December 10, 2022

At last, Okowa, Ibori, Uduaghan agree on Oborevwori

*Ibori has accepted Oborevwori, may publicly declare his stance soon —Uduaghan

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

If it was a game, the governor of Delta state and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, former governors of the state: Chief James Ibori and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan had noticeably outmaneuvered the opposition in what political opponents believed would be the weak spot of PDP in the 2023 elections.

However, it was not a pastime, in actuality; the trio of Okowa, Ibori, and Uduaghan found themselves enmeshed in an internal political battle that almost triggered an implosion.

The main opposition party in the state, All Progressives Congress, APC, led by the Deputy Senate President, DSP, and governorship candidate for the 2023 governorship election, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, calculated that the PDP might not come out of the internal variance that hit the party before the poll, and thus affect its chances in the ballot.     

Opposition applauded every stride the first runner-up in the PDP governorship primaries, Olorogun David Edevbie, and other dismayed party leaders made to dampen the choice of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, as PDP’s governorship candidate.

It became palpably clear after the inauguration of the PDP Delta 2023 Governorship Campaign Council at Asaba that Okowa would be busy crisscrossing the country with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and handling other national assignments for the party.   

And his nonappearance was instantly recognizable in the Delta North senatorial district where Oborevwori, the state party chair, Chief Kingsley Esiso, and others kick-started the ward-to-ward campaign.

Okowa, Uduaghan meet behind closed doors

Many cannot believe that nobody orchestrated what transpired thereafter, but practically from nowhere, Dr. Uduaghan, did the “impossible” by declaring support for Oborevwori, the very reason for the heated disagreement between him, Ibori, and Okowa. Political watchers thought he was more embittered at Okowa than Ibori over the goings-on in the party, 

Currently, Okowa is less burdened about the fate of Oborevwori in 2023 without his physical presence in his campaign, as Uduaghan has effectively taken up the role of an organizer and planner.  

Saturday Vanguard learned that Okowa and Uduaghan, who has touched many hearts with his troubleshooting initiatives, met behind closed doors, last month, shortly after Uduaghan declared support for Oborevwori, and Okowa’s predecessor captivated him with his newfound love, suggestions, admonitions, and declarations on the way forward.  

Ibori to declare stance soon—Uduaghan

While Okowa is attending to other duties, Uduaghan, who is the leader of PDP in his senatorial district, Delta South, had held several meetings to resolve some lingering issues. The former governor intervened in the dispute rocking the party in Burutu local government area. He invited the leaders and members to his Warri residence early this month to reconcile them ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He stormed the party’s ward-to-ward-campaign at Isoko, Okpolo/Enhwe, Igbide, Emede and Olomoro, and other parts of the state, appealing to the people to vote massively for Abubakar/Okowa, Oborevwori and all PDP candidates in the forthcoming general elections.

Uduaghan, who has endeared himself more to party members, chanted at the places he visited, “Vote for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa for President and Vice-President; Sheriff Oborevwori for Governor; Michael Diden for Senate; Engr. Jonathan Ukodhiko for House of Representatives and Hon. Ferguson Onwo and Bino Obowomano for House of Assembly.” 

Despite Uduaghan’s summation that the picking of Oborevwori was divine from the look of things, the opposition continued to insinuate he (Uduaghan) was alone in his new position, as Ibori was not with him.

Clearing the air on Ibori, last Saturday, Uduaghan, who visited Oborevwori at his Osubi residence, asserted, “Chief Ibori and I are not quarreling over this matter. He has accepted my latest decision to support you. He may publicly declare his stance soon and I know he loves the party more than all of us.”

“I was not under any form of compulsion to support you. I am at a stage in my life where I do things based on my conviction. The Supreme Court has ratified your candidacy and given you permission to the campaign.

“Therefore, we are all out to support you, you are the candidate subjected to court processes the most in Delta. I was the sitting governor who they took to court the most, so we share something in common and I declare today again to stand behind you and all PDP candidates in the forthcoming elections.” 

… Complicated obstacles ahead  But the immediate past governor of the state quickly warned that there were landmines ahead, which the state PDP governorship for the 2023 governorship election should be cautious about.

 ”There is still a lot to be done before the elections. You need to pass through the heat you are passing through now in order to be governor. God has blessed you, but do not take Him for granted. Hold Him close because there are bumpier hurdles ahead.”

