Political gladiators and power brokers in Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta State, especially those from Delta Central senatorial district under the control of an eminent party juggernaut, took too lightly the capacity and authority of incumbent Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, in their covert scheming for his successor in 2023, which has turned up to be a serious political miscalculation.
By last year (2021), the assemblage had selected its choice of Okowa’s successor, a former Commissioner of Urhobo extraction, his deputy, also an ex-Commissioner of Delta North origin, both members of the State Executive Council at the time. Several meetings had also been held in Lagos and other places to the effect with the famous party leader, who is a godfather with the governor put in the dark.
It was actually the effrontery that made Governor Okowa to dissolve his cabinet, May, last year, and he admitted that much when he told newsmen that there were distractions with two years to go then.
Dissolution of the state executive council, which affected all the serving commissioners and officials scrambling for governor while still in office, sent a very strong message to all the 2023 indigenous vestibule groups, including Delta Central 2023, DC-23, led by Deputy National Organizing Secretary, PDP, Chief Ighoyota Amori and Ijaw for 2023 Governor Lobby Group, steered by former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, on the governor’s unpreparedness to let power merchants dictate to him.
By now, it is apparent to the contending lobby groups and their promoters that they can make recommendations to the governor, but not foist their choice on him.
Currently, Ijaw ethnic group in Delta South senatorial district is strutting Senator James Manager representing the district in the Senate; Deputy Governor of the state, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro and a former commissioner, Braduce Angozi. Otuaro, lawyer and conflict management expert believes that God has anointed him to take over from his boss, while Senator Manager, also a lawyer, is counting on on his old ties with the governor.
At the 90th Anniversary of the apex Urhobo socio-cultural group, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, December, last year, Governor Okowa, charged the umbrella body to help prune down the number of governorship aspirants from Delta Central senatorial district.
Saturday Vanguard learned on good authority that the Bozimo –led group and others were working on the directive to reduce number of their aspirants, and even traditional rulers in the state are expected to submit their list of favored governorship aspirants to the governor.
DC-23 trims 12 to 5
Amori-led DC-23 had already cropped the list of Urhobo governorship aspirants from 12 to five and expected to submit names of top three aspirants to the governor in February. Those who made the list of five are former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Senator Emmanuel Aguarivwodo, former Commissioner for Works affected in the cabinet dissolution, Chief James Augoye, former Commissioner and Chief of Staff also affected in the cabinet dissolution, Olorogun David Edevbie, former Minister of State for Education Delta’s biggest private investor, Chief Kenneth Gbagi and Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori.
Receiving the interim report of the group’s screening committee headed by Prof Nyerhovwo Tonukari, last month, Chief Amori gave up to the ending of this month (January) to further shrink the number of five aspirants to three and submit its final report.
Olorogun Gbagi, the oldest PDP member among all the governorship aspirants in the state was the first to indicate interest in 2019 for 2023 governorship and has covered a lot of grounds. On the other hand, Rt. Hon. Oborevwori, who finally succumbed to pressures from strong politicians and friends across the state, ruminates that Delta will be in safe hands under his leadership. Olorogun Edevbie also thinks he is good enough to take over from Okowa, but Senator Aguariavwodo maintains that he knows exactly how to fix the state.
However, Urhobo PDP governorship aspirants who did not pass DC-23 first screening were Chief Fred Majemite, Hon Ejaife Odebala, Hon Efe Ofobruku, Chief Kenneth Okpara, now late, Chief Bright Edejeghwro, Hon. Festus Ovie Agas, Chief Abel Esievo and Chief Sunday Oruarefe.
Some of the vetoed aspirants, including Majemite and Ofobruku, were quick to disclaim the DC-23 screening. Only Odebala, a former lawmaker and chairman of Sapele local government area, appears to have let go. Chief Okpara died last month or so. It is uncertain if Hon Agas, former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, now Chief of Staff to Governor Okowa, attended the DC-23 screening in the first instance.
Either by omission or commission, DC-23 conveyed an impression that the group would most conceivably determine Urhobo consensus candidate, but then again, the governor soon shattered the illusions when he practically cut the cluster to size with the group currently subjecting itself to his instructions.
Except for some uncommon disapproval here and there, the political class in Delta North PDP and Delta South leaders and stakeholders are waiting for the governor to give directives on 2023 for them to follow.
But that is not to say that there is no resistance to the seeming move of the governor. A former commissioner in the state, Dr. Tony Nwaka, who made in-explicit allusion on the governor’s style faced opposition and was slammed with a suspension by his local PDP chapter although the suspension reportedly lacked due process.
