|Hon. Ogbor Ogbor Odop aka Rootman|
Efio-Ita Nyok|27 February 2017
… the country is very lucky to have a personality like Justice Onnoghen and for that we should all rally round him, this is not the time for sentiment, this not the time for emotions, but this is the time to make use of our reason, this is the time to take wise decision —that is what great men do. All around history, all over the world I have never seen anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world and in time that emotions, that unguarded passions, that sectionalism pushed any set of people forward. No! We must not start it. —Hon. Ogbor Ogbor Odop.
Few weeks ago NegroidHaven’s correspondents stumbled on the Honourable Member representing Biase State Constituency at the 8th Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr Ogbor Ogbor Odop and as fate would have it the Honourable Member was disposed to granting him an interview. The interview bordered principally around the confirmation of Biase-born Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
In the course of the interview, the Lawmaker popularly referred to as Rootman demonstrated confidence in the eventual confirmation of Onnoghen as the CJN supporting his disposition on Vick Tokudor’s statements which says that ‘nothing can stop an idea whose time has come’. Besides, Ogbor argued that Onnoghen’s confirmation is for the overall interest of all Nigerians. Excerpt:
NegroidHaven: Good afternoon Sir. For the purpose of this interview can you introduce yourself, please?
Rootman: I am Honourable Ogbor Ogbor Odop aka Rootman. I represent the Biase State Constituency at the 8th Cross River State House of Assembly.
NegroidHaven: There’s this burning national issue on the confirmation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. What is your take?
Rootman: As a true son of Biase and one who represents Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen in the Cross River State House of Assembly I will emphatically let the world to know that the people of Biase are very very proud of Justice Onnoghen. His pedigree has been overwhelming. For him to have risen from grass to grace, from the very nadir of the judiciary profession up to the pinnacle of it, I think it’s something that everybody should be proud of, every Biase and indeed every Cross Riverian.
As for his confirmation as the substantive Chief Justice, the people of Biase are very very hopeful, very very hopeful in the sense that three months back the question was, would he be made the acting Chief Justice? It was everywhere, fear here and there; but, it came to pass that he was made Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. So, I would say that, if we want to build confidence in this our system, for a man who not only rose to the pinnacle of his profession but the zenith of the institution, the very very third estate of the realm, talking about the judiciary and have not been found wanting, at least nobody has told us that; as a judge he was wonderful, for this period, in three days time, it will be exactly 3 months that he served as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, was there anything to show that he did not merit it? No! I think he merit it, so the people of Cross River and indeed the Biase people should want the right thing to be done. Justice Onnoghen deserves it, Justice Onnoghen has sacrificed enough.
|Rootman is a fan of late Prof. Eskor Toyo the legendary socialist intellectual|
|Rootman during the procession in honour of late Prof Eskor Toyo in University of Calabar|
And we want it to be on record that under the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, Cross River fared very very well, we have to give that to him, that we have the Chief Justice of the Federation, that we have the Head of Service of the Federation, that we have the Chief of Naval Staff of the Federation, we have Auditor-General of the Federation, Chairman of NDDC, Minister of Niger Delta and the rest, those are things we have to give credit to him, that is why we are very very hopeful. I think the man loves Cross River State, I don’t think we should entertain fear because in matters like this, 24 hours means a lot, right now we still have close to 72 hours, so I don’t think we should entertain fear, we are very hopeful.
NegroidHaven: That the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria has almost elapse the constitutionally stated 3 months tenure, is a precedent in the history of our nationhood, what is your take considering the ethno-religious-regional rancour this has incited?
Rootman: Well, I will always say that there is always a first time. Barr. Okoi Obono-Obla is s respected Cross Riverian and we believe that, (we have to be very frank) wherever he finds himself he will always protect the interest of not only Nigerians but all Cross River in particular so I believe him. Like the legend, Master Marley will say the bitter or the tougher the battle the sweeter the victory. The president from all indications health wise is not strong enough, he is not even around in the country that could be a kind or excuse.
Be that as it may, if they need 24 more hours to confirm Justice Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria so that all skepticisms or all skeptics will be assured, so that since we say or agreed that for our nation to be moved forward we should do an in-depth cleaning, if for that purpose we have to delay a little bit, so be it.
