Why I resigned as Okowa’s SSA to support Obi — Osheokwu

Posted by News Express | 9 October 2022 | 1,976 times

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Onochie Osheokwu, Senior Special Assistant on Youth Development to Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, resigned his appointment in order to join the Obidient Movement, which is rooting for the emergence of Peter Obi of Labour Party as Nigeria’s next President. Osheokwu speaks to OPEYEMI ADEFEMI about the rationale behind his action

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Onochie Osheokwu. I am from Ubulu-Unor, Delta. I am 42 years old. I am into hospitality business and politics.

There is a resignation letter circulating online, indicating you resigned your appointment as an aide to the Delta State Governor to join the Obidient movement. Did you author that letter?

Yes, I did; I wrote the letter.

What exactly were your roles in the employ of Delta State government?

I was appointed the Senior Special Assistant on Youth Development. What the office entails is youth engagement and empowerment.

How long did you work with the government before you tendered that resignation letter?

I was appointed about two years ago.

What makes you so passionate about the Obidient movement that you had to resign?

It is not far from what you and I know and see daily in our country. I see (Peter) Obi as a new breath and from his track record, from what he has done in Anambra State, he is a sincere man. He is not someone that wants to play politics. He is someone with the people in mind. He wants to do the right thing. He wants to change the old ways to new. That is what brought about my decision to resign and support him. With him, I know I will experience a better Nigeria; a Nigeria where if you are a government official, elected or appointed, if you are not doing fine, you can honourably resign and allow someone who is capable to do the job. We have not got such in Nigerian politics. I know Obi can do the job; I see in him someone who can do it; I see him not as a politician but someone who wants to serve.

But Peter Obi is not new to Nigerian politics, having been a two-term governor in Anambra State. What makes you so confident about his ability to suddenly turn things around?

As I said earlier, his track record says a lot about him. For eight months now, Nigerian students have been out of school, sitting at home. For someone like me, I gained admission into the University of Benin for my master’s degree after the (COVID-19) lockdown. Till date, I have not attended any lecture because of (lecturers’) strike. It’s almost two years since I got the admission and I have not even attended a single lecture. The education system is in a bad shape.

Obi’s record in Anambra schools is still there. Every Nigerian knows what Anambra used to be before Obi became the governor. The education system was transformed from 26th position to the first. Even after he left office, that record still remains because the foundation has been fixed. I know some people argue that there was strike during Obi’s time as governor but that was because people were opposed to his new approach. Once you come out with a new approach, people will resist you. That was what he got; but with time, the people, not the elite, saw that his intention was genuine and the people adjusted to it. Today, that record still stands.

In terms of security, when Obi newly became governor, he started community policing. These are the reasons I feel confident about him. An average Nigerian like me does not want free money; I just want an environment where I can work, do business and I am sure my family and employees are safe.

I had a terrible experience in 2019. I had a restaurant in Ore (Ondo State).  My wife was overseeing the business while I was politicking, coming and going. On her way from work one day, she was kidnapped on that road all because security in the country is loose. We had to close down the business. All the employees working with us at that time had to be relieved of their jobs because we closed down.

I keep telling people that this forthcoming election is not about the APC, PDP or Labour Party; it is not about tribe but about the old and the new order. The old order sees Nigeria as a business. Nigeria remains a business to them and we have to change that, though they won’t make the change easy. The corrupt benefits from the current Nigerian system but what we all want is a Nigeria where we can work and have dignity in what we are doing.  As you can see, few days ago some boys protested against the EFFC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), stating that they should be allowed to do fraud and all sort. That shows you how decayed our country has become.

Would you have run into problem with your principal, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the PDP vice presidential candidate, if you hadn’t resigned?

I don’t have any problem with Governor Okowa. He is a leader and one of the people I look up to. He is a very intelligent man; so why will I get into trouble with him? He has been doing well in Delta State. An average Deltan will tell you Okowa is doing well but at the presidential level, the best person I know can do the job is Obi and that is why I am supporting him. Who am I to have a problem with the governor? My resignation is not personal; I just want a new Nigeria where businesses are not closing down on a daily basis because of insecurity, excessive taxation, etc.

That you resigned suggests you believe that Peter Obi is more qualified to be President than Atiku Abubakar, who is PDP presidential candidate. Can you compare and contrast the two politicians?

Atiku is a great politician. He has been around for a very long time and I think it’s time for them to let the new generation come in and do the right thing. We always give it to him, we respect him, likewise Bola Tinubu (of APC). These are people you learn from in terms of politicking. As for Obi, he knows what to do and I don’t think he wants to play politics unlike the other people. If the only thing they want to concentrate on is politics rather than governance, we are not ready to move forward.

Did you have the opportunity to discuss your resignation with Governor Okowa before dropping your letter?

No; not at all. If you are convinced about a thing, you don’t to wait for an opportunity to discuss it. As you may have seen in my resignation letter, I appreciated him for the opportunity given to me. There are other young people who want the opportunity.

How was your resignation received?

It was received like every other person’s letter (of resignation). You can’t submit directly to the governor; it has to go through his secretary. That is where you get your appointment letter, in the first place.

You’re a politician and you’ve worked closely with the Delta State government. How do you think Peter Obi’s approach will be better than that of the PDP government you resigned from?

Like I said earlier, his track record is enough. During the time of Obi as Anambra State governor, things changed for the better in the state – education, health, security and so on.

Do you know Peter Obi personally?

No, I don’t know him personally and I have never met him.

Are you prepared for the possibility of Peter Obi’s defeat?

In politics, I don’t think you contest to lose. I don’t think Obi is doing same. If Nigerians decide they want something new, he will be elected but if they don’t, they won’t vote for him.

How will you feel if he is not elected?

It is politics. I have contested an election before and I lost to my opponent. I contested for the chairmanship of my local government area but I lost with a close margin. I just moved on.  That you try something and it doesn’t work does not mean you can’t try again; it just means people want someone else and not you at that moment.

Many analysts have dismissed the chances of Peter Obi winning the election on the basis of lack of political structure. Do you disagree with the analyses?

Yes, I disagree. There is nothing like structure in politics. What they really mean is money. What is structure? Is it not the people? The people are the real structure. If you have the people, which Obi has, I feel you are good. As of today, the only presidential candidate not spending money on rally is Peter Obi. People are doing it willingly. There are some rallies that all individuals who attend must go home with something – from the logistics, to the people that participate in the rally. Is that what they mean by structure? That is not a genuine structure. Once the people see genuineness in you, they will follow you. That is the structure I know. Obi might not have the money to throw around yet he has been getting genuine support and volunteers. This particular election, everyone is willing to guard their votes jealously, which is one thing I have never seen in the history of Nigerian politics.  (Sunday PUNCH)

 


Source: News Express

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