…You Can’t Buy Our Votes, We Reject Oborevwori, Beneficiaries Say
…Okowa Appoints Over 500 SAs Ahead Of Election
…LGs bosses disburse N10,000 per staff to vote Oborevwori, LG Service Commission targets over 60,000 votes
…Tell LG staff, vote PDP, get your promotion, arrears, real time
…Okowa denied us promotions, Oborevwori rejected LG autonomy bill, staff respond
By Ovie Okpare
Fearing possible defeat in Saturday March 18’s governorship/Assembly election in Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has ordered immediate payment N10,000 to each to every employee of the state government and those of the 25 local government councils to vote for candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.
The money, which started hitting accounts of civil servants across the state since Tuesday evening, is tagged ‘Extra Generated Revenue (EGR), a word that is new to the lexicon of government workers in the state.
The money, according to credible sources in the state, is meant to lobby workers to vote for the candidates of the PDP, especially the governorship flagbearer of the party and speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, in Saturday’s election.
Okowa, a vice presidential candidate of the PDP in February 25 presidential/National Assembly election, has been under intense pressure after his party was massively defeated by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, in the state.
To compound Okowa’s woes, the party also lost two senatorial seats to the opposition All Progressives Congress in Delta Central and Delta South senatorial districts. PDP also lost three House of Representatives seats to the Labour Party and the APC.
Since the February 25th election, Okowa has been making frantic efforts to woo civil servants, LG workers and the Christian community in the state to work with him to deliver the governorship candidate of the party, Oborevwori.
The Deputy President of the Senate and APC governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has been projected by many polls and political pundits to win in the forthcoming gubernatorial election owing to his outstanding performance in the Senate.
NIGER DELTA TODAY’s investigation on Tuesday and Wednesday, state workers confirmed receiving the N10,000 ‘Okowa’s gift’ from the state government into their various accounts. They, however, questioned the rationale behind the money.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke with our correspondent on the governor’s gift, described the move as a wrong political strategy since the government was yet to clear years of arrears owned civil servants both at the state and local government levels.
A beneficiary told NIGER DELTA TODAY, “Okowa is now sharing N10,000 each to civil servants. I just got my alert now. They said it’s extra generated revenue. Only God knows what that means. We have never received such money from the government. It’s aimed to sway votes for Sheriff. I am angry right now. I feel like using the 10k to stone him.
“This so called extra generated revenue is for March that has not ended. When did Government start to share revenue to workers? Even during the oil boom, nothing like this. Three days to governorship election Okowa suddenly remember civil servants who he owes several allowances and arrears.”
Another civil servant remarked that “I am a grade level 17 civil servant equivalent of a permanent secretary. I know what I have been deprived by Okowa-led government. This is the same Okowa that deprived us of our legitimate allowances and benefits.
“I was in Abuja last year for a conference, I met colleagues from Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Edo States. They all came by air. It was paid for by their government. Those states are all PDP states. Apart from Rivers, Delta gets a higher revenue. Compare these states, can we really blame Buhari or APC government in Delta State for woes?”
Okowa also ordered his appointees and council chairmen to meet and lobby teachers, LG workers and members of the party from Unit, Ward and LG level to ensure that PDP wins at all cost.
One of such engagement meeting with local government workers was held at Ughelli North Local Government Secretariat and chaired by the Chairman, Deta State Local Government Service Commission, Chief Joseph Otirhue.
Otirhue’s attempt to ask the council workers if their promotion arrears have been paid was met with a deafening “no” chorus.
He said, “If any of you know that you have not been paid, write your name to the NULGE chairman. We will do the needful to ensure we pay. In the last one year, for those promoted, we have been adding promotion increase to your salary. Even this month we have earmarked money to pay promotion arrears.
“What brought me today is to make an appeal before you. You all know for me to be the commission’s chairman; I belong to a constituency. The source under which I’m serving today is PDP.
“Forget all you have been hearing. I can testify that right from 1999 till date in Delta, we can see that PDP has done so much for us. It may not be 100%. Even if my party has not given you all that is expected, but because I came to solicit on behalf of the party, I solicit your support for PDP in this next election come 11 March 2023.
“Many of us will say I don’t want to vote for this PDP again, but let’s remember that you can’t throw the child with the bathwater away. I can tell you that this next dispensation, the priority will be the welfare of Local Government Service staff.
“There is no way the LG staff in Delta will not have over 60,000 votes. By the time you have this, you hold it as a bargain before the government and say you have no reason to deprive us of our welfare, promotion arrears. You need to have something to get something.
“By the time you have these votes to show government, such government will have no option than give you your demands when the time comes, because democracy is a game of numbers.
“The candidate of the PDP today is the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. When he becomes the governor of the state, and we approach him to sign LG autonomy for us, there will be no excuse from him. So let us be wise so nobody comes to deceive us. So on that day, vote Sheriff Oborvwori and the House of Assembly member in your area for the sake of your employer.
Announcing the vote buying, Chief Godwin Adode, Chairman, Ughelli North LG said, “On behalf of the governor of Delta state, please forgive us. A lot of promises being made. We cannot fulfill all. I appeal to you, please help us out. Next week I’m going to approve N3Million for settlement of outstanding claims. And before you leave here, till you get home today, everybody will get 10, 10 thousand naira.
On his part, NULGE Chairman in Ughelli North LGA, Igho Emuophedaro, disclosed that, “I want to assure you, after the election on Saturday, I’m going to meet with my EXCO. I want to organise my own raffle draw here. We are going to present a car as first prize, a Keke as second prize, and bike for third prize.
Okowa/Oborevwori’s Administration Has Been Mean To Us – Staff Response
According to staff who responded, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the PDP candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori don’t deserve LG staff support because their administration has been mean to them.
An Ughelli North LG who spoke on anonymity told our reporter, “When Governor Ifeanyi Okowa got elected, he told LG staff point blank that they have no usefulness for him. He then rendered the Delta State LG Service Commission redundant by introducing INFOSEC (owned by a former council chairman in Isoko).
“Infotec, unknown the State LG Service statutes took over marking of attendance by clocking as well as the management of staff promotion. This deliberate conspiracy was deployed by Okowa to deny council staff promotions and attendant arrears.
“They claimed they were blocking leakages and exposing monies frittered to ghost workers but it was actually done to divert LG funds for sharing into private pockets through Infosec. As soon as Covid-19 came, Infosec died and no report has been submitted till date on that project.
“For Oborevwori, the PDP candidate, he rejected LG autonomy when the matter came before the Delta State Assembly. So why should we listen to him if he now comes to seek our votes when he never meant well for us.”