Vanguard Newspaper 07 April 2018
16—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018 *Ibori DELTA 2019: Will Ibori be proved right, can Ojougboh stop Okowa? Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South Odidigborigbo political empire MISTAKEN at the time as a political underdog, Chief James Onanefe Ibori emerged from nowhere in the run-up to the 1999 governorship election in Delta State to grab the gubernatorial ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and unpredictably went ahead to win the year’s election as the second civilian governor of the state, the first being the late Senator Felix Ibru. The man popularly called Odidigborigbo of Africa from Oghara, Ethiope-West local government area, Delta Central senatorial district of the state (Urhobo) not only presided over the affairs of the state for eight years ( 1999-2007), he established a political dynasty- the Ibori political family, which is currently running the affairs of the state. Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, an Itsekiri from Abigborodo, Warri North local government area, Delta South senatorial district, a member of the Ibori political family took over from him as governor. He ruled for eight years, 2007 to 2015 and another member of the Ibori political family, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, is in the saddle, about finishing his first tenure in 2019. Mesmerizing political opponents Till date, older politicians and elder statesmen in the state are aghast as to how 58-year-old Ibori managed to put in place such a political empire, which boasts, in its ranks, sagacious politicians like Senator Peter Nwaboshi, Chief Ighoyota Amori, Chief Paulinus Akpeki and a host of other apostles. Even in incarceration outside the country, Ibori held sway over the politics of the state to the chagrin of those who thought little of his political prowess. Indisputable godfather Love or hate Ibori, one legacy that could implant him as the unquestionable godfather of Delta politics if it goes full circle in 2019 is the power rotation formula among the three senatorial districts that he enshrined against the wishes of some of his Urhobo kinsmen, who wanted power to everlastingly remain in Delta senatorial district because of how Asaba emerged as capital of the state. With Delta Central’s eight years already taken by him, Delta South’s eight years served by Uduaghan, the new power rotation formula in the state will go full circle if Okowa wins a second tenure to last till 2023 in 2019. What this means is that after Okowa’s eight-year tenure, power will automatically rotate back again to Delta Central and continues likewise, making Ibori a political juggernaut. Strong politicians in Delta Central, Ibori’s senatorial district, especially those in the opposition parties, who derided Ibori for the rotational arrangement, are beginning to see wisdom in his political option. APC’s apparent U-turn Curiously too, the main opposition party in the state, All Progressives Congress, APC, which saw nothing good in Delta North taking over power in the state after Dr. Uduaghan’s (Delta South) turn ended in 2015, is gravitating towards a Delta North ticket in 2019. When sequential governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, a notable Urhobo politician ran against Ibori in his time, it was seen as an Urhobo affair, but against Uduaghan, it was obvious that many Delta Central stakeholders did not want power shift in the state. Emerhor’s masterstroke Olorogun O’tega Emerhor led the Urhobo front against the incumbent Governor Okowa from Delta North in 2015, but ahead the 2019 election, the opposition led by Emerhor, who is the leader of APC in the state appeared to have had a rethink. Clearly, Emerhor had ruled himself out of the 2019 contest, a stance that has endeared him to party faithful as undisputable leader. Feelers in the state indicate that APC might field a strong Delta North governorship standardbearer to battle Okowa, who it avowed, has not performed to complete the district’s remaining four-year tenure (2019-2-2023), after which power will come back to Delta Central. Already, APC leaders in Delta South have resolved that Delta North should produce the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer in 2019. Some APC leaders in Delta South have also agreed in principle, but Chief Ogboru has not told anybody that he was not going to contest again. Ojougboh, Ochei, Utomi, others line up for Delta North With the apparent nod from the other two senatorial districts, leading lights of APC from *Okowa Delta North, Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Victor Ochei, Professor Patrick Utomi and others are ready to fight for the party’s ticket. Kokori’s take on Ojougboh Veteran Labour and NADECO leader, Chief Frank Kokori, who is a chieftain of APC in the state and a close ally of Chief Ogboru, stated during a recent consultation visit of Ojuogboh, a former deputy national chairman of PDP, South-South until 2017 when he decamped to APC, that the aspirant had the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the state. “I have known Dr. Cairo Ojougboh for a long time and I have witnessed all his political battles and efforts. I