Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, known by his colleagues as Oracle, Senator James Manager, who turns 60 years on Tuesday, has disclosed the reason for his around-the-clock voting between 2003 and 2019 by the people of Delta South senatorial district, Delta State, as their policymaker at the red chamber, a feat no other person has achieved in the oil-rich state.
The statesman, administrator, and lawyer, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice in Abuja, said life has taught him to be unassuming.
What has life taught you in the last 59 years and your feeling on turning 60?
I feel very great, I am grateful to God because it was God that brought me to this stage. It is the same God that will take me home one day. So I feel great and I feel so fulfilled. I wish myself a happy life, I am celebrating my 60 years birthday.
Your thoughts as you turn 60?
It is all about life, life is a wonderful thing because when you look at the proper perception. At 60 what life has taught me is humility, just take things easy. This life is an empty road, sometimes, I sit back and think about what life is all about. Just like those people who go to the market, whatever you want to buy, you buy and go, in the evening, the market is empty and in the morning, people gather again.
My bond with Deltans
People of Delta have already known much about me, I want to assure them that whatever confidence they have reposed in me, I will not undermine it. I will continue to appreciate what they have done for me, and whatever I can do for them, I will continue to do those things that I have been doing that have endeared me to their hearts. I will never fail one day.
The secret of my long stay in the Senate and defeat of a former governor of Delta
I think it is just the grace of God. All these things are about God because if God wants you to win and defeat your opponents, it will always happen. It is God that will give you the capacity in the first place; God will give you all that you require to be able to defeat an opponent.
You can imagine from 2003 to date, how many persons have come and I have been able to conquer, that is God. So, the grace of God can make the impossible possible. It may look impossible in the eyes of the people but in His eyes, it is easy. What is important is that you do not go into any contest if you have not gotten the mind of God at every given point in time, I give all that glory to Almighty God.
But some activists in Delta South accuse you of underperformance?
When you see the man who has not performed at all, he cannot get to the Senate for these count of times. We know that it is easier to get into the Senate, first time before you say you now want to come back.
But coming back a second time, a third time, a fourth time and fifth time is not a mere achievement. So, I think I will leave that to the judgment of the people. It is not me that will give credibility to whatever I have been able to do. What is important essentially is that whatever we do, as public officers, even not as public officers, you must leave something that you will be remembered for.
As a public officer, what is basically important is your service and the service you render from time to time. By the time you are finally out of that public office, you must if God gives you that longevity, be able to sit back and have proper reflections of things you have done.
Those things must give you joy and the moment you have that at the back of your mind at every given point in time, it will be your guiding force. So, for me, as well as I am concerned, I do not want to mention anything, I want my constituents to judge me.
Those who really do not want to see anything good in me and those who want to see something good, as a politician, who is in the midst of supporters clubs, somebody who has been contesting elections, I have no doubt about the fact that there are people who do not want to see anything good in me, but at the back of their mind, in their sober reflections, they too will say, at least, this man did this and did that.
So, service is the driving force, it is not me to give proper judgment, what is important is that people are there; the people are there to say one or two things about me, I am not to say, I am not a very loud person.
What if Deltans want you to go for governor in 2023?
Well, my dear brother, I leave that in the hands of Almighty God, whatever we are, whatever we have become, whatever we want to become, is just God. If God says no, no human being on earth can say yes, if God says no way, nobody can say yes. So, it is God that will direct, it is God that is directing the affairs of men.
Who will be President after Buhari, is already known to God, but you will see so many people coming out to say I want to be President, one that is already anointed by the Almighty God is already known to God. Others will just play the game, dancing around with the person and the person will become the king.
Who will become governor of Delta State is already in the hands of the Almighty God and at the appropriate time, God will decide through the electorate. So I leave that in the hands of the Almighty God. Today, I am celebrating my 60th birthday, I think that is good enough for me to be satisfied, let us leave tomorrow for tomorrow and tomorrow is in the hands of the Almighty God.
Disenchantment over the delay in appointing Presidential Amnesty Programme Coordinator
Well, it is unfortunate what is happening to the Presidential Amnesty Programme, a well-conceived platform to douse the tension in Niger Delta. everybody is aware of the origin of it and the story so far. What is going on now is hapless. The last person stayed and he was asked to go and then, there is an Interim Management Committee, IMC, in place.
It would not take too much of time, I am not speaking for Mr. President, the caretaker group does not understand the nitty-gritty of all that is happening in Niger Delta. I know it will not take too long a time to appoint a substantive coordinator for the people of Niger- Delta.
I am told that they are looking into some of the books to ensure that all is well before a substantive person is appointed. So, I think it is for the good of Niger Delta because of the history of the amnesty program itself.