File image of (from left) Omo-Agege, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and former governor, Chief James Ibori.
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
ONE poser on the lips of many political spectators before the March 18 governorship polls in Delta State was what would happen to the political dynasty of the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, if the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, eventually won the governorship polls.
The puzzle emanated because Ibori, who built the dynasty that had produced two successive governors of the state, after his eight-year tenure in 2007, chose to crown the gubernatorial candidate of another party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2023.
His temper was that the incumbent governor and member of his political family, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, picked Oborevwori over his favored nominee, a former Commissioner for Finance and Chief of Staff, Government House, Olorogun David Edevbie.
Soon after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the PDP as the winner of the March 18 governorship election, and Oborevwori as the Governor-elect, the state went agog with PDP faithful, and Deltans, who truly found Oborevwori irresistible, celebrating his emergence at different communities in the 25 different local government areas.
The subject of the several discussions at the most motor-parks, mechanic workshops, eateries, markets, and other public places by the people was the demystification of Ibori in the politics of the state.
They said he could only deliver his polling unit to Omo-Agege, as he lost both his ward and local government area, Ethiope –West, to the PDP in the March 18 polls.
Okowa, Uduaghan have no plan to oust Ibori
However, in a sharp contrast to the people making merry for the purported fall of Ibori, Okowa, and his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who joined forces together with other party leaders, and Deltans to install Oborevwori, harbored no notion of collapsing the Ibori dynasty, or building a separate political empire.
Were there to be such calculation against Ibori, Uduaghan, to be sure, would not have been part of it. Okowa and Uduaghan’s foremost agenda, which the latter reiterated in his conversation with this reporter, few days to the polls, was for the PDP to win the governorship elections and secure practically all the House of Assembly seats in the state.
Which explains the reality that the party faithful, and others rejoicing at Oborevwori’s triumph, and plunge of Ibori do not comprehend the frame of mind of the two leaders.
Ogboru, Agbi congratulate Oborevwori, Omo-Agege, Gbagi, others oppose
Unlike the previous elections in the state in which serial governorship contestant and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in the just-concluded polls, Chief Great Ogboru, aka “The Peoples General,” took previous winners to court, for the first time, he accepted the outcome of a governorship election in the state, and congratulated Oborevwori for his victory.
He came fourth in the election with 11,021 votes.
In addition, the governorship candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, Sir Goodnews Agbi, has also passed on good wishes to Oborevwori, who kept a tally of 306, 234 votes and topped the pack in 21 local government areas of the state.
However, Omo-Agege, who won four local government areas, and scored 240,229 votes to take the second position, rejected the outcome. He stated that he was heading to court. Chief Tony Ezeagwu, state chair of the Labour Party, which came third with 48, 027 votes frowned at the conduct of the polls.
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, who also suspected electoral malpractices, said they stole his mandate and he would go to the court to recover it, while the youthful governorship candidate of the Young Progressive Party, YPP, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, claimed the entire electoral process was nauseating and went to the highest bidder.
The home-truth about Ibori, Okowa misapprehension
Back to the Ibori political family, at the start of the misapprehension between Ibori and Okowa, the governor explained to Ibori why he would not give in to his choice of Edevbie, citing a supposed betrayal by the latter in the unwritten agreement the duo (Okowa and Edevbie) struck on the 2023 governorship way back in 2015.
The run down is that Okowa and Edevbie agreed that they should be each other’s brother’s keeper with Edevebie supporting Okowa to clinch the party’s ticket in 2015, and Okowa, vice versa, backing Edevbie in 2023, but Edevbie repudiated the accord when an offer came to him to contest the 2015 governorship primaries, which he did against Okowa, and lost.
Okowa considered that if Edevbie did not keep his side of the bargain in 2015, there were no grounds for him to back him in 2023, but Ibori used to determining who got the party’s governorship ticket every eight years, turned down Okowa’s opinion, insisting on Edevbie as first, second and third choice.
Ibori’s insistence on Edevbie did not go down well with, not just Okowa, but many other leaders of the party, who saw Oborevwori as more acceptable to the generality of the people.
