By Emma Amaize
In the last few weeks, propagandists, extortionists and their sponsors have charged up the political airwaves in Delta State with half-truths and outright mendacity.
Okowa accused of covenanting with Ijaw deity
During the week, it was a frontal shot at the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who was purported to have sworn an oath before a Gbaramatu-Ijaw deity in 2014 to surrender power in 2023 to an Ijaw governor in exchange for support by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo and other Ijaw leaders for his election.
Before some news peddlers spiraled the information, lately, some top politicians have basically tried to smudge the governor’s image with the tall story.
However, those who know Okowa and vouched that as a Christian, he could not have pledged fidelity to a deity pondered why spin doctors chose to go such distance in the slur campaign.
An Ijaw opinion leader, who preferred anonymity, told this writer: “In fact, Tompolo’s support for him in 2014/15 had nothing to do with agreement to hand over power to Ijaw in 2023.
“None of them, including Okowa, has the power to make anybody governor, the power belongs to God.”
Clark clears air
Clearing the air on the controversy in an interview, elder statesman and South-South leader, Senator Edwin Clark, asserted: “It is not to my knowledge and I was never a party to an arrangement that Dr Okowa should hand over to an Ijaw person at the end of his term and there was no working accord known to me.”
“It was not a part of the arrangement when I decided to support Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015. It was not a matter between the Aniomas and the Ijaws. It was not based on any condition other than competence, equity and, fair-play.
“Some of us championed the cause of Delta North producing the Governor of Delta State in 2015 for inclusiveness and unity of the state.
“Having said that, I wish to emphasize that I do not think that Ijaws are asking for a special favour, but that a level- playing field should be provided for all,” he added.
Underwriters also perverted the harmless statement of the South-South leader calculated to lift off the ungodly pressure on Okowa and smoothen his way to back Ijaw, if necessary, to mean that he was ruling out Ijaw from the race.
According to the Ijaw opinion leader: “For me, what Senator Clark did is to sound it at full volume to the blackmailers of Okowa that the governor has no unholy covenant with Ijaw on 2023. And so, they should leave the governor alone. That does not stop the governor from still supporting Ijaw aspirant, if he wants to.”
How not to nail Ibori, Edevbie
A report currently circulating quoted the founder of ECONET, the very first GSM company in Nigeria, Strive Masiyiwa, as saying that Delta state government under Chief James Ibori demanded that the company must pay a total of $9 million in bribes to senior politicians (in state government) who had facilitated the raising of the money to pay for the license.
According to the report: “I (Masiyiwa) refused to authorize the illegal payments. Meeting after meeting was held to try to get me to agree, but I would not. The money would not be paid as long as ECONET was the operator and I had signing authority.”
“James Ibori, the governor of Delta state, was demanding $4.5 m be paid to him in his personal capacity. He was one of the most powerful in the country…The shareholders met and voted ECONET Wireless Nigeria out management. They cancelled our management contract. James Ibori and his colleagues personally attended the meeting to remove us,” the report added.
In yet another breath in the same report, the spin doctors wrote: “With the knowledge and initial approval of the state parliament, he (referring to David Edevbie described as Ibori’s proxy, who he wants to be governor), committed state funds to buy ECONET shares, thereby yoking the state to an unapproved multi-million dollar transaction in ECONET in a murky deal which was later to explode in many faces.”
Though the report alluded to other sleazes between Ibori and Edevbie who was Commissioner for Finance under Ibori at the time, the poser the spin doctors forgot to tie together before releasing the statement, is how the same Ibori government that chased away ECONET for refusing to pay bribes, committed state funds without the knowledge of parliament to buy ECONET shares?
Gbagi bullying that refuse to go
Another yarn that has negated common sense since it was contrived, last year, is that governorship aspirant and former Minister of State for Education, stripped a female worker, Okemute Diaghwarhe, naked at Signatious Hotel owned by him for stealing money.
