Delta State APC Leader, Olorogun O’Tega Emerhor clocks 60 recently. He bear his mind on his early life, Fame and why PDP will loose 2019 elections in Delta State. Granball Choice was there at the event.
From your own beginning, how did you set and actualized the dream of building a robust wealth, power and influence you command today?
Thank you for this interesting question. As a young person, your initial set is not to go and build wealth and influence and it was very few people have that level of thinking. But as a young man depending on the background that I came from, my father was a subsistence farmer with my mother in my village or town, Evwreni in Ughelli North Local Government, but compare to other families, I believe we were doing well, we have our own house, I was sent to school. In those days, my father had a white Raleigh Bicycle and as a member of the Jehovah Witness, my father was always travelling to other cities to go and preach. They were among the enlightened people, but that was as far as it was. But I knew early that my coming from that background, education is going to be helpful to me and when I had the opportunity and was in school, I tried my best to come out with the result which I will ensure I get a job when I am out school. So, my set out goal was that in a country where your success is going to be on a platter of gold, you have to use what you have to get what you want.
My first goal to concentrate, pass my exams then come out well so that I can easily go into the system of working and from there take it on.
Sir, you said your goals was to get good result that will open doors of employment for you, did you think good results can still open door for children of the poor who had taken pain in education in the Nigeria of today?
I think in my time, having good grades, coming out well was the key and in my life, that was the key that opened doors for me and if you asked me where I am today. I went to the University, I made a First Class, I got awards and I saw some adverts by professional organizations like Price Lender House, I applied and I was called immediately and I was also engaged by Kupa &Libra. I got two jobs at the same time when I left school. Later on, Price Lender and Kupa merged and they were the high brow accounting firm in Lagos. In fact, when I got to Lagos the first time and I saw people wearing white tie, I said I must be among these people. So, having a first class made that happened quickly. I didn’t have influential parents who has to come and lobby before I got a job and I can testify that at that time if you study hard and come out in good grades such could happened and such happened to me, after Price Lender House, it was easy for Zenith Bank to come and recruit me from them and I became banker with Zenith bank who newly came to Nigeria is Nigeria International Bank then. You could see that one thing led to another. That is one thing in the banking industries, they are more like a consultant to aryl of many businesses, it exposes you to other businesses and by the time you finish as a banker it will be very easy for you to venture into businesses and that was how I moved from a village boy to a city person.
But today, I can say it’s a lot more difficult for only result to do all this. I did my youth service in 1983/84. I had a first class in Accounting from the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
With that status of working in the banking industry, it takes a lot of courage to leave a well-paid job at that level to go solo to develop businesses for yourself how did you…. Cuts in
My transition and my carrier in the banking sector was interesting, I must point out that I move very quickly and worked very hard. I met good bosses and at the age of nearing 30s, I became the first Managing Director of a bank in this country. But also in the banking there is turbulence, when I became an M.D because the bank has some issues, some people left and I become the Executive Director.
When I left, the nearest thing I think I should do was to set up an Insurance Company which was the same financial servicing firm, I then bought an Insurance company, recapitalized it, renamed it, and it became standard, that became my first start up business before others.
So, what has life taught you at 60 with a lot of experiences?
Well, at 60, I don’t think you have any choice than to be wise. I tell you when I was 40, I thought at 50, I would retire from business, I would have achieved, and all that I need was to travel.. but we are in a country when things change so rapidly, those who are poor today can be rich tomorrow and those who are rich can be poor the next day. By the time you are 60, you already had a family and it will interest you to know that I have three grandchildren as we speak, that also tells you the level of tendency I also have, the extended family, am a politician and when put all that together, you realize that your life affects so many people. At 60, no matter who you are, you have crossed so many people and it imposes the responsibilities on you to be matured, wise and be more understanding on how life affects people. It teaches you a lot of lesson and to me, what I would say is that God has been wonderful in my life, He has touched me, blessed me and has used me as an instrument to also reach to other people. I give Him all the gratitude and I still ask every day for Him to make me wise because that is the only thing Solomon asked for. At 60, you are example, mentor to so many people because they want to use you to model their lives.
When you were growing up as child, what are the things…. ?
My parents were good Christians and were also disciplinarian, my father in particular, he like things done properly and that is good for upbringing. Later in life, he was able to buy a motorcycle and I was so excited about it, each time he is not around, I try to grab it and ride it but one he caught and really beat me up and my feeling was that why is he beating because of a motorcycle? And I swore to myself that I am not going to touch that it again, that when I grew up, I am going to buy my own. But later in life I realized that he was protecting his only son among five girls and he has seen how young people die from motorcycle accidents. He was scared that I could be involved in that kind of a thing, that I understood later. But that discipline he gave me, made me feel that this old man thought it is only him that can buy motorcycle… that when am old, I will buy a car. If you put that together, it tells you the kind of family that I came from, very caring.
