YES I ACCEPT I BEGGED CLARK - NWAOBOSHI
CHIEF Peter Nwaoboshi is the Delta State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview with Vanguard at his Asaba residence, he explains why he recently went on a trouble shooting mission to the former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, at Abuja, a move that political analysts interpreted as a further sign of crack in the mainstream of the PDP family headed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. 'Oracle' as Nwaoboshi is popularly known maintained that he had no regrets whatsoever for his new-found bond with the elder statesman, and cares no hoot about those who said he went to beg Clark. He also spoke on his current relationship with Governor Uduaghan and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, state of affairs of the party in the state, as well as the intriguing undercurrents over 2015 in the state. Excerpts:
THE impression right now is that the PDP in Delta North is divided between you and Senator Okowa who is the Senator representing the zone. What is your response?
Well, let me make it clear, I don't have a split with Senator Okowa, people had asked me that question severally and I told them I don't have a split with him. If anything, I was instrumental to Okowa even going for the Senate race. But when certain developments came up I beat a retreat, which of course, he knows the reasons. So, I don't have a personal problem with Dr. Okowa. In 1998 when I was going to run for the state secretary of the party, Okowa supported me, when I was running for the state chairmanship of the party he supported me too, so we have really not had any personal disagreement.
People may wrongly read me and Okowa as rivals, we are not rivals, we don't have any need to be rivals. What are we contesting? He is in the Senate, he cannot be in the Senate and be the state chairman and I cannot also be the state chairman and also be in the Senate. So, when I hear people say rivalry between me and Okowa, I wonder.
Politics of the state
Okowa has always given me my respect as an elder brother and I also respect him as a colleague in the party. That I didn't support him in the primaries for the Senate, he knows why. If anything, I invited him to my house and asked him to go and run for the Senate since I was not going to run.
I said I have looked round, I was not going to run and because of what is happening in the politics of the state, we need a strong hand to be able to guide against such things, and we agreed here, he said no, I said yes, he had to run since I was not going to run because there are certain things that are going to happen in 2015 and as we approach it, there may be need for us to put our house in order.
He objected to it and I insisted that he would run for Senate before other things came up which changed my perception and he knows why. And I know that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan knows why too, so I don't have a personal quarrel with Okowa. I am talking about myself though, I don't know about Okowa if he sees things the way I have told you.
Now what is your relationship with Governor Uduaghan and Chief E.K Clark?
Yes, when I was going to run for the chairmanship of the party, Clark supported me, I went to him and solicited his support. And if you look at the name that was submitted by the two groups for chairmanship, my name was there. In Clark's group, my name was published as chairman, in the governor's group, my name was also published as the chairman and I participated in the congress. The point of disagreement with the elder statesman was in the constitution of the executive and all that. He felt the governor was having upper hand, but those are stories.
Challenge of my chairmanship
We all know where we can trace the whole thing to. At this point in my life, I should be able to look at my life, where I am coming from, what is wrong and where I should be heading to. I am not making a mistake, if I did not win my case in the court, remember the challenge of my chairmanship, if we did not win the PDP chairmanship case in the court, 90 per cent of all these people who are in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Governor and all that, the other group would have claimed superiority and to that extent, I deserve certain respect.
I funded the case in the court, I paid my lawyers 100 per cent, nobody contributed money for me to pay my lawyers, nobody knew how I fought the case in the court, if anything, some people were trying to frustrate me, I stood my grounds as a lawyer, I am 32 years in the bar, I should know my rights and be able to protect my rights, I went to court because I was convinced that there was a congress and I emerged from the congress and if that was the bone of contention between me and the elder statesman and the court had given a ruling, there was no basis for me to quarrel with him and he recognized that when I went to him. He called me chairman, so I have my highest respect for him.
When I was a young boy, he was Commissioner for Education in the defunct Bendel State, so why should I be quarreling with him, why should I have misunderstanding with him, he supported when I was going there, he had his reasons, and he had never said that there was a personal disagreement between me and him, he has never said so. My God told me go and reconcile with him and I went to reconcile with him.
But, there was this story that you went to beg him?
