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I don't believe there's any man of God - Donald Duke

Donald Duke

Former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, was the first cover of The Interview. In this interview last year, he reveals not only the intrigues and horse-trading that brought former President Goodluck Jonathan to power, but also his views on the hot-button topic of religion and men of God

 

There is his love for music and books, but first we talked politics…

You were far ahead of a lot of political figures, pushing this idea of diversification as a remedy for the dwindling oil prices. You’ve been talking about agriculture and tourism; how can the government replicate some of your ideas to help boost the economy?

Like I always say, leaders should have their eyes on the future, with their feet on ground, in touch with their current status.

Before I answer that question, I want to say that, Cross River, by some fluke of geography, is surrounded by states, which produce vast oil wealth but really has none – even the little we had was taken away from us. Part of our strategy was creating this hub in which folks from these states would spend the money. Diversification of the economy should be the basis of a federated state; each state should come to the union with something.

Consider this analogy. Our nation is just like a quilt, different clothes sewn together to form this beautiful tapestry. The beauty of our country is the diversity of it, so the patchwork is incomplete if one part of it is monolithic.

Now, here you are in Cross River with a neighbour like Akwa Ibom blessed with oil and gas. If you go to Sokoto, where they don’t have that, they should be doing something else to advance its comparative advantage to the point where it engages a vast population of the state into productive entities. Until we achieve that, we may have nothing like diversification of the economy. As it is now, oil prices are low and, I can tell you that most of us are waiting, expecting the oil prices to go up again. No. This is an opportunity for the states and federal government to come together, see where the nation’s comparative advantage lies and utilise it.

Back to TINAPA. What happened? Was it that your successor did not quite follow through with your vision?

He did not follow through with the vision. Unfortunately, our politicians get mad with stuff like ‘this is Donald Duke’s vision and I want to do my own thing’. You cannot build a nation or society like that; we are building blocks. I have a go at it and you build on top. If we keep returning to the foundation every day, you’ll never complete the building. It is a lesson for all of us. We all want to leave our legacies, thinking that our legacy cannot be established by improving on what others have left behind.

But he was a core member of your team. There were three of you and he was one of the core men… What happened?

 I don’t know; I’m still trying to find out. Yes, he was. There was nothing that we or I did that he was not a part of too, but, you see, politics is an amazing entreprise. If you are not strong-willed or focused on what you are doing, there are so many out there who will derail you. Now I’m not saying that he was derailed; perhaps, he felt that he should do his own thing. That is the only explanation I can give to the whole thing. It has cost us a lot. It has cost us dearly.

Did you ever discuss it with him?

Oh, several times. Between 2008 and 2010, I got a call from WalMart every other month. They spent $2.8bn to buy MaxMart, but the projection was TINAPA. He was a bit tepid about it.

Do you think it’s a dead-end?

No, it’s not. Fortunately, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken it over. We have discussed and I think they will be moving this forward. If not with WalMart, several competent groups have indicated strong interest and bought into the vision.

During a recent political rally organised by your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you expressed concern that, perhaps, President Jonathan had done well outside the South-south but not so well in his region. You also said you’d like to see more done in his region. Do you think it is too late now?

Obviously, it is too late now. That rally was in Calabar and I was actually referring to Cross River. I was letting him know that, if he was interested in seeking our support for a second term, there were several things we would want. You know, you come to a rally, try to get us to rally behind you and give you our votes. I think that we have the right to say if we give you the votes, these are the things we want you to do for us. I asked for three things on behalf of the state – it was not my place to ask, it was the governor’s. No one was asking, so I had to ask. I said, ‘first of all, this lingering crisis between us and our neighbouring state, Akwa Ibom about the 76 oil wells’. Let me background this for you; there was a Supreme Court ruling which says “all oil produced off-shore belongs to the Federal Government. Akwa Ibom went to zero (production) at the time, once that decision was made, I think it was 2005 or so. When you enjoy about N5bn a month and you suddenly go to zero, the state turns upside-down. For political exigency, we came up with what was called political considerations and the Akwa Ibom came alive again. Yes, the wells are federal, but it would go to Akwa Ibom State. This is the derivation principle, which is based on that activity which impacts negatively and you get some compensation for it.

