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Delta 2019: Will Ibori sacrifice his powerful political family?

•The sweet, bitter pills they want Odidigborigbo to swallow
•Delta govt, PDP, APC, in war of words

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

EVEN  if the second civilian Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, aka Odidigborigbo of Niger Delta refuses to make a clean slate of the reality , it is a testament of fact that Ibori, the leader of the ruling coalition political family and the subordinate Peoples Democratic Party, PDP family, which have appropriated power in the oil/gas- rich state for nearly two decades, is in a tight spot.


In June, Ibori, Uduaghan, others endorsed Okowa

About three months ago, June, when he publicly endorsed incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for a second term the leader did not have a premonition of the political calamity that was to occur just two months after (August).

With him at the event was his successor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who along with former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo, former Defence Minister, Dr. Roland Oritsejafor, former President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Chief Solomon Ogba, sealed the approval on behalf of the Urhobo, Ijaw, and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities at a mega rally organized by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at Oleh, Isoko South local government area of the state.

Ibori’s words: “Governor Okowa has performed creditably well and on behalf of my family, my ethnic nationality, my friends, I join the good people of Delta South senatorial district to say congratulations our governor, there is no doubt that the people of Delta South will lead you (Governor Okowa) back to Government House in 2019.”

August 28 shocker

However, it is no longer news that on August 28, Dr. Uduaghan, the number two in both Ibori and PDP political families dumped the PDP family for the All Progressives Congress, APC, citing his burning desire to take Niger Delta to the centre stage of the nation’s politics, although that it was due to his irreconcilable differences with Governor Okowa, clearly the number three in the Ibori and PDP political families.

“With Uduaghan exiting from PDP, how can he say that he is still a member of the Ibori political family,? W hat is the difference between Ibori political family and PDP family? Are they not interwoven? Will he be allowed to attend an Ibori political family meeting where PDP matters are being discussed? Is Ibori political family not an extension of PDP family?,” a PDP chieftain, who is close to Ibori raised these issues to Saturday Vanguard.

Chief Ibori was said to be unhappy with the events that finally led to the exit of Dr. Uduaghan, his elder cousin from PDP, especially after his intervention. Our source, who confirmed his feeling, added: “In fact, it is already being speculated that Governor Okowa may go after Ibori after winning his second term, but that cannot be true.”

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

His words: “Everybody, including Okowa, knows who the leader is, the leader is Ibori, he built the PDP that we have today with people like Uduaghan, Okowa, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Senator Ighoyota Amori, Senator James Manager, Chief Paulinus Akpeki and others.”

The questions, Saturday Vanguard was told were: Can Ibori leave the house (PDP) that he built for another party, APC, for that matter, knowing the political peculiarities of the state? Who does he leave the house for? That is unerringly his dilemma today.

His wish is that after two terms by Governor Okowa, governorship of the state will move again to his senatorial district, Central, which kick started his political dynasty in 1999 through him to 2023. But that calculation may be upturned if Uduaghan, who took over from him in 2007 and ruled till 2015, succeeds with others in turning the table around for APC in 2019.

Alamieyeseigha alternative

Informed sources hinted that APC strategists, who seized advantage of the rift between Uduaghan and Okowa, also reached out to Ibori when Uduaghan insisted that that they had to speak to his leader, Chief Ibori. APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was said to be handling the talks.

It was not known what they discussed with Ibori and his response to them, but a PDP leader said: “Long ago, I know that they said they would grant him official pardon just like former President Goodluck Jonathan did for the former governor of Bayelsa state, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha if he joins the APC, while the other option is that they could coerce him”

“What is clear is that the APC under Comrade Oshiomhole as national chairman wants to take over Delta. Ibori is a friend to Oshiomhole, even very close to APC national leader, Alhaji Bola Tinubu. Oshiomhole attended the grand reception for Ibori by former Secretary to Delta State Government, Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay, at Owhelogbo, Isoko North local government area, Delta state, in 2017.

He described Ibori as a bridge builder, whose efforts helped many politicians to occupy political positions, urging him to continue using his position to positively contribute to the development of humanity.

Oshiomhole also said that Ibori fought for resource control during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, equity and justice for the minority ethnic groups, particularly those in the Niger Delta, adding these were the reasons people in the region were celebrating him despite being jailed in United Kingdom.

Without Ibori on APC side, it could be difficult for the party to seize Delta state from PDP in 2019. The exception will be application of something extraordinary as was done in Ekiti state, where in spite of the obvious strength of Governor Ayo Fayose, the APC neutralized his forces and went ahead to win the election.

Who leads Ibori family without Ibori

Our source added: “If Ibori leaves the PDP today, it means the disintegration of the Ibori political family because as it is today, core members of his family and PDP leaders in the state are not going to follow him to APC on account of Uduaghan.”

“And he cannot build a new Ibori political family in APC, in fact, that will mark the end of the family because a new political power bloc will be built. I do not think that it is something Ibori would wish his enemy, let alone himself,” he stated.

The silence on Uduaghan exit

It is unquestionable that Uduaghan knows the top secret of PDP and how the party has been winning elections in the state and such secret in the hands of APC is incalculable, but intriguingly, Ibori has not made any public statement denouncing his exit from the PDP family.

One of his aides, however, said: “You do not expect Ibori to make comment on that, Uduaghan as a former governor of the state is old enough to take decisions by himself and if he so decided to leave PDP for APC, what do you want Ibori to do about that?

“Remember that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is representing Delta Central today in the Senate under the platform of APC, left the PDP family for the Labour Party before birthing in APC. Did you hear Ibori speak against him? He is part of the larger Ibori political family. Look, Ibori has friends in APC and other parties. Oshiomhole is his friend and even Uduaghan is not closer to Tinubu than him.

“Are people like the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, and others , in APC not his political friends who were not in PDP? Did you hear him talk about them before now? So if you are expecting Ibori to talk openly about Uduaghan leaving PDP, you are mistaking,” he added.

The man added: “There is no way you cannot expect defection one way or the other from the PDP in the state. There is no permanent enemy in politics, what exists is permanent interest. In the Ibori political family where only one major member, Uduaghan has left with out six or seven, who you (Saturday Vanguard) reported as the five musketeers of Delta politics, how will the exit of one neutralize the others?”

He, however, revealed: “I can tell you what is happening has indeed placed Ibori in a very difficult position, but it will be foolhardy for him to leave the house he has built.:

I didn’t let down Ibori – Uduaghan

Maintaining that his mission in his new party was to lead others to take over power from PDP and Okowa in the state in 2019, he clarified:   “I do not expect Ibori to say I betrayed him. You must understand that there is an Ibori political family and there is a PDP family. Ibori had a political family that started from the Grassroots Democratic Movement and I am a part of that family. So the family had been on before PDP. That I am in APC does not mean am not relating with him, I do and this includes the fact that we are blood brothers.”

His words: “This would not in any way affect my relationship with him. Even while in the same PDP, you do not have to relate with everybody, there were those who wanted me, those who liked me and those who did not even like when I gave them instruction. So being in the same party does not mean relationships would be smooth,” he said.

PDP takes umbrage

However, Uduaghan’s remarks ignited a fresh war, early in the week, between him and PDP, which in reaction to his latest statment, said:   “When it comes to politics and elections in Delta State, Dr. Uduaghan should realize that he is less than a featherweight. Does he even know how he became governor in the first place? In 2019, we shall ensure that he is exiled into political oblivion once and for all.”

Dismissing the former governor’s claim that APC would wrest power from PDP in 2019 as a “pipe-dream” and “completely laughable”, the party in a statement by the publicity secretary, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza,   said Uduaghan’s declaration that PDP ‘has never protected its own’ was the ranting of a drowning man clutching at every available straw for political survival and relevance.

Ex- Governor Uduaghan was actually referring to himself when he made that statement. This was exactly what he did when he was leader of the party as governor. Out of sheer arrogance and vaulting ambition, he estranged many PDP members with his bad leadership style and worked hard to frustrate and impoverish many of them.”

…You undermined Ibori

“It was part of his treacherous plan to undermine and usurp the position of our political leader, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, and create his own political empire. Dr. Uduaghan left behind a party that was fractured and near disintegration. But thank God that under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the PDP in Delta State has regained its status as a united, cohesive and formidable force,” Dr Osuoza said.

Uduaghan fires back

But Uduaghan fired back in an event in Olomoro, Isoko South, on Monday, when he paid a condolence visit to Chief Lucy Esigie, a chieftain of the APC in company of the APC state Chairman, Prophet Jones Erue, House of Representative hopeful, Mr. Joel Onowhakpo Thomas and other chieftains of the party.

He told the crowd that gathered to welcome him in his public appearance since defection:   “They have been trying to deconstruct the meaning of John the Baptist that I used in my defection statement. They are breaking their heads over it and wondering who and who will Uduaghan take to the APC.”

Uduaghan in his widely publicized statement on his defection, said: “I am going into APC as ‘John the Baptist’ to the numerous Deltans that are coming in soon- very soon,” many thought he was referring to Ibori and others, but he had made the point clear later that he was not referring to Ibori.

…  Sheds light on his John the Baptist and Moses role

“Well, my new role as John the Baptist would be to mobilize virtually every PDP member, not just in Delta State but also in the Niger Delta to the progressives’ fold. There are some people that we will not allow to cross over. They know themselves,” Uduaghan averred.

Dr. Uduaghan queried if the dividends of governance are reflective of the wealth Delta State produces since playing opposition three years after he left government and the people chorused a thunderous ‘No!’

