On Saturday, January 25, the people of Ekureku voted in an unprecedented manner to retain Dr Alex Egbona in the National Assembly to continue representing the people of Abi/Yakurr Federal constituency. The victory marked the end of a long journey. The deputy chairman, House committee on petroleum(downstream) spoke with some journalists hours after the declaration.
ROSE IDO was there for TNN.
You have won again. This time, you even scored much more votes in your village to defeat your opponent in the court ordered rerun. How did you achieve this?
I did only one thing: I trusted God, that he who started the good work in me, would perfect it. That was my guiding principle. I knew that I won my election fair and square last February and when the court of appeal felt we should go back to the field for a rerun, I only trusted my God that he would not forsake me. I am happy that he didn’t disappoint me, neither did he let my people down.
But what really came to your mind after the court of appeal ordered the rerun?
Believe me, I did not fret. I was sure that it would end in praise. You see, it is okay to trust in your might and backers in elections like this. But it is better, far better, to trust in God. And you know, one with God is always in the majority. So, I never lost sleep about how God was going to complete what he started.
Quite frankly, I never took it for granted that it was going to be an easy ride. Not at all. I actually knew that I was going in for a fierce battle, not with my opponent, but with the government in power in my state. Of course my opponent knows that he cannot stand me, by the grace of God. The truth is that if John Gaul, my younger brother, were to face me by himself alone, I would have simply gone on holiday and return to join in the victory dance. But he had some forces behind him. Unfortunately, like the Bible says, surely they will gather. But since the gathering was not of God, their divination and enchantment against God’s chosen did not work. Look, do you know how many people, on their own, decided to fast and pray for months because of this project? Do you know how many people spent their own money because of this rerun? It was an Ekureku project and my people did not hide it.
In fact, on the day of the rerun, I understand that some of the villagers went to the homes of some of the people that were opposed to me because of what they expected from the state government, and told them that ‘this election is our community project.’ A town crier was engaged by the village and the people were told that they could not afford to lose the seat. My people really worked and they stood by me. I owe them a debt of gratitude and continued service.
Now that you have won, how will you handle people like Imoke who was reported to be against your ambition?
I don’t want to believe that it will be right to say that Senator Liyel Imoke was against my ambition. Maybe it may be right to say that he was just being a good party man by working for his party’s candidate. I keep saying that Senator Liyel Imoke, my former boss, remains my master. He remains my boss and I owe a lot of gratitude to him. He is someone who has contributed to my life. Even though we are no longer in one political party, it will be wrong to say that he does hate me. I will not also hold it against him for working hard to help his party win an election. The election is now over and a winner has emerged. This victory is for the Abi/Yakurr Federal constituency. So, the victory is also his. I will not even say that Imoke lost. He actually won because as his political son, the victory is also his own victory.
What people do not really know is that I have so much respect for Imoke and I will always refer to him as my father. People call me Imoke’s son. And they call him Alex Egbona’s master. So, I will always be his boy and he my master. I have gone very far with Senator Imoke and my story in life cannot be complete without him.
I will soon pay him a visit. The contest was between two sons of the same father. One of them emerged winner. I know he is proud of me that I won. I will be visiting him to present myself to him for his fatherly blessings as I move on to attract the good things of life for our people. He is my leader in Abi and it is only fair that I consult with him from time to time on what I am doing in the National Assembly. I will have to be consulting him for his advice, guidance and direction. One thing I know is that no matter how rich you are, you cannot have more rags than your father.
I am sensible enough to know that no matter where I get to in life, I cannot be more knowledgeable than my political father. I cannot claim to know half of what Senator Imoke knows because he is the master. So, I will have to be reaching out to him regularly. That way, things will get better for our people.
I also plan to interface with my state governor, Prof Ben Ayade from time to time. We may not be in the same political party, but we all have one interest, and that is the interest of our people. I’m not sure it will profit me or my people if I do not interface with my governor to see how development projects can get to my constituency. I will like to paint a picture here. Let’s just say we all had the ambition to travel to America to get some goodies for our people back home. Let’s say one person chose to use the airplane and another decided to use the train. The important thing is not which transportation mode you used to arrive at your destination. What is more important is that you arrived there safely and are able to do what took you to America in the first place. It is like that in politics. My brother John Gaul and his supporters chose to use the platform of the PDP. my supporters and I chose to use the APC platform. Having got to destination, it is important that we all work together to achieve a common goal. So, this is victory for all of us. The ultimate winner is God and the people of Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency. So, I can, in the words of Koredo Bello the musician, say na God win.
There were many people that opposed your ambition in the state….
(Cuts in) Many people? I don’t think so. I say so because even from PDP people across the state, I enjoyed tremendous support. However, for the few that stood against me, I have forgiven them. I do not hold anything against them. It was their right to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have been forgiven from the bottom of my heart. All I will say now is that they should come around. I will find time to visit some of them very soon, just to thank them for opposing me because, perhaps, if they did not oppose me, I might have relaxed. So, God also used them to spur me up.
A lot of people were astonished that nobody was injured in your village on the day of that election
I had prayed fervently for a peaceful election. I am known as man of peace. So I also let my supporters know that violence would not be part of our plans. Contrary to expectations, the election turned out to be one of the most peaceful elections. Yes, attempts were made to cause violence but it didn’t work. The people had the opportunity to go out and vote in a very peaceful atmosphere. Those who thought that lives would be lost were thoroughly disappointed and we thank God that he was with us.
So, after this election, what next?
I cannot take this victory for granted. The next thing is to pay more attention to development projects. I have been distracted for about seven months now. From tribunal to the court of appeal and then back to the polling units. It was not fun at all. Now that that phase has gone, I can settle down to address the development needs of my people.
You will recall that a few months ago, even in the face of daunting challenges, I was able to undertake a needs assessment of what my people expected from me. It has never happened before. Some of the projects are actually in the budget and I will pursue and make sure the projects are executed. One of the things this election has done is that I have been spurred to do much more. The people have expressed their confidence in me. Some of them staked their life for the project. They deserve the best and I will offer just that.
The coast is now clear for action. I have already wasted about seven months. That’s okay. All I can say is that we will regain the lost days. It will only require that I work extra hours to be able to cover lost grounds. Good enough, I already have my plans in place before now. Things will begin to take shape in a matter of days.
Let me use this opportunity to thank all those who were for me. My colleagues in the House of Reps, my party, my family, the Ekureku Youth Vanguard, Ekureku Vigilante groups, Ekureku Consultative, the various churches that prayed, friends, associates, PDP and members of other political parties that supported and showed solidarity, my people, I am really grateful that a new day is here for Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency.