By Basil Okoh
Delta State PDP held a self validating carnival in Ozoro last weekend without a governorship candidate for the coming election. An unconcluded governorship primaries, fears for the party’s deepening crisis and lack of cohesiveness in the party going into the 2023 elections is weighing down on members zeal for the coming contest. Loyalties are now in doubt and members are looking at other options.
Prominent party members across the state believe that the Ozoro carnival was plainly an exercise in deception and public distraction, considering the enormity of the threatening problems that the PDP has found itself unable to resolve amicably.
Many of these prominent members refused to attend the carnival at Ozoro. Some of them complain that PDP in Delta State has become a one-man show to serve the interest of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. “What did we go to Ozoro to celebrate, the absence of a governorship candidate?, asked another one.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state is presenting a façade to show party unity where there is none. It was all designed for his personal benefit and for the false image of unity in the ranks of PDP in Delta State going into the 2023 presidential election.
The governor is just realizing that the foundation of PDP in Delta state is shaking violently and may face an eruption which will deeply affect his own joint election with Atiku Abubakar for the presidency. PDP as it presently stands has a good chance to lose Delta state in the presidential election next year and Okowa knows that now.
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa also knows that he cannot take the two prizes in the state: the governorship candidacy and the Vice Presidential nomination. He has taken one and so he has to give up the other. If he insists on taking both as he is presently doing against the advise of prominent and well meaning people, he will lose both. Okowa knows that he is travelling on the road of greed.
It didn’t have to be this way. Mistakes were made on both sides of the contest for governorship in the PDP. The DC23 didn’t have to be erected by the Ighoyota Amori group and when they did, they lost the moral authority to make pronouncements on the governorship contest the moment they joined in the fray. We knew DC23 was contrived to anoint David Edevbie to become the governorship candidate of the PDP. And then they made worse mistakes in their screening exercise by not pronouncing Sherriff Oborevwori unelectable by reason of his bogus academic credentials. They saw the certificates and ignored the so very obvious discrepancies.
The same can be said of governor Ifeanyi Okowa, that it is unbelievable that a sitting governor with all the administrative and security machinery available for his use can back a candidate for election without prior background checks on the candidates credentials and qualifications for office. He adopted Sheriff Oborevwori without validating that the candidate is duly qualified for the contest and fit also for the elective position he was seeking.
It is clear and evident to everyone who have seen the contrivances of Sherriff Oborevwori in his academic credentials that he is not qualified to be the governor of Delta state and that no appellate court going forward can qualify the man to be governor of Delta state. That man can never be qualified to hold that office. Sherriff can never be qualified by any court, he can only qualify himself before his credentials can be accepted or validated by the court. The court cannot give him what he does not presently have, a certificate to qualify him.
It is instructive that Sheriff’s supporters are not holding up Sheriff’s credentials and declaring their validity, they are only saying in effect that the Federal judge did not pronounce David Edevbie legally nominated and this gives room for all the shenanigans that are giving the state a whole lot of troubles.
Citizens of the state are now opening their minds and exploring the many voting options available for governorship of Delta state. Virtually all nominated governorship candidates in the major political parties are Urhobo coming from the same Ibori group and none is a stranger to the electorates of Delta state.
Ovie Omo-Agege was the last Secretary to Delta State Government during the James Ibori regime and in the last months of the tenure, became the de facto governor of the state as Ibori lost interest and abandoned governance to Omo-Agege. A former member of the PDP until 2015, Ovie Omo-Agege is in the race as the governorship candidate of the APC and as we know, he is a lawyer, the scion of one of the more popular judges in Nigerian history and the present deputy president of the Nigerian senate. Presently, he holds the distinction of holding the highest elective office in Urhobo land.
Kenneth Gbagi, another original Ibori man is also in the race as governorship candidate of the SDP. Gbagi, a businessman and a former Minister of the republic was a leading member of the Delta PDP governorship race until the DC23 and Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa predictably turned the twist on him and pushed him to take the candidacy of SDP.
The only stranger in the mix is actually Sheriff Oborevwori who was a creation of Dr. Okowa in government. And he is the one the court has pronounced unqualified for the job.
Okowa’s rejection of the unceasing peace offers of David Edevbie, has elicited the anger and hatred of many Urhobo bigwigs who are now questioning Dr. Okowa’s intentions of choosing an unqualified candidate from Urhobo land in the midst of thousands of qualified professionals and technocrats.
“Okowa is trying to make us unleash our anger on him for sowing hatred among us. The court has spoken, so what’s Okowa’s interest in prolonging this case and making us look like disunited fools,” said a prominent communication expert from Urhobo.
How does Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa begin to make amends to David Edevbie when the judicial rigmaroles are exhausted and David Edevbie is finally declared the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections?
We await, with bated breaths, the judgement of the appellate courts.
Basil Okoh, a public affairs commentator, write from Agbor.