By NBF News
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Former Director-General of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), Prof. Omo Omoruyi says he stood by what he said in an earlier interview with Daily Sun concerning the creation of Edo and Delta States from old Bendel State, and how he worked with former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida(rtd) to achieve certain goals in government.

 Prof. Omoruyi who was reacting to a rejoinder by Prof. Sam Oyovbaire to the said interview, pointed out that his role and that of Oyovbaire in the IBB administration were very different, adding that whereas Oyovbaire was an official of the Government as an Adviser to the then Chief of General Staff, Admiral Aikhomu, he was a friend of IBB with the objectives of helping him to advance the goal of democracy and make history.

 Prof. Oyovbaire had in his rejoinder disagreed with some aspects of Prof. Omoruyi's position on the creation of Delta State, proposed Eduwa State which was to embrace the Edo people and Itsekiris, among others.

 But Prof. Omoruyi while stating that it is for Gen. Babangida to dispute any of the issues, went at length to lecture on how a military government functions, adding 'it simply shows that is the way the military functions, and if you don't like it, you don't know it, and then you begin to use some official titles to bamboozle some people outside there.'

Specifically, on the meeting of Traditional Rulers and notable personalities of old Bendel summoned  by Aikhomu over the creation of Edo and Delta as raised by Oyovbaire, Omoruyi  accused the former CGS of being 'discourteous to the Oba of Benin and the Olu of Warri' at the time, pointing out that Admiral Aikhomu never liked the two revered traditional rulers. TONY OSAUZO brings the excerpts

You have read the reaction of Prof. Oyovbaire to an earlier interview you granted Daily Sun. Haven read his rejoinder, what comments do you wish to make because he tended to disagree with some of the issues you addressed regarding creation of Delta State, the voting pattern in 2011, re-run governorship election in the state, among other issues?

Let me put it this way, Sam is somebody I like very much and I wish him all the best.

Our functions during the IBB administration were very different. I wasn't an official. I was a friend and I am still a friend of IBB with two objectives in mind. One, to help him advance the goal of democracy, then two, for him to make history. On these two grounds whatever he set out to do, I usually weighed them very seriously. It had nothing to do with whether I was in the University of Benin, or  the Centre for Democratic Studies Director-General, and so on and so forth.

So, I wasn't an Adviser. I was a friend, and if you go back to Allison Ayida, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), he said there were competing sources of influence on the military Head of State. Official one was there, his military colleagues were there, even native doctors, they were there, and so on and so forth, and sometimes you don't know which one is more important, because it depends on what the military Head of State weighs - sometimes his classmates are more important than all these official things you talk about.

Sam was an official. He was an Adviser to an Adviser. Aikhomu was an Adviser.  He was Adviser to Aikhomu. That does not mean that he didn't have a role. Whatever happened in the final analysis, IBB would fly some documents to me in Benin. I have listed some of them in my book, all the various areas where I helped  him, where we worked together and I said I  was privy or party to. That still remains my position. It's for IBB to dispute any   of these things. It's for him, it's not for me. Creation of States, release of Shagari, release of Ekwueme - the two old people, are nice to me.

 I drove all the way to Oko to meet Ekwueme. I flew all the way to Sokoto to meet Shagari and we talked. I brought back the message to the man. So, these are not things that I would have to go and be writing about, that, oh, this is what I did or did not do.

 So on the creation of States, he created states on two occasions. First, he created Katsina from Kaduna and then Akwa-Ibom from Cross River. My role in these two ventures that's for him to talk about, not for me.

 On the second venture of states creation - Edo, Delta and others, again, he came to me and said look, I want to do this thing. He never said the military wanted to do this thing. That's not an issue. Aikhomu called a meeting of traditional rulers and some people in Bendel State, but Aikhomu was an interested party. He wanted a different kind of formulation from old Bendel. We know that.

So, Babangida advised that I show no interest in all those things because eventually  we would have to sit down and look at these things dispassionately, which I did. I never attended any of those meetings. I could have, if I wanted to. What he did with all these traditional rulers is part of history. I don't have to go into that.

I know, and Admiral Aikhomu knows very well that he was discourteous to these two traditional rulers - Omo N' Oba and Olu of Warri. Why he was, that's his own business.

I am aware too, that our Omo N' Oba had to write a letter at one time. Again that's not for me to debate, and I am sure Babangida never replied. So, by bringing all these here now, really it's not important. The Oba of Benin is a revered traditional ruler, Olu of Warri is revered too- he never liked these two people. The reason, I don't know. That's for him to talk about.

