In this interview with Ika Weekly at the weekend at his palatial home in Boji-Boji, Owa, the Igbodo born law-maker among other issues bares his mind.
Sir can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Victor Nwokolo, the member representing Ika Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives.
Can you tell us of your educational background?
I attended St. James Anglican Primary School, Agbor now Igumbor Otiku Primary School. From there I went to Ika Grammar School, 1974-1979 and later to College of Education in Benin-City, 1979-1982, where I studied Mathematics / Economics. After my National Certificate of Education programme I was employed as a school teacher at Ozanogogo Secondary School but did not stay long there as I was transferred two months later to Ogbemudein Mixed Secondary School, Agbor. It was when I was with the National Security Organization now State Security Service (SSS) that I went to the University of Benin to study law. I was called to the Nigerian Barr in 1994
Can you tell us a little about your growing up?
I lost my father at a tender age and to the glory of God before he left he laid a good Christian foundation for his children. I was brought up in a proper Christian way. I was a member of the choir and youth fellowship of my church. I am a person of unquestionable character and from a very stable family unit.
During your days in Ika Grammar School who and who were your school mates and friends?
Prof Eric Eboh, Prof. Moses Obiazi, Chukwuyem Atoi, a staff of the Ministry of Justice, Asaba, Chief Lawrence Osiegbu, Dada Ijeh, Andrew Obiazi, Philip Okwuada and Hon Sunny Nwokolor were all my mates at Ika Grammar School.
From reports gathered, the standard of education during your time was high, teachers and students were responsive and the environment was friendly. Can you compare it to what we are seeing today as both teachers and students come and leave school anytime they wish and the government not ready to take its full responsibility on education?
Well, I will say in our time as students, the government was more responsible. Then, the demand for government resources was not as high as it is today. Also Prof Ambrose Ali’s policy of establishing schools in different parts of the Old Bendel State when he was governor gave boost to education during our time. I think one of the problems militating against educational growth in Nigeria is the contending demand for the limited resources because with this, it is difficult to concentrate all the resources in the education sector. That is why government is having challenges over the funding of education. Also during our time, parents were more responsible. There was morality. During school hours you do not see students outside the school premises unlike now at 10am or 11am you see secondary school students roaming about the streets.
When you were at the College of Education Benin, were you involved in school politics?
Yes, I was a member of the Students Representative Council. But in Ika Grammar School I was a prefect.
How do you feel having worked with the State Security Service (S.S.S)?
I feel proud and happy. At the time I left I had no problem with anybody or the organization. Today, I can make bold to say I worked there.
Which offices did you occupy in the SSS before you retired?
After I was employed in 1984, I was posted to the S.S.S National headquarters in Lagos, and later to Benin-City. When I was in Benin-City, my duty was to give out security clearance and issue passports. After sometime I was transferred back to Lagos. While there, I became a senior staff administration officer in charge of staff matters
Do you have any regret leaving the S.S.S?
No, in the first place I thank God I worked with the S.S.S. I am also grateful to all those who give me the opportunity and to all my supervisors. The discipline I got as an officer in the SSS is not what I can buy in the market. At a time when I was serving in Lagos, I was the Chief Aid to Chief Tom Ikimi, when he was the national chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He lived in Victoria Island and I resumed work by 5am in the morning and closed 12 mid night1am the following morning. That kind of training is what has helped me in my private life. So, I have no regret at all working with the SSS. And I also remain grateful to God because as soon as I left the SSS. He showed me His infinite mercy. I have kept people in employment for over ten years. Those who know me very well can attest to what God has used me to do for my people. I can also boast that since after my retirement I have never written aany pplication to anybody.
May we know the name of your company?
I do not think that is necessary, our work speaks for us because we projects that last for time.
Before you went into active politics, what will you beat your chest to say that you did for Ika people?
Well, I am a kind of person that does not like publicity but I tell you outside politics I have done many things that involve money that I do not want to be made public. However. I am in politics now where people say it is a must to say what you do for your community. By the time you start saying what you do for your people or community, it is as if your are blowing your own trumpet. It is even scriptural that if you give a gift to someone with one hand the other hand is not supposed to know about it.
Why did you go into politics?
