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Published On: Wed, Jun 4th, 2014

Omo-Agege is a Patriot with Good Dream for Deltans -Urhobo Youth Leader

Obarisi Ovie Omo=Agege

Olorogun Omovudu Jaro-Egbo is a legal luminary and an Urhobo Youth leader who has held prominent positions in different Urhobo pressure groups. Presently, he is Special Aide to Delta State Governor on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Affairs. In this interview with our Correspondent, Egbo who has been a close watcher of Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege speaks on the dynamic leadership qualities of the former Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG) describing him as a bridge builder both in Delta State and Nigeria.
Being close associate of Chief Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, can you tell the people what you know about him?
When Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege was Executive Assistant to former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori , I worked with him as Special Assistant. While working with him, I knew him at close quarter as a dynamic leader, kind hearted, straight forward and who do not support foot blacking. People think he is not open, but if you get close to him, you will know that he is a man that has the interest of the people at heart. Today, I am having my country home ‘Camp Moses’ because of his generosity. He does not believe that his followers should wallow in poverty. I will tell you the background of this my house. He gave me money to buy this land and he saw to it that the place was properly developed. I am just one of them. There are so many out there whom he changed their fortunes. It was when Omo- Agege came into politics that people use development of his followers as point of reference of progress. It was then people knew they should have leaders in politics. It is not following leaders in hired vehicles, but they should have their own. I am living example of Omo-Agege generosity.
He is somebody who is always with his people either during merriments or grief periods. He has a dream for Delta State believing that the state is yet to achieve his potentials. In the first tenure of Uduaghan, they were apart, but since he came board, you can see developmental projects everywhere. What you are seeing Uduaghan doing presently are the things Omo-Agege dreamt of for Delta State. A state where you do not rely only on oil, but we can talk about agriculture, provision of employment, affordable housing, drinkable water and other social amenities that will better the lives of people. He is a patriot to the core. While he was in America, he was very active in Delta and Urhobo activities. People misunderstood who he is, but they are recently getting to know that he is man who has the course of Urhobo land and Delta State at heart. He is somebody who did not believe that he should own everything in the world. He believes in sharing with the people. I can beat my heart that if giving any responsibility, he will perform beyond the expectation of the people. God has blessed him so abundantly that he did not need to steal government money to create comfort. He is somebody who is focus and well articulated. You will also know that the name Omo-Agege is brand name in Delta State. The father served in various part of Africa before he became Chief Judge of Delta State. Before his mother died, he was Assistant Director in Ministry of Agriculture. Public service is in the blood of the Omo-Ageges. They are like the Kenedy’s family in America.

What is your take on the rumour making the rounds that Chief Ovie Omo-Agege betrayed the Urhobos for allegedly stepping down for Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2007 election and by refusing to join forces with Chief Great Ogboru in 2011 election?

The fact is that those saying Chief Ovie Omo-Agege betray Urhobo course do not know Omo-Agege. I can say I played a key role in the event that led to the Ogwachi-Ukwu primaries and after the Ogwachi-Ukwu primaries. I know too well that it was Ovie Omo-Agege who insisted that he would not step down for anyone. When the heat was on and some of the black legs were sponsoring candidates everywhere, we went to Osubi where we did a mock primaries for Urhobo candidates so that we can produce one candidate. At the end of the day, Ovie Omo-Agege emerged as the winner. Urhobos suppose to go to Ogwachi-Ukwu with Omo-Agege as their sole candidate, but other aspirants placed their personal political fortune over and above Urhobo’s interest.
That is why the likes of Late Senator Pius Ewherido, O’tega Emerhor, Obule, Ejaife Odebala and couple of other Urhobo candidates participated in the primaries. If they have succumbed to Urhobo producing one candidate, Omo-Agege would have emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Delta as sum total of all their votes put together would have been more than any candidate from other ethnicity . How has a man who refused to step down against all entreaties betray the Urhobo course? Who is a betrayer? Is it the man who won the primaries at Ogwachi-Ukwu where Urhobos would have presented one candidate or those who refused to step down for him and went to the election and split Urhobos votes thereby making Urhobos lost the election? I believe that with time, history will tell. Besides, if Omo-Agege stepped down for Uduaghan, he would have participated in Uduaghan’s government. It would be recalled that when it became impossible for him to contest under PDP, he left the party and went on to contest against Uduaghan to the extent of contesting in an unknown party, the RPN just to show that he would not allow Uduaghan. People talk about not joining forces with Ogboru. Did Ogboru call Omo-Agege to a round table discussion?
Rather, he (Ogboru) went on national television calling Omo-Agege names. Is that how you step down for people? If they are saying he betrayed Urhobos for not stepping down for Ogboru, how would they describe Ogboru’s refusal to step down for Chief James Ibori? This last Delta Central Senatorial election showed those who love Urhobos and those who did not love Urhobos. It is painful that Omo-Agege is being victimised for nothing. My joy is that the Urhobo leadership is now aware of it.

There are many political groups like Urhobo splitter groups making waves. As an Urhobo youth leader, what strategy are you people putting in place to put these different groups under one umbrella so that Urhobo can form a united political front in 2015?