 He admonished party members, especially those with their body in PDP and spirit in the opposition party, “If you say you are behind somebody, stay there. If you think you will remain in the PDP and be working for a candidate of another party, in no time, they will find you out. Those you betrayed your party for will not even trust you. Please, if you are here, stay here because politics is a very slippery venture.”

Saturday Vanguard could not confirm, yesterday, if the ex–governor, Okowa, and Oborevwori had separately or collectively, reached out to Senator James Manager, who contested the governorship primaries and lost to the latter. Until the latest bridge building by Uduaghan, Senator Manager is reportedly furious.

The deputy governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, who also contested the governorship primaries but lost to Oborevwori, has moved on and taking part in the party’s campaign for his election, same as ex-lawmaker, Barrister Ejaife Odebala.  

Okowa’s emergence in our interest

On Okowa’s candidacy, he said, “I want to plead that we take our party’s presidential ticket seriously like the governorship. The vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, is the first person from our state, who has achieved this feat. Hate him or like him, he is a Deltan. Let us support him. His emergence will be to interest of the state.”

Am not the most qualified but —Oborevwori

If anybody comprehends the generosity of spirit that Uduaghan has displayed, in recent times, it is Oborevwori, who, understandably, feels rapturous in the manner invisible forces seem to smooth his path to Government House, Asaba.

His words: “Your Excellency, your name has been trending in the media because of your recent decision. The move that particularly struck my heart was when you went to your local government area (Warri North) ward-to-ward to campaign  for us. This is very dear to me. I am happy that you are campaigning for your brother, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.”

“I am not the most qualified but I believe it is the will of God. My life story is like that of David in the Bible. I appreciate you for believing in our 5/5  campaign and reaching out to people to ensure that the party puts up a united front ahead of the elections. 

 ”I am a man with excessive local content, one reason you appointed me Special Adviser in your administration. I have said this severally, but let me say it before you sir – raising the hand of someone, who contested against your daughter is very moving to me.

“You have shown us we should not sacrifice the general interest of the party for personal interest. History will remember you for a very long time.

 ”My M.O.R. E Agenda is my social contract with Deltans. Amongst all the candidates, I am the one that is in tune with ordinary people. I do not believe in talking too much but I will do what will directly influence the life of the people.

“I am a Warri man to the core, I live amongst the ordinary people, and so I know their pains very well. I want to be a servant-leader. It thrilled us to have you with us, sir. I will certainly reciprocate your visit with PDP leaders from the three senatorial districts and consult you whenever the need arises,” he said. 

Oborevowri, Omo-Agege continue brickbat

With the present position of things, it has probably dawned on Omo-Agege, state APC chair, Elder Omeni Sobotie, and other APC tacticians that the game plan of knocking Okowa’s head against Ibori and Uduaghan would not fly anymore; they have to develop another strategy, as the election is close.

During his visit to the Dein of Agbor Kingdom in Ika South local government area, Delta North senatorial district, HRM Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi I, the governorship candidate told the first-class monarch that a lot has gone wrong in the state and he was leading a revolution to bring in a new Delta state.

He promised to upgrade the University of Delta established by Okowa to its proper status other than the glorified College of Education Governor Okowa has reduced it to.

 Sobotie, at the Ika South APC campaign rallies, said the wickedness brought on the people of Ika by Governor Okowa, in the past seven and a half years, would end when they elect Omo-Agege as governor. 

Ika South APC chair, Hon Hillary Igbude, had lamented that Governor Okowa left only the faculty of education at the University of Delta, Agbor, and took all other faculties to the campus in his hometown, Owa-Alero.

“Eight years of Okowa is eight years of suffering for Ika people. Okowa and PDP have treated us as a conquered people and we will pay him back in his own coin,” he said.

However, Oborevwori, speaking during the party’s ward–to–ward campaign at Ughelli South local government area, remarked, “APC has brought untold hardship to us in the last seven and a half years. Things have really gone bad since APC took over power from the PDP. Only PDP can repair what APC has destroyed. PDP will take you, people, out of the streets and you know the APC created this unemployment everywhere, and we must chase them away, next year, with our votes.”

“Our youths, women, and leaders are going to be happy as I am going to continue from where our hard-working governor is going to stop, next year. Our governor, Senator Okowa, who is the vice-presidential candidate of PDP, has done very well in the state,” the M.O.R.E. exponent crooned.