will support any person from Delta state, who wins in a free and fair congress for the 2019 general election,” he asserted. Dr. Ojougboh hails from the same Ika ethnic nationality in the state with Governor Okowa and sees himself as a dogged politician and better match than any other person against the latter. While he is from Ika South, Okowa is from Ika North East and both have fought several political battles from the time of Ibori. Ojougboh, who understands the political dynamics at play, declared to APC faithful at Uvwie local government area during his consultative visit that he would serve only one term if elected governor in 2019. This is still in keeping with the Ibori rotation of power in Delta. Uduaghan, Utomi row Prof Utomi, however, thinks he is the answer to the political problem facing the state, but in his controversies with the former governor of the state, Dr. Uduaghan, who he denigrated for alleged bad leadership, last year, the ex-governor said the aspirant had no grassroots base and advised *Ojougboh Strong politicians in Delta Central, Ibori’s senatorial district, especially those in the opposition parties, who derided Ibori for the rotational arrangement, are beginning to see wisdom in his political option him to gun for councilor instead of governor. Dr. Utomi, in response to Dr. Uduaghan’s charge on him (Utomi) to start his aspiration from the councillorship level, urged the former governor to give account of the N20 billion expended on the Independent Power Project, IPP. Uduaghan, immediately responded by affirming that Utomi does not have what it takes to be governor of Delta State given what he claimed were Utomi’s legacies at Volkswagen Nigeria and as coordinator of the South-South Summit held in Asaba, Delta State. Utomi , who maintained his position fired back that “Such waste is still being experienced today in the state under the current administration,” adding: “Governor Okowa was right to raise an alarm about the over N600 billion debt that he claimed to have inherited. He has however, proceeded to increase this debt burden by over N60b of his own. This is only further mortgaging Delta state and the future of our children. His words: “I am pleased to hear the former Delta State Governor, Uduaghan respond to my comments on the poor state of finances in Delta State. To my mind, it is the direction of engagement that I hope will raise the quality of public discussions and move our democracy towards better serving the people. I therefore, feel obligated to respond to the issues raised and to set the records straight for the benefit of the general public.” But in his reaction, Uduaghan said: “It is very interesting that Prof Utomi quickly rushed to respond to me, again with tales that were full of falsehood. I will surely respond with further details and more information on Prof Pat Utomi, who was the last Managing Director of the once vibrant Volkswagen Company of Nigeria and Chairman of the South-South summit held in Asaba to let our people know that Prof Utomi does not have what it takes to govern Delta.” Akpeki weighs in Also speaking on the matter, Chief Akpeki, a former commissioner in the state who also served as chief of staff to Governor Uduaghan said, “To the best of my knowledge, he (Utomi) was a honourary adviser to Uduaghan during his time. Ask him the project he said that they should do in his village, what happened to it? What role did he play on that project? It is very sad that people who have skeletons in their cupboards should begin to make noise. In terms of performance, he shouldn’t be the one talking.” “You would remember that at a very young age, he was the M.D. of Volkswagen of Nigeria. In whose hands did Volkswagen collapse? If someone was a good manager, a Federal Government company collapsed in your hands, are you still a good manager? As far as I know, the three governors we have had in Delta State, James Ibori, Uduaghan and Okowa have performed exceedingly well within the available resources at their disposal,” he asserted. Ochei thinks he is best for APC Like Ojougboh, Ochei also decamped from PDP to APC and believes too that he should be nominated as the party’s gubernatorial standard-bearer to give Delta North a better representation. Ochei, nevertheless, has elder statesman and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, who had vowed to stop his ambition on account of an unfinished power project by a company he divested interest in before his Speakership to contend with. Ibori on target but… Ibori is on target either way if Okowa wins a second term on PDP platform and even if a Delta North politician in APC stable upturns the applecart. The decisive factor is that Delta North would do two terms of eight years irrespective of party affiliation. However, reverse will be the case if Ogboru emerges from political oblivion to displace the Delta North contenders on APC platform and goes ahead to spring a shocker on Okowa in the battle field and if a victorious APC Delta North governorship candidate decides against the run of play to hold on to power after 2023. This is the scenario sources close to Ojougboh said their principal had sworn to prevent and are hopeful that he would emerge triumphant.
SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018—17 RIVERS: •Kidnappers adopt new approach •Mba Boy replaces Don Waney •Nwike laments, Police grumble Mutual suspicion, partisan emotions continue to compromise collective bargaining to save majority defenseless Rivers state populace from the pains of unending reign of cult violence and terror. By Egufe Yafugborhi Rivers state residents in Omoku and entire Ogba Ndoni and Egbema Local Government Area (ONELGA) are cheeringly enjoying new lease of peace, as sudden proactive runs of operations by security operatives provoked gradual extermination of Chief Johnson Igwedibia, a.k.a. Don Waney and key associates of his reign of terror which hitherto left several innocents murdered in that locality. However, the development in ONELGA has not extended as much hope and sense of safety to residents in other high risk Rivers localities where criminals continue to visit, with impunity, terror on majority defenseless populace. Unless concerted efforts are made to check the trend, many fear that another Don Waney, perhaps more, are gradually rising in some of these other places. Wave of terror Egbalor community, Eleme local government area, Rivers state, has been under siege in the last couple of weeks as Mba Joe, wanted cultist and kidnap kingpin relentlessly torments the people. Mba Joe, a.k.a. Mba Boy, is on wanted list of the Rivers state Police Command and that of Governor Nyesom Wike who placed a N20Million bounty on him among others in his recently released security watch list. Paramount Ruler of Egbalor, HRH Godwin Chinwi, alleged that the terror gang leader has kidnapped five residents for ransom in the last couple of weeks and only days ago burnt the house of another victim, Eyina Ngechu for refusing to pay N200,000 gratification over a new car the victim acquired. The worried Egbalor monarch said, “Sometime ago, Engr. S.N. Nwafolor was adopted in the middle of the night. I was one of those who went to the banks to get N10Million to pay as ransom, but they took the money and still killed him. This time around, we are experiencing a sophisticated level of same act. The approach now is If you don’t give me what I want, I will burn your house. You have an option, either you give me millions or your house is burnt” Narrating how the criminal gang tried to burn his family of seven inside his three bedroom home, Eyina Ngechu said, “They broke into my wife’s shop and burnt everything inside. Then they said if I don’t open my house for them, they will burn me and my family inside. They started burning my house. From my wife’s bedroom, my room, parlour and dining, they were burning everywhere. My saving grace was the kitchen where we took cover. They had no entrance. If not for God’s grace, they would have burnt my entire family, before soldiers came to our rescue around 2am.” Rivers state Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Zaki, in response to the situation said, “This guy is on our wanted list, he remains wanted and I appeal to any member of the public with useful information that can lead to his arrest to come forward. Any information given to us will be treated as utmost confidentiality”. Zaki has further placed police’s own N1Million bounty on Mba Joe. Heads roll in Omerelu In Omerelu, Ikwerre local government area, where cult attacks left five persons beheaded not long now, residents are calling on security authorities to establish a joint task force to restore law and order in the community as the unpredictable mayhem has left shops, schools, churches and all businesses and social activities shut. Residents have turned to refugees in their areas. The approach now is If you don’t give me what I want, I will burn your house. You have an option, either you give me millions or your house is burnt The community’s traditional ruler said, “We don’t sleep in the house. In fact from 7pm we sleep in the bush. Even in day time, those boys will come from the bush, shooting military types of gun. “Those boys will come from the bush, If they see a dog, a goat, they will kill. A situation where they come to the market to confront traders and buyers. They meet you and say, give me money. If you hesitate they pull up their shirt to show the nuzzle of guns and you comply” “Our women don’t go to farm again, because they will ambush them, seize their bikes and handsets. Our young girls going to the farm are waylaid, dragged into hiding, beaten and raped. Those who put up resistant are sometimes killed. The situation has gotten out of hand” Beyond Eleme and Omerelu, in Ajakaja, Andoni local government, unpredictable fatal cult invasions, kidnappings and clashes are equally common experiences that leave residents displaced and economic activities disrupted, aggravating hardship among the people. Mutual suspicion While the criminals enjoy impunity in the siege over the communities, key stakeholders Continues from pg 18 C M Y K