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How Ibori lost in battle for Okowa’s successor

•Okowa, Ibori

The battle for the governorship of Delta tore major political actors, particularly in the PDP family apart. Former Governor James Ibori, who is known all over as the national leader of the party in Delta, fell apart with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who stood firmly behind the Governor-elect, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori.

While Chief James Ibori preferred Olorogun David Edevbie to succeed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa had his eyes fixed on Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as his chosen successor.

It was reliably gathered that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa before the gubernatorial primary in May 2022, met several times with his former boss and benefactor, Chief James Ibori to discuss his successor, where he told the erstwhile Governor to project three names.

Rather than being liberal in his choice of candidates to succeed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Chief James Ibori chose Olorogun David Edevbie three times, but Governor Ifeanyi Okowa refused, saying his former boss should drop three different names.

This argument lingered on into the primary election, where Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori overwhelmingly defeated Chief James Ibori’s Olorogun David Edevbie. The battle went into litigation, which took the duo of Olorogun David Edevbie, who dragged Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori to court, up to the Supreme Court with the latter winning the legal war.

All efforts to mend fences with Chief James Ibori after the primary election and the court cases, proved abortive as the former Governor with some of his loyalists decided to pinch tenth with the Deputy Senate President and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

This led to the defection of many members of the Ibori political family to the APC. Former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr Chiedu Ebie, immediate past Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare, member of the House of Representatives, Hon Nicholas Ossai, Chief Ejaife Odebala and a host of others, who formed Delta Unity Group. Odebala who was not a member of the Delta Unity Group, defected three days to the March 18th election.

But former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was not on the same page before and after the party primary election with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on his choice of Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, threw his weight behind the candidature of the Governor-elect after the Supreme Court judgment.

Former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who is now more or less the hero of the Delta State governorship contest, came out openly to support Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori after he won at the Supreme Court. He conveyed several reconciliation meetings, to reconcile aggrieved PDP members across the three senatorial districts.

Against the wish of his cousin, Chief James Ibori, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, went around to campaign with Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, canvassing for votes and support. But Chief James Ibori whose daughter, Erhiatake was contesting the Ethiope Federal Constituency seat, cared less and stood his ground against Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori.

Even when the PDP campaign train visited Oghara during the Local Government campaigns, Chief James Ibori who is an indigene of Oghara didn’t show up. Chief James Ibori didn’t also consider his close political associate and staunch member of the James Ibori political family, Senator Ighoyota Amori who was contesting the Delta Central senatorial seat.

While Chief James Ibori’s daughter won her election, Senator Ighoyota Amori suffered failure as a result of the clash between Chief James Ibori and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.

Despite Chief James Ibori’s stiff opposition against Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, the PDP still won in Ethiope West, the home Local Government of the erstwhile Governor, putting paid to the insinuation that the Governor-elect would not be able to win in the local government without the support of the hitherto political godfather of Delta State politics, James Ibori.

Apart from his unit where he won, Chief James Ibori also lost his ward to the PDP, a development that has reduced his political value in the State. Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori won in four out of the eight local government areas in Delta Central.

The PDP gubernatorial candidate, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori who won convincingly, won in the entire nine Local Government Areas of Delta North and eight Local Government Areas in Delta South.

Today, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan are now the political godfathers in Delta, relegating Chief James Ibori who held sway for 24 years. (Vanguard)



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