Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Former Minister of Education and Delta State gubernatorial aspirant, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, said it would be premature for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rejoice over the number of chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the same defectors would cause the party the presidency in 2023.
Gbagi, who made the assertion while fielding questions from newsmen at his Oginibo country home in Ughelli South Local Government Area, shortly after returning from Ondo State where he was conferred with Aare Atunluse of Akure Kingdom by the Deji of Akure, said that he was confident that the PDP would bounce back and be victorious in the 2023 presidential election.
Deji of Akure Kingdom, HRM Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Oladelusi, Odundun ll, recently conferred the industrialist and entrepreneur with the traditional title of ‘Aare Atunluse of Akure Kingdom’, saying that it was in acknowledgement of Gbagi’s detribalised disposition and contribution to the development of Nigeria especially through employment generation.
According to Ggagi, the series of defections involving members of the PDP to the ruling APC remained “full-blooded members” of the PDP.
“All the people running from PDP to APC I tell you, they are not APC members in reality. They are PDP members in blood, soul and body and they are all going to work for PDP.
“PDP is going to produce the next president in Nigeria, If you don’t marry two wives, they say, you do not know which one is better. Is for you to marry two wives and see the difference.”
He also posited that the country would not disintegrate as feared in certain quarters just as he accused the federal government of being the main problem of the country.
“If there is any problem in Nigeria, it is the government. What ought to be beautiful, what ought to be the happiest thing of our life is our population. Population anywhere in the world is a money spinner; it is an economic driver but all of that we are toying with in this country hence we are where we are today,” Gbagi said.
On the low exchange rate of the naira to the dollar, Gbagi noted, “When I left as minister in Nigeria, we left at N156 to a dollar. That is when I left the government and it was not maintained, naira was allowed to nosedive.”
Commenting on the insecurity situation in the country, the criminologist said, “You have the skirmishes of Boko Haram or what have you but it was not in the magnitude of what we are talking about today. Nobody violently impregnated our mothers, wives, sisters in their villages on the guise that they are herdsmen. Nobody thought of the magnitude of these gun-toting elements, this blood-seeking drunkenness. Nobody thought about it, no one envisaged it.
“We as Nigerians must bring ourselves to talk and correct immediately what the current situation is, before machineries or governments of nations other than our nation come to correct it for us. No government in the world would want to toy with Nigeria the way Nigeria is today, because the population of Nigeria will explode on the world, should we allow it to get out of hand the way we are going.
“However, I can assure us that Nigeria will not break up. Just like what happened in 2015, if you remember vividly, I was telling Jonathan and I granted an interview to Vanguard at a time. If you followed what happened, all these people saying they are going to use SSS and EFCC to threaten that if you don’t join APC, we will jail you. All of them are not APC members, they are PDP members that will come back.
“And, you will have a situation in the next election where those who thought they are forced by their own thinking to join APC, they will be bearing APC in the day and in the night, they are PDP members.”
While calling on the multinational oil companies to relocate to their base of operation, Gbagi said, “If our area is good for you to exploit their oil, the gas and whatever is there, move the company there. Let them relocate to the people, let them stay with them. You don’t have any oil company or anybody operating in Texas, going to live in New York and paying tax to New York but exploiting the oil in Texas; it doesn’t work that way.
“It is about time people start respecting our people. Let those companies before it is too long, move to their areas of production for them to see peace, for them to believe. We don’t want to go back to the days of cutting pipes, we don’t want to go back to the days of destroying anything. Let us sit on a round table and negotiate.
“What is Mobil doing in Lagos? What money do they make from Lagos? What is Chevron doing in Lekki Lagos? They are tapping their oil. Let the government provide them adequate security like they can get in Lagos and move.
“And in any case, I had made a proposal when I was a minister. If Chevron moves to Delta, we own 69 per cent of all the drills. The government should allow them to build an international airport and land their aircraft directly here and the same customers in Lagos are Nigerians. The customers in Delta are Nigerians and of course, development will start flowing. The people will have a sense of belonging with Chevron, they would want to support them because they want to succeed.
“They will license their vehicles here, they will get drivers here, they will get cooks here so the economy will evolve. Move Mobile headquarters to Eket, sell the property they have in Lagos. Let the government take their 60 per cent and they take their 40 per cent and relocate to Eket. Let the people of Eket enjoy the benefits of what God has endowed them with and given to them.
“So, the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act) must go further in the amendment. Let Shell move totally to Port-Harcourt. What are they doing in Lagos? If you calculate, which we did at some point, the money which they spent on aircraft movement of their staff within Lagos and their various locations of operation, the country is bleeding. Whose money is it?
“It is the oil producing communities’ money that they are spending. Do you Know how many aircraft come from Lagos everyday to Escravos? Bringing workers in and out, not staying with the people but their oil is good for you to carry, their gas is good for you to carry, it is not going to happen.
“The PIA must be totally reviewed. I incidentally mooted this idea with (then minister) Deziani at a time, and Jonathan when I was a minister. Let Agip move to Bayelsa, get an airport for them. This whole idea of people flying from Bayelsa to Lagos to Abuja to fly out of the country, is a nonstarter.”