Even so, Okowa refused to take it personal against his leader, Ibori, but stood firm on his decision. Sources said Okowa was ready to consider any other body Ibori wanted but he insisted on Edevbie.
How anxious politicians pulled the trigger
Not many thought that Ibori would embark on a counter-political operation against Okowa despite his perceived misconstruction of the governor, but some former political office holders in PDP, who teamed up with Senator Omo-Agege and APC, following one disenchantment or the other with Okowa, over political patronage and other things, fuelled his resentment.
They vowed to teach Okowa a bitter political lesson by hamstringing his candidate, Oborevwori, and massaging Ibori’s ego as the incontrovertible leader, they pushed him to a position of “no retreat, no surrender” with Okowa, contrary to the governor’s state of mind.
Saturday Vanguard calculatedly asked Okowa days before the March 18 elections when he and Ibori interacted last on matters of the party, following reports that Ibori was out to enthrone Omo-Agege as governor.
He responded that Ibori had the rights to support any candidate and party, just as some members of the party in question had defected to the PDP to support Oborevwori.
Those who exacerbated Ibori’s fury also pointed finger at Uduaghan, accusing him of working against Ibori’s interest.
However, sources close to the ex-governor, who had publicly stated his opinion that all party members should have subsumed their antagonism after the Supreme Court finally adjudged Oborevwori as the authentic governorship standard-bearer, last year, said some people were deliberately fanning embers of discord against him.
Ibori family still undamaged – Top-ranking member
A top member of the Ibori political dynasty, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard in confidence, said: “The Ibori political family, which you (media) refers to the Ibori political dynasty, is actually the PDP family that Ibori put together.
“Yes, some few things happened between the leaders regarding the governorship candidate, Oborevwori, who is now the governor- elect.
“It is one of things, the Ibori political family remains intact, and some people are saying that Ibori worked against the PDP, we do not have such evidence. If you want to talk about the Ibori political family today, apart from Ibori himself, Uduaghan, and Ibori, who have all been governors, they are just two other key members.
“All these other people making noise about the place and causing trouble with Ibori’s name, who could not even deliver their polling units to the APC, which they defected to, are all joiners in the Ibori family.
“These are young politicians and latter-day entrants who had benefited more that some core members of the family, yet they left the party, and gave the impression that Ibori was fighting Okowa because of his disposition to them.”
Okowa, Uduaghan plan reunion with Ibori, others
Our usually dependable sources disclosed that Okowa and Uduaghan are most probable to kick off a squaring-off process with Ibori, who they still revere as the leader of the Ibori political family, and other leaders/members willing to return to the party.
Oborevwori harbours no anger
The sources said the governor-elect, who Ibori appointed as an aide in his era, took Ibori as his leader, and despite what happened at the polls, he would extend all due courtesy to him as his leader when he resumes office as governor.
Still inexplicable to many is the actuality that there was a stroke of divinity in what played out concerning Oborevwori materialization as governor-elect and the grace of the Almighty not only speaking, but fighting for him.
Oborevwori was not Okowa’s first choice of successor, but when the governor, who sought God’s guidance on the next governor, came up with Oborevwori, there was no going back.
In addition, Uduaghan, who revealed to Saturday Vanguard, months ago, that a voice told him to join Okowa to deliver Oborevwori as governor, he knew that God’s hands were on the Okpe-born governor-elect.
Okowa thanks Deltans, Uduaghan; bears no grudge against defectors
Apparently letting a glimpse into his heart, at a thanksgiving on Oborevwori’s victory, recently, Governor Okowa, who boldly redeemed his image by ensuring PDP retained its grip on power in the state, said he bore no grudge against those who defected from PDP to the opposition APC.
His words at a thanksgiving service on Oborevwori’s victory on Monday: “I thank all Deltans who have been out there campaigning for us, the PDP.
“I thank all of you for coming to rejoice with the governor-elect, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, and the deputy governor-elect, Sir Monday Onyeme.
“As l thank you all, l must also thank Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan for the roles he played in uniting aggrieved members of the party in the build-up to the elections.”
Okowa charged the governor-elect and his deputy, Chief Monday Onyeme, to put God first in all activities, and assured them that they would record successes if they governed with the fear of God.
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