He is young. He is vibrant.
He is passionate about making a positive difference in his own way. Barrister Oraye St Franklin is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State on Social Media.
In this interview with Opaka Dokubo, the rising lawyer and politician bares his mind on some of the nagging contemporary issues in Rivers State.
The Okrika speaking LGAs had a near Perfect situation in the last election. How were you able to achieve that?
Rivers State generally
is a PDP State. Our people are predominantly attracted to the PDP. The PDP has been the platform through which we have had our aspiration realized as a people. So, Okrika cannot be any different.
We’re a very passionate people. I will say Rivers people are a very passionate people.
For the Okrika man, as it were, when he takes a decision on an issue, he stands by it. As I said previously, PDP has been the platform under which we had consistently realized our aspiration as a people and in an election where you have a senator from the Okrika area and a House of Reps member, you cannot expect anything but massive support from Okrika people. And because it’s the platform where we realise our aspiration as a people, we didn’t need to do anything dramatic.
Our people are very knowledgeable, very passionate forthright, so there was nothing anybody could say from the opposition political party that would dissuade them from giving massive support to very honourable member of the national legislative houses.
We are a people who comport ourselves very well but you realize that for about a year now, Rivers State has been in the news for the very wrong reasons. There is this deliberate effort to project Rivers State as a flashpoint of violence and crisis and these things are coming from one direction. They ‘re coming from the handlers and leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State.
You and I live in Rivers State and we know Rivers State to be a very peaceful state, we know Rivers State to be a very active and lively state, our people are very hospitable. The attempt to denigrate our people and our state cannot stick. I am sure a lot of people expected that Okrika, being branded as one of the flashpoints of crisis and violence and Rivers State would erupt in crisis but we’re glad that the entire world saw that Okrika was very peaceful. Our people went about exercising their franchise within the ambits of the law.
What makes the PDP so strong in Rivers State?
Since 1999, PDP has always won all the elections in Rivers State and you cannot achieve this mile stone for these number of years if you’ve not brought benefits to the lives of people of the state. No matter what anybody wishes to say, no matter the deliberate attempt by detractors to brand the PDP as a party of corruption and as a party that has mismanaged the wealth of Nigeria, the present state of Nigeria gives credit to the PDP.
Currently we’re having a biting fuel crisis. We ‘re also having economic challenges and we’re having the value of the Naira depreciating by the day. These didn’t happen under the PDP administration. Whether anybody admits it or not, there are benefits from the PDP to the people of Rivers State and to Nigerians. Those benefits are the strong points of the PDP. For Rivers State, they’re many.
As I said, and will continue to say, a party that has shown itself to be reliable to the people in giving them a platform to achieve their aspirations cannot be relegated to the background. You will always find people supporting the PDP.
What has kept you glued to the PDP even when many of your Associates have moved elsewhere?
The emergence of the APC in Rivers State is credited to rebellion and you’d only find people who have a role in that rebellion cause identifying with the APC in Rivers State. It was not born out of genuine intentions to advance the cause of our people. It was born out of a rebellions drive to possess power by all means necessary.
Many of us are not rebellion in spirit so you will not find us finding the APC attractive, more so when the PDP has always represented the interest of our people. It’s that single. The PDP gives us the platform for genuine interaction for the development of our state.
Look at the people who went to the APC, they also contributed in one way or the other in advancing the cause of Rivers State. If they could find the platform to serve our people under the PDP, what was the need to destroy that platform and bring in something else? There is no justification for that, there’s no justification whatsoever. That’s why I’m still in the PDP and you can see that since 1999 up to this present administration, the PDP has always brought succor to the lives of our people.
Look at what the current governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, is doing to the state. From day one, he has consistently moved from one level of achievement to the other in spite of the distractions. It tells you that the PDP is peopled by very passionate, result-oriented leaders who think of the development of our people because this the only state we have and we cannot afford to leave the state in the hands of those who are not so passionate about her success and development.
What do you think the Rivers State Government should do to attract its due from the Federal Government?
I think that what the current government is doing is not to go in confrontation with the federal government. You can see a clear deviation from what was the order in the last administration where there was too much confrontation with the federal government and for every little thing you blamed the federal government for not doing anything.
The current governor, Governor Wike, has deliberately opened lines of communication, has deliberately refused to be confrontational with the federal government in spite of many issues that would have warranted confrontation. Take for instance, the frequent changing of the security chiefs in the state. People say our state is insecure, people say Rivers State is a flashpoint of crisis and violence, how can we effectively tackle these challenges if we do not have security chiefs that are allowed to do their jobs?
In spite of these, the governor has not been confrontational with the federal government and we think that this is how it should be and it also would promote peace and development in the state. However, in this kind of relationship its two sided. There’s what is expected of the Rivers State Government and there’s also what is expected of the federal government. I believe that if the federal government sees the Rivers State Government as a partner in development there’s no reason why what is due us will not come to us. On our part, we have done, and we will continue to do, all that we ought do. But on the part of the Federal Government, we also expect them to do all that they’re expected to do.
In the light of the still coming Elections, What do we need to do to ensure a better exercise?
But for the incursion of the military in the last rerun elections, we would have had a peaceful exercise because across the state, all the issues we heard and we have documented are stories of military interferences in the electoral process, not even the police. Like in Tai, we had allegations of military people snatching ballot papers.
