By Wilson Ruvwoghor
In both unguarded utterances and rash decisions with extreme air of absolutism towards 2023, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, has in the last couple of weeks derided the majority Urhobo (Delta Central) nation to the exclusion of other ethnic groups that make up the Delta state he governs.
Apparently, the Governor’s sudden willful malice against Urhobos, to all intent and purposes, is being induced by his twisted desire to, against a tacit rotational agreement, deny Delta Central politicians in the state’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a justified right of first refusal on who flies the party’s ticket in coming 2023 Delta governorship, most likely succeeds Okowa.
Okowa opened the accounts on this sudden induced hate against Urhobo when he dissolved his entire cabinet after Delta Central PDP leaders, particularly key officeholders under his administration, yielded to the reawakening of once Chief Ighoyota Amori’s tool of political deceit and betrayal of Delta Central, the Urhobo Political Forum (UPF), now metamorphosed into DC-23.
While the dust was yet to settle on the anger provoked by Okowa’s would sack of his entire cabinet over a distraction created by DC-23, the Governor who has been two terms beneficiary of Delta PDP rotational governorship, incited rage in Delta Central with the vexed denial, “No agreement on how Delta governorship should be rotated”.
In fairness to Okowa, the Governor has liberty to hire and fire or decides who and which ethnic group to support in the choice of successor, but to exercise such freedom by bandying indefensible excuses in blatant disregard for self respect and integrity only goes to prove how depraved helmsmen of PDP’s hegemony over Delta government can be in utter abuse of office.
Even more shameful of the Governor is his failed attempt to conceal the ulterior motives inducing the impulsive hate against Delta Central as he clings to falsehood and extraneous sentiments to justify the inciting desperation to shift the goal post as the common bond of governorship rotation PDP had applied since the days of Ibori turns full circle to let Delta Central District PDP enjoy the top office again.
In alignment with Okowa, I see no justification why the Edevwies, Amoris, Aguoyes, foul mouthed and bootlicking Latimore and other Delta Central political appointees of Okowa should openly engage in the distractive 2023 campaigns in disguise under a parochial DC-23. Though the lawful deadline to compulsorily resign to face campaigns have not elapsed, it was indeed a distraction to Okowa that key appointees would abdicate their office with impunity to declare governorship ambitions outside the directives of the Governor and the PDP leadership in the state.
Now booted out of office, it would be interesting to see how these desperadoes would sustain the large convoys, VIP rides, bloated security details, and all the perks of office they have been enjoying as they feel they have their cake and eat it. However, while I am not sympathetic to any Delta Central appointee displaced by Okowa’s recent big hammer, it’s a puerile show of force to have sacked the entire cabinet.
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When the Governor said certain persons had distracted his government, he was arguably pointing to DC-23. What distraction, then, did SSG, Chiedu Ebie, Info Commissioner, Charles Ogbuagu, and other non Delta Central Executive appointees committed to suffer the complete sweep of the state EXCO? It’s hoped he drove everybody pretentiously to avoid being accused of ethnic bias. Expectedly, he should recalls deserving, innocent victims in a reconstituted EXCO.
Again, it is open secret that Okowa’s desperation to support Ijaw succession to Delta’s governorship in 2023, to the humiliation of Urhobos, is not as a result of non existent rotation agreement within PDP as he lied about. The awareness of an unwritten rotation agreement which Okowa benefited has been a common denominator in the party since the time of Thief, sorry, Chief James Ibori.
The ulterior motive why Okowa have decided to live in self denial rest on the enormous pressure on him to comply with a personal, yet unwritten 2015 agreement with Delta Ijaws, particularly with Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, a.k.a Tompolo. The strongest term of that bargain was for Okowa to, at all cost, ensure that an Ijaw succeeds him in 2023 in return for the overwhelming Ijaw support he enjoyed in his two victorious runs for the governorship.
And in all of the unguarded declarations the incumbent has spewed to malign Urhobo PDP over the coming election, none has been as vulgar, shameful of his carriage, as the denial in “no rotation agreement”. If as a result of the pressure he faces under his agreement with Ijaw, it was imperative he dismisses the rotation bond, he had a more respectable argument, though still ineffective as it were, to have advanced.
