File image of (from left) Omo-Agege, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and former governor, Chief James Ibori.
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
DEPUTY Senate President, DSP, and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the just-concluded governorship polls in Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, is a forceful and go-getting politician, whose ascension to the position of the sixth most powerful Nigerian evidenced his dexterity.
As a politician, one of his ambitions is to become the governor of his state, and he made an audacious attempt in 2006, contesting the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship primaries, which former governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, won.
DSP as they fondly call him, was a member of the former governor, Chief James Ibori’s PDP political dynasty before he defected to the Labour Party, LP, where Ogboru gave him the platform to secure his first senatorial ambition in 2015, after which he moved to the APC, March 7, 2017.
Omo-Agege, bearing the APC flag, had thought that with the influence of Ibori, who was at loggerheads with the incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, a member of the Ibori political family, that he (DSP) would overrun the PDP in the March 18 governorship polls since Ibori, though out of the country at the time, played a role in installing the governor in 2015.
Omo-Agege was not alone in his way of thinking, Ibori himself and many of his devotees, including his preferred governorship candidate, Olorogun David Edevbie, two former Secretaries to the State Government, SSG: Comrade Ovuozorie Macaulay and Mr. Chiedu Ebie, former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Monday Igbuya, and ex-Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare, also thought that way.
With the ranking politicians from the three senatorial districts of the state, all Ibori’s men, who deserted the PDP for APC, in the months, weeks and days preceding the March 18 governorship polls, Omo-Agege resolutely believed that he would categorically overwhelm the PDP, Okowa, Uduaghan, and whatever forces they represent in the governorship race.
The February 25 Presidential/National Assembly polls, in which the Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, polled 341,866 votes on February 25 to defeat Okowa, who is the vice presidential candidate of PDP who had 161,600 votes in his home state, gave Omo-Agege the audacity to think that the APC would thump PDP.
How he presumed that the APC that scored 90,183 votes in the same election would overawe the PDP in the governorship polls, three weeks later, seemed inconceivable.
Perhaps, Omo-Agege, a former LP member, was of the opinion that his aspiration would resonate with LP, and members and the Obedient Movement in the state, more than with Ken Pela, their party’s candidate, not to talk of the PDP candidate, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, now the governor-elect of Delta.
Apparently, DSP, satisfied with his campaign that put Okowa and PDP on the defensive most of the time, believed his strategy would work magic. He never thought the PDP would rise above his several bombardments on the supposed gargantuan debt of N850 billion that Okowa had plunged the state, non-payment of pensioners, underdevelopment of Warri, imposition of a stooge as governorship candidate, and lots more.
He also tailed off on his conjecture that the influence of Ibori in 2023 is comparable to his stature in 2007 when Ibori appointed him (Omo-Agege) as SSG, or made Uduaghan governor and in 2015 when he supported Okowa’s emergence from overseas.
Ibori also committed the same slip-up as Omo-Agege by erroneously thinking that he had the same power of old when he chose, last year, to slug it out with Okowa for rejecting his number one pick, Edevbie, despite his grounds.
He expected party leaders, both at the national and state levels, to see things from his point of view, but the under-attack National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu and those he contemplated should rein-in Okowa, took sides with the governor.
It happened that Oborevwori enjoys better affinity with party members, and with his street credibility, the explanation the governor gave for his selection over Edevbie reverberated more with the people, and therefore, numerous stakeholders refused to accept the demonization of Okowa over the decision.
However, those who saw Okowa as showing no gratitude to Ibori, having lost their political positions and falling out of favor with the governor, also misread their power and urged Ibori to fire on with the insalubrious agenda to throw PDP out of Government House in the state.
March 18 scrutiny
At the close of balloting on March 18, PDP, shepherded by Okowa and Uduaghan, with Oborevwori as a candidate, defeated the APC, propelled by Ibori with Omo-Agege as a candidate, in 21 of 25 local government areas in the state.
Oborevwori had 360, 234 votes to beat Omo-Agege who polled 240, 229 votes, but the APC candidate shared what he thought was his strongest base in the elections, Delta Central senatorial district, and four local governments apiece with the PDP candidate, who is also from the same district.
He won in his own local government area, Ughelli North, then Udu, Uvwie, and Ughelli South, the local government area of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, governorship candidate, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, and LP governorship candidate, Ken Pela, while Oborevwori won in his own local government area, Okpe, Ethiope East, Ethiope West, and Sapele.
Incidentally, Ibori, the man he expected to perform magic, lost his Ethiope West local government area to the PDP. The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Great Ogboru, at present on the same page with Okowa and Oborevwori also lost his local government area, Ethiope- East to the PDP.
Except in Ughelli North, Omo-Agege’s local government, and Udu, Uvwie, and Ughelli South, Ibori’s forces failed to deliver in 21 other local government areas of the state.
Additional slip-ups/ Rebuff of INEC results
The Deputy Senate President, had before the polls calculated that he would battle PDP to a standstill in the Delta North senatorial district (Anioma nation), which is Okowa’s domain.
He assumed that his deputy, Rt. Hon Friday Osanebi, who is from Delta North, would hold his grounds in Ndokwa nation for the APC, and probably, Oshimili North would fall because of the influence of incarcerated Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.
Contrary to his computation, he won no local government area in Delta North, as Oborevwori cleared the nine local government areas: Oshimili North, Oshimili South, Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East, Ukwuani, Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Ika North East, and Ika South.
Again, contrary to his projection in Delta South senatorial district, ex-governor Uduaghan, and his troops, denied him victory in Warri North, Warri South, and Sapele, while the Deputy Governor, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, Senator James Manager, and others made sure he lost all the Ijaw local government areas.
Former Minister of Niger Delta and Director-General of the APC Governorship Campaign Organization, and Ijaw leader, Elder Godsday Orubebe, could neither withstand nor impede the PDP winning streak in the creeks. PDP won the seven local government areas of Delta South senatorial district.
Notwithstanding the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Omo-Agege does not believe that the electoral umpire was impartial in its role and has approached the State Election Petition Tribunal.
Kick-out, disbanding and vote of no confidence
However, from recent developments in the state, the thumping and treachery by some political actors have taken an intriguing dimension, as the APC, Ika South local government chapter, has already expelled a leader of the party in the state, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, for working against the emergence of Omo-Agege as governor in the March 18 polls.
Last Friday, leaders and members of the PDP in Ibori’s Ethiope West local government area, passed a vote of no confidence on his daughter, Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, member-elect, House of Representatives, Ethiope federal constituency, a former Commissioner for Special Duties, in her father’s administration, Chief Champion Kpateghe, and seven others for alleged anti-party activities.
Ibori-Suenu, who is the chairperson of the Finance and Appropriation Committee of the state House of Assembly, understood the intention of the leaders and on Monday, March 27, officially resigned her appointment, and ceased to serve in the committee.
In what seemed to be a suspension galore, the state government has also sacked some aides of the governor for not sharing “in the philosophy and vision of the state administration anymore as demonstrated by their general conduct in the public space in recent times.”
Some local government chairs in the state also disbanded their executive arms for suspected anti-party activities.
What happens next?
With the kicking out and suspension going on in the state, observers think that things that are more insidious may turn out in the next few weeks, but top party and government functionary re-affirmed to Saturday Vanguard that Okowa, Uduaghan, Oborevwori, and PDP had no plan to chip away at Ibori.
The dependable official added, “In fact, not considering his resentment, they hold Ibori in the highest regard, and rather than come down like a ton of bricks on him as many imagine, they will put together a trouble-free landing for the national leader.”
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