Urhobo by its size is bigger than hundred countries out of the two hundred and twenty two countries on planet earth and as such do not expect everybody to have one focus. The paramount thing is that whether we have ten or fifteen groups the interest of Urhobo should be paramount. What I will not support is when some of these groups are being sponsored by candidates from Delta North to divide the Urhobos. Now lets come to Urhobo Political Congress (UPC). Before UPC came up it was Urhobo Political Forum (UPF). There were the core groups lead by Chief Amori and those who were Urhobo stakeholders. There was this competition between the two groups. Our leader then, Chief James Ibori advised that the two groups should come together. That was what give birth to Urhobo Political Forum (UPF) with Amori as the National President, while I am the National Secretary. But when I discovered that the group was derailing, I resigned my office as the secretary.
We, however, came together to say this division will not help us. We have lost the governorship, we have no minister and there is nothing to show. We agreed to come together again and form UPC with Amori as the Chairman. It was then a vacuum was created as a result of the death of Pius Ewherido. When Amori made his decision to run for the position of the Senate, we had a meeting and advised him not to contest because of what happened in last governorship election. But he insisted that he would contest. In the rush to contest, he formed Urhobo Political Association. He was not satisfied with that and decided to resuscitate the defunct UPF. It was in this struggle that the candidature of Chief Emmanuel Aguariavbodo emerged. Coming to the issue of the election of Ovie Omo-Agege as chairman of UPC. He has the wherewithal and the charisma of a chairman. We invited him to come and lead the group. We are in a political low tide and this is the time we need an able captain to lead us out of the trouble water. It show that they are getting to know Omo-Agege as someone who had the wherewithal, the intellect and the charisma to lead the people. That is why they confirmed him as Chairman of the group. If you see the programme he had drawn up as he emerged as the chairman, it is glaring that we shall celebrate him in the near future. Because we believe that he is somebody who carry everybody along. Somebody who can spend his own fortune to make sure that our interest is protected and what is due to us is giving to us. We are already reaching our brothers in other groups to join forces us so that at the end of the day, the interest of the Urhobos will supercede other interest.

As an Urhobo youth leader, if Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege comes up day to seek elective post to any prominent position in the country will you support him? If yes, or no, why?

He has my express support. I have watched and studied him at close range and I know what he is capable of doing.

In the last Senatorial election, Omo-Agege showed interest but later withdrew from the race and backed Aguariavwodo during the election proper. How would you describe his action?

His action showed that he is a matured leader and a team player. He spent money and his time in supporting Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo. That showed that he is a party man and that whatever the party decides he will abide by it. That whatever the people say he will abide by it. It is an evolution that all of us are happy about it. It showed that for you to be a leader, you must abide by the term of the followership. A leader cannot exist in isolation.

Sir, what is your advice to the people so as to havie a change of mind about their negative belief on the person of Chief Ovie Omo-Agege?

I would not say his image was dented. But that is not to say that there have not been rumours here and there. But those fog, those rumour and hear say have been cleared to a large extent by two events that occurred recently. His coming back to PDP, the role he has been playing in the party and his agreeing to tow the line of the party and stepping down for Aguariavwodo and supporting him to the fullest.

What role will say Ovie Omo-Agege played in the unity of Urhobo?

Chief Ovie Omo-Agege had played prominent roles in the unity of Urhobo people. The recent was that there were some people who wanted to create division in the ranks and files of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Omo-Agege was at the forefront of making sure the issue was resolved and Urhobo stay united more than ever. Will a man who is betraying Urhobo support the fractionalization of UPU or will he support that UPU should remain the oldest and dynamic socio-cultural organization? Omo-Agege stood for the later. It was this entire role that made people to invite him to come and lead UPC. In the last UPU election, there were those who wanted to cause stalemate within UPU but we said no, arguing that our fathers did not tell us this is how to run UPU. The roles Omo-Agege played had shown that he is a true patriot. Those calling him betrayer are those betraying Urhobos. Those are the people who go to Delta North to pick money to contest election in UPU. We have got the intelligent report. What is the interest of somebody who is not from Delta Central in UPU?

As someone who has been following Omo-Agege in and out of government can you enumerate some of his achievements?

His achievements are numerous. He played a role in ward creation by ensuring that we got our twenty wards. He executed several projects. He influenced Orogun road project and even Ughelli road dualisation. His achievements on employment are too numerous to be mentioned. I can assure you that he brought in so many projects to Urhoboland. He employed and empowered so many of our people. He also contributed so much to Urhobo political evolution.

People said those Omo-Agege empowered later turn around to fight him. Do agree to that statement?

Yes. it is those he assisted that later turned against him and stabbed him on the back. It is they who are going about giving him bad names. But the question I am asking is that those he assisted and later turned against him, where are they in politics today? Be that as it may, I do not want him to be deterred. He should continue with his kind gesture, good work and unity of Urhobo nation. Even Jesus Christ was betrayed.

What are the leadership qualities of Chief Ovie Omo-Agege?

They are numerous. He is focus. He is a cerebral person. He is somebody who love his people. He carry his people along and empowered them. He has this personal touch with everyone.

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