Okowa didn’t do anything wrong by accepting PDP’s vice presidential nomination —Aniagwu
Delta State spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign council and Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, speaks on eight years of the Okowa administration and other issues, in this interview with ALPHONSUS AGBORH.
How would you describe your experience for the past eight years? First as the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor for four years and another four years as the commissioner for information and of later spokesman of the PDP presidential campaign team.
I must appreciate God for the opportunity that he has given to me to serve in these different capacities you talked about. I must also acknowledge the very pivotal role played by my boss, Senator Doctor Ifeanyi Okowa, who in the first place believe that I’ve gotten the ability to be able to help him manage perception in the public space, and which possibly I want to believe, explain why he appointed me in the first instance as his Chief Press Secretary. And later elevated me to the position of a commissioner and a member of the executive arm of government in the state. Again, he was also quite instrumental to my being appointed by the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the spokesperson of the presidential campaign council. In all these, God has been very, very faithful that I’m working with persons who are not fraudsters and in which case I don’t have to lie to defend them. Okowa made my job very, very easy by the simple fact that he delivered on virtually all the promises he made to Deltans and surpassed them because there are other areas that he didn’t promise but, he has been able to dive into such areas and delivered. And so, being a perception manager in that regard, I didn’t have to begin to invent stories that are not in tune with reality. So he made my job very easy. It was just a question of communicating what people can relate with and relate to. It was just an issue of letting the people know what has been done, that is for those who possibly may not be living in Delta or may not be living in the part of the state where such projects are cited. And so it’s been quite rewarding and I must say that, one, I’ve also gathered a whole lot of experience and to the extent that now I know that the only job you have as a population person is to make friends for your organization or for your boss. And I’ve tried as much as possible to make friends for him and the government. And so the issue of how well I’ve done that is left for those who may have been keen watchers of my interventions to put across to members of the public. But I think I’ve tried as much as possible to use the necessary tools working with a number of persons. I’ve also enjoyed a whole lot of support from my colleagues in the media that has helped me so much and of course the cooperation and understanding of my boss and a number of my colleagues in the executive arm. So I must give God the glory for thus far that has led me in carrying out these responsibilities,
What are some of the mistakes you believe you made in the course of doing your job; the very one that evokes elicits regrets?
If in terms of whether there are regrets, I can tell you that for me, I have not seen any. I can’t point to any single regrets having to carry out these responsibilities. And like I said earlier too, the fact that I have a boss who is not cantercarous, so in which case I don’t need to join him in fighting his enemies, because as far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t have any, to the best of my knowledge. But those who try as much as possible to disagree with him, for him, he sees it as politics and that everybody must not be on the same page. And because he is not cantercarous, you don’t have to now begin to look for who to attack, for you to either please your boss or for you to make a point. Well, we are humans, it is possible there are those who may not feel happy about the way we have tried as much as possible to explain the activities of government, because there are those who also are looking forward to either occupying the position we hold today or also coming into government. And as such, anything that they could do to either de-market us or the administration, so that they can have their way, is something that is welcome to them and be that as it may, it then suggest that if you have done a good job of selling the administration and putting across the policy of the administrations to the public. Such persons may not be happy because they believe you are trying to counter whatever position that probably is at variance with reality, which they may have put out to members of the public. For me, I don’t have any regret. I’ve tried as much as possible to carry out these responsibilities to the best of my abilities, and then with the support of a number of my colleagues. I wouldn’t know what will constitute mistakes now in what I’ve been doing. Each day I try to see how I can improve on what I did the previous day, and it’s only better for outsiders to know which areas I may have progressed in error. I’m human. That is a possibility, but at the moment I can’t point to anything that I could see as a mistake in trying to carry out my job. One, I made it very clear from the beginning, that you don’t need to insult or be harsh on people for you to make your point. Secondly, you don’t also need to abuse your privileged position and then use it to undermine the rights of other persons. And so, being conscious of that, I’ve tried to operate largely within the confines of the laws and responsibilities expected of a population officer, and so that has been the case; I can’t really point to anything I could see that we did and we have to undo or to say no, sorry, that was not what we meant. I never had any cause at any time to go out again to explain that no, I was misunderstood or that was not what we meant. We try as much as possible to guide our utterances and as the chief image maker of the administration, I have also tried to respect Deltans and every other persons that comes my way in putting issues across even when they disagree, our responsibility is to also continue to explain until they’re able to understand where we are coming from. And so for me it’s perhaps other persons can afford to point to what looks like a mistake and maybe that way I will be able to understand it and I have progress in error. But at this moment I can’t point to any.
