Victor Ochei, former speaker of Delta state house of assembly, in this interview, speaks on how he sail through the law school, his thought on the January 6 local government elections in Delta and the 2019 general elections. A must read for all Deltans.
Congratulations On Your Recent Call To Bar, Sir, How Do You Feel Now That You Have Been Called To Bar?
I feel accomplished. The end of a matter is better than the beginning thereof, that is what the Bible says. I started my journey to becoming a lawyer in 2008 and by the time I was done with it in 2012, I started the law school in Agbani, Enugu but because I was holding public office as a Speaker, it wasn’t going to sit well with my job and the law school is quite demanding. So, I had to let go. So, going back to complete it haven gone through all the political turmoil and all that and now came out of it, I am grateful and I feel fulfilled.
Sir, What Really Motivated You To Read Law?
I mean, law is one course that I will implore anybody no matter you discipline or profession to read because believe you me in all facet of life you need the law, everything you do, you need to apply the law at the end of the day so why not be part of it so you are not ignorant. The Bible says my people perish because of the lack of knowledge and so the quest to acquire knowledge is not a lost one, is indeed a good quest and so my quest for knowledge is one of the things that led me into law. I have being a lawmaker for 12 years and I always felt that I was fulfilling the legal maxim that says “you can’t give what you don’t have”.
Are There Plans To Add Another Different Degree Or You Intend To Further In The Same Law?
Well, it is still a decision to be made but I know I like getting to the peak of anything that I get into. As a legislator, I got to the peak. In engineering, I got to the peak as a fellow. In law, I probably will look at getting to the peak as an SAN but knowledge is never ending. Basically, you can’t say you have stopped learning so I just might tomorrow but in the present time, I want to consolidate on the knowledge acquired to see how I put that to use to better the lot of myself and humanity.
Haven Been Called To Bar, Do You Have Any Plan To Go Into Full Time Practice?
Yes! Practice comes in different ways. I am also an associate member of Charted Institute of Arbitrators of the UK. So, I can settle well into arbitration and I have a combined knowledge of engineering and law that is quite a rare combination. So, in arbitration you are very much in the want. So, that is an area people are yet to explore, you can explore them. I can practice that and I can also go to court depending but personally as a person, I will like to do cases that where I feel the only thing that place me on people who are oppressed. I will go for such cases I want to take on pro bono; I will go and pursue it for no pay once I am convinced that you are dealing with somebody simply because you think the person is nobody. To me is clear oppression, I will step into the ring at no cost to the person. Those are the kind of services I will like to render.
Recently, during your call to bar in Abuja, mouths were wagging following caliber of persons from your state especially from the PDP that graced your reception and we know you are an APC chieftain, what was behind such political alliance?
I don’t know what you call an alliance. I have served this state at a capacity. I served as a Speaker to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. The same time Ovuozuorie Macaulay served as SSG at that top level of government, we worked together and we still maintain our level of friendship. If we are in different parties does it mean we cannot relate? We must learn to deepen democracy in Delta State and stop behaving like parochial people. Those are people who are not broad minded. Am I mine any less a Deltan? Is Emmanuel Uduaghan any less a Deltan because he came to an occasion been organized by an APC person? It doesn’t make him any less a Deltan. Ovuozuorie Macaulay, has invited me to his function and I went there, that doesn’t make me any less a person but if you speak partisan politics, we play partisan politics but as humans we must relate.
As Deltans we must relate and in other spheres of life we must relate. So, let stop all these myopic small minded people hanging around today. There is no really big deal having the former governor whom I served under his administration as Speaker and an SSG who served in the same administration or head of service in the same administration relates together I don’t see no big deal in it. It is just because of the kind of parochial kind of thinking that we have in Delta. Every small minded Deltan should grow up. Parties don’t make people, people make parties.
Whether I am an APC, I have friends across the PDP strata and I have friends in other parties outside the PDP and I relate very well with them because I am a broad minded person. I am not stereotype or typified into that very microcosm called it is us and nobody else and you try to play politics of exclusivity you think people shouldn’t be part of it. I play an all-inclusive politics. I have friends across board. So, that is what informed people from all strata, PDP, APC and both those who are non-alliance and the big captains of industries were all there. They came to honour me and celebrate me that I went through law school haven crossed from engineering to law. Well, some said it is no mean feat but I am glad their presence also told the story. So, I am glad about that.
It Is Been Said That Your Antecedents In Terms Of Infrastructure As A Speaker Of Delta State House of Assembly Have Not Been Surpassed And Every Now And Then We See People Pouring Encomiums On You And Calling On You To Run For The Governorship Race Come 2019, Would You Succumb To The Calls?
Well, I am still hearing the calls like you are hearing them and if it is all based on my legacies that I left in the house of Assembly in terms of infrastructure, it is only fulfilling the Anglican hymn that talks about only so shall we pass from the earth and its touring only be remembered by what we have done. Well, I have not passed from the earth and its touring, I am still here and people are remembering you for what you have done, it is a sign that you did very well and I will very much want to leave that as an example for those who are there.
In every position you find yourself, make the very best of it, work hard at it and put in your best. At the time you are doing it many people may not like you but by the time you leave and if you genuinely mean what you are doing with the intention to make for public good, the public will appreciate you at the appropriate time and I guess I am getting that. But with regards to the calls, I am still studying the calls and if after studying them I find it expedient I will answer it.