Now, we had 76 oil wells; not more than N250m a month, around the Bakassi area. We lost Bakassi via an International Court judgment, but we did not lose the oil to Cameroon; we lost it to Akwa Ibom, which is double jeopardy. We felt that, since the oil was also off-shore, a political decision should be taken as was done for Akwa Ibom, in our favour. I think the state made a mistake going to court, because when they went to court and the judgment was given, it was within the rule of law. But it was not a decision, which should have been taken legally; it should have been political.

To be fair to the Akwa Ibom state governor, he advocated for that. We should have done same.

Back to the question about what the president could have done. You think he should have participated by helping the situation?

Absolutely. It is his responsibility to ensure that there is equity, fairplay and justice nationwide. Secondly, these are two PDP states. More importantly, there is a flip to this; there is a similar issue between Rivers and Bayelsa. I expected the president to resolve these issues. I hope the next administration settles that issue.

The third thing I was talking about was the issue of federal roads, from Calabar to Akwa Ibom and from Calabar to Ogoja. It takes you eight hours to go from Calabar to Ogoja up north, in the same state, because the roads are bad. This journey could be halved to four hours. Clabar to Uyo should take you 45 minutes, but it takes you three hours. These are all federal roads. These were the things I asked him for and I felt that a second term should’ve solved these problems.

You were relatively quiet about the way the state was governed under your successor, Imoke, until recently, when you began to criticise him, citing cases of insincerity. Why did you wait for so long to say anything? Were you gagged?

When you leave office, you are constitutionally compelled to leave with your body, not your soul. Usually, you have folks who vacate office on May 29, but keep on monitoring what the successor is doing. I did not want to fall into that trap. I wanted to get on with my life and do many other things. I left office at 45 – still at the prime of my life – and needed to get on with my life, do something with it. Also, there is a learning curve; it is right to make mistakes. The problem comes when you don’t learn from them. If I had been meddlesome, I wouldn’t have afforded him the right to learn like I did.

On May 29 2007, immediately I handed over to him, I left the state literally. He did his first term and I supported him, but when you consider certain things like TINAPA or the Obudu Cattle Ranch, you discover that, no, we are not learning or making progress here. This is allowing politics to supersede common sense. Cross River was the only state which had internal flights; you could fly from Calabar to Obudu via Aero Contractors and, at that time, we would have droves of people from all over the country utilising the opportunity; flights from Port Harcourt to Calabar and all that. That was a thing of pride for us that I could leave Calabar and, within 45 minutes, get to Obudu. All that was stopped for no reason and the aircrafts, many of which were never used, were banned – for no reason too. That was not fair to the state.

Two, severally, we tried to get TINAPA working, but it was not possible. You cannot invest $500m and just let it go like that. So, if I criticised at all, I was quite subtle about it. Besides, it was borne out of justified frustration.

You were a major actor in the script that produced the late Yar ‘Adua as president and Goodluck Jonathan as his vice. Tell us the inside story. How did you lose out?

I think you should be asking Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that. I put myself forward for the presidency in 2007. Umaru Yar’Adua approached me thrice to run along with him and thrice I agreed. The third time, he came with Ibrahim Shema, who later became governor of Katsina State, asking me again. I was exasperated and I said, ‘Look, Umaru, we have agreed on this, but it is still your decision to make.’ He said, ‘Gladly, I would think so, but I would discuss with President Obasanjo.’ I said, ‘very well, do that and let me know.’ That was the last I heard of it. Then, I got word from party operatives that we should go into a party convention with one candidate for unity of purpose. At that point, it was inconceivable that I would win the primaries; I would only spend money and still lose. I backed out. The rest is history. There is story making the rounds that I rejected it.

Yes.

I never did. Umaru is not alive today, but I did not. Later on, Obasanjo said to me that he thought I had a personality that was so strong and would be in conflict with Umaru who appeared so weak. I said it was all spilt milk. Umaru could appear weak, but he was not, which we now know. Secondly, he said he didn’t want a repeat of the conflict he had with Abubakar Atiku, his vice president at the time.

After that very famous convention that produced Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan you said in Calabar that, “Nigeria will regret this decision…”

Perhaps, I was still smarting from my loss.

It turned out to be quite prophetic…

It is one prophecy I wish never came to pass. Some people regret it while others came out looking really good. You don’t give authority to an unwilling person, particularly in a country like Nigeria. Umaru never wanted to be president. He was dealing with his health issues and wanted to retire and go lecture in a university. He was really offered an appointment at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.

Jonathan, on the other hand, had just been re-elected to be governor of Bayelsa and when he was picked, he was not so pleased. He said to Obasanjo and me, ‘I don’t want this job.’ If these two men never aspired to the office but were recruited to take on a responsibility as daunting as the management of Nigeria without mentally preparing for the office and having a grand vision of where they wanted to take Nigeria to, then there is a problem. The mental preparation is absolutely important. The vision can scripted for you, but if you are not prepared and you have no capable team to help you follow through, it is grossly unfair. It is like converting a passenger on an aircraft to a pilot.

Why did the party seem so incapable of standing up to Obasanjo?

Unfortunately for us in this country, we deify leadership. Perhaps, it is part of our primordial sentiments. Once you rise to the top and become a leader, people tell you all sorts of glorifying things. I witnessed situation in which officials of government would give Obasanjo embarrassing latitude to do terrible things and when he asked them ‘Is it okay for me to do this?’ they would say ‘of course, after God in Nigeria it is you’. These leaders are deified for partly selfish reasons. The level of sycophancy in government is increasing. After four years, the governor thinks he’s privatized the state or the country, that it belongs to him. Umar goes to hospital and he takes the country with him, while the vice president is there, but only in name.

The constitution says that once the president steps out of the country, his vice take over. But most people, when they get into office, look for the weakest person, a ‘yes’ man, to make their deputy. Never give authority to a weak person. What happens is, when this person assumes authority, he knows you are probably someone of strong character and will, but he is power too. He goes after you and makes you his first enemy. A lot of our leaders are puppets on strings. They think they are in charge when, actually, they are being manipulated by others.

 

Do you think everything you have said may be responsible for the fall of the PDP, as it is presently?

When you deify an individual, he assumes control and everything revolves around him. In an organisation as large as the PDP, it worked. You take disciplinary action against a party member in Yobe State and another person in Abuja overrides you. Power became over-centralised. The larger you get, the more it behoves you to divulge authority. The PDP collapsed because it lost functionality. This should be a lesson for the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), because everyone is going to move in there and the party will grow astronomically and management will become an issue.

If we do not stop this, it will mar our democracy. Democracy is not autocracy (which is power being concentrated on a few).

For us to be functional, management and decision-making in the party should stem from its broad membership and not even the leadership. The leadership executes, but the membership participates in the decisions to be executed.

Speaking of democracy, do you think the results of the 2015 elections represented the will of the people?

Broadly. The figures may not be exact, things happen, but it broadly reflects the mood of the nation on March 20th and April 11, 2013.

Are you going to join the APC?

No.

Sometime back, there was an expose you did on how elections are rigged. Do you feel that perhaps the APC used your expose to overthrow your own party?

You first asked me if I’d be joining the APC. We don’t have political parties in Nigeria; we only have political platforms. People take advantage of these platforms to enable them run for elections; they have no philosophies or idealogies. Nothing separates the APC from the PDP, ideologically. They all say the same thing. Today, we are singing corruption; the PDP defined corruption and even tried to define corruption and stealing.

The participation in the activities of a party is not born of any form of conviction, either as a conservative, radical or liberal. None. This is why I think it’ll be foolhardy to join any of the parties. Besides, this country needs a strong opposition.

I don’t know why he conceded defeat – circumstances, maybe – but that singular act by former president Jonathan is a good precedent, which, I hope, will be replicated at all levels of government. It’ll help entrench democracy and help it grow stronger.

Secondly, that expose was wrongly captioned. The media captioned it ‘how governors rig elections’. That was not the title, no. It was not a prepared speech. The real title, if I was going to caption it, would have been, ‘how the electioneering process is compromised’. I gave an instance where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sends a resident electoral commissioner to a state. The fellow comes from, say Sokoto or Zamfara State, and has no accommodation. What does he do? He goes to the governor, who puts him up in a guesthouse, gives him a car, then, as human beings, they become buddies. What was I calling for; a change of the system. It was not the governors rigging the election; it is the system getting compromised.

If we are going to have an INEC, it should be truly independent in resources, information, manpower and other factors. It should depend on no state government for anything, in order to keep its sanctity.