I went into politics because I feel that our people need effective representation. You will agree with me that over the years my predecessors did very well but we also feel that it can be improved upon. We also feel that we need to have more federal government presence in our place. Everything in Ika land is attributed to the Delta State Government. The only federal government project we can boast of, if it is successful is the National Integration Power Project (NIPP). Outside the NIPP project, nothing can be attributed to the federal government since 1999. May be the Alihame / Sakponba road that Hon Cairo Ojougboh helped to influence when he was a member of the House of Representatives. For about thirteen years of democracy in Nigeria that is not enough.
From your statement, it seems there is really an urgent need to address the infrastructural problem in Ika land?
Yes of course. As I said earlier I came into politics as a means of contributing my own quota to Ika development. To give a better representation
You won the Ika federal constituency election into the House of Representatives seat in last year’s National Assembly election under Accord Party, a New political party in the area. How were you able to do the magic
It is not a magic. It is the peoples wish. Politics is a game of number. I did not do it, the people did it. Talking about the primaries, you will agree with me that this is a complete Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stronghold and my victory at the party primary election before my name was substituted was the fairest since 1999. You will agree with me that till the day of the primary election there was no issue or fight. At the end, I got 258 votes, the next person got 85, the one following him got 84 votes and the other 9 votes. The one that got 9 votes was given the party ticket. Our traditional rulers came into the matter They did all they could but to no avail. I also went to court to get injuction. When we could not get justice the people said to me let us change party. My going to Accord Party was not a personal decision, it was the decision of the people. So, I will say what happened was the people venting out their anger against injustice and I give them credit. Problems started when the man who was sent as a Returning Officer either he did not know what to do or he lacked the disposition which his office demands. However, we thank God the elections have come and gone
People have been complaining that after nearly one year of your stay in the House of Representatives, you have not spoken one word on the floor of the House. Is it because you have nothing to say or you do not know what to say?
You people only watch Thursday sittings not that of Tuesday and Wednesday. The other day I was in the church somebody raised this kind of question. I said well people are bound to say what they want to say because that is what true democracy entails. But what I want to say here is that performance is not assessed by the number of motions you move. I do not play to the gallery. I do my things on the part of objectivity I will not go and do things just to satisfy anybody. Like on the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy you do not expect me to say something when the government has not finished having consultations and discussions. If all I am going to talk President Good-luck Jonathan should not be killed because for there to be good infrastructures the people have to pay the price. If we are saying that our schools, hospitals, electricity and roads must be repaired it has to be funded. And again what is legislation, it is not about making noise in the House. It is how much your people are benefitting. But I must say in fairness to you, that from June to December last year it was all crises. My state of mind now is different from what it was because you will not have over six to seven court cases except you are not human being and will not be distracted. The way I am going about my legislative business now is by far better than what it was throughout last year. Before now, today we are in the election tribunal, tomorrow we are in the Appeal Court. For instance we were in the Appeal Court three times, Tribunal three times and Federal High Court three times.
Your constituency office is not functioning at the moment?
I do not know what you are talking about. My constituency office is in a very visible place, opposite the office of the Direct Labour Agency and close to Ika Grammar School, you can go there and see for yourself whether it is functioning or not.
The effect of your representation has not been felt despite the fact that you have been drawing your constituency allowance which runs into several millions. What have you to say about that?
What do you mean by constituency allowance? It is good for you to verify issues because the facts are there. It will not be wiped out because Victor Nwokolo is there. Like I said before, throughout last year I was neither here or there. Apart from that, when people are talking of constituency allowance, they should be able to know that the 2012 budget is the first we are working on and no constituency allowance is given to any lawmaker. But as members of the House we are at liberty to name projects that will benefit our people. And again we do not call it constituency allowance but running cost. It is good we have good ideas of what we are saying. Right now, do you know that the federal government has cut down cost and that members of the National Assembly are yet to have official cars.
Is the almost non-existent electricity power supply in Ika land not enough problem for you to move a motion for urgent attention on Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)?