He could simply have flown the “no agreement” propaganda on the argument that during his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan’s run for the governorship on Delta South’s turn of the rotation agreement, and following with Okowa’s own runs at the turn of Delta North, PDP aspirants from Central prominently contested the party’s primary for the governorship ticket.
Incidentally, it’s among the Ijaws Okowa is being compelled to support for 2023 and from perhaps the Governor’s most trusted Urhobo political godfather, mentor, adviser, supporter and elder, Prof Sam Oyobvaire, that Okowa is being exposed as shamelessly lying in his “no rotation agreement” claim.
Rubbishing Okowa’s barefaced self denial, Oyovbaire stated, “All of us (Delta PDP) know that even when a constitution or written agreement has not been entered, there is a basic understanding that the governorship of this state should go round senatorially. In 2014/2015 which was our next experience, Okowa was elected not just because he was competent, focused and an Ika man, but because it was the turn of Delta North.
“For those who are arguing, will it make sense if Okowa starts to agitate for an Oshimili person to take over from him? But for the fact that an Oshimili person wants to exercise his right, he can’t be deprived. The rotation does not stop anyone from contesting, but only favours the next senatorial district on board (next in line) to benefit”.
Haba! Okowa, see yourself. That Prof Oyovbaire who’s so close to you damned whatever consequence to expose your malicious lie tells how bitter Urhobo PDP leaders must be feeling about your desperation to bend a standing bond that has benefited you more than anyone else.
Even when Governor Uduaghan didn’t want Okowa to succeed him, he graciously respected the rotation agreement in his failed bid to hurriedly retire late Tony Ubuh, a state Permanent Secretary of Delta North extraction to lord over Okowa as his successor, perhaps an error of judgement which rebound may have permanently killed Uduaghan’s political career today.
A piece of advice, on a closing note, to Delta Ijaws who Okowa is presumably resolute to support, at all cost, for the governorship. Don’t be in a hurry to cheer or claim victory. If Okowa can as much lie about an existing Delta PDP rotation agreement that has benefited him, don’t be too sure he would live true to a private agreement he had with you in Oporoza in the past.
What’s more, history is known for repeating self. Towards 2007, Governor Thief, sorry again, Chief Ibori mobilized his prime shoeshiner, Chief Ighoyota Amori to fabricate Urhobo Political Forum (UPF), a tool of deceit to tele-guard then Urhobo governorship aspirants to believing he, Ibori, was in support of retaining the governorship in Delta Central.
After collecting hundreds of thousands of Naira in kolanut wedges from hosting of UPF by the late Sen Pius Ewherido, Chief Charles Obule, aka Ekparigho, among other notable Urhobo aspirants at the time, Amori led all Delta Central delegates to the 2007 PDP guber primary at Ogwashi Stadium to hand the party ticket to Ibori’s real choice of successor, his elder cousin, Dr. Uduaghan (Delta Central) who was last to initiate intent to run for the office barely a week to the primary, Ibori citing rotation for his decision.
Even if genuinely committed to the open secret agreement of imposing an Ijaw as successor, Okowa must, learning from history, be equally reminded that there’s always limit to power. If every word from the mouth of the man on the saddle is law at all times, then even Okowa won’t be enjoy the leverage to be giving Delta Central PDP his own determined conditions for who succeeds him. Late Chief Tony Obuh would likely have been the Governor, and Okowa wallowing in political oblivion today.
Endnote? Delta Central PDP jobbers must stop fretting or talking beggarly before North and South Districts’ associates over who becomes next governor of Delta state. Don’t mind Okowa. There’s is an unwritten rotation which has ran full circle and back to Urhobo’s turn again. It’s Central PDP to shun greed and betrayal in picking a mutually acceptable lone Urhobo candidate.
The greatest weakness Okowa and Ijaws can capitalize on is when Central’s PDP jobbers make it an all comers affair and fail to pick a mutually agreed candidate. The parochial theatrical DC-23 is not the way to go. Delta Central needs to be discreet in consultation and utterances in this race.
If Amori and the legion of aspirants don’t know the winning pact to take, I know, quite easily and I’m very open for consultation. If they are not ready to comport selves, Central now has formidable options to look up to in other platforms, Chief Ovedje Ogboru complete no go area, in making the right, winning choice.
Mr. Ruvwoghor, a communication expert, wrote from Asaba, Delta State capital.