Mr Samuel Ogbemudia Jr is the eldest son of the former two time governor of old Bendel State, late Dr Samuel Ogbemudia. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, he shared his experiences with his late father whom he described as a genius and a man who sacrificed his personal interest for the interest of the majority
He gave reasons why his father supported Governor Godwin Obaseki rather than his nephew and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other national issues. He also shared his father’s regret on Nigeria before he died.
Can you share with us briefly how your late father brought you up.
He brought us up very strictly. I was born in Kaduna, then he took me to England for my education and I concluded in America. Anytime he had opportunity to talk to me it was always very touching. One thing he always told me was “don’t drink, don’t smoke” and I found that to be very useful. He was always there to keep us in line, always pushing us to work harder.
Samuel Ogbemudia Jr.
What was his perception about Nigeria before he died?
I think what really touched him was the way things deteriorated in this country. He always said that the leadership is not the problem but the followership and I think he was disappointed that Nigerians have not understood where they are and where they should be.
He believed that we have some followers who want to kill some good leaders. A lot of followers prefer mediocre to lead them. He felt a lot of Nigerians don’t know how to move the country forward. He was actually disappointed at what Nigeria has turned to compared to when he was at the helm of affairs. The situation pained him because he saw some leaders too who when they were younger had the vision but today they have been corrupted and have derailed. It was like a disaster.
Why did your father support Oshiomhole despite PDP influence
Our father was always a person who looked at the larger picture and not just personal interest. Larger picture in the sense that the man was ahead of his time. He played the type of politics they play in the Western World which is that you appreciate performance and good works and that is what he did with Oshiomhole. He appreciated how Oshiomhole turned the state around positively and he told everybody that this man has performed for the people and must be appreciated. In the Western world, once you become an elected person you throw away your party and become leader of all. My Dad believed in supporting the person doing the right thing for the common good of the majority. And Oshiomhole was doing that. A lot of people in PDP did not like it but honestly when it comes to development, you have to put personal interest aside.
Secondly, he was not too happy the way and manner the PDP was run in the state and at the Federal level because he believed strongly that if they had taken his advise, they would not have found themselves in the crisis they are into today. For instance, he talked about internal democracy many times but they never heard. You see, my Dad believes in the power of the people and that if you failed you carry people along, you cannot last in an office. And it was the arrogance of PDP and lack of internal democracy that made them lose the presidential election.
Why did he support Obaseki
My father was a great judge of character. One of the reasons why he supported Obaseki was because he believes in Oshiomhole’s judgment. When I say Oshiomhole’s judgment, it is in the sense that my father knew that Oshiomhole was very passionate about the development of this state and as a result he would not want to bring somebody who will disappoint the people. When my father now interacted with Obaseki he saw that the man was very competent. Ize-Iyamu the PDP candidate is my father’s nephew but he felt that Obaseki was a better material and that was why he supported him. The truth of the matter is that he would not hide his feelings, even in the family he said his mind no matter whose ox is gored. So he supported Obaseki because he saw that Obaseki was competent.
How do you see the fight against corruption?
Corruption must fight back and that is what we are seeing today. But I feel our government officials are not well paid and that is why you see that corruption has persisted. They now look for other avenues to steal. We saw the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and people were already talking about where the position should go. I believe in competence and not zoning. But zoning must come in particularly in Nigeria. But the truth of the matter is that if you want results you should not look at where the person comes from. And in the case of the SGF, he was only suspended and not removed. It means he may still come back if he is not found guilty. Suspension does not mean removal. But if for any reason the President wants to replace him, he should look for strong characters and I feel he should look at some body like Oshiomhole who is from the South South. And if the SGF comes from Edo state it will help the South East, South West and South South. Oshiomhole is more than competent in the sense that he knows how to choose the right people to work with him. For me, the President needs people like him to work with him because of his experience and fearlessness. When he was in Edo state he fought so many battles just like President Buhari is fighting now. He needs strong characters around him especially in the Presidency not weak individuals. People who can face the world, who can challenge any body and Oshiomhole will be the best person for him. If he can have somebody like Oshiomhole in the presidency I think half of his problems would have been solved
His death really came as a shock to many, did you ever anticipate it?
It came to all of us as a surprise in the sense that with the technology they have now, we thought he would survive it. He had a slight accident and he was rushed to the hospital. We expected the technology at the hospital would be able to sustain him but no way. I believe that it is the will of God and we just have to accept it.
What are those things you father did to avert the kind of crisis we see in some big families particularly after the death of the bread winner?
My father was a role model, we all learnt from him in the way he related with his biological family, his friends and political associates. One of the things we got from him is that you don’t talk without thinking, you don’t act without thinking. He taught us so many things especially patience. He tried to impart knowledge on us. I just thank God for knowing somebody like him. A lot of people said before he became military governor that he was not an educated man, but a soldier. But at the end of the day we saw what he achieved as a soldier. What my father learnt in the military school especially when he was in the US, he was able to use that experience as a military administrator. He was an A-plus student. He always said one thing that there is a thin line between insanity and genius. He was a genius, up till now I am trying to go through his records and see what I can learn more because when you go to his library you will just be amazed with the kind of information you will get from there. He was always updating himself on different vocations.