Thursday, 7th December 2023

Those criticising Okowa over 13% derivation fund should go to court – Omonigho

By Obire Onakemu
23 September 2023   |   2:02 am
l am more conversant with my state (Delta State), the Big Heart of Nigeria for that matter.We are makinggiant strides there.But for the federal, I am notwell equipped with what is going on or taking place, so that l don’t have myself flogging a dead horse.


A former Senior Special Assistant to ex-Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Chief Okpako Kings Omonigho, in this interview with OBlRE ONAKEMU, speaks on politics in Delta State, the 2023 elections and the immediate past administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari. EXCERPTS:

What is your comment on the state of the nation and Delta State after the 2023 general elections?
l am more conversant with my state (Delta State), the Big Heart of Nigeria for that matter.We are makinggiant strides there.But for the federal, I am notwell equipped with what is going on or taking place, so that l don’t have myself flogging a dead horse. For Delta,after the 2023 general elections, the state is in safe hands and everything is working perfectly well.

What do you have to say about the 2023 elections?
l shouldn’t say it is generally below standard.For the federal,l concur that it is far below standard .The national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),Prof.MahmoodYakubu performed below expectation.He really gave us a high hope by the introduction of BVAS into the system.We were expecting collation of the votes from the polling centresstraight to the server,then we get to the BVAS and everything will get well at the expected time. Butwe were later told that the thing didn’t work well and everything went in fiasco.However, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in most states performed excellently well.

What is your comment on the governorship election in Delta State?
Delta State election was excellently conducted and that is why almost all the contenders acknowledged and congratulated Sheriff Oborevwori,an illustrious son of the soil and the longest serving speaker of the House of Assembly. They commended him because he won clearly.Nobody can contest it because he came out excellently well and he won in almost all the local government councils.His closest rival was ObarisiOvieOmó-Agege, the immediate past Deputy Senate President who only won two or three local government councils. Oborevwori won on a large scale. The margin was just too much and that is why the main opposition, Chief Great OvedjeOgboru,an illustrious son of Abraka, congratulated him immediately after the election.Let me make one point here that people don’t really understand. Immediately our formergovernor, Chief Onanefelbori won his second term, people from Delta Central dragged him to court. But when Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan came in, none of his people from Delta South Senatorial District dragged him to court.Also, when Dr.lfeanyiOkowa came in for good eight years before he left, his kinsmen from Delta North Senatorial District never dragged him to court.

Why is it that it is only in Delta Central Senatorial District that we drag ourselves to court? The Urhobo are making politics becoming laughable and it beats my imagination that we are fond of fighting ourselves.That eight local governments cannot reason together and come to a solid conclusion? Must we go to the extent of legal tussle and be washing our dirty linens outside? As far as l am concerned,it doesn’t make sense. Living together peacefully in a community is a matter of understanding. We should allow democracy to thrive, but thank God we have known our left from our right.

What do you see aboutlbori leaving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the coming of Ogboru into PDP?
You don’t understand. This is politics for you.Thank God l am a two-time chairman of my local government – Ethiope East, a very volatile local government. People misconstrue things; they don’t understand what politics is all about. It is deeper than as you see it.That lbori has gone to join the All Progressives Congress (APC),l disagree. Ibori is the father of all political parties.That is how l see him.Everybody consults him.Look at his daughter, he came and won under the umbrella of the PDP in my constituency.We have Ethiope East and Ethiope West and she won under our umbrella in the PDP.Forget all those road -side talk.At the end of the tunnel, there will be light and come to round – table talk and flog it out.

So, lbori is not departing PDP.Also,Ogboru would have gone to the Senate since 2023 if he had listened to the yearning of people like us. And l must tell you one gospel truth, if he stoops to conquer and agrees to go to the Senate in 2027, he will not have anybody to contend against him; he will get iton a platter of Gold. He is a generally acceptable person in Delta Central and that is why people have been winning under his platform from the days of the late former speaker, Senator Pius Ewherido, Senator Omo-Agege and others.Ogboru is generally acceptable, so,if he decides to go,PDP will applaud him.

