Ambassador Odion Cedrack Okpebholo is the National Chairman and founder of the Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN), in this interview with Ayodele Samuel, he speaks on how his party and other like minds in the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) will form unity government in 2019.
How will you react to the DSS siege on the National Assembly recently?
You see, that was an incident that goes to show the disdain and total disregard for democratic ethics by the present APC- led Federal Government. If not, how do you use a State apparatus as the DSS, to try to intimidate another Institution of government for selfish, personal objectives? I know there are several versions of conspiracy theories about the matter, but that still goes to show the level of incompetence in this government. I hardly believe that the Presidency is not part of the forces behind the DSS siege. This is because since the government came to power in 2015, its approach to issues has been violently hostile and forceful. I condemn the siege as an individual and in my Party’s behalf. It is wrong from all facets, including democratically. The Legislature is as powerful as the Executive, if not more, in a democratic setting. But because the Executive controls the apparatus of the State does not mean it should try to coerce the legislature to bend to its nefarious agendas.
Your party is a member of the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, how far has the Coalition gone in achieving its goals?
Well, committees have been set up to effectively manage affairs of the marriage. In fact, I am a member of the steering committee. And I think we are getting it right.
What inform your party’s decision to join the CUPP?
We joined the coalition because we felt that our party is new and we cannot float presidential candidate to win. Although we have presidential aspirants so we now joined the coalition. We believe that the coalition is the best way to come together in force to remove this present government and keep the country running better. We formed the coalition with 38 parties and all the coalition is equal, we are not in PDP, we are not in any other party we all have equal opportunity in the coalition. One party will float presidential candidate, one party will bring vice president and so on and so forth and at the end of the day we all work in unity.
How do you think you can achieve your goals in the CUPP?
I want to tell you that we are working towards that. The coalition will sit and agree on one manifesto and ideology. We have selected members from various parties to come together and work on that manifesto because we are going to use one Manifesto not PDP manifesto, we are going to chip in and make it one so that every member of the coalition will agree on that manifesto and we work on it. We have signed a MoU on a level playing ground. PDP has their candidate, others have their aspirants, we have our aspirants. The primaries must be conducted from each party, after the primaries then we now know who and who we will choose. Our party has three presidential aspirant including, Davison Akimiah, who is the man that has been supporting this party right from the grassroots. He is the leading aspirants with good pedigree and stands a chance of becoming our candidate. He is just 53.
Your party is new, what makes it different from other Political Parties, what’s your ideology?
First of all, our slogan is GDPN- solution to the nation and the ideology of the party is to reduce the mass movement from the rural area to the urban area. And our motto is peace, industry and progress. Any country that has peace there will be industry and any country that has industry there will be progress. We are going to industrialize the rural area. So that when our children finishes their education instead of them travelling to Kano, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja, they will then settle back home and work then the grassroots will be developed and people will be coming from the urban area to the rural area to work. Before now, we had few universities and plenty industries- which were government industries and foreign industries but now the reverse is the case. What we have now is plenty universities and no industries. And someone broke that yoke of many universities. The person that started it was Chief Igbinedion of Edo state. He was the first man that established a private university in Nigeria. After him, a body- Church of God Mission, Edo state established another university.
If you look at the whole nation today we have plenty universities and most of the big men we have today they are all establishing universities in their villages because that’s where they could have plenty of land to build their universities so for those Nigerians who could not take their children abroad for university then they send them to village to be schooling that’s why you see sometimes kidnapping all over because big men children are over there so now ,most of the big churches here today in Nigeria they have universities and sadly the people that even paid and contribute for the universities they cannot afford to take their children there.
And also how we going to industrialize the area is that foreign investors can’t come here now because there is no peace in this country and we don’t need government industry, we need our Nigerian investors who are foreign investors in another country to come home and invest in their villages so that people will be emulating them from there we will have more industries than the universities so that when people finishes their education then they get job easily that’s how it was in those days but now reverse is the case.
Since the inception of this party we have been sensitizing our big men who are in abroad and here about our ideology and how we want to reduce the mass movement which that the government on ground now can’t allow them so we need a government who can allow our Nigerian people to come into our country and invest in the industry. Also our party is the only party that has women inclusiveness in its programme, we have so many female aspirants in our party. We have 40 percent affirmative for women and for the youth, 35 percent, people living with disability we have 10 percent and the other 15 goes to the elite.