If you say it is beg, I accept. If you say it is visit, I accept, anything you call it, I accept. I went to him and I said sir, if I have wronged you in anyway, I am sorry about it. And I also said if I have offended you in any way in the cause of playing my politics as the state chairman, I am also sorry. That I never meant to disrespect your person. Why should I disrespect a man who is about 84 years old, over 30 years my senior, I could be his son. If you said it is begging, yes, I went to beg him if that is the way people understand it.
What of perceived Uduaghan/Nwaoboshi divide?
Well, eh, I am bidding my time to speak on that issue and I know that at the right time, the press would be well briefed. I don't want to speak so much on that matter now. I have my reasons why I don't want to talk on it now. All I will say is that I am doing my job as the state chairman of the party. Mine is to join the party together and that is what I am working for, eh, that particular issue you are talking about, when I am ready, I will speak on it.
With the report that you went to visit Chief Clark in Abuja, just at the same time as the former acting Governor, Hon. Sam Obi did, the conclusion of political watchers is that you have joined the Clark faction in the PDP political divide in the state. Is it true?
As far as I am concerned, the chairman is the chief executive of the party, so anybody can be leader, anybody can say he is the leader, anything, but what I know is that I am the chief executive of the party in the state, that is what the constitution of the PDP says and that is where I stand. I have re-established a good working relationship with Chief Edwin Clark and I have no regrets about that and I have said that I am not prepared to join issues with anybody yet.
At the appropriate time, I will speak on some of these issues. Even people I sponsored to become part of government and who do not understand the things at play are talking nonsense, making uninformed comments, casting aspersion on me because they are bootlicking, but I choose to keep quiet until the appropriate time, I hope you understand me.
Besides Clark what moves are you making to reconcile other aggrieved interest groups in the party?
Like I said, I have reconciled with Clark. I have reconciled with Braduce Angozi, he was a governorship aspirant, I saw Mukoro in E.K Clark's house, I greeted him. A lot of peace efforts are being made to bring people around. You see, in 1999, I was the state secretary of this party, we had no money, it was only the former governor, Chief James Ibori that had some money, but we were a united family and we delivered PDP in Delta against all the rich men who were on one side.
We were the foot soldiers, we were determined we wanted to win, and we won convincingly. We did not have a protracted legal issue. In 2003, we virtually cleared the whole state; there was no other party existing in the state. Then, I was already in government; I was the political adviser to Ibori. I told Ibori that the end of one election is the beginning of another. Then, we sat down and discussed and argued issues, intellectual discourse.
I didn't know I have fallen to a level where people will sit down to determine my fate in a party in which I am the state chairman. I am not ready to speak now; I will speak at the appropriate time.
Has 2015 anything to do with these?
It is God that will determine who will be the governor of this state, not a human being and if anybody is under any illusion that one person will put him as governor of this state, he is wasting his time, it is only what God decides that will happen and some of us are watching. Many of my colleagues are also watching political developments in this state and I know what they are talking and I know how they feel.
If a group feels that it is a cabal in this state and they can sit down in houses and do what they want to do, they are wasting their time. They are wasting time because at the right time, at the right time, members of PDP in this state will, through the Almighty God, speak the truth, that is what I can say.
Now that you have reconciled with Chief Clark, don't you see the need to lead a total reconciliation between him and Uduaghan?
When I went to his house, the man said that the governor is always here. If the governor goes to his house, what stops me now from his house.
The man told me, he said that Chief James Otobo, Senator Nosike Ikpo and I think there is an Itsekiri man in the delegation, came here to speak to him about Uduaghan, to plead with him to reconcile with Uduaghan. He said the governor comes here every time to see him. What is the big news, therefore, that I went to see him and I remember one occasion when I was discussing with the governor, he told me he was just coming from Edwin Clark's house.
So, if he goes to Clark's house and he sends delegation to Clark to reconcile with him, what is the big deal that I went to see the man. I have no regrets, if anything, it has settled my mind as the state chairman of the party that at least that I was able to make peace with the main people that I disagreed with when I assumed the chairmanship.