2019: Ibori, Okowa clashes on Delta north senatorial race

Former Governor James Ibori is seen as the godfather of Delta State politics. His popularity cuts across the three senatorial districts of the state, which according to his die hard followers, is not unconnected to his empowerment of the political class during his eight-year tenure as governor.

Ibori who hails from the central senatorial district has been able to build up a political empire codenamed Odidigborigbo Political Dynasty with membership across ethnic, political and regional divide in the heterogenous state.

In fact, membership of this political group is a yardstick of some sorts in seeking elective offices. The incumbent governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the incumbent senator representing Delta north, Peter Nwaoboshi are said to be among the senior members of

the dynasty. Ibori is believed to play key roles in the emergence of major state actors in the politics of the state and as 2019 approaches, his role in the emergence of candidates in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot be under estimated.

In Delta north, for instance, the incumbent senator, Peter Nwaoboshi, who is a former state chairman of the PDP is seeking a return to the national assembly and he has a fierce rival in Prince Ned Nwoko to contend the party ticket with.

There are other contenders including Paul Oseji, Gabriel Oyibode, Doris Uboh, Marian Alli and Smart Madu Ajaja of the All Progressive Congress (APC). But political analysts have concluded that the contest is within the PDP where the known contenders are Nwaoboshi and Nwoko. Nwaoboshi and Nwoko are two different persons but with almost the same character trait. They are both aggressive and temperamental. However, this is not a snag in the race.

A representative of Delta north must have presence and clout, traits that are not lacking in the duo, to attempt to assuage the loss suffered by the Anioma people during the civil war of 1967 to 1970 as well as its chequered political experience.

Nwoko who is a former member of the House of Representatives (1999 – 2003) is a foundation member of the PDP, once engaged the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in fight for Delta north senatorial seat in 2011 on the platform of Democratic People’s Party (DPP) which he lost, scoring 67,985 votes to Okowa’s 98,140 votes.

Invariably, as PDP chairman, Nwaoboshi, a former civil commissioner in the administration of James Ibori unsuccessfully backed Mrs. Mariam Alli, an Asaba native, for the PDP senatorial ticket in 2011 against Okowa but also lost to the Ika born medical doctor turned politician.

However, the duo became united in 2014 in the pursuit of Anioma governorship with Nwaoboshi having the loudest voice of power shift and equity which culminated in the emergence of Okowa as the first governor, from Anioma extraction, of Delta State.

Meanwhile, in the last three years, Senator Nwaoboshi’s activities seem low key and self effacing even though his men insist that he has made smart moves to justify a return to the senate.

On the other hand, Ned Nwoko’s foot soldiers are boisterous and noisy as they rally him everywhere, presenting a picture of a super man before possible PDP delegates, for the now.

But recently, a group, Anioma Consultative Forum, stirred the hornet’s nest and attempted to drag Ibori’s name into the Delta north senatorial contest between Nwaoboshi and Nwoko when it made a statement accusing Ibori of meddlesomeness with subterranean moves to impose Nwaoboshi on the people, and warned him to steer clear of Delta north politics.

Another group, Ofuobi Anioma Group with Louis Ndukwe, Tony Nsanenu, Chukwutem Nwogor, Ken Igali and Anazia Ejiofor as leaders swiftly countered, ascribing the Anioma Consultative Forum to Nwoko.

The Ofuobi Anioma Group in its reply, attempted to denigrate Nwoko, saying that he was unnecessarily dragging Ibori’s name into the mud.

But Nwoko dissociated himself from the Anioma Consultative Forum, saying that he holds Ibori in high esteem and would not in any stretch of imagination, attempt to join issues with him for a public expression of his personal opinion.

Reacting through his director of media, Norbert Chiazor, Nwoko also expressed disappointment over the reaction of Ofuobi Anioma Group for linking him to the Anioma Consultative Forum, describing the group as ignorant and hatchet writers, lacking self restraint and political maturity.

Chiazor stated that the weight of abuse of assumption and condescending diatribe displayed by the statements betrayed “intolerance inimical to politics of love and oneness.”

He argued that the allegation by Anioma Consultative Forum of purported imposition of Nwaoboshi “does not stand any analogy as a proof that the piece has its origin from Ned Nwoko’s camp. The Ofuobi Anioma Group goofed.”

He added that his principal, “has a long drawn robust relationship with Ibori predating 1999”, as they
had known each other closely years back in London where Nwoko lived and studied law. Ndukwe and friends would have asked questions and save themselves of ludicrous account of PDP timeline.”

Besides the Ibori factor, the contenders for Delta north PDP ticket have the incumbent governor to deal to with. Already, in 2011, both men unsuccessfully attempted to truncate the political journey of Okowa to the senate.

Although, Okowa has talked about free, fair and acceptable primaries that will throw popular candidates for the party, observers claim that the PDP has not effectively cured itself of impunity usually associated with its primaries.

It was Okowa who is credited with bringing back Nwoko into the PDP family in the state after a hostile relationship of 2011 election, and he so far succeeded in keeping him in
the party ultimately for the realisation of his second term governorship ambition, based on Nwoko’s popularity and ‘street credibility’.

But the recent speculation about a concluded agreement by the national leadership of the PDP to give automatic ticket to the serving members of the National Assembly as one of the conditions of winning the presidency in 2019 may not work in Nwoko’s favour.

Nwoko, an uncompromising character may be on his way out of the party if the speculation is true, because he feels he done enough for the PDP to at least, have the opportunity of not only contesting the primaries but also flying the party’s senatorial flag for Delta north.

In an interview, Nwoko said: “I am a party person; I play my role within the party. I make sure that the party is very well funded at the ward, local government even at the national level. I represent strength and I bring a new face of humanity to PDP because PDP is no longer in control at the federal level. All they can rely on now is the people, the masses.

“For those who feel that they are the only owners of the party, we say to them that it cannot be so, what we need is those who can reach out to the masses. Time for imposition has gone; the governor has said severally that there will be a level playing field. I am a founding member of PDP; I have every right like any other person within the party.

“I have been meeting with party officials from the national level down to the ward; there is this desire for change, the desire for a new PDP that has a human face. So I have no concerns at all. As a senator, I will bring a new style, and that is what the people want. They want somebody they can reach, they can talk with, they can depend on, they can trust, that is what I am all about.”



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