In Okrika Ward 6, there was the issue of the kidnap of corps members. In Ahoada West was where a youth corps member died. You would have imagined that the mere fact these were two court judgements against the involvement of the military in election, the military would abide by those judgements. But a situation where you find the military disobey court orders and a former governor going on air to say that they will disobey those restraining orders, it leaves so much to be desired of the system.
I would personally, suggest and expect that in the coming election, the military will stay abay and allow the appropriate authority which is the Nigerian police manage, provide cover and security for the election. And I would also expect that all political parties would abide by the rules of engagement. We only have one Rivers State and if we destroy or demarket our state in the course of the struggle for power, where is our love for the state? So, I would expect that all political parties will conform to the rules of engagement and allow the people decide those to be elected.
Democracy is a game of numbers, it’s about the majority who will always have their way while the minority will have their say. This is how the game is played.
What is there for young people in this Govt?
I will say there’s a lot for young people and this has been demonstrated by some key appointments by the governor. For instance, here lam and you are surprised that lam sitting here today. There are opportunities because the governor is passionate about excellence, he’s passionate about getting things done, he’s passionate about getting Rivers State to her pride of place among the commity of states in Nigeria.
The challenge, however is that young people must make themselves agents of change, they must package themselves properly, they must develop themselves, they must find education attractive and necessary.
There is no shortfall of opportunities for those who are prepared.
The governor has shown good intention and many more things will be rolled out with time.
For the young people in Rivers State, what is important to them is the realization of their aspirations.
As long as young people can dream and have their dreams realized, even the state will grow in leaps and bounds. So, the priority of this government is that the dreams of the young people do not die.
Yakassai Wants North To Cede Presidency In 2023
An elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, has said it will be unjust for Northern Nigeria to still demand the presidency in 2023.
The Tide source reports that there have been heated debates among stakeholders in the nation’s polity over power rotation between the North and the South ahead of the 2023 general elections.
At the moment, prominent northerners like the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; and a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki appear to be interested in the 2023 presidency.
But Yakassai in reaction to the declaration of interest by some Northerners said while he is not a card-carrying member of any political party, it would be an injustice to the South for northerners to aspire for the presidency after the expiration of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He said, “How can it be that it is always us the Northerners that will rule? There is no justice in this matter, we rule, they (South) rule, that is justice.”
“I am wondering what the northerners will say to the people? What will they show to the citizens of Nigeria that they benefited or will benefit in order for them to give their votes?
“In the six to seven years, what have the northerners done? What achievement has the leadership accomplished that helped in the development of the country, its economy or any other development that helps the people?
“What major achievement do the northerners have that they can use to call upon all other Nigerians to give them votes again?”
The elder statesman said his interest in politics from the beginning had always been about justice, explaining that his support for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, was to make sure Nigeria went with the method of letting any president run his second tenure after his first; just like he said earlier.
He said that if the first four years of the tenure were not enough for the president to accomplish his goals, then eight years would be enough for him as long as he had the plan on how to accomplish them.
Pastor Rejects Ortom’s Car Gift
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has recounted how Rev Samuel Alaha, who anointed him in 1992 with a prophecy that he would become governor of the state, rejected a car gift from him after the prophecy came to pass in 2015.
The governor, who made the disclosure, Sunday, during a sermon as the guest preacher at Faithway Gospel Ministries, Gboko, explained that he visited the cleric and presented the new car in appreciation but the vehicle was returned after a few days.
According to Ortom, even though Rev Alaha received the gift on the spot, he called after a few days to inform the governor that he appreciated the offer but begged to return it, saying he did not find it necessary.
Governor Ortom described the clergyman as a committed and true man of God whom he had known since 1980, lauding his zeal and commitment in service to the Almighty God.
Ortom pointed out that as Governor, he was determined to execute God’s counsel to people of the state at all times.
He admonished the congregation to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and assured that “all other things will be added on to you.”
Governor Ortom also called on Christians to go back to the time when there was love towards one another “as it used to be in the past when we became Christians. True brotherly love is lacking today, that is why there seems to be conflict all the time.”
Touching on the unity in the family, the governor told couples to begin to show love towards one another to celebrate accommodation, tolerance and faith in God.
Ogun: PDP’ll Produce Next Gov – Ayu
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyorchia Ayu, has declared that the PDP would produce the next governor of Ogun State in 2023.
Ayu said considering the record, which according to him, shows that the PDP had produced the first PDP president in 1999, who hails from Ogun State, the state remains a PDP state.
Ayu said, this last Saturday while addressing a large crowd of PDP members at the party secretariat in Abeokuta.
Ayu, who was flanked by members of the national working committee, former governors, the leader of Ogun PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, the State Chairman, Sikirullahi Ogundele, among others told the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun and the All Progressives Congress to prepare to leave the government for the PDP in 2023.
The chairman said the APC governments both at the federal and the states had made lives difficult for Nigerians, adding that it was time to vote the party out of power.
Ayu, who earlier held a private meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said he would be returning to Ogun to mobilise PDP members across all levels, as part of efforts to unseat the APC in 2023.
He said, “I only came to greet my boss and our father, President Obasanjo. I didn’t know that all my people are here. I will come back to mobilise the people of Ogun State in every ward, in every local government because in 2023 we shall produce a PDP governor in Ogun State after which we shall produce a PDP president who will make things better for you.”
In his remarks, Adebutu, who is a PDP governorship aspirant, reiterated his commitment to the development of Ogun State.
He said, “I am sacrificing my comfort for you, not because I need something to eat but I want to create a better tomorrow for you. I will continue to sacrifice for you and I bring to you this sacrifice and this solution. Let us be together. Do you agree with me?”
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