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Okowa’s running mate: How Clark, Tompolo produced Otuaro

Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

NOBODY situated the Commissioner representing Ijaw ethnic nationality on the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Communities Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Hon Kingsley Otuaro, as the likely running mate to People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governorship candidate in the state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, given the political variables until the very last minute.

Otuaro, a self-effacing lawyer hails from the Ijaw ethnic nationality, precisely Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. He has been largely effective in most of the political assignments he had undertaken in the state, but for those who know him what counts for him is his modesty.

The muscular push by the Isoko ethnic nationality for the slot which many saw as justifiable almost thwarted his date with destiny, but he shook off the challenge and that of his fellow kinsmen eying the position to win Okowa’s heart.

Clark, Tompolo affair

Hon Kingsley Otuaro
Hon Kingsley Otuaro

Investigation by Saturday Vanguard, however, showed that Otuaro’s emergence was a settled matter even before Okowa’s victory at the December 8, 2014 governorship primaries. He is said to be the choice of ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who reportedly got the backing of Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, before the pick was finally sealed.

It was learned on very good authority that Tompolo, who believes that PDP is most viable political party in the state, x-rayed the governorship aspirants on parade before he narrowed his choice to Okowa and subsequently held a discussion with him. Our source hinted, “He assessed them and found out that Okowa was accepted across the ethnic divide in the state.”

What guber aspirants promised Tompolo

“Both of them agreed on the strategies and Okowa ceded the deputy governorship position to him. However, I want to tell you that it is not only Okowa that understood the influence of Tompolo in the unfolding order. Other governorship aspirants did and some offered the same carrot,” he said.

But Tompolo apparently saw Okowa as a more dependable person and went all out to work for him. One of his associates asserted, “He went into the battle for Okowa with all his might, spiritually, politically and financially to the extent that even the governorship candidate was impressed by his dexterity.”

He added, “Despite the obvious support for Tony Obuh, which was abated at the eleventh hour shift to Olorogun David Edevbi, the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, candidate, he remained unshaken in his support for Okowa.”

Our findings showed that from Tompolo’s contributions, it was difficult for Okowa to go back on his words even when the Isoko ethnic nationality spat fire over the foreseen slant to the Ijaw.

Why Isoko lost out

A political expert, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, said, “That the running mate would come from Ijaw was already a foregone conclusion, what was at stake was who would get it among the Ijaw. The Isoko people did not understand the intrigues at play, which was why they were shouting that it was their turn.”

“The real battle Otuaro faced was getting Pa Clark to endorse him and once Tompolo was able to do that, it was all over for the other contenders. Clark actually played the role of a father, which he is on the matter because Tompolo subjected everything to his final decision,” he added.

Clark’s decisive role

His words, “Nothing was done without the approval of Chief Clark, but what actually went for Otuaro is that he is somebody that is ready to learn and can be called to order. His performance so far in office and other public outings were reviewed and he scaled the bar of hard work and loyalty.”

Otuaro is seen as somebody who will be loyal to Okowa while in office and because he is a square peg in a square hole it was conclusively wrapped.

Mesmerizing touches

Besides the dawn of Otuaro and Tompolo’s deft move in Okowa’s success, the ex-militant leader’s foot works in the last few days caught professional politicians napping.

Out of the blue, Tuesday, Tompolo embarked on another nimble political activity. He held a top-secret meeting for five hours with 11 traditional rulers from the Delta Central Senatorial district (Urhobo) at Jesse, Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state to drum support for President Goodluck Jonathan and People’s Democratic Party, PDP, standard bearer in the state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.

Ijaw ready to work with Itsekiri

He also met with the Warri Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, assuring that the Ijaw was ready to work together with Itsekiri for peace in the state and dismissing the claim that he (Tompolo) was preparing to fight the Itsekiri people.  Tompolo was meeting the Warri monarch for the first time and the monarch was reportedly impressed with his openness.

The ex-militant leader told the Olu of Warri that the rumors of war between both tribes being peddled in the newspapers were the figment of imagination of the detractors of the two ethnic groups.

I want peace- Olu of Warri

Ogiame Atuwatse II, who met Tompolo with no fewer than 20 chiefs asserted that he was for peace between the Ijaw and Itsekiri and he urged his guest to reach him whenever need be through his chiefs. Tompolo reportedly exchanged contact information with the monarch.

His meeting with Urhobo royal fathers was hosted by the Ovie (traditional ruler) of Idjerhe (Jesse) kingdom.

Seeks Urhobo support for Jonathan, Okowa

A dependable source close to one of the royal fathers, said, “He (Tompolo) spoke to them on the need to support President Goodluck Jonathan and the Ijaw ethnic nationality because they the Urhobo stand to gain from such association.”

“You know the position of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, on the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, President Jonathan and the party’s flag bearer in the state, Senator Okowa. He apparently came to ask the Urhobos to reconsider their position,” he added.

According to him, “You know he is among those that produced Hon Kingsley Otuaro, the running mate to Okowa and he is trying to ensure that everything works out for good for Jonathan and PDP in the state.”

“He told the royal fathers that Urhobo will benefit from supporting President Jonathan and PDP in 2015, both at the national and state level,” our source added.

We’ll consult UPU- Monarchs

It was gathered that the royal fathers commended him for his initiative, but said they were not in the position to given him a clear-cut answer on the stand of the Urhobo ethnic nationality. They promised to table the matter before the UPU for appropriate action.

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