Dr Cyril Adams Oshiomhole is the eldest son of the immediate past governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He was one of those who declared their intention to run for the Etsako Federal Constituency by-election which is scheduled for 28 January, 2017. However, after pressure from his father and political leaders that he should step down as the party had ceded the position to Etsako Central Local Government he agreed. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, the medical doctor and environmentalist spoke on his interest in politics, his father’s tenure and what he knew of him as a child Excerpts:
Can you give us your background
I am a medical doctor and an environmentalist. I did my masters in Environmental health and specialized in disaster management, terrorism, and toxicology. I also did my Masters post graduate studies in Clinical Research at Harvard University as well as some training in Queen Mary University. Currently, I am a post graduate candidate in Business Administration, Southern California University in the United States.
People were shocked that you joined the race for the House of Reps seat, what was the motivation since you are not a politician?
Yes it is true, I am gunning for that position. I joined the race due to my exposure. I have travelled far and wide and saw how things were done, discussed with Nigerians in the Diaspora and they were disappointed with the status quo until President Muhammadu Buhari came in. I have been to several other developing countries and even though there is corruption in those countries, things still work well. So, for me it is not just proper criticizing the country from outside the country, I want to come back and contribute my own quota because a time will come when our children will ask us what we did to change things. We should not just be complaining and doing nothing.
So I want to be able to say this is what I did, I have done my best even if my best is not good enough but at least I tried. When you look around the world today, young men are the ones running the nation. It is not about your age but what you can do. Again, we should not always look at Nigeria as very corrupt, we are better than most developing countries and even some developed countries because I have been to a country where police asked me for cash over a minor traffic offence.
Our policemen are much better than the ones in most of these countries and that is why I want to come and educate our people and see how we can pass laws to protect our institutions. Again, in Nigeria today most of our youths are unemployed, I feel their pains, I understand how they feel because I get first hand information as I interact with my own age group daily. So we must find solution to some of these problems. And that is why we need our youths to take up positions because they will understand the problems of the youths better.
People believe you decided to contest because of the political influence of your father, how will you react to that?
When people talk like that, I feel offended, I feel disrespected because I am a man of my own. I respect my father a lot because he is a great man. And when people even commended the achievements of my father they forgot that he has a family that was with him. If the family did not encourage him we would not have got the best in him. Sometimes we would tell my dad to watch the television and see what people were saying. And we would tell him what was right and what was wrong. And any time he did something good we always commended him.
And in my own ambition, any body who knows who my Dad is would know that he would not support me. He does not support me going into politics, he said I should be in the clinic and practice my medicine. He kept telling me “you are a doctor, you are not a politician”. But there is something in me which tells me that I can do something for my people. I have that passion that when I see things happen, will I continue lamenting and criticizing the country or will I come back to Nigeria and see how I can help my society. So this has nothing to do with my father. In fact, my Dad has his own candidate because I was told they ceded the position to Etsako Central. He called me few days ago with some leaders of the party and prevailed on me to step down. I was already getting the support of most of the leaders but my Dad said I should step down and I obeyed because I can never disrespect my father. And I have in fact backed Johnson Oghuma who the leaders are projecting.
How will you assess your father’s tenure in Edo
I know my father has a very strong will. Before he joined politics people said he could never make it, that political god fathers in the system would stop him. They told him “if you can’t beat them you join them but my father believed that “if you can’t beat them you continue to fight them”. But he was able to tell the whole world that it was possible. They told him that politics was not all about organizing strikes and protests but my father proved them wrong. And I was so proud of him, because I would have been the saddest man on earth if he had failed because I bear his name. That would have followed me to my grave. And one thing about my Dad is that he respects his name a lot and I think he did a very good job in Edo state because Edo state is a very difficult state to govern. God was by his side and he did his best till the last day in office. I pray God to bless him with good health, long life and for the dream that he wants to see Nigeria transform into come to pass in his life time.
How did the family cope with his busy schedule
It was not an easy one for us as a family because even as a kid when I was in class three, my Dad came to pick me from school, he drove himself to the police station and I saw the way the police were manhandling him and pushed him into the cell. As a child when you see people do that to your father it gives you psychological trauma and that left an impression on me. I remember my Dad telling me “go and tell your mother that I have been arrested, I am in jail”. I have seen my father how he struggled for people, sometimes he came home with swollen face, like he was beaten by many people. He has gone through a lot in life, he risked his life fighting for people.
I grew up to see a father always on the road, travelling from state to state, organizing strikes and making sure that he fought for the welfare of the people. He has a lot of energy and derives joy in fighting a just cause. My mother and all of us always knelt down to pray for him because people would call us to say they were planning to assassinate him, but we knew that God was always with him and that truth would always prevail. There were times I woke up in the morning around 5am and I saw my father dressing up for work, I would ask him “Dad where are you going this early”.
He would say he needed to get to work early, that it should be leadership by example, that if he went to work late how would he expect others to come early. So I have learnt from my Dad over the years, his life style. He would come back from work sometimes at 2am and by 7am he was back in the office. I would tell him “Dad you need to rest but he would say no, that he could not afford to fail people who had so much confidence in him. I had seen my father stressed up, lose weight, just to make sure things were in order. He does not believe in giving so much to people to do because he always said that if anything goes wrong it would bounce back at him. I saw my Dad as a perfectionist, even when you come first in class he would tell you, “yes you came first but why are your grades still low?”. So I have learnt a lot from him, his will power, his drive, his energy, and the fact that he does not give up. He is very optimistic that Nigeria will be better.