Chief Dr Patrick Osagie Eholor has cut his teeth in the affairs of men by fighting for human rights, both as a private individual and as a politician.
He is the founder of One Love Foundation, a human rights group, and also is a chieftain of the Labour Party, having run as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Edo State some years back.
Eholor in this interview speaks on a number of issues, including the 2023 presidential election, flooding, and others.
Nigeria has been ravaged by very bitter and wicked flooding for the past two weeks. This has been across all zones, but unfortunately, the Federal Government has paid little attention to these states, to assist those caught in the web, as observed by Mr Peter Obi when he went to Bayelsa for instance. What’s your take on this sir?
It’s a pity that we have such an irresponsible party like the All Progressives Congress (APC), but we must also acknowledge the fact that some of the inherited problems were inherited from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But that’s not a yardstick to neglect the people. Because the reason why we voted for him is because we needed a change from the PDP. If I knew what I know now, I won’t have voted for them.
Having said this, let us also note that some states have benefitted from the ecological fund, like Edo State. But the governor believes that the money when paid, is for his personal use, so he leaves the people to suffer from flooding without spending the money for the purpose it was disbursed.
In GRA Benin for instance, whenever it rains for three minutes, the whole streets are over-flooded. There is also the issue of nepotism and favouritism, and the experts are not given the jobs to put in their best, but incompetent hands are allowed to manage things.
We have what we call the quota system, and every institution in Nigeria is being governed by Fulani. Its not because we are not brothers or because we are not one Nigeria, but if you talk about quota system, it ought not to be so. Those handling these institutions are there because of favouritism or nepotism because they are not qualified.
I have always said it that Nigeria as a country has been protected by God from natural disasters. But unfortunately, where natural disasters are lacking, we have leadership disasters.
It was foretold that there will be heavy flooding and the time it would occur was part of the forecast.
Many years ago, Nigeria entered an agreement with Cameroon, and they advised Nigeria to build a dam in order to contain water overflow from their end, should there be overflow, that could lead to flooding. But government after government has not been responsible enough to complete the dam. As a matter of fact, the flooding is supposed to be a blessing in disguise because that unbuilt giant dam would have solved the problem of electricity. Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo during their time spent 16 billion dollars yet, electricity even got worse.
The same water could also have been channeled to serve the arid regions for irrigation. Egypt has the Nile which they have transformed to irrigation and are using it for agriculture, instead of causing flood disaster for the people. So these are the issues of bad governance, and failed leadership.
Since 2022, there has been a way citizens across the globe choose their leaders, against the establishment. In Malawi, Kenya, India and now UK, the story has been the same. Today, an unknown party has fielded an unpopular candidate and all Nigerians are rooting for him, despite two major parties. What’s your take on this?
It’s simply the wind of change. If Peter Obi was running as an independent candidate for this election, Nigerians would still rally round him and vote for him. Peter Obi is a driver using the vehicle of Labour Party to actualise the movement of Obiism. So there is nothing that can stop the train and nothing can stop him from becoming the next president.
People are tired. Even in houses where they have PDP or APC chieftains, their children and wives will vote for Peter Obi, because this is the last trumpet for Nigerians. If you listen carefully now, you will hear, according to my mentor Bob Marley. Everybody must queue up to make this leadership change because it will be preposterous to think that the son or daughter of a security guard, or of a woman that sells akara cannot be president.
The idea of ‘its my turn’ in politics, should never come up in our politics. Politics should not be about its my turn, it should not be about region or where you come from, your religion or what your last name is. It should be about merit, and about how you can make your country much more better. It should not be, Edo man has ruled for 8 years, it should now go to Esan. No. It should be by merit. We voted Ambrose Ali here, and it was by merit.
If things are getting better, would you want to live in your past or in your present? So I think that our brothers and sisters in the North, especially the educated ones should educate the uneducated one that northerners have ruled Nigeria for a very long time, and marginalised their own people. We have had at least 15 northern leaders, yet no developments.
We have over 15 million Almajiris without education, no homes, and no hope for the future.
No matter how poor his family is, you can never see an Edo or Igbo man beg for money. I am not saying this to spite my brothers in the North, but they should look away from tribe and religion, and vote for someone who will drive the wheels of progress for this country and all people. Poverty is not from God.
You made a call recently that secret cult should stop killing themselves but make themselves useful to the society. Days after, 75 members of a particular secret cult were arrested by the Interpol across the world. They were charged for drugs and fraud. Two days ago, United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia slammed visa bans on Nigeria due to the criminal activities. What’s your take?
It’s a bad omen when an entire country is tagged because of a few individuals, very bad omen. The UAE has done our country a disservice by placing that ban, but it also boils down to bad leadership of the country. If our country is a nation of productivity, who don’t depend on demand and consumption, but believe in what Peter Obi said, a country of exports and productivity, this won’t even happen.
About 30, 40 years ago, nobody wanted to go to Dubai. I think Nigeria should also issue some sort of diplomatic retaliation, they should stay in their country and we stay in ours.
It’s not supposed to be destructive to be part of a fraternity. A fraternity is supposed to be a gathering of friends. Leaders of the various fraternities should enact some kind of laws, that if you commit some sort of crime, whether at home or abroad, there should be some kind of severe sanction. Not all members are criminals. Within them are doctors, lawyers, bankers, engineers, so they are not criminals. So it’s wrong what UAE did. See even Ethiopia that I have given donation, as an individual is sanctioning Nigeria. So for Ethiopia too to tell us that we will be restricted shows that Nigeria is doing very poorly.
The Nigerian leadership should sit up so that we will not be getting these kind of embarrassing situations as Nigerians.
What is your advice to President Muhammadu Buhari about handing over to anyone who wins the election in 2023?
The ball is not really in his court, it’s on us who are the voters. We must ensure that our vote counts. What it means is that the majority wins. If Goodluck Jonathan could say that no Nigerian blood is worth shedding for the sake of his seat, then that’s what it takes.
But chief, do you think that President Buhari is going to say, this man has won, and I am handing over to him, despite not belonging to my party? What’s your advice for Mr President?
I don’t know what is in his mind, and I don’t have any advice for him. Nigerians at home and abroad are no longer docile. Buhari has also never told us that he doesn’t want one Nigeria. He fought for unity, and has shown that he is the president of one Nigeria. What is he going to be remembered for? As much as I hate his government, I must give it to him as the president that has worked so hard to ensure that election rigging is over, that nobody with guns can snatch ballot boxes anymore, and you cannot give anybody a ministerial position for successfully disrupting elections.
I can assure you one thing. With the support of his wife, who had admitted several times that his husband has not being the best president, and for the love he has for his wife and children, Buhari does not want this country to split, or to go into another civil war.
So go and get your PVC, don’t vote wisely, vote for Peter Obi for a change.