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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

‘Oshiomhole can’t impose candidate on Edo APC’

‘Oshiomhole can’t impose candidate on Edo APC’
Chris Ogiemwonyi, an engineer, is a former Minister of State for Works  and governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. He spoke with BEN OGBEMUDIA  on his ambition, conditions for credible programmes and preparations for next year’s poll.
What motivated you to join the governorship race in Edo State?
I am motivated to render service, and don’t forget, I did this successfyully for 34 years at the central government, 34 years. I worked for the NNPC and having done that to the satisfaction of my people, I think the remaining part, when I am still strong, I should equally come to render that same service to my people.
What do you have to offer differently?
Because of who I am, I have my characters. One thin g I market today is my name, which is a brand, in terms of integrity and accountability, good governance. These are things I cherish seriously and I market them as a brand then my experience, exposure for 34 years in a key sector of our economy, which oil and gas, my pedigree as a hard working person, everybody knows that; so if you look at these attributes, by the time you accumulate these things, you will see a fine gentleman coming out for this course.
There is this insinuation that you didn’t have the structure in the party to win the primaries. What will you say about this?
I hear that and I laugh when I hear it; structure, what is structure, these are human beings. What is going to play out now and tomorrow in Nigeria is not how deep you are in politics, but people are going to respect the character of the person. As things are evolving, it will get to a point where even the party is not going to be the determinant, but the person when you talk about this issue of structure, the delegates in their quite moments at home, they are human beings, they will keep on analysing who is the best among us, people will on their own make up their minds who to vote for based on the charcter of that person I promise you the parties we belong to now is not going to be too serious  about those considerations, people will be looking at the persons and whatever structure that is ground, because they are human beings, they will be very analytical in reaching their decision.
We have an outgoing governor, who will be leaving a big shoe behind. Do you think you have that character to step into those shoes?
I wish you will have time to ask about me when I was in the NNPC. If it is possible, you interrogate the people I worked with in my last three to four years in the NNPC, you will get a better judgment if you do that. Why was this man so highly respected by everybody in the oil companies, in the NNPC. Let me save time by not saying who I am but I expect you should go out and find who Chris Ogiemwonyi is, my name is synonymous with courage to do what is right, that is my name.
What are your plans for the state, in terms of job creation, considering the number of unemployed youths and graduates?
On the average today in Edo state just like in other states, in every house, we have a minimum of two to three unemployed graduates, the situation is like that in all homes, not only in Edo state so the issue of job creation is something every incoming government need to think through in Nigeria. My take on this is that I must commend Comrade Oshiomhole for what he has been able to do but I think it is an area we should look deeper to find out how we should address this. I must commend the state government for rebranding the Okpella Cement factory. I was in NNPC, I was part of those that worked in Obajana because the gas pipeline to Obajana was done when I was the CEO of NGC. The first day I went to Obajana, when I saw the number of people working in that Cement Company, we can re-create more of Obajana here. But why I will not talk too much on this is like me reeling out my manifesto but believe you me,  think the in-coming government should do a feasibility of all mineral resources in Edo state and me coming from the oil and gas, it is one thing that I will do, to put a strong team to quickly do the feasibility.  Do a feasibility of the whole and quickly identify these resources and then pursue foreign investors and I already have some. Some people have told me, Chris if you come in, we need some amount of land for car assembly, they want to come to Edo state for that, I have some friends from China they have told me already, that plant can employ about 3,000 youths, all they need from me is to provide the land. This state will be a place for industry destination i this part of the country. People believe me, they trust and that there will be sanctity of agreement, I will respect the content of that agreement and I will not go round to ask for favour in terms of equity interest, they know me already, I have established my name, my name as a brand.
What is your reaction to the allegation that the APC government is fithing a selective and corruption battle?
You see, every process when it is starting, people hold different opinion, I hate to generalise. He is selective, but I haven’t seen him do that. What I have seen is that this is a regime preaching change and so far, being led by somebody who is an apostle of change. With what we are seeing with mr president and because of who he is I am 100 per cent sure that this philosophy will come down gradually. Don’t forget there may be one or two Judases but it is the generality that we should look at in the various sectors that he is doing and don’t that some of the people who are in APC today came from the PDP so we will expect some of these things, but with time, I see perfection.
There are insinuations that the governor may anointed one or two aspirants and the issue of people actually voting may not arise. How do feel about this?
When you hear things like this, many people prepare to discuss things they don’t know. Oshiomhole preached one man one vote four five years ago and we saw what happened in this state, things have changed to that philosophy, as a person like to commend people; this guy destroyed godfatherism that in our state here before now, we have about  three people deciding how things are shared but today, godfatherism is buried and our prayer is that it will never rise again in Edo state so when I hear about that governor has anointed somebody, all APC is going to do is that we are going to the field, there will be an open primary. It is the people that decides. He has promised that there will be a free and fair primaries. How will anointing come into that? If he is anointing, it is the people you should blame because the only way you can exibit democracy is through open ballot and that is what the man is preaching. I have left my base in Abuja so that I can participate in the process and since I joined the APC last year, I have been following the process by process. I have not seen where this man has defaulted. I hate to join people to just condemn people, he has done well. But, don’t forget that I am an apostle of transparency and what you are saying, if I sense it, I will go to the streets, I will protest. I don’t want to join people to say that, who was there when he did the anointing? Let us try and destroy rumour mongering, that thing has destroyed so much in Nigeria.
What is your reaction to the controversial land use charge?
These people complaining, how many of them have seen the government gazette on the charge? People are just doing this bandwagon effect. My friends are crying and you want to join the cry. By my training, I prefer to go to the Ministry of Justice, get a copy and study it. Is not for the whole state, it is not for the whole city. It is for the low density area that they are talking about and the question you will ask yourself is it new, does it exist in other parts of the world. Byt the time you answer this questions, it is not new. Those that have flats in New York as compact as the city is, they still pay. I think we should commend him for being creative in the IGR and I think what people should ask is the usage of the money.
What is the way out of the perennial fuel crisis in Nigeria?  
I will advice Mr President to take a serious look at that price. My question is, what constitutes that landing price of the PMS?  I want a proper check on this.
During my period in the NNPC, we tried to look into the issue, the structure in the supply chain. I must tell you one thing. Until Nigerians are prepared to do things courageously, we may never see an end to this. Several governments have tried to see what the major problems were. One area they want to identify is that decision will be based on the landing cost of the product in Nigeria. What is the landing cost? We must check that thing seriously. Are there inefficiencies? Are there corruption practices. I will expect again, President Buhari should get those that knows the business to study the process line. The product arriving at Apapa, what is the actual landing cost? My take on that is that there are issues, some wastage. We have heard of demurrage being paid for some ships just at the Wharf and they will all account for this landing price.
They can do that. The NPA charges for example, we must do a serious review of these charges in order to arrive at the actual landing cost of the product.
On a global scale, my take on this is to deregulate. Let us pay for the proper price of this product. Open the market, let there be more participant, more players.
If we deregulate, the subsidy we are doing now for our neighbours, Ghana, Benin, Toko, Mali Chad and others will see us paying less price for the product. Because of the porous nature of the Nigeria borders, most of the product that have been heavily subsidized by the Nigeria government, find their ways into these countries.
Our borders are very porous. We are subsidising the products for our neighbouring countries. When I was Minister, go to our borders and you see trucks crossing over with products.


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