Why do you say so?
 Well, he was his Adviser, I wasn't. I never entered Admiral Aikhomu's house. Not once. He never invited me. Occasionally we used to meet either at the corridor of the Villa, and we would just joke and I go my way he goes his way. I never entered Sam's office. I can't remember when he came to my office. So, we all had our different roles and mine was as IBB's friend. Performing these two functions for him were well spelt out in my memoir. They are two-goals of democracy. He wanted to make history. So, I was always conscious of these two goals for him and I tried, I tried, I tried, I tried.

On the Eduwa incident, it was my Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Grace Alele Williams. She came to me. She said Deputy - you know I was her Deputy. She said Deputy, I said Madam, any problem? She said ah they are killing our people. I said, ah, Madam, who would kill your people.

Again, this had nothing to do with …..maybe she knew…..because there were many other things which she had achieved through me in that setting, like the Law School, Medical School and so on. She did a marvelous job in that University through me. Sometimes, she would just take her pen, write a letter to Babangida and I would take it there, and it was approved. It had nothing to do with Ministry of Education, nothing to do with National Universities Commission (NUC) and so on. She genuinely wanted that University to move forward and I knew that very well. I helped her to achieve her goal.

 So, I said Madam, what are the problems now? She said eh, your Oga would not want to see my Olu. I said ah, it's impossible because Aikhomu would not allow him to see the Olu. I said okay, leave it to me. I said what are the issues? I said okay, I have to feel the Olu out and I went to the big man.  He said ah, but you know there is an understanding that these Traditional Rulers, if they wanted to come and see me from Bendel they should go through the Chief of General Staff (CGS).

I said, if the Emir of Kano was coming, would he go through the governor? And so on and so forth.  He said I should not drag into Bendel politics now but I insisted that he has to see him.

So, Olu and his chiefs were hosted by me, when I say by me, I mean my office, the CDS.

So, we arranged and the Olu came. The  Olu and his chiefs were guests of Centre for Democratic Studies.  There was no connection in that and we know that. But we had to find a way of organizing this meeting.  Then of course, we had to sit down too.  I got my staff. The Olu's staff and I sought for the issues because you cannot go to the man without a brief.  We must be clear what this whole thing was about. 

So, we discussed at length and finally agreed on this Edo/Warri something - whatever name, but this was the whole ideal.  When should we table the matter? I said your majesty, give me time.

So, one day the big man phoned and said we should meet at the presidential lodge Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja at mid-night and that was it. The Olu was not too happy, thinking it was not going to hold.  The man drove in at the appropriate time, at the time given and the rest is history.  Was I doing it as an official? No. I wasn't Olus's staff. I didn't have a role in all that but I believe that we needed an opportunity for the Olu to see the big man not through Admiral Aikhomu where Oyovbaire and Co would not allow that to hold but you know, it did hold.  So, do I have to say more than that? On what to do about the Igbos?

We were also conflicted.  It was a big problem.  I said Mr. President, I have a friend.  He said who is that friend.  I said Dr Pius Okigbo, the same Okigbo.  I said whatever advice he gives weigh it very seriously.  He said okay. So, I hosted Okigbo at Hilton. So, what you call Abia, Imo and so on, is from Okigbo's pen. That time we were not talking about this Okigbo report.I told him, this is what the big man wanted, please. Don't write your self into this advice. Give him advice on parity between the Igbos and Yorubas, at least with a little advice, it can be resolved because the Igbos believe that they had always been equal with the Yorubas, and they've been trying to solve this parity problem and we've been worrying about that.                                                                    

I said try, it may not be full parity, but at least try and let the time weigh in such a way that the Yorubas are not just up there and the Igbos are nowhere. I said try. So, we worked on that. This has nothing to do with advice you gave through Aikhomu and all these people. No. That is not the way the structure of military governments works.

Pius Okigbo flew into Abuja on CDS expense. But that is not CDS function. So, whatever we did there had nothing to do with the official memo. I can give you many cases like that. That even in some cases when he was going to deliver the speech on the creation, he was still changing the thing right from the time of recording. So, what are you talking about memo? That was not the way the government worked. So, that was the nature of the military administration.

It had nothing to do with A is important, or not important. It doesn't denigrate the power or influence of anybody.  It simply shows that is the way the military administration functions and if then you begin to use some official titles to bamboozle some people outside there. You are not being fair. Babangida wasn't elected.