By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South and Perez Brisibe
PROMINENT leader of Itsekiri ethnic nationality and All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain, Chief Ayiri Emami, a long-time political associate of former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, says that those who accused him (Ibori) of corruption and chased him out of the country are corruption personified.
Chief Emami in an chat with Vanguard, said he was unaware of the preparations for Ibori’s return to Nigeria after his jail term in United Kingdom, but he was confident that he would receive a massive reception anytime he returns.
“I have consistently said that those who accused Chief Ibori of corruption and subsequently chased him with their political might are indeed the definition of corruption themselves. Their romance with the last political administration at the federal level and the exposures in terms of corruption there were allegedly involved in, as revealed by the EFCC has vindicated me,” he asserted.
The activist was, however, guarded in his response to the questions posed to him. Sampler: We hear Ibori will be out of jail soon, is this true? “Yes, I think he will be out soon,” he responded.
Asked if Delta state missed Ibori, the Niger Delta activist given the reason for which he was jailed, Emami asserted: “I have consistently said that those who accused Chief Ibori of corruption and subsequently chased him with their political might are indeed the definition of corruption themselves. Their romance with the last political administration at the federal level and the exposures in terms of corruption there were allegedly involved in, as revealed by the EFCC has vindicated me.”
“ No doubt, Deltans are missing Ibori, his pan- Delta posture, which transcends all ethnic groups and welfarist approach to all class as well as categories of people in Delta State is greatly being missed by majority of Deltans,” he added.
But, what did the people of the state miss with his absence, Emami said: “I suppose my response above has succinctly answered your question. Permit me to also add that Chief Ibori is a bridge builder, his exceptional ability to ensure cordial relationship between the various political parties in Delta State is also being missed.”
Politically, how do you think Ibori would have handled the state in the last 10 years or so? “Simple, he would have consolidated on inter and intra ethnic harmony, empowerment of Deltans, developing the relationship among politicians and joining progressive forces across the country to push for the restructuring of Nigeria, so that no ethnic group or section will feel marginalized,” he stated.
“What have you missed personally with Ibori’s absence? He said: His leadership style, peaceful disposition and rare ability to manage a complex state like Delta. Chief Ibori’s philosophy of empowering the youths, elderly people and encouraging entrepreneurship are virtues, which have influenced me till date.”
On the preparations and expectations for his likely return, he asserted: “An opinion poll across people living in Delta State will attest to the huge desire by majority of Deltans to have Chief Ibori back. I do not know of any preparation to receive him once he is done with his jail term, but I can assure you that it will be a glorious return home or him when the time comes soonest by God’s grace.”
We asked Emami how Ibori has managed to still determine political matters in the state even in jail and he answered: “I suppose you have better knowledge on that, I do not know whether he determines political matters in the state even in detention, but one thing I am certain about is that Chief James Ibori is the leader and founder of democracy in Delta State since 1999 and serious politicians in the state trace their roots to his leadership, no matter the political divide.”
Is he still a member of the powerful Ibori political family now that he is in APC? He told Vanguard: “The obvious disillusion most politicians feel presently on happenings in the state and the country at large, whether card carrying PDP or APC members leave much to be desired if the unit often call Ibori Political Family still exists, but one thing I can assure you is that people like me will continue to believe in Chief James Ibori’s political philosophy no matter the political party we belong.”