Its almost three years now, as a Deltan what is your assessment of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led administration would you say he has fared well?
Well, it is almost three years down the administration. You can see for yourselves as Journalists. What is the development like across the state.? I move around the state, am yet to pass my comment but it is abysmal. Development! I have seen all those states that are not half as rich as Delta come out with major projects. I have not seen one star project in Delta State. It is abysmal, it is the worst administration so far in terms of development Deltans have ever seen and I make bold to say it.
What would be those things you consider so dear to your heart that you would want to do for Deltans should you take a Shot at the exalted number one job of the state?
That is putting the cat before the horse. You just said a while ago that people are clamouring for me to come and I told you am studying the calls. So, if I tell you now that if I come on board this is what I am going to do that means I have answered the call, I have not answered the call, I am only telling you that developmentally in Delta state, it is abysmal. At the point when I answer the call, I will chronicle the things that I am going to do and the burning issues that I want to deal with instantly and that will speak for itself.
People Say Your Party, The APC Is Not On Ground In Delta State, How Would You React To That?
Well, is Victor Ochei on ground in Delta State? If yes, APC is on ground in Delta State. If no, then we are not. So, let them do the mathematicss. I like it like that when they see you like the underdog that you are not there. At the appropriate time the elections will speak for which party is on ground and which party is not on ground. But don’t forget, people make the parties and not the parties making people. You must realize that Deltans have come out of that old business of thinking it is one party state. No, no longer that. It was proven in many elections before but right now be careful, don’t even sleep on it. I can tell you for free, APC is on ground.
January 6, 2018 is local government election in Delta state. What do you expect especially from your party? Do you see your party clinching some of the local government councils? Or is it going to be the PDP usual way of writing results?
For me, I would rather tell DSIEC that if they know they want to write results, they shouldn’t waste tax payers money in organizing an election because they are not organizing any election but if Delta state has come of age and the present administration believes they are democrats, let them test their will before the people. Let the votes count and let us see where they stand in the state. It will give them a mirror on how they are viewed not the lies they tell themselves.
DSIEC is a creation of the law. I don’t want to go into the violation of the law by dissolving them without a reason which doesn’t make sense. It clearly underscores the intent of putting in a new DSIEC because you think the old one will not do your bidding. If your bidding is pure why are you bothered about changing DSIEC? But be that as it may you have changed it so let us give it to you.
I will only tell DSIEC and their chairman that their integrity is at stake. Whatever they do today, Deltans will hold them for posterity. If they do it right, posterity will judge them right. If they do it wrongly, posterity will judge them wrongly and not about themselves but their children and children’s children to come. So, I will advice them even at the pressure of whatever, they should remember that by law they are an independent body and should maintain independence.
Otherwise, if all the state governors go to write the results what about the federal government also writing its own results? Yes! And write for APC and all the states become APC. Will there be anything wrong with that? Because they seem to glory in it. It is wrong and it is high time we rose up as a people and tell the truth, we don’t care who is involved. If the governor is not doing well, tell him he is not doing well. He is a Deltan, we voted him, he is holding our mandate in trust and if he messes up with the mandate, we throw him out.
Let him know that Deltans want election and develop grass root democracy by allowing people’s votes to count at the grass root. You don’t come and pay lip service to it and talk so much about it and then go to a meeting in Ughelli and say you want to write the whole results like Akwa-Ibom did. It is a shame; it means they are not on ground, that is a clear example of a party that is not on ground. And I want to tell them today, I dare the PDP in Delta state that if they think that they are on ground let them allow a free and fair election, let us see.
Then they will rightly test and see how they are on the ground in Delta but if they go around writing the results like they want to do, which they are already planning for no matter what they want to try to cover up. Put all the billboards they want to put around just to deceive the people, let them go and let the materials get to the field and let them count the real results and let us see how many seat that PDP will clinch. I dare them!. If PDP claims they are on ground in Delta state, let them have a proper election let us see where they stand. That is to Delta state government. Then to DSIEC, if they try to play the master’s tune, well I will not say anything more but my party the APC will take a position and very soon the position will be made public.
Do you see your party the APC taking over power in Delta state come 2019?
Why not. It is Deltans that will decide. It is not about the party. The party can make claim just like the PDP will come and say that they will win and claim they are going to be there for 60 years but they have not even concluded 16 they were off. So, it doesn’t mean anything. They can come and say whatever they want to say. APC will say whatever they want to say as well but the final arbiters are Deltans.
Deltans will decide who their governor will be in 2019, it has nothing to do whether it is one party or another party. It is about the person who Deltans believe should be able to do the job for them. They are not going to be deceived again. They have been deceived too many times, they will not be deceived again I can promise you that. Go and put it down, Deltans will not be deceived in 2019, they will do the right thing and they will guide their votes.
Politically, do you have any regret?
Any regret? Not at all. Everything I have done in politics, for me is an investment. I have won so many times and I have also failed but failing is also part of winning because it has also improved and taught me a whole lot of things I did not know and I did not see but I see clearly now. So, I have no regret whatsoever both the ups and downs of politics all add up to make up the fact that you are a very good politician.
You are not the best of politician when you win all the time, you will not know how the other side feels, the man who is defeated, how he feels and how the supporters feel but you will have a lot of learning from it when it happens to you, you become a better politician and I can assure you no regret whatsoever on my side.