No, no, look, I believe in reality not dancing to the gallery. There are things you resolve among yourselves. When you push government to the wall they will not be able to do anything. Without fear of contradiction, the Managing Director of National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) is my very good friend and we have spoken about the project several times. Because of certain problems in the country, the government funding of projects has not been regular, so, that has created some bottle necks to the timely execution of contracts in the country-However, the contractor handling the NIPP project has promised Senator Arthor Ifeanyi Okowa and I that they will do everything possible to complete the job I am sure in the next four to five months there will be something different. If it is completed, it will not start up immediately because it will have to linked up with the one in Asaba and the pace of work on that one is slow for now. With this you will be convinced that it is not all about raising motion but knowing what to do and doing it rightly. We have to cooperate with the government so that it will work. We will only create more problems for ourselves and communities when we start raising motions that are not relevant. And again, contrary to what people are saying, having worked with the SSS for years, I know the workings of government. When you are in government what should be paramount to you is achievement not making of noise. I was telling some people not long ago that by the grace of God, three or four roads in Ika land will be worked upon. The roads are Imudia, Melekwe, erosion threatening areas in Central Hospital, Agbor and the College of Education Agbor. Before April this year, work on the roads will commence. I still want to say that constituency project money is not given to any House member. The house only wants you to decide a particular project you want them to do for the people of your constituency at a particular amount. People should get it right. As of now, even in the last assembly no member is given money to go do a constituency project. All you do is to decide and supervise the type of project to be cited in your area.
Ika nation no doubt is blessed with both human and nature resources but it is looking for a political messiah. Are you going to be the messiah?
We will continue to do our best. These projects that I said are coming to Ika land, the contractors will start work before three months time. As the mouthpiece of the people, you (the press) will be there to see things for yourself. Please when it starts happening help us to put it in pen and paper.
The dualisation of the Old Lagos / Asaba Road has been going on for years now and no meaningful work has been done, yet Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan keep deceiving Ika people that the road will be completed soon. Why can’t our representatives in government meet and make a very strong representation to the governor to express the feelings of Ika people?
You are talking like a market woman or like a motor tout. With due respect to you as a journalist. If Governor Uduaghan is deceiving Ika people he would not be in Agbor to inspect the road. He was here last week because the issue of the Old Lagos / Asaba road is bordering him. I am not holding brief for him but I have a little insight of what is happening in government. With the N18,000 minimum wage and security threats here and there, the government does not have all the money it needs to fund projects. Before now there are some projects that required urgent and serious funding. Our schools, if you go to Ogbemudien Mixed Secondary School and some other schools in Ika land, new buildings are being erected. We should also consider that the issue of compensation and relocation of owners of the houses and stores along the road is not an easy one to handle. I know that the governor having come to see things for himself will get the project completed as soon as possible. We did beg him before he made the promise and since he made up his mind to do the road he will not fail. Please do not join people in what they are saying that Governor Uduaghan has abandoned Old Lagos / Asaba road. He has not. Help educate our people about it and I expect by now the people of Ika nation should be thanking the governor for promising to fix the road.
Now that you said that your constituency office has been opened and it is functional, will it be prepared to welcome suggestions and advise from people?
Yes, no man is an Island of knowledge. Even if you go to the House twenty times it is still not as when people are putting heads together to discuss issues of national interest. We are going to involve our brothers and sisters who are doing well in their own fields and see how we can all reduce poverty in Ika land. The constituency office is open for discussion not for money sharing.
Are you ready to partner with intelligent and selfless individuals and organizations in Ika land in moving the area forward?
I am prepared to work with any meaningful Ika son and daughter or group who are selfless. But in all, our efforts should be concentrated on the youths because they are the leaders of tomorrow. I will work with everybody. I want their suggestions to be in form of memo. There is going to be peace in Ika land, if we learn how to accommodate and be patient. As for me, I do not belive in confrontation and will continue to accommodate everybody that comes my way.
What about the idea of forming a Think Tank to help drive your vision for Ika Federal constituency?
In fairness to you, a lot of people have shown desire and they have started assisting. I will not start to mention names. No legislator is God that knows everything, so if people who have useful information on how we can develop Ika nation can partner with me, we will move faster.
There is an open rumour that because Senator Arthor Okowa was instrumental to your election victory, your loyalty goes to him only?
