By Ena Ofugara
Will Okowa dare attempt to hand over power to any other tribe but the Urhobos? DARE HE?
Is there an accord and or understanding of where the next governor after Okowa is to come from? This essay will attempt to show an understanding that has kept Delta state peaceful.
Delta state is a microcosm of Nigeria, with its myriad of blessings and problems from its diversity. Peace balances on a scale.
Hate James Ibori all you want, it is he who brought peace to Delta state with his unconventional approach. When Ibori was elected, Delta State, Warri to be precise, was embroiled in a war between the Itsekiris and Ijaws. Then governor James Ibori started settling all parties, making judicious use of SECURITY FUNDS. When Itsekiri youths burnt Idama hotel belonging to the Urhobo Okumagbas, Ibori ensured he paid for the repairs of hotel, thereby stopping the Urhobos of Warri from joining in the war. Ibori was to go on to “settle” each warlord, ensuring the moneys trickled down to the foot-soldiers.
The same approach was used in Koko when there was a “war” between factions of Itsekiris for chairmanship of the local government. An accord was reached for a chairman to serve just one term and for it to go to the other faction. There has been peace since.
Even before Ibori, Delta state had found a way to peace through “turn by turn” accord. Under the old Bendel state, the Itsekiri monarch was the number 2 traditional ruler. Under same Bendel state, the Oba of Benin was perennial head of the traditional council. When Delta state was created, the traditional kings began taking turns to head the traditional council with the Orodje of Okpe being the first to take his turn and it rotated to the Olu and other Kings. There has been peace and understanding since.
When the then upstart, James Ibori was to run for Governor, one of his winning pitches was that power would rotate from one senatorial zone to the other, every eight years. Delta Central was to start with Ibori, then Delta North with Okowa and Delta South allegedly with James Manager. James Ibori would switch this arrangement and hand power to Delta South, passing over Okowa and Delta North, with the understanding that Delta North and Okowa would follow Uduaghan of Delta South. Ibori’s switch was understood as needing his uncle Uduaghan to be the one to hold the forte as he faced his legal battles. He needed someone that would not turn on him. With Uduaghan being from Delta South, power was still rotating, but not in the allegedly agreed manner.
Both Okowa and James Manager were rewarded with Senatorial positions as they bade their time.
Uduaghan was to later betray Okowa and attempt to hand power, YES, to Delta North, but not to Okowa. His anointed candidate was another Delta Igbo/Anioma man in the person of Ogbu.
Okowa saw this coming and began his own moves and sought and got the support of a hitherto Uduaghan loyalist in Michael Diden as well as support of Tompolo, the River god of Niger Delta.
But Okowa was still going to fall short. Uduaghan, knowing the sheer population of the Urhobos, and being close to Urhobos as a speaker of the tribe and one who grew up with them, he picked David Edevbie, a man close to James Ibori, playing the chess game that Ibori, who was then incarcerated in the UK would not turn on his own protege, David Edevbie.
Ibori was to make a call to his fixer, Amori on the day of the PDP primaries and Amori along with other Ibori loyalists, gave votes they had pledged to David Edevbie, back to Okowa, ON THE BASIS OF THE IBORI ACCORD, where power must go round the senatorial zones before coming back to Urhobos.
And so Okowa became governor, and in gratitude to Tompolo, picked his deputy from Tompolo’s family…. an Ijaw.
JAMES MANAGER, KINGSLEY BURUTU OTUARO AND THE IJAW ARGUMENT
The Ijaws and James manager argue, and with some merit, that they are the only major tribe of Delta state yet to be governor.
They point to Urhobos and Igbos and Itsekiris having ruled. They claim it is their turn. Rumor mill (I cannot confirm this) claim that James Manager will be picking the powerful Evelyn Oboro from the Urhobo tribe (Hon Evelyn is close to James Ibori) as his deputy and that many see this ticket as only fair.
Many believe Okowa is ready to give this ticket to the Ijaws. Many see moves made by Okowa, including his inexplicable leaving out of Urhobo areas when he created new Administrative districts, as ways to emasculate the Urhobos and their built-in advantage of superior population. Okowa believes David Edevbie of the Urhobos ran against him in clear disregard for the IBORI ACCORD.
