Age should not be a limitation for anybody who wants to contest, If a young man has the vision, the capacity and the wherewithal to prosecute the election, he should be allowed, also if an old man has the vision and capacity to deliver, he should be allowed.–Hon Success T. Torhukerhijo.Adunni Adetola
One of the members of Ondo State House of Assembly representing the Ijaw minority in Ese- Odo Constituency, Honourable Success Taiwo Torhukerhijo in an interview spoke with some Journalists during his brief visitation to Lagos, Adetola Adunni represented the Torch News Media.
Hon. Success Torhukerhijo retains a traditional title of Positariwei of Arogbo-Ijawland.
He stated that his consistent call in the State House of Assembly drew the attention of the state government to his constituency in the area of health facilities and employment and so on needs to be achieved.
He reprimanded some members of the National Assembly who recently voted against the use of electronic transmission of votes by INEC, stressing that those senators are either ignorant of current realities or mischievous.
You are a lawyer by profession, what prompted you to go into politics?
Before becoming a lawyer, I practiced journalism too. In fact, I had a title “Community Link Newspaper”. I was the chairman of the association of community newspapers publishers in Ondo state.
The passion to give back to society and to develop my people and make impact because the Ijaws in Ondo state constitute the minority and most times, minorities have their challenges, because whatever comes around from the “national cake” to the state, the majorities always get more because they are the majority but from the wealth of my experience, I try to navigate my way through to see how I can get the dividends of democracy to my people who are the minority in Ondo, and the passion to let them also have access to governance, the things they have been denied over the years. This is basically what triggered my interest to go into politics,
How long have you been in the House of Assembly?
Well, this is my first tenure. I was elected and sworn-in on the third of June, 2019 and I have been there for about two and half years now.
Are you planning to run for a second term at the end of your first term?
No. There is a culture in my place that nobody should run for second term. We have two zones which alternate it and I cannot scuttle that arrangement; it’s a gentleman arrangement.
Are you then likely going for another position at the end of your tenure?
Well, the bible says in Psalm 75 verse 6, “For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south but from above. No one gets anything except it is given to him from above.” If it pleases God and my people still need my services and I see it, there is nothing stopping me.
To the best of my ability, I think I have given my people proper representation and for that, there are insinuations out there but whatever it is, we still have to subject it to the Almighty God for approval and endorsement.
Thereafter we can now come up with a categorical statement. But as at today, the one I’m doing has not even ended. It is good to conclude that one while not losing sight of what we should do if God allows.
So far, so good, Hon. Success Taiwo Torhukerhijo representing the Ijaw minority in Ese-Odo constituency of Ondo state. What will you say you have been able to impact your constituency?
As I have aforementioned that the Ijaws in Ondo are in the minority and our problems from time immemorial and successive administrations has been marginalization from developmental programmes of government, they are clearly excluded but this time, we have been able to cry out that this people are not supposed to be treated like this.
We are supposed to be heard, our voice should be heard. We have been able to raise our voice loud and clear in the Ondo State House of Assembly. Aside that, we have also tried to touch the lives of our people through empowerment programmes.
On several occasions, we have been able to reach out to our people, those who have acquired various skills, giving them start up capitals and equipment.
We have also organised training for different vocations. I have also supported students in higher institutions, those that have financial challenges to the best of our ability.
In one of our meetings in the community, I received a standing ovation, In fact, I did not just receive standing ovation, I received a letter of commendation from our traditional ruler for the way I’m crying out in the house about our problems because it is when people know that you have a problem that they will help you.
Now they have posted doctors and nurses to the hospital that has been moribund through our efforts. And some of our people have been employed into the main stream of civil service too unlike in the past when they would just abandon them.
At this period, most of our people are being considered for appointments in various ministries in Ondo state civil service through our consistent cries because the authorities in Ondo state cannot afford to ignore us because we keep crying.
And that is a sharp contrast from the practice in the past when people believe that once you are in the same party with the governor, you should not cry out.
But in my own case, the moment you are not doing the right thing for my people, I will cry out loud . People in Ondo state can bear me witness; in that regard, we have been doing our best.
Hon. Succes, are you saying that in the nearest future your constistuency will experience a good development? Especially in area of rural eletricfication which is very important to your people right now?
Yes! Development is a gradual thing since the voice is there. We will also ensure that some of these things go into the budget of the state which we are the people to influence and by the grace of God, in no distant time, people will begin to see the impact.