Nevertheless, Bozimo, who leads the Ijaw lobby group and Amori, DC-23, had lately clarified that they were not opposed to the governor’s influence. Bozimo’s son, Isaiah Bozimo Esq is presently the Commissioner for Justice under Okowa, He was appointed after his predecessor, Peter Mrakpor, also eyeing the governorship seat was fired, last year.
Amori from Mosogar, Ethiope West local government area, is warming up for Delta Central senatorial seat which he won at a time but later lost through the court to Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, of All Progressives Congress, APC, who defeated him in the court. At the moment, a former Commissioner and Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Chief John Nani, from neighboring Idjerhe (Jesse), a sounding board of the governor, has also declared interest for the same position.
To those who understand the intrigues, it is either Amori subsumes whatever arrangement he has with others regarding palming off a governorship candidate under the canopy DC-23 or forfeit his senatorial ambition all over again.
Okowa meets Ibori
Thought-provoking, however, is the information corroborated by multiple sources that Governor Okowa had met with former governor, Chief James Ibori, to discuss the issue of his successor in 2023.
Saturday Vanguard learned that Ibori pointed out his favorite candidate (name withheld) to Okowa, but the governor opposed his choice and voiced his first choice (name also withheld) based on competence. Both men differed but mutually agreed that they would settle score at the primaries if there was no meeting point before then.
Governor Okowa has not made any public pronouncement on either his meeting with Ibori or choice for 2023, but discerning politicians already know. For now, he has continued his consolidation on power by inviting some PDP leaders in government to weigh up some developments ahead 2023.
“Before long, the governor, as he promised, last year, will convene a meeting of PDP leaders across the state to examine the issue of the party’s 2023 governorship ticket and possibility of getting a consensus candidate,” a PDP leader told this paper.
“He is already consulting with other party leaders on the way forward. You know he made it clear last time that only God can determine his successor. But as a human being and even as governor, you can only play your role, it is God that has the final say,” the party leader added.
But it is open secret that the governor has enormous power over the party’s delegates if indirect primaries method is to be used to determine his successor, and so Ibori, a political tactician is most probable to go back over his position.
A group of politicians marveled at how the governor has ingeniously weaved his way and became very powerful were cautiously meeting on how to checkmate him, but the problem is that Okowa seems to be many steps ahead of them.
“As a grassroots politician with wide contacts, he not only knows and anticipates their plan, he foils their intentions before they execute it and they are befuddled,” a source hinted.
With the power struggle still one, more people have come to realization there is a political proclivity in the party that the governor would not want to surrender power to because they will loot the state dry, and they are now willing to tackle the forces.
According to our source: “Some people want Okowa to leave the forces to have their way or close his eyes and allow whoever the system throws up to succeed him, but the governor thinking about the future of the state knows that the greatest disservice he will render to the state is to stay aloof and allow plunderers to take over the state.”
“Some claim that Okowa outsmarted them, the truth is that Okowa did not outsmart anybody, he is only being sincere and truthful on the realities on ground. And it is his sincerity that has endeared him to Deltans,” he added.
Gbagi dares Ibori
However, at a New Year get together with members of the Gbagi Solidarity Movement, GSM, Gbagi, who knew that Ibori had a different candidate, boasted that Ibori had endorsed him and challenged him say otherwise.
His words: “I visited the former governor, two of us had a discussion and he said, ‘Olorogun Gbagi, I came back to the country and everywhere I go in the state, I hear Gbagi. I do not know anybody who can be governor in the state and turn situation around positively than yourself, Gbagi.’
“After those things he had told me, I said to Chief James Ibori, look all these good things that you have told me, tell them to Governor Okowa and he said to me, ‘Take my word for it, I will tell the governor that you are the next governor or nothing else.’ Chief James Ibori will not deny himself, I say it the way it is.
“And when I met Chief Ibori recently in Abuja, he said to me that many people think we are enemies but they do not understand,” Gbagi asserted. More than a week after the Gbagi bolt from the blue went viral, Ibori was yet to react his claim.”
2023 Presidency: Tinubu, Osinbajo Have No Conscience, Igbo Gods Angry With them – Orji Kalu
Senator Orji Uzo Kalu has lambasted the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and other presidential aspirants from the South West and South South, describing them as greedy politicians without conscience.
Kalu claimed that the gods of Igboland are asking questions, demanding an answer as to why these politicians are allegedly greedy and have no conscience.
The former Abia State Governor said this in an interview with Channels Television on Monday evening.
According to Kalu, had these politicians not been greedy, they would not have entered the race for the presidency come 2023 knowing that with fairness and equity in display, it is the turn of the South East.
“Bola Tinubu was my colleague as governor, if they have conscience, they will not run for president. But they have no conscience.
“Obasanjo was president for eight years, Osinbajo was vice president for eight years and South Easterners have never been president for one year.