It is commonly believed that governors write results and you know that.

You asked earlier if the results of the last election reflected the will of the people and I said yes. They write results in some circumstances. Elections are very technical. In a state like Lagos, it is very difficult to write results, because the results reflect, largely, the will of the people. There may be a few areas of frustration, like trying to put hurdles before those who may likely vote for a particular candidate. In our case, this hurdle can be ballot box-snatching. However, I always say that you can only rig elections where you have strength of numbers. It is more like vote enhancement.

Look at the creeks of the South-south where management is quite weak. They go to these rural areas and blow up the numbers to counter whatever may count against them from anywhere else. Another way is through accreditation. Accreditation reduces the numbers. If a thousand came for accreditation, you can’t turn around and say 2000 votes came from this polling unit. It has to fall within the number of accredited voters.

I hope that the system can better the next time around. That thing about getting accredited and going back-and-forth, about 40 per cent must have gotten weary of that and decided to stay at home. We should devise a system where you are accredited and you vote immediately. Also, we should try to make it as technologically advanced as we can. Since a card-reader can identify me as a voter, the result sheet should also reflect that…

We were coming to that. During the elections, former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, went to the polling unit and asked for the result sheet. Why do you think he did that?

You see, if you don’t see the result sheet, it could be somewhere, probably, already filled and the exercise of going there to vote will be a nullity. Also, I think he knows the system. He wanted to be sure that the result sheet had not been filled, so that after the elections the party agents and those concerned will be there while the results were properly tallied and scores filled in, before signing off. When he didn’t see it, he knew something was wrong. It should have been there.

Let’s talk about your passion, music. Many Nigerians do not know that you have a jazz band, which you enjoy playing with…

I’ve had this band for 13 years now and, I must tell you, they are a group of geniuses. Unfortunately, I just lost one, the keyboardist, about six weeks ago. We really do not know how we can move on without him. Well, I have been playing music since I was three; from the keyboard, guitar, flute and saxophone, which happens to be my instrument. You get to discover your instrument as you go on.

My daughter, for instance, started with the piano, saw me on the saxophone and followed. She has found the guitar to be her instrument. It’s therapy for me. As governor, we played every Sunday; not for the public, but for ourselves. Gradually, people got to know of the jazz in Government House every Sunday and started flocking in.

I discovered it was therapeutic, because any week we didn’t play, I would be grumpy all week. If you work in a high-pressure environment, you have to find your release, otherwise, pressure may make you go burst. Playing music was my therapy. We could play from 9pm to 4am and, by 9am; I would be back in the office, fully recharged and ready to go.

Did your band have a name?

We couldn’t agree on one. We still don’t have a name. We used to call it the Governor’s Band, then I ceased being governor and the name ceased to apply. We’ve played semi-commercially, in the Shell Games and a few birthday bashes – not with me. Occasionally, though, if I’m close to the person, I can join them.

You also love films. We understand that you were involved in Jeta Amata’s Amazing Grace

You see, I saw this young fellow with dreadlocks and so much passion. I got caught up in his passion and invested in his movie. I think we should have something we’re passionate about, because it helps us develop talent and go on to excel and achieve full potential. I noticed that in Jeta, who I met coincidentally when he came to do something in Government House and I got to hear him talk.

John Newton was a slave trader who always came to coast of West Africa to get slaves and he was always nasty to his slaves. But, one day, the slaves saved his life and when he got back to England he became an abolitionist and wrote the song Amazing Grace.

I thought the story of John Newton, his slaves and how the hymn Amazing Grace came about was wonderful and inspiring, so I helped to get it out. Note; everything I did as governor was towards promoting Cross River and that hymn we sing every Sunday.

We’ve talked of the healing power of music, what it means to you and your love for movies. Are you an avid reader?

Yeah, I do read all sorts of things, from absolute trash to very good stuff.

Any defining one?

The Hadley Chase collection did it for me. I tell people that he was so prolific that movies should be made of his films; The Way the Cookie Crumble, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Lotus for Miss Kwon, A Hippy on the Highway, amongst others. I read all that  and then went on to Harold Robbins. I went on to biographies and historicals. I am, primarily, a student of history, not law. I like something that is real, something I can deal with. A friend gave me the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey. After reading about 20 pages, I found out it was soft porn and let it go. I like Chimamanda and the rest of them, but I will always read biographies.