Recently, I was with the General manager of the state electricity board to discuss with them the possibility of including my area in the state’s rural electrification even if we cannot be connected to the national grid, at least, there can be an arrangement using the solar energy and there are some companies parading these things.
But recently, there was another bank robbery in the state and not too long ago there was another one where a number of security men and some people were killed.
Robbery incidences have been on for a long time. If you remember the Oyenusi and the Aninis of that time but now the socio-economic situation in the country has now aggravated it; most of the youths graduate from universities, they have no jobs to do.
These things will definitely give rise to social vices and criminalities. And I know it is not peculiar to Ondo state. But I know the governor is not sleeping on his oars when it comes to security in the state. But he cannot achieve everything overnight.
Is there some kind of collaboration with some prominent people from your community to embark on developmental projects?
Yes ofcourse, the last meeting I attended, the chief gave commendation because of my cries. The man you mentioned, High Chief Bibopiri Ajuba a.k.a Gen. ‘Shoot at Sight’ has also brought monumental developments to the community; he has a school, a very big skills acquisition centre, hotels and organises training programmes for our people.
Not him alone, one of our sons, Hon. Kingsley Kuku who was the former chairman of the Federal Government’s amnesty programme, he has also done well; they have actually done their best, in that direction.
What is your position regarding the various agitations for secession in the country?
There is the need for us to jaw-jaw, to discuss our togetherness. The 1914 amalgamation of the North and South was done by Sir Frederick Lord Luggard. They had their reason for doing it at that time.
And now, there are killings and maiming and one group trying to over shadow the other and do things that are inimical to the well being of the people, I think it is only proper that we sit down again and discuss. Above all, the 1999 constitution as amended is a product of the military and the military had their own way of doing things because of the way they emerged without democracy, somebody will just come through the back door with the barrel of the gun which they did at that time.
It is no longer auspicious at this time. So I think there is need for us to sit down and discuss the way we can live together.
But some people believe it is a waste of time and resources since the government will not implement the report from such discussion.
I think one of the reasons the 2014 national conference report was not implemented was the change of government. When ex-president Goodluck Jonathan re-contested in 2015 general election, had it been he won, I’m sure he would have implemented that report.
In Nigeria, when a particular political party comes into power, they want to say this is what we have done and most times, they abandon the programmes of the previous political party and by the time they leave, another party comes and starts from another chapter.
But this time, before we sit down to discuss, the terms must be clearly spelt out and I think that if another national conference will come up, it is not going to be business as usual where the government will spend billions of naira and the outcome will not be implemented.
I believe that the level of civility or civilization Nigeria has gotten has gone beyond that level now. I also think that the will power of the person in government also matters. With what we have now and the circumstances leading to it, I think if it holds, the report will be implemented.
Do you think the governor has done enough in the area of security in the state?
I’m not the governor’s spokesperson but I think he has tried especially because of the Amotekun corps he has introduced and he did a lot of things by getting them vehicles, uniforms and arms. Incidences of crimes and criminality cannot go off immediately but I can tell you that it has reduced.
What is your position on the recent development at the National Assembly where most of our senators voted against the use of electronic transmission of votes by INEC?
Well, I think that those who voted against it might have done so out of ignorance or mischief. Ignorance in the sense that maybe they do not know the implication of what they are doing.
Some people are just there, they do not understand why they are there. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo said that Nigerians were adopting the street-beggar economy because the people in power lack vision.
So the visionlessness of our leaders is the bane of this country. Our democracy is advancing every day. In America, you just sit in the comfort of your home and cast your vote.
Now, we are talking about the electronic transmission of votes, which has been going on in so many other countries. I think those who voted against it do not have the competence and they have lost touch with the current realities and who are not sure of winning elections and who believe they can only get it through the back door and that the electronic transmission will expose them.
Otherwise, we are in a supersonic age, a computer age where virtually everything is computerised.
Electronic transmission is a step in the right direction and those who voted against it did so out of mischief.
But the agility of the man on the saddle matters.
Yes. But the presidential position is not a boxing ring that requires only the agility of a young man. The wisdom of the elders is also important. For me, what is important is the vision and capacity to deliver.
What is your opinion on eligibility for presidential election based on age?
- As far as I’m concern, whoever has the vision, the capacity and competence to deliver should be allowed to contest. Our Lord Jesus Christ was 30 or 32 years when he started his ministry. We know the age of the current American president and so I do not think age should be a limitation to anybody who wants to contest. If a young man has the vision, the capacity and the wherewithal to prosecute the election, he should be allowed so also if an old man has the vision and capacity to deliver, he should be allowed.