The Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, Speaker Emeritus of the Delta State House of Assembly served as the presiding officer of the House from 2011 to 2014 having been elected three times as member of the House representing Aniocha North State Constituency. The bid by Ochei for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP derailed in the midst of political intrigues that preceded his resignation as speaker and his subsequent designation as speaker emeritus by his colleagues.
Ochei who first came to the House on the platform of the unfamiliar United Nigerian Peoples Party, UNPP, is now seeking to re-enact his defeat of the official candidate of the PDP in the ensuring Senate contest for the Delta North Senatorial district. A chemical engineer turned businessman and politician, Ochei who would be 46 tomorrow, in this interview speaks on the inspiration behind his bid, explains why he is campaigning for President Jonathan and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa for governorship and details his prospects among other issues. Excerpts:
What motivated you into this contest?
The inspiration to represent Delta North comes from the fact that I have represented my local government in the State House of Assembly and risen from there to become the speaker of the house.
In the course of this representation, I have been able to influence a lot of things both infrastructural and otherwise towards my local government, and then when I was speaker, I had the opportunity of doing it across the state.
I believe going out to represent Delta North will add a lot of value to our people of Delta North. Indeed, we have seen how Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who is now leaving there to go and occupy the seat of the governor, has done creditably well in the red chamber. Even though he is a first timer but he has shown his mettle and carried himself well and Delta North had the effect of good representation like we never had before.
So, we cannot afford to go back to play our second eleven this time, we must continue to play our first eleven, with him (Okowa) being the governor of the state we should also have someone who has legislative experience and understands the intrigues in the legislative house as senator.
I believe it will complement what he is doing at the state level while we can also synergize to work things out at the national level.
So, why did you choose the platform of Accord?
I went to Accord which is more like a child of the PDP because the party is a friendly platform that has been used severally in the state, particularly in Delta North where it has been used over four times to deliver candidates of our choice.
Some would criticise you as being desperate for office in this bid given that you lost out in the governorship contest. How do you respond to that?
Everybody will naturally criticise you for what they believe is their opinion. That does not change the fact that my intention remains to serve but you can only have one governor at a time. So, if you already have one governor and you cannot be governor, does that take away the fact that you can serve in some other capacity?
It doesn’t take away that fact, and if you know that you can better represent your people or better serve them in that capacity, what will stop you? So, it is not about what people say, it is about what you want to do for your people and I think that should be our guiding principle.
The (Accord) has officially adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as its presidential candidate and of course we are also working in Delta to do the same thing for Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
One of your rivals, Chief Nwaoboshi has accused you of working against the governorship aspiration of Senator Okowa. Is it true and why?
That is laughable, the fact speaks for itself. I have supported Delta North much more than himself. I campaign for Dr. Okowa much more than him. He hides under Dr. Okowa, I campaign openly; vote Goodluck Jonathan, vote Sen. Okowa from the PDP, then vote me as Senator under Accord Party.
I have no acrimonies towards Okowa, I am very happy for him and I know he is going to do a good job. So Peter Nwaoboshi is just on a mandate that I do not know where it is coming from. Maybe he is getting desperate.
It is my decision not to run for governor, I could have run for governor under the Accord Party, but I did not. I could have contested under any other party and opposed Okowa, but I did not do that.
I went to another party and took up the ticket for a senatorial candidacy. Does that in any way suggest working or not working with him? Even Senator Okowa asserted that all aspirants, including those who had left the party to contest for other positions were working with him.
What are your plans for the people of Delta North if elected senator?
Like I said, going to the Senate is the bigger picture. Now, the people of Delta North have several needs that plague them, just like other Nigerians.
But in particular, we want employment for our teeming youth population that are coming out of school and don’t have jobs. Even the ones that did not go through formal education, we have to create a platform to enable them start up things on their own.
My being in the Senate should be able to influence programmes for our people to avail themselves and the state will benefit a lot. We also have a lot of issues, we have ecological issues, we have environmental issues and so on. These are issues that we should talk about; they are bigger than the state government. We need someone who can echo these things to the federal government.
This is what I want to go and do in the Senate. We have children that want their health system to be better. Dr. Okowa started with the Health Insurance Scheme and we have to make sure it does not remain just an act but that implementation happens so we can begin to partake of it.
What are your prospects in the contest?
My prospects are very bright. Power belongs to God and I believe in the people. It is a personality election. It is no longer between parties, it is about individuals. Delta North will decide and I strongly believe that they will choose me.