By Fred Edoreh
It needs no telling that Chief James Onanefe Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, is the father of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Delta State. Everyone knows that.
At the PDP Ethiope East LGA rally in Oghara, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa reaffirmed that “Ibori is our leader, that is not in contest, and Oghara is home to PDP.”
It therefore amounts to an insult on the Odidigborigbo himself for some persons to be peddling speculations that he might be scheming to defect to the APC in anger over the non-emergence of his speculatively preferred candidate as the flag bearer of the PDP for the Governorship of Delta State.
Ibori cannot condescend to bitterness over the choice of a State Governorship candidate. He is far far above that.
Everybody knows that he had been instrumental, both by financing and mobilisation, in the election of two Nigeria Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Umaru Yar’Adua.
Yes, as any politician and leader, he is bound to nurse a preference among aspirants but he is well known for his respect and promotion of the principles of democracy.
At the mega rally in Asaba early in 2022, he expressed satisfaction in the openness of the process leading to the State primaries as it guaranteed the accommodation of all interests to aspire but he also knew that the mantle would go to any of the aspirants.
If there was anything unexpected about the primaries, it was the confusion that trailed the amendment of the electoral act by which many statutory delegates were disenfranchised and Ibori knows well that that was neither the making of the leadership of Delta State PDP nor Governor Okowa nor the party as a whole but of a very confused and incompetent Senate leadership in which Ovie Omo-Agege was Deputy President.
Most importantly, it should be recalled that in the determination of the zoning of the Governorship position, Ibori clearly supported the DC-23 which pruned the Delta Central/Urhobo aspirants from twelve to five and finally from five to three persons which included Rt. Honourable Sheriff Oborevwori, Olorogun David Edevbie, and Chief Kenneth Gbagi.
At the end of the exercise, the Ighoyota Amori-led Pan-Urhobo political pressure group informed that they had no particular preference among the three persons, that they had confidence in any of them as eminently qualified and competent to provide good governance and development to the State, and that party members and supporters should feel free to stand behind any of them.
It is therefore curious for anyone to suggest that as the father of the party and backbone of DC-23, Ibori would be bitter in any way such as to reject the outcome of such a rigorous process.
Again, Ibori brought many of our present leaders into Government and fathered them into the State and National political limelight.
It was so for Edevbie and Oborevwori. While he brought Edevbie from overseas in 1999 to become Commissioner of Finance and Economic Planning, he brought Oborevwori in 2003 as Special Assistant on Youth Development after which Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan took him on as Special Adviser on Land Security before he contested election into the House of Assembly and was eventually elected and re-elected Speaker.
Being the one that routed him into State Government and politics, I am sure Ibori is as proud of Sheriff as he would be of others who have also grown in their different areas.
As a leader, he stood for the rotation of the Governorship and other positions in the State and, despite some hard stance from some quarters, he ensured that the Governorship moved from Delta Central to South at the completion of his tenure and to North at the completion of Uduaghan’s tenure.
It is also known that, as Governor, he was instrumental to the emergence of Uduaghan and he also knows that he will not perpetually be the only one to choose successive Governors for the State. That is like comparing Ibori’s giant status with the diminutive likes of Adams Oshiomhole.
Indeed, it is also well known that, being a very self-respecting and self-restraining person, he is the most unlikely to be counted among Nigerian former Governors who conduct themselves with high-handed interference with the administration of their successors. At least, neither Governors Uduaghan nor Okowa has expressed any such difficulty with him. They all love and respect one another.
Some persons have pointed to his absence at the Ethiope East rally as an indication of his grievance with Okowa and the party, but how do you expect Chief Ibori to anchor a Ward or Local Government rally? That would mean that he has not raised men to take care of primary matters. On the contrary, he has raised leaders and the PDP in the State has grown to be able to take care of small matters.
For those who are in delusion about any deal between Ibori and Omo-Agege, let it be known that Ibori knows a former Secretary to State Government who supplied documents to frame him into the travail he suffered. While we know that the former Secretary to State Government did it in his usual mischievously selfish interest, we know that those who chased Ibori, who also chased Diepreye Alamiesegha to death, did so in anger over their defence for the good of the Niger Delta.
But while Ibori is known to be open-minded and easily forgiving, it is delusive to imagine that he is as ignorant to want to gratify the Judas who sold him with defection to his party and support for his clearly bloated and glaringly lost Governorship ambition.