“How would you sleep if you were in my position? The gods are asking questions in Igbo land, ‘where are these people?’ The gods of the Igboland, they’re asking ‘why would these people come again?’
“And the answer is that they are greedy. They should stop being greedy. And that’s what is killing Nigeria.
“If you work you allow your brother to work; if you rule you allow your brother to rule. I’m being sincere….
“All of them in that list are my friends. My children lived with Tinubu’s wife … so it’s not a new thing to me. I just want people to have conscience before all of us die because we’ll die one day. So they should have conscience,” he said.
Just In: Sylva Withdraws From Presidential Race
Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum, has withdrawn from the presidential race in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and has returned to work.
Recall that the Northern Solidarity Group had on May 9, presented the APC’s Expression of Interest and Nomination form to the minister to enable him to contest the party’s 2023 presidential primaries.
An official at the ministry who chose to remain anonymous said Sylva withdrew from the race to support President Muhammadu Buhari in his quest to achieve a robust oil sector.
“He promised to consult the leader of the country and his political leaders the day he was presented with the form.
READ ALSO: Sylva, Ayade Pick APC Presidential Forms
“He believes that concentrating on his work will attract more investments for the oil and gas sector.
“He has consulted and he believes that the challenges at the ministry and oil and gas sector are enough issues for him to begin to deal with now than going to pursue presidential ambition at the expense of the nation.
“The oil and gas sector is the mainstay of the economy and it is not like any other ministry somebody can just come in and take over.
“It requires some measures of time for the person to understand what is happening in the system.
“For the interest of the industry and the nation, he has decided to wave that personal ambition to see what he can contribute in the remaining part of President Buhari’s administration.
“The implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 is very critical and he wants to continue to make his own contribution to the day-to-day running of the country and support Mr President for robust achievements,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Mr Horatious Egua, Senior Special Assistant to the minister on media, when contacted, confirmed to NAN that the minister was back to work.
Osun 2022: Davido Reacts To Adeleke’s Video On Election Funds
Top Nigerian singer Davido has reacted to a viral video where the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ademola Adeleke, vowed to surpass the financial strength of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
While addressing some members of the PDP in Osogbo, Osun State Capital during the weekend, Adeleke had bragged of having enough money both in naira and foreign currencies to win the governorship election.
The PDP candidate boasted that he was more prepared for the 2022 governorship race than in 2018 when Adegboyega Oyetola defeated him.
The PDP candidate in a 55-second video said in Yoruba, “Osun people, you are the ones to decide. If it is about money, I have enough. I came with plenty money. And it is not only naira; I came with dollars, pounds and Euro. This time around in Osun, it is fire for fire.”
Reacting, Davido posted the video on his Insta stories with the caption, “Fire for fire Kpa for Kpa”.
Meanwhile, Governor Gboyega Oyetola Campaign Council has said that Osun was not for sale to the highest bidder in the July 16 governorship election.
The group described the statement as absurd and unacceptable.
A statement by the Director-General of the campaign council, Ajibola Bashiru, on Monday in Osogbo, said that the boast by Adeleke to have enough money – both local and in foreign currencies – to execute his political ambition was embarrassing.
Bashiru said that on daily basis, the PDP candidate was proving to the electorate that he had nothing to offer.
“Osun people are not gullible. We have left them in no doubt about the quality of our party, the APC and our administration are made of, including the capacity of our candidate to deliver in the past three and half years.
“We have proved through our inclusive governance strategy that our people are our strength and that we do not take them for granted and we will never take them for granted.
“This explains why in spite of the way the 2018 election went, our administration began infrastructure intervention from Ede, the hometown of the PDP candidate.
“Osun people are enlightened, they know that the state and its citizens are not up for sale to the highest bidder.
“Therefore, the PDP candidate should keep his money. Or better still, he could deploy those resources to establish industries to provide jobs for the people.
“This way, he will also be supporting the present administration’s noticeable efforts in the last three and half years to industrialise the state and change its narrative as a civil service state, to one bubbling with economic activities.
“It is on record that the Oyetola-led administration has since inception taken concrete steps to open up the state for investments, and has been able to attract a number of investments into Osun, contributing to the economic growth of the state.
“We assure the PDP candidate that like the administration did to other players in the private sector, we will provide a level playing ground for his business to thrive and ensure Osun and its people derive maximum benefit from the investment,” he said.
Bashiru also cautioned Adeleke against overheating the polity with his incendiary comments and violent tendencies, wondering what he meant by saying ‘its fire for fire this time around’.
“As a responsible party, we urge Senator Adeleke and his party to embrace peaceful conduct and decorum in their political engagements and electioneering.
“We must avoid any comment or action that can jeopardise the peace and stability of our state,” he said.
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