The outcome of the Governorship and State House of Assembly election in Delta state has again proven beyond any iota of doubt that the political dynasty of the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori is still very much in total control of the politics of the state. A former commissioner and later Secretary to the State Government, SSG, under Chief Ibori’s administration, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa emerged victorious in the governorship election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on Monday declared Senator Okowa, the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, winner of Saturday governorship election in Delta. The Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Bio Nyananyo, announced in Asaba that Okowa polled 724,680 votes to beat his closest rival, Chief Great Ogboru of the Labour Party, who got 130,028 votes.
Chief O’tega Emerhor of All Progressives Congress, APC, finished in the third position with 67,825 votes. Nyananyo said that Okowa won in 21 local government areas out of the 25 in the state while Ogboru clinched the remaining four LGAs.
In spite of the fact that Ibori, the undisputed godfather of Delta politics is cooling his heels in British prison, his daughter, Erhiatake Ibori, who also contested on platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, won the Ethiope West Constituency seat in the state House of Assembly.
Erhiatake Ibori won a total of 32,700 votes, to beat her main opponent, Edirin Ajueshi Ejidiran of the All Progressives Congress who polled a paltry 1,429 votes.
Prior to the governorship primaries of the PDP last year almost all the governorship aspirants had to visit Ibori, who was the governor of the state from 1999 to 2007, in the UK prison to solicit his support and endorsement. The aspirants turned Ibori’s Wandsworth, Long Lartin Prison in the United Kingdom, to a Mecca of sort as they visit to renew their pledge of loyalty to him and same time lobby for his endorsement. The Ibori boys either served in his cabinet for the eight years he served as governor or benefited politically from him when he was governor and have since remained fiercely loyal to him despite his absence from the country.
Indeed almost all the aspirants that ran for the PDP ticket belong to the Ibori political clan.
For instance, the in-coming governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa was formerly Secretary Ika local government council before he became the chairman of Ika North East council. He later was appointed Commissioner for Agriculture, Water/Natural Resources before Ibori appointed him as Commissioner of Health. Immediately Ibori finished his tenure he ensured that he installed Okowa as Secretary to Delta State Government to keep a tab on whatever Governor Uduaghan is doing. Another Ibori acolyte, who ran for the PDP ticket, Chief Festus Okubor was Ibori’s Commissioner for Information. Victor Ochei, who was the former Speaker of the Delta House of Assembly, became a legislator representing Aniocha North constituency on the watch of Ibori.
Prior to the governorship primaries there were speculations that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who got into office on the ladder of Ibori’s political clan, wanted to break the hold of Ibori, who incidentally is his first cousin, on the state. Governor Uduaghan was reported to be rooting for the immediate past permanent secretary, Governor’s office, Sir Tony Obuh. The seasoned technocrat, who is making his entry into active politics, is the only aspirant that is not remotely linked to the Ibori dynasty.
Despite the apparent support for Sir Obuh, the Ibori boys stood their ground and went on seamless campaign for the PDP ticket, with what appears to be an evangelical believe in the capacity of Ibori’s clout to deliver the PDP ticket to them. Some political pundits believe the outgoing Governor is trying to use the 2015 elections to build his own political empire and upstage the Ibori camp in Delta state.
However, Uduaghan was reported to have made u-turn and dumped Sir Obuh for another candidate less than two days to the primaries for reasons that are still subject of speculations in the state.
At the end of the keenly contested primaries, incumbency factor failed Governor Uduaghan, as he was overwhelmed by the Ibori tsunami. To the chagrin of the outgoing governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa won the governorship ticket with 406 votes to defeat the other aspirants. In the results read out by the election returning Officer, Hon Karim Sunday Steve, from the House of Representatives, David Edevbie got 299 votes, the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Victor Ochie got 185 votes, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu got 50 votes and Godwill Obielum 22 votes.
Dr Festus Okubor got 5 votes, Professor Sylvester Monye garnered 10 votes, Ngozi Elejeme got 10 votes and while Uduaghan initial choice candidate, Sir Tony Obuh got 5 votes.
Most of the aspirants for the Delta State house of Assembly that won the ticket of the PDP are also said to have direct and indirect link to Ibori and his supporters. Governor Uduaghan exhibited sportsmanship after the primaries and gave every support to the PDP candidates after the primaries to ensure the party triumphs during the main election unlike what happened in Ebonyi state, where the governor undermined the PDP after his choice aspirants failed at the primaries
The PDP, with the support of the Ibori political machinery, was unstoppable during the April 11 election as it swept almost all the seats in the state House of Assembly election.
Governor Uduaghan described the election of Senator Okowa as affirmation of the performance of PDP administration in the state and stressed that the party remains the undisputed number one choice of the people of the state.
He thanked citizens for their peaceful conduct during and after the elections and assured that development strides in the state under Okowa would be rapid, peaceful and progressive.
The governor assured that the transition will be smooth and called on all other political parties that contested the elections to accept defeat, embrace the winner and help to create an atmosphere of peace and development in Delta State.
“My appeal to all Deltans is that we should remain calm and peaceful as we look forward to more dividends of democracy from PDP administration in the state,” he said.
Political observers are of the view that the in-coming governor will have a peaceful reign as most the lawmakers he will be working with are linked to his own political clan that was built and nurtured by former governor Ibori. Delta has largely experienced very cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms since 1999. The foundation for the smooth relationship was solidified during the tenure of the outgoing governor and the disagreement that would split the political leaders in the state was averted by the maturity of Uduaghan after the PDP primaries.
It is expected that Okowa will not be distracted by a hostile parliament since most of the lawmakers he will be working with share common link to the Ibori dynasty. Even when problem arises, it is believed that the undisputed godfather of Delta politics is there to put them in check, even if he has to do it from behind prison bars in Britain. The outcome of the election has again proven beyond doubt that Ibori’s influence in Delta politics will be ignored or underrated by only political neophytes in the state.

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