratuity I did not receive, even my official car, I handed it over, because that is the rule of Nigeria Labour Congress. We used the word struggle.

“So, why make a sweeping generalisation about people living in wealth going to the Senate to live in luxury? When I knew you as a Senator, I did not see you in luxury. I thought you were working. Actually, that is what you told our people. It was only today you said that the place is for luxury.”

But, Oyofo, in his response, said a Google search should be made between himself and Oshiomhole to know who made money from the government.

He said, “Google my name and say what is the net worth of Senator Oyofo, and they will tell you. In the same manner, Google the name of Oshiomhole and say how much is he worth, and Google will tell you. Then, you can approach the issue of defining corruption. So it is not about just standing and making things look like a joke.

“The truth is that we are in the grip of corruption and unless we stand up to it and admit it, we are going to pay dearly. It is not a laughing matter or a joking matter. Anybody you know his name in Nigeria, ask Google what his net worth is and search for the profession they belong to and what they are doing whether they own a business. I worked for 30 years finding oil for Nigeria.”

Oshiomhole continued, “But let me just say that what I have enjoyed in all these conversations is the fact that we all agree that Nigeria has to change, and the change must begin with each and every one of us because senators are recruited from the larger society.”

Oyofo had earlier, in his opening remarks, advocated for part-time legislators for the country, saying the cost of governance is bloating every day.

The former Senate Chief whip of the Senate who chaired the lecture quoted #openNass, which stated that in 2017 alone, the lawmaker cost the taxpayers $54,000 each.

Oyofo, in his examination of how the country has performed since the return to democracy in 1999, said, “To be successful in this exercise, let us remember that the Romans began the Senate. It was a party’s occupation, and citizens were also appointed into this chamber. Such were appointed by the councils or magistrates, who, after serving their tenure, were elected into the chamber.

“We adopted the presidential system coming from America, but we do not have institutions that support the successful running of this political experiment.

“Therefore, the legislative arm, which was supposed to check the executives, and indeed its democratic arm, failed to mature or keep up to its objectives. After more than 20 years, it has proved ineffective and expensive.”

A former governor of Edo State, Oserhemen Osunbor, disagreed with him, saying that it was not the budget of the National Assembly that was responsible for the magnitude of the challenges confronting the country.

He stressed the importance of the Senate to democracy, saying it was what gives the states equal representation.

Another panellist, Senator Abubakar Umar Gada, said the problem is not the Senate but corruption, which has become endemic.

Gada said the budget of the Senate is just 2.5 per cent of the national budget.

He, therefore, said that the problem with the country is the breakdown of moral values.