Being able to build a family of your own from that experience, how much value has your own family added to who you are today?
The truth is that, if there is anything that made me who I am today is my family, from my wife to my children, they have all passed through a lot. But am blessed by a family that is very supporting. My children are good example of children who respect their parents without losing their mind or strength of character. Every day am so proud of them, I have three girls and they have all gotten married, and I have three grandchildren, the rest children are doing well and my wife has been so wonderful. People think that rich man doesn’t get broke, but she is my last banker… Sometimes when I have nowhere to run to because am rich and I cannot ask anybody, I will tell her madam, bail me out because you are my banker. So, she is being nice and we have a good relationship. In politics particularly, if she was not there, there is no way I could it at all.
Sir, you were brought up under the Jehovah Witnesses who don’t play politics, where did the change happened sir?
Yes, my parents were Jehovah Witnesses and when I was younger, I was active. But later in life, I lost my way but today am a Christian, I attend the Baptist and we are not restricted from politics, it is part of life because it affects you, the society and if Christians are not to play politics, who will the play. One thing that happened in 1999, a lot of serious people never believed that the military will handover and the people who would have gone into the arena stayed back. The people who have nothing else to do jumped into it and till today, they have not allowed us in. Politics and the economy are intertwined in the society.
So, what has been your experience since you joined politics or as a business man, what attracted you to politics?
The truth about my entering into politics was my realization that I needed to impact my immediate society, especially Delta State and I looked the quickest and most impactful way I could reach out to the people in my state, I also saw that the government that was ruling and I thought a lot can be done better. So that was the motivation.
As an individual, no matter how rich you are, your impact unless you are setting up industries and employing people, you really cannot directly affect the people as you would, if you are running a state and you are efficiently deploying the resources available at that level to touch the lives of people. I saw my background and say, I have learnt a lot in the business and a professional Chattered Accountant, a fellow of the institute, I have in banks run Department of Financial Control. I set up financial control in Fidelity Merchant bank, Guaranty Trust bank and Zenith bank where I was the financial controller until I became the M.D in Keystone bank. And my belief was that if I have the opportunity of running Delta state, I would run it like a cooperate organization with the only difference of a non-profit making cooperate organization and that is how a state must be run. They are not reporting other dividends to the people than the development that is given to the people.
My motivation was that, I have acquired skills, networks and knowledge and this opportunity existed in Delta State, so let somebody who can make things happen to be there.
As the leader of APC in Delta State what is the state of the party?
The truth is APC is the main opposition party in Delta State. But we come from the history of opposition in Delta state. After attempt to change the system in PDP between 2005, 2006/2007 when I contested the primaries, it did not work because PDP was a closed club and to even pip through the window is not possible not to talk of entering through the gate. I tell you my experience, when we went for primaries at Ogwashikwu in 2006, I as an aspirant have to fight before entering into the stadium, the security agents would not to talk of allowing my supporters and candidates into the venue because it was a done deal, sealed up because the main, candidate has been crowned, they drove into the stadium in a convoy including those that will conduct the primaries, so you could just see that you are shut out.
When I saw that, I realize that something has to happen, the opposition has come together and it is in that line that I joined the opposition since then, but I tell you today as we speak, the opposition in Delta state has the greatest chance to finally end the dynasty that has been ruling for more than 18-years and that is what APC represents today.
The APC has brought together a robust assemblage of all the strength in Delta State that is opposed to the current misrule that is going on and a lot of them are people who were there before who know what they where doing that said, this has to stop. The people who are now in APC, if you follow the kind of background they have, the followership, the command in the state and acre of who is who in politic of Delta. As a leader in APC who has been at the founding level in the state and who has nurtured as a governorship candidate in 2015, and have also promote it and opened the door to ensure that the party is opened for other strong players in opposition to come in.
Am very happy that finally, we have assembled a formidable team to ensure that in 2019, Delta state would have ridden of people who have squandered it for the past 18 years.
Some says that this robustness of the caliber of person with large followers that have joined the party are with clash of interest and is weakling the strength of the party, how are you harnessing that ….?