Thus, he feels he can hand the governorship to any tribe he deems fit. DARE HE? He has said there is no agreement. Amori’s caucus meeting with prospects including former Senator and businessman Emmanuel Aguariavwode, and other aspirants ans would-be aspirants from Delta Central shows they take Okowa’s moves to perhaps hand the baton to another tribe seriously. But DARE HE?
WHAT THEN IS FAIR?
Should the Ijaws wait their turn after the Urhobos have ruled twice? Is that fair? Should Urhobos who make up over a third of the population wait till every smaller tribe, including the Illajes rule before it becomes their turn? Are the Ikweres of Rivers state allowing others rule, how much more wait turns till forever?
Should governorship and power even be based on tribe?
WILL IBORI ALLOW HIS ACCORD TO BE BROKEN?
Ex governors can be nullified. Go and ask Peter Obi and Orji Uzor Kalu and Kwankwaso. Ex Governor’s can rule forever. Go and ask Tinubu of Lagos state. Which of these is Okowa? Is Okowa a Fashola, an Ambode or is he a Willie Obiano? The rumor mill is rife with reports of some rift between Okowa and Ibori. And those who point to pictures and visits between Okowa and Ibori as proof of all being well, they must note that till date, Okowa and Uduaghan smile and hug, while Okowa has seen Uduaghan fail to get the PDP senate ticket and ran him off PDP with only James Ibori’s return clearing a pathway for Uduaghan’s return to PDP. Smiling and pictures among the old friends and politicians does not mean solidarity or existence of consensus. THEY SAY OKOWA WANTS IBORI AND HIS LOYALISTS’ PHALANGES REMOVED FROM THE WHEELS OF POWER AND FINANCE OF DELTA STATE. How true this is, time will tell.
OVIE OMO-AGEGE AND APC WAIT WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN
Senator and Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, looks on with a smirk in his lips and gleam in his eyes. His popularity cannot be questioned. He defeated PDP in the very land that has James Ibori and Amori. Beating James Ibori’s Evelyn is not an easy task to do, yet he, Ovie Omo-Agege, did it. While APC seem to be solving their huge divide with Otega Emerhor and Omo Agege coming to some clear and seemingly sincere understanding, and with Ogboru doing his usual disappearing act, only to emerge again like Willie-willie during election season, Ovie Omo-Agege may have fully grabbed the reins of the APC.
And when you add Omo-Agege’s popularity in Delta state, as well as outreach to former PDP loyalists, to the fact he has “Federal might”, then add the disenchantment that will follow Okowa’s decision… should he DARE make the decision to forego the IBORI ACCORD and hand power to another tribe, and not the most populous one of the Urhobos, and should Omo-Agege decide to run for governor…. hmmmm!!!
FOR THE REST OF DELTANS: The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
many like yours truly struggle between dislike for the APC at the Federal level and total disenchantment with PDP at the state level.
22 plus years of PDP and what can they really show as achievement in Delta state? Is it Songhai farm of Ibori? something something zone in Koko of Uduaghan or what do we remember Okowa for?
And then you look at the feckless leadership from the center that is every bit pro-North in the worst way as same North is underdeveloped and unsafe.
It is this dilemma that faces the average Deltan. Should PDP that has mismanaged 22 years of its rule be kicked out? And for who? The APC?
These are the questions that will be answered come 2023. While APC will show Amechi and Wike’s developmental strides compared to Delta, PDP will show how APC took over from PDP that everyone felt mismanaged Nigeria and made it demonstrably worse. The arguments will be heated.
At the end, TRIBE and love for candidates may hold sway
And again, if Okowa DARES hand the baton to …. IF HE DARES ignore the most populous tribe in a democracy, where it is the turn of the most populous tribe…
And should Omo-Agege run…
As my parents would say, you do not stop a child from having big teeth, as long as he has the big lips to cover the teeth. Okowa should DARE IT. He is a strategist we know. But…. In fact, this should the morning and night prayer of Chief Ovie Omo-Agege.
That Okowa should DARE IT.