Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State.

By Wilson Goruvwoghor

The 2023 governorship primary for Delta State’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been one with the most predictable outcome for the ruling party in the state since 1999.

Weeks before delegates filed out on the field to vote, it was already crystal clear that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa would roundly impose his will to ensure his choice aspirant, incumbent Delta Assembly Speaker, Sheriff Oborevwori was returned flag bearer. Nothing any dissenter could do about it.

Forget antics of the sore losers, particularly the majority lousy aspirants from Delta Central who sparked impulsive war with Okowa following outcome of the primary. Those labelling Okowa a betrayer, wicked, naive, backstabber, ingrate and all that for lording ‘The Sheriff’ over them could fool their gullible cheerleaders. They certainly can’t fool the discerning.

The Urhobo failed aspirants suddenly up in arms, some with extraneous forces, against Okowa are as pretentious, cunning, greedy and desperate as the governor, if not worse. I do not support hijack of the primary, but it is obvious that in their impulsive hate for Okowa, his only sin is simply because he chose not to pick them. The governor can only support one individual. PDP can’t have more than one candidate and a running mate.

By the manner of grievances being expressed, the pathetic loser aspirants and prominent party leaders betrayed all emotions that the sudden hate for Okowa is not borne out of any concern for the common good. It’s all expression of greed and desperation.

Okowa never invented the impetus he lashed on to take all stakeholders for a ride in choice of PDP candidate. He copied all from the archives of the dirty politics of greed, clannishness and dog- eat-dog that have oiled the wheel of the inciting PDP hegemony over Delta since 1999.

Under the circumstance, from speculated sentiments of Okowa’s predecessors to those of the PDP 2023 guber aspirants, it is sheer case of the kettle calling the pot black, as no claim or accusation justifies the conspiracy of hate against the incumbent Governor.

Chief James bori is said to be angry with Okowa for lording Oborevwori over preferred David Edevwie. I agree, the Sheriff bearing certificates with conflicting names was least fit, in character and learning, among the contenders, but where was Ibori and other Urhobo PDP power brokers where Oborevwori is serving out two terms as a rubber stamp Speaker?

As early as when Oborevwori was given ticket to run for Okpe Constituency in Delta House of Assembly through becoming Speaker, discerning minds had warned it was a bad omen for Urhobo representation in the state government, but what did the Ibori political dynasty do?

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They used and one lousy Speaker, a former butcher by the name Monday Igbuya and replaced him with another misfit, a community dictator, Oborevwori. The basic question is, if the Osubi absolute ruler was fit to be a trusted rubber stamp Speaker whose real legislative achievement is signing reckless loans for Okowa, why won’t he be fit as a fortunate next governor?

They accuse Okowa of imposing a flag bearer. Was it not Ibori who established the incumbent’s place to impose whoever pleases him as a right? In 2007, when Ibori imposed his cousin, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan who succeeded him, did he give a hoot about any dissent? Why would Ibori of all people or any PDP aspirant bellyache about Okowa’s turn to impose?

Party leaders castigate Okowa for leaving his predecessor hard and dry in the Delta 2023 PDP tickets sharing, to the shock of having Uduaghan’s daughter lose a state constituency ticket. How defensible is such an accusation? Only the hypocritical or those with short sense of history would anwer this rhetorical question in the affirmative.

Not everybody could have forgotten it was Ibori who said, “You don’t empower your enemy”, in political context. Trust vindictive Okowa to take a such malevolent motivational reflection to heart. Why? In 2015, Uduaghan, taking the imposition game to extreme, retired a Permanent Secretary, late Tony Obuh, in whom he was well pleased and declared he must be flag bearer to succeed him no matter whose ox is gored.

It predictably turned out foolhardy of Uduaghan to have taken the impunity too far. Yes, in the warped Nigerian democracy, an incumbent governor has enormous power to impose a successor, but he certainly can’t drive such inordinate power into absolutism.

Delegates at the Delta 2015 PDP guber primary went into the venue, stuffed their wallets with stomach infrastructure but shunned the imposition of Uduaghan’s Man Friday. Overwhelmingly, they betted on Okowa whose facial and vocal demeanors present a naivety that fools many from realising that his long sojourn in the political field, along with likes of James Manager, before Ibori became governor, has fortified Okowa as a dangerous J P Clark’s “Ozidi” in the politics of backstabbing and of end justifying the means.

