Why FG must fix Ajaokuta Coy or pay reparation – Obaro

Momoh Yusuf Obaro (MYO) is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress seeking the party’s ticket to represent Kogi Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly come 2019.
In this interview with TOPE SUNDAY, the politician, among others, speaks on his aspiration, his agenda for the people on the one hand, and the giant Ajaokuta Steel Company on the other, as well as making a case for direct primaries to ensure emergence of popular candidates

APC as my choice

My political journey started in PDP in 2001, when I wanted to contest for the office of the governor.
Before then, I was offered appointment as the Director of Finance at the PDP headquarters, and I held the position till 2005.
Before that time, there was a friction between the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the development polarised the PDP, and people like us were tagged ‘ Atiku’ boys and we were later deregistered from the party.
We followed Atiku to form the ACD, which later merged with AC to form ACN; this was the platform I used to contest the senatorial election.
I won the primary election but my name was substituted, and the ANPP contacted me and I joined the party.
But unfortunately, I didn’t win that election.
So, I am in APC because all the parties where I had had interest in the past have merged to form APC.

Kogi APC seems to have a lot of issues. How safe is the platform to actualise your dream? As a platform, I will say yes.
We are looking at APC as a party and I want to agree that some of its state chapters may have issues.
As in the case of APC in Kogi state, the state governor about two months ago, set up a reconciliation committee.
And one of the issues that some people are aggrieved about is that the governor did not take members of the late Abubakar Audu’s political group into consideration.
But with what we have seen so far, the reconciliation effort is working.
And since the reconciliation is a continuous progress, the party is in a good stead to win election.
Also, reconciliation will be further cemented if the primaries are free and fair.
Going by what we are hearing, and if that is true, the party is planning to have a direct primary.
This, for me, is a best way for a aspirant to test his popularity and strength.
If this is done, and the governor allows it, I will say the party will be in a good stead to win election.

As a UK-based politician, do you think you have the grassroots support to actualise your dream? Yes, I live and work in the UK, but I am always in touch with my people, they like me and they are in support of my aspiration.
After the struggle in the PDP in 2005, I was attacked on May 29, after the Democracy Day celebration.
I left Lokoja and some people trailed me and attacked me at Giri Junction (Abuja), the attack was so brutal, I was left half dead.
I was flown to the UK for the treatment and after that, I decided to stay there with my family.
This is how I relocated to the UK, it wasn’t intentional.

What gives you an edge over the present occupant of the seat? The person representing Kogi Central Senatorial District is somebody I know very well.
But we had expected him to do well.
In the last 12 years, we have not had good representation.
This is what people of the district are saying.
If you ask people to mention Senators presenting Kogi state, people would mention Senator Dino Melaye.
What happens to the remaining two? Before this time, it was Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Except Senator A. T. Ahmed, who was so popular and had good connection, the Kogi Central has not being well presented in the National Assembly.
As we speak now, all our infrastructure are broken down.
Look at the road from Lokoja to Okene; it is in a state of disrepair and we have a senator who can’t see down with the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, to fix it.
Look at Okene and Ajaokuta axis, it is now a haven for all sort of criminal activities.
All these need to be put in proper perspective and should be legislated upon, even it should be included in the budget.
The welfare of our people should be improved upon and this is what we call good representation and that is why I am coming on board.

Ajaokuta Steel Company is a national project and as a Senatorial hopeful from the Kogi Central which hosts the huge plant, what is your agenda for it? I have two agenda for Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Number one, government must be convinced on the need to invest in it because if it thinks Ajaokuta is not economically viable, they are missing the point.
Also, they have to consider the number of jobs it will create for the people.
Also, we need to make a strong case, not in form of activism or opposition, we should produce a convincing data to the government to encourage it invest in the project.
Yes, Ajaokuta has a lot of issues, ranging from corruption, mismanagement to lack of selecting right priority because when you visit Ajaokuta today, you will see a lot of houses and you will ask why building all those houses and waiting for Ajaokuta to take off ? Why can’t you put the money in the plant itself? And when the plant is running, you can build those houses later; so there a lot of misplaced priorities.
However, we can’t continue talking about those issues because the problem has already been created, and solving it should be our priority.
So, what we need do now is to convince the government to invest there.
Also, my second approach is a bit radical because if the federal government is not going to invest in Ajaokuta, we are going to provide a data to show that the coming of Ajaokuta in 1978 has impoverished our people, because, before its arrival, our people had economic lives, everybody was engaged.
But with the coming of the company, all that was destroyed and our people were thrown into abject poverty.
Ajaokuta Steel Company has contributed very seriously to the problems that our people are having today.
So, my thinking is that being in the National Assembly, I would be able to raise the issue of reparation for the people.
Ajaokuta Steel Company is a government project.
If it likes, it can continue with it or abandon it.
But what it can’t get away with is the fact that it has destroyed lives of some people.
And if government has done that, it must pay compensation for that.
I am going to drive that.

In Nigeria, governors decide who gets what, especially at both state and federal levels.
What is your relationship with your state governor, and perhaps, what happens if he decides to come up with other candidate?
What you said is very apt, and unfortunately that is the situation we have.
But my relationship with the governor is alright and I will consider him to be a friend.
But that is not what I am banking on.
I am trying to talk to the people and if they are behind me, the governor would have to listen to them if they say this is the person they want.
In our own case, our governor happens to be a beneficiary of an open system.
He came second to late Abubakar Audu (of blessed memory) during the governorship primary election and unfortunately, Audu dropped dead while the election was on, and the party shopped for our governor to replace the late Audu.
So, I don’t want to believe that since he benefited so much from the system that produced him, he would now want to change the system or shut the door against me because, if that had happened to him, he wouldn’t have been where he is today.
To answer your question, I am in APC now, and I really intend to remain there; no matter what people are saying, the party has a lot of progressive agenda.
I had the experience of moving from one party to the other; and if I had not moved from ACN to ANPP, maybe, I would have reclaimed my senatorial ticket in 2007.
But moving out, I lost out completely and that is why I am going to remain in the party.
I am going to cooperate with the governor, and that is why I am coming up with a lot of progressive ideas to assist him (the governor) to deliver the services that the people need.

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