Ochei: Transparency And Integrity, My Watchword As Delta Speaker
SAN FRANCISCO, March 17, (THEWILL) - Hon.
Victor Ochei is the outgoing Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly.
In his last interview with some selected journalists in Asaba before he tendered his resignation as Speaker over the weekend, citing "personal reason", Ochei did not only reveal the secret of what made him tick in the Assembly, he also cleared the air on the allegation of N27 billion fraud rocking the oil-rich state's Independent Power Plant in Oghara, Ethiope West Local Government Area.
What is your secret for emerging the longest serving Delta Speaker? The first thing I consider most important in keeping your seat as a Speaker is to be transparent.
Transparency has done a lot to my being there because transparency is the product of integrity.
Once integrity is there and you have nothing to hide, whatever comes is open, your dealing with the people will be open.
You have no reason whatsoever to bother how people are feeling because you tell them the truth and they can also relate with what you are telling them as the truth.
The moment that is done, you are like 50 per cent done.
The other thing is don't get greedy or too selfish, considering your interest over and above your colleagues.
Don't forget you are just the first among your equals.
In five minutes they can throw you overboard.
But as long as their interest becomes your own primary interest, they will always give you their support at all times and that is very key.
Then of course you have the other task of building confidence in your colleagues, the moment your colleagues can trust you, then be rest assured that it will be well for you.
That can only come when you are by your actions and by your dealings, you have instilled confidence in them that they respect and trust you that whatever you say, you can keep to it and whatever you tell them they can verify that is the truth.
Then be rest assured that they would always be there for you because you earn their confidence.
So, that is the key thing that I have seen that is most important.
The other thing that I know that is most important is that God's grace will keep you safe because it is not by your power.
God can allow anything to happen to you.
God also keeps you, he directs your path at all times and wisdom will be your watchword.
H ow do you respond to the speculation that the Assembly is a conglomeration of rubber stamp lawmakers? Is it because of the cordiality, the relationship between the executive, that is why they are being perceived not to be doing their work? Yea! Of course, it is expected that when they see the legislature and the executive working in harmony, people begin to get worried because what they are expecting is that they should be at war; that if a war is raging of course the legislature is working.
For us, we have our challenges with the executive arm of government.
It is just like the tongue and the teeth; we have always been biting and fighting but we live together.
The truth is that in Delta State we have devised a means of resolving our issues, whenever challenges come which we must deal with or iron out with the executive, we will go to a round table and sit with the executive and discuss those issues.
It is always a give and take situation.
So, when the public see we can resolve our issues easily without having recourse to fighting, they think our job is a rubber stamp.
But then what bill has come to the Assembly and left the way it came? None! So, what else and how would you describe a rubber stamp? A rubber stamp is when you bring in a bill and we stamp it the way it is and send it back to you.
That is not the case.
There is no perfect bill and there is no perfect law but when they come, we have to do our work and do it well.
Some of your critics say you are arrogant.
Do you see yourself as such? I don't know what they call arrogance or what people say.
I hear it too like you hear it.
Honestly, it makes me laugh.
I don't know what is expected of me, maybe when I am walking along the street I will greet everybody I see; I wouldn't know if that is humility.
But I think all they call arrogance is body language, maybe my carriage also makes people feel that way.
I have a big body structure.
So, I only laugh when people associate me with it.
Would you describe an attempt on your life in Obomkpa as politically motivated? It is not political.
I don't want to look at it from the realm of politics.
What is most important to me is that God exposed the devices of the enemy; that their hand could not perform their enterprise.
All I need to do is to give God all the glory.
You don't bother whether it is political or not political as long as their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
Each time your name features in the governorship race, the first thing they use against you is the N27 billion Delta's IPP project.
What is the issue? If they want to use the issue of the IPP against me, then you know they are going political.
Once anybody says it, the first question you should ask the person is: Have you been to the site? If you have been to the site, and it was bush and there was nothing happening there, you can say, 'Yes! Probably, money was given to me and I embezzled the money and I have become fatter than I used to be.
That could be it.
But if you go to the site and you see work done and people are still working, then you assess yourself if what you are saying is true or you are just blabbing.
It is not everything you have to bother yourself because people will have to say things about you; as a public figure they must talk about you.