Any plans to write one?

No. I have no stories to tell.

Let’s go back to politics. We have just finished the general elections. You have very good friends on both sides. What do you see between now and the next four years?

This is the first time we are really having an opposition. We had one in 1999, when the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) was quite vocal until it was sucked in by the PDP. Today, another opposition party has come to power and if we are not careful, it will also suck in the PDP. I hope it doesn’t happen.

What does this establish? If we can have a viable opposition, then the electorate is king. Either perform or be kicked out. I hope and believe that the electoral process can only get better. The electorate is becoming more assertive and more demanding.

In the face of this switch from the PDP to the APC, I want to give credit to Buhari. I know what it takes to run for a local government election and lose. It is so dispiriting, because elections are very expensive processes. People sell their homes and all that just to run. This gentleman only won in his fourth try, after traversing the length and breadth of this country. Yet, he is no billionaire by any standards, just a tenacious person. Things came together; the PDP imploded, became very arrogant in office and, I think Jonathan was only interested in winning the party’s primary election and it all worked in the opposition’s favour. He was so focused on the party’s ticket, thinking that the election would be a forgone conclusion, that when five governors threatened to leave he ignored them and let them go. These governors were not governors of ‘Mickey mouse’ states. They were major governors; Kano, Rivers, Sokoto, etc. They thought they had it all in the bag if they won the primaries; as a result they couldn’t care less about whether those governors went or stayed.

The APC also has to learn from the PDP. If it takes that course, there will be a lot of frustration within the party and they will leave to strengthen the opposition. Worse, the electorate will take sides with the aggrieved and boot them out. Is this good for us? Absolutely, but it can only get better. You go in and you know that you have to perform or get the boot.

If a governor owed six months’ salaries before leaving office, when he comes to be a senator, you refuse to vote for him, because he does not deserve it. Even in the North, incumbents have lost; Kaduna, for instance. This is good; maybe, not for the PDP, but the APC must learn.

I hope what Bernard Shaw will not be proved here. Shaw said: “Experience is taught man, but man does not learn from experience.” APC has all the opportunity to learn from the PDP’s current state.

Aren’t you giving Buhari too much credit? Isn’t it down to the fact that people just wanted something different?

Putting it another way; the APC did not win, the PDP lost. That is putting it bluntly. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Buhari benefitted from that loss. The ball was in PDP’s court and through their ineptitude they lost it.

As a cross-bearer, what is your opinion of the increasing influence of religion on politics?

I am not religious. I am spiritual. What do I mean by that? The call to the human being is to the spirit. Religion is a movement, a means to an end, the end being the worship of God. Unfortunately, human beings have made the means more important than the end. We kill each other for the sake of religion, while both religions are completely against the taking of lives.

Being a cross-bearer teaches you what life is all about. Finding the truth does not make me different or perfect. We are all here learning, finding our way back to where we came from. We have charlatans in every profession. We have people who rise up and refer to themselves as ‘man of God’. Who the hell are you to say that? Why should I go to another and subject myself to his vision? I have as much access to the Father Almighty as any other human being. If you profess to be a pastor or teacher, you better know what you are professing, because you must be so schooled to have the temerity to teach others the way.

We also see that many of these prophecies came to nothing. Very few mentioned Buhari winning the election. One thing which distinguishes us from other creatures is our free-will. We can decide what to do and what not to do.

Someone comes to you and says you are about to elevated in life and he needs to pray for you. Okay, fine, thank you, but I’ll pray for myself. I can pray too. Sooner or later, if you let him, he’ll ask a favour of you. It is the monetisation of religion and it didn’t start today. They make money off these and it gives them influence. It is unfortunate, but it is human nature.

Nothing prepares you for life after political office. The disappointments, the back-stabbings, nothing can prepare you for that. Even those who believe that their day does not begin until they see you become weary of you. They’ll turn their backs on you. It will happen. It happened to Jonathan, Obasanjo and it would happen to these ones who are now in power. Nothing will prepare you for the rejection, which follows and it is good. It makes you appreciate that all this is vanity.

Are you going to play a role in Buhari’s government?