Cuts in. It is only people who don’t know politics that will think that there is some internal disagreement, therefore the party itself is not strong enough to meet its objective. For instance, when APC was coming together at the national level the characters that came were all strong characters and you need strong independent character, people who have their own interest to pursue to build a strong party. When it was built at the national level, Atiku was there he has his own interest to become president, kwankwaso was there with his interest to be president, then our president, Buhari was there, then the South West was brought in and all this interest was put together and people thought that APC can’t make, that these people have divergent interest. But after the Lagos convention when everybody saw that the president was democratically picked as candidate, all those interest collapse together and that is how we took the presidency from PDP. That time PDP was thinking that, they will never surrender their certificate thinking that all the strong players will put out. They underestimated us, the same thing is going to happen in Delta state. Ogboru has been a strong player in the opposition in Delta state and he must be recognized for that, he has followers and has strength and he is APC. Victor Ochei was the Speaker and he contested primaries and came 3rd in PDP and he pulled that strength out and he is with us. Is it Cairo Ojugbo you want to talk about that has brought half of PDP in Delta state to join APC, a deputy national chairman of the PDP at the national level and a leader here in the state, he has brought them. What about myself with what I have built from the scratch and I ran the party with all the machineries that are on ground already. We have them, PZ Aghinighan from the Ijaw axis and Chief Ayiri from the Itsekiri angle, name them or chief Enuha from Delta north who has the spread of command.
If see what has happened in Anambra, the president has ensured that votes will count and vote is going to count and we are talking of a state where if you conduct free and fair election or mock election, people would never want PDP to come back to power. I calculated what PDP has received in past 18 years and as at last year, 2016, its over 5.4trillion, where is it? These are people who receive on average about N15billion every month and there months that have received 30-40 billion. Are there roads even in Asaba that they talk about, are there roads connecting the cities, Warri, Sapele Agbor Asaba, Patani either in Isoko or anywhere. Where do you find development, are there industries set up that you can mention in this state? Set up by the state government and the people are employed.
Is our school the best schools, are our teachers being paid, how many months are they being owed, are pensioners not dying on the streets everyday…? So, tell me one thing that will make Delta to vote again for PDP.
You journalists know it that PDP has never won election in Delta state, they always have the capacity to write results, influenced security, INEC and say go to court and without that, where are they?
When I say this our best chance to take over Delta so that good governance would come and I say it facts, clarity and am not just saying it because I want to promote APC.
If PDP has the capacity of influencing security agents and writing result, why do you think that 2019 will be different?
I answered that question while talking… I say look at Anambra, was PDP not there, we were all there and if anybody should have write results, it would have been the APC but that was not done in Anambra? PDP was using the federal might as then but if President Buhari doesn’t want that but a level playing ground, all of us should go and work and we are ready to ensure that one man one vote. The only thing they have more us is the money they have been accumulation since they are power but where they will spend a thousand naira, with hundred naira we will beat them.
There is wide spread dissatisfaction with APC at the central level has not met the expectation of the electorates expected of it, how would you react to it?
Am a Nigerian and I will be deceiving you if I tell you that things cannot be better than it is today. But you must forget where APC took this country from, the hole PDP dug for Nigerian that the president and his team has been filling since take over in 2015. Only recently you see that we have climb out of recession and that tells you where we were, and we are all witnesses to all the stealing that went on, all our revenue was just being looted and the crashing of the oil price, it was a double jeopardy imposed on the present when he came in and every bad thing must be repaired before you come out of it.
And do not also forget that our president was ill which also distracted him for some time but now he is fit as a filo, you can see him as a different, he is a miracle and Nigerians are very happy that the president is back and is working. He is determined and focus and by 2019, Nigerians will see clearly and they will be the one asking that he should come back and he has set that in motion. Nobody will allow somebody who has stolen and remove the roof of this country to come back when the it has just been replaced. It would not happen.
What is your reflection at 60 and the motivation?
My reflection at 60 is to be thankful and grateful to God and if you look at the mood of the country today and circumstances of everybody, what should I be doing at 60 to invite rich people, open doors, buy Champaign and lets drink forever? No. I felt that this is an occasion to reach out Nigerians that are under stress and that is why as a family we sat down and said, let come back to the village do most of the activities here by medical outreach, check their eyes, give them drugs, glasses and give them prescription free of charge, also, I have a clinic in my village that needs some drugs and equipment.
Also, cultural display competition across the state and when they go back they have some cash price they will win to develop culture. But the final of them is on Sunday when we will empower about a hundred or more youth and a hundred women also. These are people who are already doing one business or the other that need additional working capital so that they can improve and we will monitor this people to see how well they are using it to encourage in future to do more.