Senator Arthor Ifeanyi Okowa remains my brother, a friend and a mentor. Okowa is a leader of Delta North. He is a very notable leader in Delta State and by the grace of God a national leader. Whether Okowa or not, there is no politician that will tolerate disloyalty or insubordination. Look at it from the scripture in the lives of Elijah and Elisha. Elisha came from a better background than Elijah, yet he followed Elijah faithfully. There is no place in the bible where disloyalty is encouraged. If we are Christians then we should copy those things we read about in the Bible. Being loyal to Sen. Okowa and others who have contributed to my life should not bother anybody. One thing I want to tell you about Okowa is that he has never collected money from anybody to put them in position. If you doubt it, ask anybody in Ika land. There must be certain things you must copy from people. The Awoist for example are known for their welfarism. So, being with Okowa will encourage you to make a name for yourself. You hear people talk of Okowa, why;, because he attends to peoples needs. Hardly do you see Okowa shout at anybody. All I am bothered about is how we can join hands with Okowa to move Ika nation forward
But Senator Okowa dictates to you?
I am sorry to say this. Okowa is not God and I have never met a man like him. He is a man of the people anytime. A man should see beyond his nose and as for me, I embrace everybody. Up till now I still visit places that I did not win election. I have never known Senator Okowa from the beginning but his good work made us to know ourselves. He will only guide you to do what is right.
What really are your visions for Ika nation?
Some of my plans for Ika nation are already being pursued. By the time the 2012 budget is implemented, results will start coming out and very soon, we will start organizing public programmes. Like I said earlier, last year was more of a wasted one, this time there will be projects that will reflect in the twenty six wards in Ika federal constituency
So far how has it been in the House?
It is ok. You know Accord Party is not visible in Nigeria, hence, is at advantage of having committee chairmanship position if you are in the ruling party.
Are you going to extend olive branch to all those politicians, particularly your opponents during the National Assembly elections who are not satisfied with your victory?
It is natural that people who contested election with me are not too happy. But the surprising thing is that people have introduced what we have not seen before in Ika land. You will agree with me that this is the first time people are pursuing litigation even when the election was declared free and fair. Be that as it may, as a God fearing person, I have learnt to forgive. The development of Ika nation is too important that we do not want to create enmity among ourselves. I believe every wound will be healed soon. I also, have plans through my constituency office to reach out to all politicians in Ika, provided they have contributed to humanity. By the time we put our efforts together, we will be able to move Ika forward and whether I like it or not by the virtue of my office, it is my duty to reach out to everybody.
Is it true that you never had the intention of contesting any election until Dr. Mrs. Isioma Okobah, the Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N) candidate in the last Ika federal constituency, House of Representatives election approached you for assistance and advise?
No, Dr. Mrs. Isioma Okobah approached me and I told her no one man has the power to put her in office and that she should not spend her money but watch out first. These were my words to her. She felt I was not telling her the truth and so did not yield to my advice. She is my sister, she is good but then in politics there are too many factors you have to consider before doing anything.
Apart from Politics who is Victor Nwokolo?
I am one man who believes what God can doand not what people can do. Not even my own efforts. If it is by my effort you will agree with me that I would not have been in the position I am occupying right now. Even if I had brought two hundred trailers of dollars and pounds to my people, they would not have still voted for me. Even the Bible said it that the battle is not for the strong but for the Lord. It is only when God says it that it will come to pass. I do not believe in anything of do or die but in peace. That was the way I was brought up and by the grace of God, that is who I will remain.
Outside Senator Author Okowa who else is your mentor?
Of course Jim Ovia. He has actually excelled from nowhere through hardwork and comporting himself properly. He is not involved in controversies. He is a man after my heart
Are you close to God?
Yes. I was born into a good Christian home and will remain a good Christian God is the only person who is not partial, I find fulfillment being close to Him.
What about marriage?
I am happily married. My wife is my sister and friend. We are blessed with three children, two boys a girl.
I play scotch
What is your message to the people of Ika people?
There is need for us to be patient, government does not do miracle. We just finished doing the first budget and we are now in the early part of 2012. We want them to understand that legislators are not members of the executive, we do not award contracts so they need to be patient with us and show understanding. Above all, we need peace and discipline. If we are not disciplined, we cannot achieve peace and there is no society in the world who can do well in the midst of crisis. I appeal to the youths to shun vices such as cultism, and to the parents to lay a good foundation to their children both educationally and morally. How we can all work together to move Ika nation forward should be our major concern. People who have ideas on how we can develop should come out with them for one man alone cannot do it.