As somebody they are looking at likely to contest for a public office they would talk about you and if they don't find ways to naturally get at you, they would criticise you with whatever they find and whether they have been there or not they would say a whole lot of things.
It is not everything you have to bother about.
So, I expect it to keep coming just like you are asking now again many years after, as if because the idea is oh! money was stolen but IPP is not like going to procure generator and installing it.
It has a whole lot of things that goes with it.
If that were to be the case; we won't be talking of power problems in Nigeria; we would have long solved it but it takes time.
So, don't worry about talking, it is all part of the game.
Chief Edwin Clark hinged his campaign against your ambition on this same allegation.
Did you misappropriate this IPP money? That is an allegation made and until proven to be right, I am not guilty.
I respect our father, Papa Clark, a lot.
It was the information that was available to him at the time he made the statement, but that is not what it is today.
The IPP project is ongoing.
It was awarded to a company I used to have interest in, Davnotch Nigeria Limited; I have since divested my interest many years ago and I would not be the appropriate person to answer the state of the project at the moment.
I can say, it will look funny, I am sure if you talk to the MD or the chairman of the company they should have what is on the state of the project, but what I do know is that before I left the company, the project had advanced to an appreciable level where equipment have arrived.
So, I am very optimistic that it has gone very far and is doing very well.
So, I have no doubt in my mind, things are going on very well.
The issue of zoning as it relates to the 2015 governorship election is generating crisis such that the PDP state chairman, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi, and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay, engaged in exchange of words.
Do you believe in zoning? First, you must always respect opinion expressed by anybody.
For me as a person, ordinarily zoning should not be an issue because if you are looking for an office, what the constitution prescribes is that there are certain qualifications you must satisfy.
And what makes it interesting, I believe in competition because it brings out the best and once you are competing, people tend to put in more efforts but when you talk about zoning, it has ways of promoting laziness and mediocrity.
But that is not to say that if in a particular environment, we see the need to allow for rotation, I don't call it zoning but rather rotation so that everybody can be part of it.
If you go to Switzerland, power is rotated among the Germans, the Dutch and the French.
They know when it is their turn to produce.
If that is allowed to come into our own system to pacify or give everybody a sense of belonging, it is fine not because power must shift from one place to the other.
I don't subscribe to that.
I always maintain that the best man for the job would be the man who will take Delta to the next level.
The man who will ensure that ethnicity is not our basis for our everyday drive.
The man who will ensure that at the end of the day there is peace in Delta State and there is massive development in the state.
The man who will ensure that an initiative started by the present governor, Delta Beyond Oil, which I believe is the best thing that can happen to this state, will begin to look at this state beyond our oil where we can use our oil money to develop non-oil resources and make money from it and we can remain self sustainable for as long as time permits.
These are things we need to look at, we shouldn't be looking at the man coming from the west or the east, because that is not important.
Once you have the best man for the job, you don't remember where the man is from because the man will ensure there is equitable distribution of projects, ensure that there is a plan to improve on what you have and do it well.
So, these are sentiments that we bring in and we use them to destroy ourselves much more than we should promote ourselves.
We should begin to look at the diversity we have in Delta State as our strength; we must develop those diversities to be our source of strength and the moment we can achieve that I can tell you that Delta State would go beyond the skies I believe so much in that and not about zoning or whatever you call it.
Most importantly is to ensure that you have the right man for the job.
How do you see godfatherism in the body polity? I believe the biggest godfather anybody has is God almighty and so there is no need for all of those.
What would the godfather do, would he tell everybody to vote for you and if they don't, what would happen? Politics is dynamic; things are changing fast from what they were yesterday to what it is today.
So, you will naturally see a trend of things of yesterday no longer holding water today.
With several political parties in the system, how is PDP doing in Delta State? With due respect to other parties in Delta, there is no other party in the state.
What I mean here is that there is no other party in power.
What do they control? All elective offices in the state are controlled by the PDP.
In the House of Assembly, the majority is overwhelming.
So, I don't think there is any party that would pose a threat to PDP in Delta State, and to that extent, I safely say there is no other party in Delta but the PDP.
So, what are we expecting in 2015? 2015 is an election year and by the grace of God I am consulting my political associates across the state.
By the time my consultations are done, I will be categorical on my next political aspiration.