I am PDP and this is an APC government. They have been in the cold for over 16 years. I have been in the warm seat for 16 years, Let them do their thing, but I am Nigerian and will be ready to serve if called upon. But it will be foolish of me to assume that I possess any special knowledge of that will require them to invite me to the table they painfully constructed to sit on.

Tell us about your current passion, the cable car. No one has seen it on the scale, which you plan to take it to. What changes do you hope to bring to the transportation chaos in Lagos by doing this?

First of all, the biggest challenge after you leave office is what to do with yourself. I left office at 45 and it took me about two years to get my acts together to decide what to do.

Along the line, I got talking to the head of a Europe-based cable-car maker, the largest maker in the world and we got talking about the future of cable cars.  We got to talking about the feasibility of using them for commercial commuting, as a result of tweaked technology, so that it can function in a city of millions of people. I thought it would be perfect for Lagos.  The biggest problem in Lagos is the lack of infrastructure. It is heavily populated, small and with very narrow streets. There is little one can do about solving the problem of traffic in Lagos; you either go above or below the ground.

I got back and talked with former Lagos State governor Fashola and he was so receptive to the idea, but he also warned me that it would be fraught with a lot of challenges, both political and physical. We overcame the political challenges, but the physical challenges – acquiring the land and all that – are taking about four years to conquer.

Constructing a network for cable cars is not as disruptive as constructing roads. Apapa to Oluwole on the island is about four minutes, but by road on a good day, it is about an hour, on a very busy day, it takes much more than that. From Apapa to all the stations in Victoria Island takes about 40 minutes. That is very revolutionary, because it helps to diversify the options of commuters within the city. It moves droves of people faster and it is scenic and it has huge tourist values. You will see Lagos as you’ve never seen. What is being designed for Lagos will move about two million people daily.

Is it just another move to help transportation like the monorail system or is it a feasible alternative when placed side-by-side with the rail system?

 They are all complementary. Transportation should be inter-motoral. You get on the cable car, get off somewhere, get on the bus, get off somewhere and just keep going till you get to where you are going. If I were on my own, I need to feed into other traffic modes and I need them to feed me too.

Will this service all of the state?

We will begin with the business districts of Apapa, Ijora, Iddo and Victoria Island. However, the cable car has been imbedded in the Lagos masterplan. That should be as far as Ketu in the north, Alimosho in north-west and Aja in the east. If that were done, Lagos would have a complete over ground.

When will the first cable car be launched?

Hopefully in 2018. We hope to commence construction later on this year. The first one will roll off 18 months after that. Another line will come on six months after that. We hope the green-line, which is between Victoria Island and Adeniji Adele, will be completed in the first 18 months, then Adeniji Adele through Iddo to Ijora, six months thereafter. The red line, from Apapa to Adeniji Adele will be done with six months thereafter.  Within 36 months, everything should be done.

…and the company responsible?

The company is called Ropeways Transport, but the operating company is called the Lagos Skybus.

What about the employment status?

About 2000 people will be employed directly. Indirectly, about 15000 people will be employed. The eight stations in the first phase form hubs where people will take advantage of the human traffic to do businesses, many of which will spin off from there, eateries, advertising, car-hire services, newspaper vendors, etc. Also, given the nature of Lagos, if you know that the cable car goes over your compound, you’ll keep it clean.

Generally, it helps the security, because some of the towers are going to go up as high as 80 or 70 metres, depending on where they are. Some countries have cameras to help navigate or keep an eye on the environs. In some other places, the government uses it to keep track of illegal structures rearing up, because of the bird’s eye view of the towers. It has lots of applications. The major one is decongestion.

If this comes afloat, more than 1000 cars will be off the roads and it will make the environment livable and the streets easily navigable.

Most important is the fact that something like this could see the light of day. There are brilliant young people who have huge ideas but do not have the courage to go through or speak of it. Ideas like this will encourage them, because they have no encouragement, due to the nature of doing business in Nigeria. Only he who dares wins.

What are you most proud of as a father, musician, person, former governor, etc?

I have three beautiful daughters. I was a rascally child and my father had very grave concerns about me. When I was being sworn in in 1999, I returned to my seat and when I looked back, my mother was teary-eyed and when I asked if she was okay, she said, ‘Yes. I just wish your father were here to see you’.

Add to that a wonderful wife who I don’t think I deserve. I am also proud of my services to the people of Cross River, though that fades with time and family endures.

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