As 2019 election heats up, Green Akpofure Obire has set his eyes for the Delta Central Senatorial District?s seat. In this interview with Joe Agbro Jr., Obire who is aspiring under the platform of All Grassroots Alliance (AGA) said its time for youths to take over from the old politicians even as he promises to ensure enactment of laws that will protect the welfare of the aged. Excerpts
SOME Nigerians believe money is a motivation for many politicians for getting into politics. What motivated you to go into politics at this time?
My main interest of getting into politics is the vision I have for my constituency. Generally, our leaders have no vision but interest. When you talk about going into politics these days, an average Nigerian will measure your mission as interest. We need leaders with vision not interest. If you see what our younger generations are doing these days, you will be amazed. Take for example, the entertainment industry, the IT industry, the banking sector and so on. Things are working in those sectors. Anywhere the younger ones are heading, things aren?t done the way they used to. Look at Dangote refinery, the trainee engineers he sent for training abroad to kick start the refinery not long ago are Nigerians who are less than 30 years of age. Dangote is a business man; this shows that he has dealt with both the old and the young, which is why he decided to pick young brilliant Nigerians. I want to tell you my brother, any politician that is 60 years and above and want to run for any position should go and relax. Their generation has expired. They will rather cause more problems for us than good. They can?t identify the problem this generation is facing. Let them leave our future for us to handle.
Do you have experience in partisan politics in Delta State? Or what has prepared you to seek political office?
The experience I think I have was the role I played during my school days in Delta State University, Abraka; being a student advocate and activist. And I strongly believe that surpasses the so-called old politicians we have in the state. I was not ready for this but the pressure put in by the good people of my constituency led to my interest to run for the Senate seat, representing Delta Central Senatorial District. My awareness banners and stickers are already flying all over the eight local governments that make up my constituency and social media without me spending a dime. That is to tell you how the people are hungry for a young man like me to come and represent them at the federal level. Gone are those days where we have old reps.
What do you think the people of your constituency need right now that they are not getting from the incumbent representation at the senate?
If you take proper look at the senatorial district, talking about Ethiope West, Ethiope East, Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Udu, Sapele, Uvwie and Okpe, you can?t feel the presence of sustainable projects that come from the federal government. Delta Central is one of the richest districts in Delta State, but still, the people are so poor and jobless. I expect the incumbent to have identified what the people of my constituency need at the moment. A layman should know that an average Nigerian needs a job, infrastructural and sustainable development; not just a job that will give them linear amount but jobs that will pay and compete with other viable sectors of the economy. I laugh when senators keep doing borehole projects, petty farms where you will have not more than 100 birds or fish, then erect a very big sign post to show the innocent ones that it was donated to them. Let me tell my people they should not be fooled, the money belongs to them. When I become a senator, I would rather not be doing the job of the executives. Instead, I will fight for project for my constituency (please not the other type of fight (laughs)) and stand to supervise the projects carried out by the executives so as to meet up with acceptable standard of the Federal Republic.
What structure are you relying on to mobilise your constituency members?
I have been a human right activist all these while; it is time we human right activist stop criticising from behind. Let us still accept to come out for once to contest political offices and get things done the right way. The problem I have with Nigerians is fear. We have good and credible people out there who can fix things for us in this country but everyone sees the Nigerian political arena to be too crazy and risky to join. What is the fear here? Death! No one wants to die, no one wants to make sacrifice for this country, no one is ready to change this country. We believed this current government could change things for us, that?s why we mobilised to vote them in but they have failed us as a people. Like our Nigerian comedians will say, ?if you talk you will die, if you don?t you will also die so why keeping mute when we are already dying?? Too many political parties are on me, I don?t believe in names of political parties but rather I believe in the person running under the platform of any political party. There is still time but for now, as a grassroots person, I believe I am going to run under the platform of All Grassroots Alliance (AGA). I have taken time to study their manifesto and it seems comfortable to me. If we focus on the past where people contest under big names, we cannot achieve greater things. Please let us focus on how we are going to make this country great.
You describe yourself as the youngest aspirant, but you lack experience of partisan politics; how would you convince the electorate that you are the right man for the job?
I have been known in my constituency as a human right activist who refused to die. With the current situation on ground my people don?t even need one partisan politician to come and keep repeating lies to them again and again; they need someone who can change the pattern of politics. With the current situation of things in Nigeria, especially the reform of INEC by former President Goodluck Jonathan, you cannot underrate any politician now, especially the young ones; people will be taken by surprise this time around with the set of new and vibrant young fearless politicians that are coming on board in the entire country. We are going to take them by surprise. You need to go and see things yourself in my constituency. Delta State has never been like this since its creation. Nothing is happening there. Let?s put aside the allegations of money laundry against the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, politicians should emulate part of his style of leadership. He loves where he comes from. He loves his people, he loves Delta State just that it was so unfortunate he became a victim. Chief Ibori opened up the entire state. He created opportunities for people of that region to progress. Please take note, with my statement, I am not patronising Chief Ibori in anyway. I am just trying to make a point.
The primary role of a senator is to make laws. In this area what type of law do you seek to push at the senate?
Just on 25th of June 2018 when traditional rulers of my constituency visited President Muhammadu Buhari, what was their discussion? Poverty! There is extreme poverty not only in the entire Urhobo and Okpe land but also in Nigeria as a whole. This visit came before the publication that Nigeria has overtaken India in extreme poverty. The politicians have successfully made the people to be extremely poor in the sense that the electorate wouldn?t mind selling their votes in order for them to feed for a moment. We have been colonised by our own people and somebody must put an end to that. The role of a senator is not about going to the chamber with thugs to steal mace. We thought they can sponsor and make laws that will favour the common man, yet we have been disappointed. The electorates keep making sacrifices, standing under the sun for hours to vote for these same set of people. Still we are not seeing good things coming our way. Thank God for the Not-too-Young-to-Run Act, even though it didn?t reflect our senatorial position but at least it has given us, the young ones that are up to the specific age, the mind to contest for that position. When I get to that office as a senator, I will try to convince my colleagues to make laws that will create an enabling environment for old people, our hard working youth, women and children. Laws that will make Nigerians know that they will not suffer when they get old because there is no law protecting the welfare of the old ones. That is more reason corruption will not stop in Nigeria.