Mr. Benson Enikuomehin is a chieftain of Labour Party in Ondo State. But there seems to be some cracks that have pitted him against Governor Olusegun Mimiko. In this interview with Funke Olaode, he spoke on some of the pertinent issues in the state. Excerpts:
You were a part of the re-election of Governor Olusegun Mimiko in Ondo State. And at a time you fell out with him. At what stage did the relationship break down?
It would be a wrong notion because I never fell out with Mimiko. If I complained as a member of the family that the food being served in this house is not good enough, that does not remove me from being a member of that family. It is because as a member I said ‘Sir, these areas are wrong’. I discussed with him privately and the issues are not being addressed. I even spoke with one or two persons but the issues still remained and I had to speak out. I have not left the Labour Party, they can’t sack me. If they do it illegitimately, I will take them to court.
The point is this, as a member of the family I have spoken out. You know the fad in the country is that as soon as you speak out, you are falling out. For instance, if two brothers quarrel and disagree over a point, does that mean that stop one of them from bearing the family’s name? So we should quarrel and settle because when everything is smooth, we are telling lies to ourselves.
Are the things you complained about being addressed?
You know the sickness of 20 years that has made a man so emaciated might be difficult to address overnight. But a process must be put in place to know that the man would recuperate. And whether that process is put in place is another issue altogether. I have raised them. For instance, the caterpillars that were used to kick off the road on the 12th of April were removed. And truly those caterpillars disappeared as soon as the kick-off took place the following day. We didn’t see the car, ter or the pillar. Not even shovel. I drove round from Igbokoda to Ugbonla to see whether I could see a trace, there was none.
Then I shouted. That shouting brought two of the caterpillars back and whether they are working is a different story. When I shout more they would bring additional two. By the time they bring more I would begin to praise them. Let the administration begin to work, I would go back and praise them and tell the whole world that they are working. I am not condemning or shouting because I want to ruin the administration. No. I sent a text message to his excellence Governor Mimiko which read: “My criticism of your administration is because your government has not done well for my people (the Ilajes)”.
The criticism is not for me, Benson. I am not looking for money though I am not a rich person and I am not begging. For instance, Kwankwaso is not from my ethnic group or from my state. I went to Kano and saw what he did. I can recommend that man for any position in this country. I go to Lagos and see the transformation Fashola is doing. Is Fashola in Labour Party? I have been to Akwa Ibom and can see the development going on from a PDP man, Akpabio. I am very objective and I will say it the way it is. So, I am not at war with Governor Mimiko.
Mimiko once recommended you to represent the state at the NDDC in 2009. It seems the cracks in your relationship with him were pronounced when your name was missing after it had been announced late last year that a new board of NDDC was being inaugurated?
It was an abracadabra of the highest order. My name was announced along with other members of other states in the papers. I was cleared by the security agent and didn’t have issues. I didn’t steal on the board of NDDC. I maintained my integrity all day. When I was invited to EFFC, I replied them that I was coming and even got there on time. I went with loads of document that I showed them. I didn’t stay extra one hour at the place because I was given a clean bill.
I even went back with 14 page documents and 48 exhibits and gave them to the chairman of EFCC. That was the end of the matter. In fact, they wanted to come and arrest those who wrote a petition against me that they gave them false information. I had to plead because some of them were in their 70s and 80s. If they should take them to Abuja, they would not come back. That is my life because I was not involved.
Are you likely to play any role in the next dispensation?
As the event unfolds, we would unfold with the event. The bible says it is not ripe for you to say I would do this and that tomorrow. So whatever will happen tomorrow is in the hand of God. Today is my own and I am going to maximise it. In future, whatever happens, I will embrace it. If opportunity arises, I will and if it doesn’t, I will sit in my office and do my work because I belong to the crop of politicians who believe that your means of livelihood should not revolve around politics.
By the grace of God, I am not hungry and not begging for bread. Sometime ago I said if they count the names of poor men in the world, I would not be on the list. My desire now is God should give me the enablement to do more for humanity.
Is the recent relocation of your law firm from Abuja to Akure a sign that you want to be close to the grassroots in the build-up to 2016?
I don’t think people will have such notion because upon my call to the Nigerian bar on March 22, 1995, I resolved to do my best and contribute my quota to the development of legal profession in Nigeria. I first developed the Lagos office called Shalom Chambers but not to the taste of my dream law office. My sojourn to Akure in 2003 could not have availed me the law firm I dreamt about in 2005. When I moved to Abuja in 2008, I proposed to build a national law firm which would be second to none in Nigeria and probably in West Africa. I decided to invest in law books which culminated in the commissioning of my Law Library in Abuja.
In 2010, my architect designed a five story law centre to be erected at the central area of Abuja. The vision was killed by the invasion of Boko Haram ravaging facilities in the federal capital. So I decided to relocate my dream law firm to Ondo State. The office that was commissioned in Akure recently is the boys’ quarters to the edifice now under construction. By the grace of God it will be ready in the next one year. So it has always been my dream to have a law center of repute and moving it to Akure did not have any political undertone.
Your life was allegedly threatened recently. Where did that come from?
A day to the commissioning of my law firm in Akure, I got a text message from faceless people that they were coming to bomb my premise. And as soon as those text messages came in, I knew the source of the messages. I sent a text to those persons; the two of them. I sent a petition to the police, identified their names and their numbers. If they weren’t the one as soon as I sent the message, they would react promptly. Up till now they have not replied. But the security agencies were at alert and all was well. For me, one who is with God is with majority and I am not moved by what people do or day.