Despite a Delta state High Court judgment that such episode never occurred, sponsors of the story continue to animate it because of underhand motivations.
Delivering judgment, presiding Judge, Justice Emmanuel Dolor, who dismissed the suit on grounds that the application for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights lacked merit, said: “I also find as not proved in this proceeding the applicant’s allegations that she was stripped naked by or on the orders of the 1st respondent; that she was paraded in her naked state before the hotel staff and customers and before the son of the 1st respondent; that the 1st respondent’s son made photographs and video recordings of the applicant in her nude state and that the 1st respondent’s son uploaded the recordings of the naked applicant on WhatsApp and Facebook platforms.”
“Now coming to the four photographs tendered collectively as exhibit TP.3 and described by the applicant as the nude photographs posted in the social media by the 1st respondent’s son, I cannot fail to notice that two of these photographs do not answer to the description given to them by the applicant, since they are not photographs of naked women at all,” Justice Dolor said.
Cheap coercion against Otuaro – GDP
Another twirl by propagandists was that that top Ijaw governorship aspirant and Deputy Governor of the state, Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, aka KBO, has also stepped down from the race.
Spokesperson of Greater Delta Project, GDP, Mr. Lawson Awipi, in reaction, warned: ”While the race to Dennis Osadebe House in 2023 hots up in Delta state, we members of Greater Delta Project (GDP) and indeed all the Kingsley Burutu Otuaro (KBO) supporters’ groups across the state have been taken aback by the deluge of propaganda occupying the political air-wave.
“The mother of all such cheap propaganda being peddled by some integrity-defeated governorship aspirants in the state and their floating supporters is the unverified news of A, B, C PDP governorship aspirants stepping down from the race.
“We are disappointed that some of the PDP governorship aspirants who are sure suffering from integrity crisis and thus, cannot face popularity test have resorted to cheap blackmail of their fellow contestants in order to score cheap political points.
“Our principal, Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, has become a victim of these cheap political blackmails that he has stepped down for XYZ aspirants.
“We make bold to tell Deltans and indeed, Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro’s teaming supporters across the state in particular and the Nigerian federation at large that KBO is unrelentingly in the governorship race and has no reason whatsoever to step down for anybody when his prospect of winning the PDP gubernatorial primary and by extension, the 2023 governorship election is very bright by God’s grace.
Mischief makers performing script of paymasters – Oborevwori
Last Friday, misleading information that an Urhobo governorship aspirant and Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, had withdrawn from the race spread like wildfire in the state.
In the prevalent report, Oborevwori was roguishly quoted as saying: ”When I was presented with the options by our Governor, His Excellency, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, I chose the position of Speaker. Now, I want to respect that decision I made as an honorable person. Also, I have been persuaded by traditional rulers I respect and our party leaders to step down for better aspirants in the race.”
“Moreover, I have been overwhelmed by the deluge of allegations of public funds embezzlement levelled against me. I will like a situation where I submit myself for an investigation to clear my name of the allegations. This is in addition to the burden of ex-convict hovering around my neck.
“All these have gotten to me recently. I want to remove myself from the governorship race to maintain my sanity. Going forward, I want to put my energy into other activities until I decide on what to do next after my tenure as Speaker,” Oborevwori said.
However, the Speaker, Oborevwori, same day, said he was still very much in the 2023 governorship race, urging Deltans to ignore the wicked publication, purporting that he had stepped down from the race.
Oborevwori, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Dennis Otu, berated a faceless author circulating a mischievous and malicious media report with respect to his governorship ambition. He described those behind the report as mischief-makers who were acting the script of their paymasters.
“My purported stepping down from the governorship race is the imagination of people who are scared of the massive support I am enjoying from Deltans at home and in the Diaspora and other residents in the state,” he asserted.
Oborevwori enjoined all and sundry that politics should be issue-based and not attack personalities, adding that at no time has he been invited by any anti-graft agency for questioning of fraud-related issues.