Continuing, the former governor said: “Moses grew up in the palace where everything was comfortable for him but the Lord told him that his people were suffering. He charged Moses to leave the palace so as to liberate them. “

“I have answered the call to return to active politics to liberate and unite our people who have been deeply polarised by the leadership of the PDP. I have come for APC to take over and I am leading the Takeover Squad,” he said.

Delta govt snarls

The state government through the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, Tuesday, broke its silence, saying: “Since the recent defection of former Governor Uduaghan to the APC from the PDP where he was bred and fed, we are inundated with both clandestine and visible plots to drag the Governor Okowa- led government into his dwindling political fortune just to deceive the public and possibly score very cheap political point”.

We challenge Dr Uduaghan to tell the world about the said legacy projects he claimed to have left behind which this government has destroyed. It is worth noting that Uduaghan- led administration’s free healthcare program had a budget of about N700 million yearly providing free healthcare in urban cities and secondary health facilities only. No Primary Healthcare Facility, PHC in rural communities where the real people that need the free healthcare the most are.

A man who could not summon courage to vie for a Senatorial election as a sitting governor is boasting about leading a failed mission to unseat a hardworking Governor Ifeanyi Okowa that is committed to cleaning up the mess he left behind in his uneventful and sad era as governor.

It is indeed amazing that the same Dr Uduaghan, who few months ago, endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for a second term on account of his sterling performances, in spite of the downturn in the economy, displayed lack of integrity when he stylishly dodged the question on the performance of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa while on Channels TV Hard Copy Program,” he said.

APC fights back

Joining the fray, the Prophet Jones Erue-led APC in a statement by its Secretary, Comrade Okonji Chidi, Tuesday, said:  The All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Delta State read with pity the hogwash put together by the Delta State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, dismissing the assertion by former governor of the state and revered chieftain of the APC, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan that the APC will wrest power from the PDP in 2019.”

Every discerning mind in Delta State knows that the Okowa administration is a total sham, an administration that have failed in all sectors. The assertion is actually the reality on ground. The PDP which the governor claimed is ‘still strong and formidable’ has been decimated long before now, right from 2015 when those who knew Okowa very well as an ethnic bigot and a very vindictive fellow decided to dump him.

It was not the making of His Excellency, Emmanuel Uduaghan that respected chieftain like former Speaker, Rt. Hon (Barr) Victor Ochei who also knows Okowa in and out dumped him and his shattered PDP. The defection of Dr. Uduaghan to the APC which is currently shaking the political landscape and causing the PDP and Governor Okowa high fever is just the icing on the cake when they will eventually lose the 2019 governorship elections and many House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate seats to the All Progressives Congress, (APC).

Now that Deltans know that government is a failure, will it not be better for him to eat his humble pie and start preparing his hand over note? Because if Okowa and his drowning party, PDP actually know what has befallen them, they would not be jumping here and there thinking the former governor, Uduaghan is their problem. Okowa’s ouster has been in the drawing board since well-meaning and respected Deltans who were ready to work with him realized he was a deceitful fellow.

It is foolhardy for Dr. Ifeanyi Michael Osuoza State Publicity Secretary of PDP to say “when it comes to politics and elections in Delta State, Dr. Uduaghan should realize that he is less than a featherweight”. These are assertions of a party in self-pity. A former governor in capacity of Dr. Uduaghan, remains a heavyweight political figure in Delta politics in and out of government that’s why the PDP and Okowa would continue to break their head over the devastating blow and impending defeat awaiting them in 2019.

How we snatched Uduaghan from PDP

For their information, when the defection of Dr. Uduaghan who Governor Okowa de-marketed and tried to discredit became imminent, APC catch on it and started wooing him because we know the value-added advantage he will bring to our party and our avowed determination to send incumbent governor packing in 2019.

Governor Okowa thinks he is “smart”, he thinks he can outsmart every Deltan that’s why he is always coming out with policies that are anti-people like his fraudulent “Contributory Health Insurance Scheme” which has been adjudged in the media as scam and fraud.

There is a saying that; “he that those the gods want to destroy, they first make mad”. The PDP people are behaving like mad dogs already in everything they are doing, including press releases they have been issuing over what Dr. Uduaghan did to them and we as a party, have the antidote that would silence them forever in Delta State. Imagine, Osuozu giving away information that Deltans know are exactly what Governor Okowa represents.

According to Osuosu, ‘Out of sheer arrogance and vaulting ambition, he estranged many PDP members with his bad leadership style and worked hard to frustrate and impoverish many of them,’ which he dashed out while trying to denigrate Dr. Uduaghan, but every discerning Deltan is aware that the aforementioned were the exact style of leadership laced with fraud that Okowa has given to Deltans since his assumption of office.

“Okowa that we know is an arrogant person, he is treacherous, hot tempered, vindictive, and pretentious and a bigot of the highest order. But we want to also thank God and commend all those who saw this ahead of us in faraway 2014 and decided to dump the PDP and leave Okowa to continue his clannish tendencies that would finally exile him in 2019,3  the party bpasted.

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