By Emma Amaize, Festus Ahon and Paul Olayemi
PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State flagged off its campaigns for the general elections, yesterday, with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is seeking a second a term in office, boasting that the party would win in 25 local government areas of the state and describing opposition parties in the state as “strangers.”
He said his administration delivered on the promises to the people and was prepared to grow stronger with more prosperity for the people, adding, “Delta is the only state in the federation that has awarded more than 350 road projects and we are constructing drainages to check flood.”
The governor also challenged the governorship candidates of the opposition parties to a debate, saying they were not on ground in the state.
Former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, who also spoke at the flag off, at Oghara Township Stadium, Ethiope West local government area, said, “The re-election of Governor Okowa is our challenge; I have no question in my mind that you (Governor Okowa) have done very well, I can say that without equivocation.”
“You have done exceedingly well; you are competent, capable, and knowledgeable and have the capacity to govern the state for another four years; you (Governor Okowa) deserve another term, I am indeed very pleased with you and your achievements,” he added.
Daring his opponents, Okowa, who occasionally spoke in Pidgin English, asserted,”I am challenging leaders of the opposition parties to a debate; let us see what they have to say.”
“They say I wan be Governor, they wan use power take scatter vote. I wan be governor, you go do election, you go run go Lagos, we no go see again. After four years, you go come again, na so them take de be Governor?” Me, I don tanda for Delta State, I de Delta State for here, even when una send me go Abuja na everyday, I dey come because I be una people, una be my people.”
Governor Okowa said the PDP would crush the opposition even in Ethiope East local government, home base of APC governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, saying security agencies and thugs do not win elections and enjoining Deltans not to be scared of the plots by the opposition to use the police and thugs to rig election in the state.
He expressed optimism that more persons would decamp from APC to the PDP, adding that the APC would die in Delta before the elections. Governor Okowa, popularly known as Ekwueme, emphasized, “I am going into the election together with all Deltans and we will win in every local government area of the state. Deltans are happy; Delta State is a peaceful state; let us take the message from house to house, talk to everybody, so that before the election, all Deltans will belong to the PDP.”
“Tell them what we have done, what we are doing and what we will do. When we said we were going to create jobs, people thought we were joking, but through the Job Creation office, we have created over 20, 000 jobs. We are organizing business fair for beneficiaries of our entrepreneurial programmes.
“We have revamped Technical Colleges, all the courses in our Polytechnics have been accredited, because of peace, our state has moved from number four to number one in oil production. This is the only state in the federation that has awarded more than 350 road projects, we are constructing drainages to check flood and in the course of this year.
“We will start drainage projects in Effurun/Warri axis of which we have made budgetary provision for to the tune of N3 billion; we have constructed over 4, 738 classrooms; we have awarded contract for the renovation of the Teaching hospital. We are the first state in the country to start health insurance scheme of which we have captured the formal sector and already enrolling the informal sector,” the governor said with the people chanting his praises,” he added.
In his remarks, ex governor Ibori, prayed God to frustrate whoever is wishing the state evil, insisting that given the challenge of governance, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has done well.Ibori said for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to flag off his campaign in Oghara was a mark of respect and goes to show he knows the history of the PDP political family in Delta State.
Saying Governor Ifeanyi Okowa also flagged off his 2015 campaign in Oghara, he said he is with Dr Ifeanyi Okowa spiritually and politically. He said the battle for the re-election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is for the Aniomas, adding that the Delta central is intact for the PDP. Ibori said, “I want to address Okowa directly. There is no doubt in my mind that you have done very well, I can say that without equivocation. I have been a governor of this state for two terms, and with the constraints of governance, you (Okowa) have done exceedingly well. You have the capacity, integrity, intelligence and you deserve a second term.
“I am pleased with you because when I was away in 2015, you came to Oghara to launch your campaign, and today you are here to also flag-off your campaign for second term. That shows that you know the history of our party. As the head of this political family, I declare and decree that you have all it takes to lead our people in this battle.
He said it was the turn of the Anioma people, saying as the head of the political family, “I declare and I decree that you have all it takes to lead us into this battle and by the grace of God, you will lead us into victory.”
“Anybody planning evil, God will not let it happen. On my own, in my person as James Ibori, I am solidly behind you in prayers; I am solidly behind in politics. The peace of this state is paramount; it is the turn of Delta north, let us allow Okowa for second term,” he said. State Chairman of the PDP in Delta State, Chief Kingsley Esiso, while expressing confidence that the PDP will sweep the polls in the state; maintained that Delta state is the home of PDP.
He maintained that Nigerians were tired of the clueless APC Federal Government and were ready to change the change, insisting that Delta State has a workaholic governor, whose programmes and Policies will not be difficult to sell.
Chief Esiso said that based on Okowa solid personal achievements as governor; he has no doubt in his mind that Deltans would massively vote for him for his re-election.
Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro said, “The time has come again for us to do it the way we have been doing since 1999.” Others, who spoke at the flag-off, include the former governors of the state, Chief Benjamin Elue and Prof Amos Utuama, SAN, who have reasons while Okowa should be re-elected.
Prof. Utuama and Chief Elue respectively said, “We are here to affirm our support for the candidates of the PDP;” “there has been a foundation of power rotation and good governance in Delta State, let us go to our different units, our wards to work for PDP, I can assure you that victory is ours.” Senator Patrick Osakwe described the support for Governor Okowa as “a mass movement.”
Senator Omu stated that Governor Okowa “is a master of good governance, master of road construction, who has been tested and will be re-elected for us to continue to enjoy peace.”
Dr Orisejafor said, “I am here to declare that in agreement with all Deltans, the governor has done very well. Today, we are testifying that he has delivered on his promises and has done extremely well; several factors are behind him and he will be re-elected.”
Chairman, Campaign Council, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire stated, “There is no vacancy in Government House, Asaba; I have never seen a rally of this magnitude, thank God all Deltans are here; the man for whom we are gathered is a man of integrity, PDP will be back to Aso Rock. “
Director General of the Campaign Council, Rt. Hon. Solomon Funkekeke, had in a welcome address, said, “We are here to celebrate God; our governor has done well and we are here to appeal to Deltans to vote for all the candidates of the PDP.”
High point of the event attended by Nollywood Stars, representatives of National Association of Nigerian Students and other interest groups was the presentation of flags to the candidates of the party for the Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly.