Senator Robert Borofice represents Ondo North senatorial district in the Senate. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the Senator–elect avers that inspite of the fact that PDP won substantially in Ondo State in the last general elections, the APC is still in control of the state. He also bares his mind on some national issues.
What are some of the challenges you faced before the elections?
The challenges I face mainly was that my governor who was supposed to support us sponsored another candidate against me in Action Alliance (AA) and was funding Action Alliance against me. The funds released for APC candidates during the elections was diverted to sponsor Action Alliance to a point that I and some of my colleagues had to use our own resources to provide logistics for our elections. I couldn’t afford to have polling agents, but God sent His angels to be my polling agents.
Was the party at the national level aware of what happened in Ondo state?
They were aware of it but it usually takes due process. He has been querried and I hear he has been suspended now. I just thank God that no serious damage was done in my senatorial district but the APC lost in the other two senatorial districts.
So, given the outcome of the elections, PDP is on ground in Ondo state now…
No, APC is still in control but a house divided against itself cannot stand. If you had the votes earned by AA and add it to that of PDP, APC will be far higher than both. In fact, some people voted for PDP because they were disenchanted with what is happening in the APC. So, to a great extent, people voted for candidates not parties.
Is there anything that can be done to curb the excesses of state governors regarding imposition of candidates on the party?
But I think the party has tried to democratise the process by insisting on direct primaries. This made every card carrying member of the APC to be responsible for who emerged as their candidates.
APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was berated in some quarters for some of his actions before the elections. Do you still have confidence in him as the chairman of your party?
Adams Oshiomhole does not act alone. He has a National Working Committee (NWC) and he is a man I know that believes in collective responsibility arising from collective wisdom. I’m particularly grateful to the national chairman for giving us this opportunity because if he had not declared Ondo as one of the states that must have direct primaries, I will not be here today. But because he did his research very well, he knew why the governors were antagonistic to the party’s candidates and those areas were told to have direct primaries. But where the governors are friendly and are ready to support the party’s candidates, they were allowed to have indirect primaries. Adams did very well. He came in at a critical time when the party was riddled by internal crises, yet he was able to manage these crises which were not his fault.
Some see the clash between you and your governor as the consequences of your ambition to govern the state?
That is his perception and unfortunately he is wrong because I have participated twice in governorship elections and on those occasions, I did not on my own decide to contest, it was the party leadership that pressurised me to do so. I say this with the all sincerity, I contested and I was not patronised as I thought, so I withdrew. I have made up my mind that it will be very difficult for me to seek the governorship again. It will take a strong persuasion for me to run. So, his perception is very wrong. He believes that I’m eyeing his seat. In fact, it has become his campaign mantra. Now he has started campaigning, aspirants have been coming out and I haven’t shown interest. I just believe he is not a politician. He is politically myopic. He doesn’t understand politics and that is why he keeps moving from one mistake to another. It’s very unfortunate that he has been given the opportunity to govern a state yet people are disappointed with him.
Coming back to the 8th Senate, 15 former governors are coming to the next Senate and some Nigerians are worried that the Red Chamber has been turned into a retirement home for governors. What is your take on this?
Many people have expressed this concern. This is a democratic process that you cannot stop. I don’t know how you can stop it. But being a governor and now a Senator, there is nothing that should stop them from being a good Senators.
Given an opportunity to assess the performance of the 8th Senate, what will it be?
Why would you say that?
Because we spent half of the time fighting the Executive arm of government. The 8th Assembly nearly crippled President Buhari administration, which should not be. It’s either it was fighting over customs C-G uniform, another time it was fighting over Magu and other unnecessary things. For a long time, the Senate refused to screen board nominees as if they want to paralyse the government. Budgets were not passed at the right time. I was in the 7th Senate and I was happy that we had a good time but in the 8th Senate, we had stealing of the mace, which was a sacrilege and so many other things that were unparliamentarily. There were so many things that were unparliamentarily. We were there just watching them and we were helpless.
Now that the Senate will wind up in a matter of weeks, what will you say are the achievements of the Standing Committee on Science and Tech, which you chairs?
We have achieved alot partially. We were able to do our oversight functions, that funds allocated to the parastatals were used for projects that were important to the nation. Very soon there will be commissioning of many projects soon like laboratory in Nsukka.
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