That 2015 late Obuh’s saga has been the root of Okowa’s extreme vindictiveness against Uduaghan. Okowa believes if Uduaghan had succeeded in imposing Obuh as successor, he (Okowa) and many of the confidants with which he is running his extremely clannish and reckless borrowing government would have all been retired politically today.

Yet, the pettiest of the PDP primary induced accusations against Okowa remains the claim by Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi who has become Delta Social Democratic Party candidate after chickening out of the PDP primary.

According to the self important Delta’s leading industrialist, investor, jobs creator, criminologist, lawyer, former minister, and perhaps the state’s richest man, Okowa, for past seven years, promised to hand over the State Government to him.

He went further to suggest with a viral video how the late Okowa’s father also endorsed him to succeed his son and that the Governor in overlooking him to chose the Speaker has therefore dishonoured his father in his grave. How petty can modern day Nigerian politicians be?

In the manner he narrates his frustration to unwilling audiences that are hardly giving listening ears, Gbagi like the other lousy 2023 PDP guber aspirants have no issue with imposition of a flag bearer by the Governor. He, like the other sore losers, had no confidence in self to convince delegates to give him the ticket.

All he counted on was some cheap bargain with Okowa to support him as next governor in return for sustained loyalty to the incumbent. By Gbagi’s calculation, to become governor, party primary and electorate votes during the general elections were inconsequential formalities. All one needed was the incumbent’s endorsement and you are governor.

He forgot that in a dirty polity where even written and sealed agreements can be jettisoned, there is not trust on mere verbal promises. Again, it was from Ibori that Okowa learnt the fake promises at keeping stubborn aspirants at bay.

In 2007, Ibori allegedly promised to handover to the Late Pius Ewherido, Ejaife Odebala, Charles Obule and others. He was said to have even mobilised some of them with funds to campaign for governorship using his name. The gimmick was to disabuse their minds from the real intent to impose his elder cousin, Uduaghan who eventually entered the race last minute, secured the ticket and succeeded Ibori.

With his reckless borrowing without convincing justification to rule Delta, one of the highest federal-allocation-earning states, Okowa obviously needs a stooge who can take the heat to cover his tracks when looming probe comes. Who else fits the bill, if not the least fit, rubber stamp Speaker always willing to put the legislative seals on the inciting loans.

For Okowa, it’s nobody’s business who he chose as flag bearer. All that mattered was to honour the Delta PDP governorship rotation agreement to ensure the ticket goes to Urhobo. It never mattered if he picked a charlatan.

After all, given the level Okowa has debased state governance, even the dumb can be governor of Delta. All he needs is to keep borrowing as he pleases to glorify self in the name of doing projects, unmindful of prudence and accountability.

Okowa is accused of clannishness in the context of driving key projects to his community in quality assurance while splashing petty, shoddy projects in other areas, many failing weeks after commissioning. At Isoko community of Ikpide-Irri, you find Okowa’s emblem of shoddy project, a lingering road project the community has rejected for shoddiness, may never be completed till the governor vacates office.

Again, can we blame Okowa for his clannishness. Ibori, setting the standards, drove major projects to Oghara to transform his village into a glorified citystate. Uduaghan built on that, made to belatedly transform Abigborodo, his home town. Okowa came and took it to extreme, fixated on his Owa community with major projects.

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In imposing an Urhobo man friday, as flag bearer, Okowa also trashed the speculated pact with Tompolo to support an Ijaw successor, vindicating me. When Delta Ijaws engaged in the grandstanding that it must be them or none other in 2023, spurred by Okowa’s inciting claim that there was no rotation agreement in PDP for Delta governorship, I cautioned that it was too early to celebrate.

Knowing how slippery the governor can be, I apprised the conceited Ijaw leaders to not count their chickens before they were hatched, because an agreement not justiciable means nothing to the Governor. The only agreement he honours is that which protects his self interests. In end, Ijaws have also mutated from praise singing to cursing at Okowa for perceived betrayal.

All said and done, I’m embittered by how bad reckless borrowing Okowa has debased governance, but on his imposition of least fit aspirant as flag bearer, “nobody holy pass”, as 2Baba sang in one of his songs.

Wilson Goruvwoghor, writes from Warri, Delta state.