In the next few days, the Okowa administration will be leaving office. When you look back, can you say there were certain things that the government could have done but it did not?
There are a number of things that ordinarily one would have wished that we did, but of course we also had the challenge of not having enough fund to carry out a number of things. For instance, my own ministry, I would have wished that by now I succeeded in merging the two stations, Delta Broadcasting service in Asaba and Warri, in terms of the operations, so that even we have a station in Warri and have a station in Asaba. For instance, you have AIT in Lagos, you have AIT in Abuja, but they give you one news. You have Channels TV in Abuja and you have in Lagos; but they give you one news. You have Arise in Lagos, you have in Abuja, and they give you one news. So once you merge the operations, their signal comes together so that whether you’re reading the news in Asaba or you’re reading it in Warri, it comes as one news rather than dividing the state along the lines of the location of the stations. Today, you see those in Warri, reading news items that are closer to those in Warri. The people in Asaba reading news that are close to people in Asaba, they are not behaving as if they belong to the entire state. And so I would have wished that we were able to achieve that. Because of that there were some frustrations in terms of funding and of course the banks that were supposed to play certain roles, also had their own delays, and for me I didn’t want to put my hand in anything that is not going to be palatable to the ear. I will pray that the next administration will be able to take that up. I had also wish that we were able to build the headquarters of DBS Asaba, so that at the end of the day we are able to at least leave some remarkable footprints in the sands of time. I also do wished, since we have the framework that we can leave for the next administration to accomplish.
Some Nigerians criticised your principal, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa because of his decision to run as vice-president, whereas southern governors met at the Government House Asaba and resolved to support only presidential candidate from the South for the general election. What really happened?
There are two things that are not correct in this question. First, to say that Nigerians did that, it is not true. Nigerians didn’t do that because even those our brothers in the North are also Nigerians and majority of our people in the South know that that’s not also true. And by our law once you have a presidential candidate, you are supposed to have a running mate for that candidacy to become valid, and usually by tradition, once a candidate emerges from either of the regions, the opposite region of course produces the vice president as a way of balancing. That has been the tradition, even if it’s not by law. The only time that was not followed was during the military era, where Muhammadu Buhari had to choose Tunde Idiagbon still from the north, as his second-in-command.
Secondly, the meeting in Asaba did not discuss zoning of presidency except you forgot what we discussed. What was discussed in Asaba is the issue of open grazing. The issue of zoning of presidency to the South was only discussed among the governors in Lagos and that came as an addendum. It was not even part of the major agenda. So those who were claiming that the decision was taken in Asaba were telling lies, let them go and Google the stories. It was never a subject of discussion in Asaba. What was discussed was the issue of ban on open grazing. That was a subject matter in Asaba. You can go and take the different reports. You would discover that that was not part of the time. It was never discussed here. It was in Lagos that that issue was discussed. So when we keep hearing people say that it was discussed in Asaba, you begin to wonder. In addition, the governor belongs to a political party and the party met and the governor was not part of that committee. And they threw open the issue of the candidacy of the president. That everybody, both the North and the South, could participate and beyond that, the principal and the laws of the PDP say there shall be zoning of offices. The last office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the PDP extraction came from the South, Ebele Goodluck Jonathan.
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