I think what should concern us is at the end of it will the right thing be done? For a section of the press or the society that are entertaining fears, doubt, I can understand with them. This is not a military era. I remember that in the military era a Justice from this part of the country was treated that way; it was shabby to have sent him to Uganda when it was his time to be the Chief Justice of the Federation, talking about the late Justice Udo Udoma. But that was the military era, we are talking of democracy now. This is an independent Judiciary, an independent organ of the government and I think any attempt to do something funny to bring ethnicity or religiousity, whatever thing, those things that have been taking us back then, will kill the confidence that few have.
A man as helpful, a man as harmless as Justus Onnoghen deserves this position, he merits it. And if we want to succeed, progress then meritocracy should be the in thing not ethnicity, nepotism and all those things that have been taking us far far backward. That is why my position remains that let us be patient. It takes few seconds for the president to decide and I want to believe sincerely that the president will not let Nigeria down, not just Cross River, not just south south or Biase. Let us be mindful of the fact that many, many of those clamouring for Justice Onnoghen’s confirmation are not from south south, they are not from Cross River, so this thing is a national issue we must not reduce it to a particular region, that will not help us as a nation.
As a nationalist, I will keep on saying that let the right be done, that the interest of Nigeria should come first and if you ask me the interest of Nigeria is the confirmation of Justus Walter Kanu Onnoghen because he deserves it.
NegroidHaven: Sir as a Nigerian, a law maker, a politician and a student of history how do you react to the proposition that says President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet may not be comfortable with Onnoghen as substantive CJN, thus, they are responsible for the unusual delay in his confirmation?
Rootman: I am not a member of the kitchen cabinet, (laughs) but all I can say is this, that kitchen cabinet, I don’t think it just started to exist. It must have started even before the president’s inauguration so if that kitchen cabinet was there and couldn’t stop a Cross Riverian from being the Chief of Naval Staff and couldn’t stop the president from appointing a Cross Riverian from being the Head of Service of the Federation ditto Acting Chief Justice talking about Justice Walter Onnoghen now, and many many other positions; If that kitchen cabinet could not stop the president, could not prevail on the president to withhold the appointment of a worthy son of Cross River, talking about pastor Usani as the Minister of Niger Delta. Coming from Cross River, a state that if you want to talk about production of oil we are at the fringe and if that cabinet could not stop the presidency from appointing one of us the Chairman of NDDC and many many others including Obla’s position. I think that kitchen cabinet, sincerely speaking cannot stop this. Because like Vick Tokudor has said ‘nothing can stop an idea whose time has come’. If by God’s grace, the idea, the phenomenon of Justice Walter Onnoghen has come to be the Chief Justice of Nigeria I want to say that no force can stop it.
Well, like I have said, the kitchen cabinet should be advised properly or advice itself that anything done that is not in the interest of Nigeria will affect everybody including that cabinet negatively and I don’t think the kitchen cabinet will want the president to be unpopular. I think whatever thing we do we must think about the precedent we are going to set apart from sitting down today to consider one or two things we should also imagine ourselves in the future when we look back and ask —what did we do? What do we want our children to copy from us? If we don’t do that then it will be unfortunate, it will be highly regrettable. But like I said, I have confidence; I think the president will do the needful.
NegroidHaven: What’s your final words to Cross Riverians, to Nigerians, to the world on the particular subject of Onnoghen’s confirmation as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria?
Rootman: To start with, from biase, like I said we are very happy and we are very hopeful. Biase will get it, Cross River will get it and therefore Nigeria will get it. I want us to be prayerful. I want us to follow what Justice Onnoghen himself have said: he made a statement that the president should not be pushed, the president should be allowed. Because at the end of it, the bulk stops on the table of the president. He should make the right choice; let us not push him so that it won’t seem as if he was pressurised one way or the other.
|Rootman is an alumni of West African Peoples Institute (WAPI), here he is honoured by students|
For Cross River, we should celebrate as people who are very peaceful we should keep on propagating that very ideas of being a paradise state and be very hopeful that at the end of it he who laughs last laugh best. For Nigerians as a whole I want to tell them that the country is very lucky to have a personality like Justice Onnoghen and for that we should all rally round him, this is not the time for sentiment, this not the time for emotions, but this is the time to make use of our reason, this is the time to take wise decision —that is what great men do. All around history, all over the world I have never seen anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world rather and in time that emotions, that unguarded passions, that sectionalism pushed any set of people forward. No! We must not start it.
So my message to everybody is be good Nigerian, put Nigeria first and in putting Nigeria first you automatically put yourself first, not less.
NegroidHaven: It was a pleasure having you grant us this interview, Honourable.