Is it true that butfor the influence ofOgboru, it would have been impossible for PDP to win Delta State this time around?
(He laughs) l amfrom the same ward with Chief Ogboru.He is in Ward 2 and l amalso in Ward 2 but different units.The closest rival to us in the election wasOgboru.He came second and it was a great battle. At the eleventh hour, people were still voting for Ogborueven when he was saying ’this thing is tough, let PDP take’.They were not even listening but were saying ‘on Ogboru we stand’. They didn’t even know the game upstairs. But after the election when Ogboru congratulated Sheriff, they wondered how managed. This was because they were not hearing the details of what was going on upstairs.When you say that it was Ogboru that made PDP to win,it is not true.Go to Ward 3 where we have Chief Sunday Onoriode, the immediate past Commissioner for Primary Education. They fought him not to get there but thank God, he won all in Unit 3. And now that Sheriff is at the helm of affairs, l am assuring you that in 2027,PDP will win the whole state.That if not for Great Ogboru,PDP wouldn’t have won is not true. PDP won because of their past performance.Okowa did excellently well and he ended well.He won perfectly well because of his performance and he handed over well to Sheriff and he rounded government off solidly.We have no fear because the end of one election is beginning of the election.By the end of this year, you would see 2027 election starting to gather momentum.

But it is like Ogboru has taken the place of lbori in PDP today in Delta State.
The truth is thatlbori is our father; Okowa is our father; Uduaghan is our father. The fact thatOgboru decamped to PDP now,l would not say he is a father of PDP today as we stand.He is one of the prominent leaders.And to say he wants to be an overnight leader is not true when we have giants before he came.As we stand today,Okowa remains the leader of PDP in Delta State.That is the truth, nothing but the truth.

How would you assess the government of former Governor Okowa?
I would describe Okowa’s government as excellent. Or permit me to use the word ‘distinction’. It touched every local government; he worked across the length and breadth of the 25 local government areas in Delta State. And that is why we call him Ekwueme, talk and do, the road master, and many other titles bestowed on him in our state. He is from Delta North and we are from Delta Central and we have those who are from Delta South.He performed very well. That is how all of us rate him. It was only the pensioners that were trying to raise their heads but thank God they had been settled.

But he is being accused overthe 13% derivation that came to the state?
These are news from the enemy of progress. As you know, they are critics and in democracy, there must be critics. That is the beauty of it and they are bound to raise their ugly heads. They should go to court and prove it.

People are still criticising him over the state’s ability to fund the five universities that he established.What is your comment?
Abraham Lincoln said: “I will study and wait, perhaps, the opportunity will come.” A non-learned man is primitive.If you have these universities from a man like that, what you do is to applaud him, but they are now attacking him. It beats my imagination. If they can even make it more than five, it may be better. Technical colleges, colleges of education, universities, polytechnics, it may be even better; let everybody go to school.
If you are learned, you don’t become myopic in the midst of your peer group; it removes timidity out of your lifestyle and you reason like a normal human being and become a true homo-sapien.

Are you really convinced that he met the expectations of Delta State people?
Yes, he met the expectation of Deltans.Do not forget that Delta State is a mini Nigeria. If only you know the ethnic groups that we havein Delta – Urhobo, Ijaw,Kwale, Isoko,Itsekiri, Anioma. If one can rule Delta State, one can equally rule Nigeria perfectly. Delta is a mini Nigeria, and so, anyone that can rule the state well, I applaud that person. That is the truth.

Not quite long after Governor Oborevwori came into power, he has gone to borrow money to finance the state. What is your comment on that?
There are things that go on that you don’t understand. Who told you that Oborevwori went and borrowed money. That thing had been in progress before now. They used that money to settle the pensioners. Sheriff came into governance and he is trying to wipe away tears from the eyes of everybody. One thing is that APC cannot see anything good in PDP. But thank God every civil servant is earning his or her own salary; living well in Delta State and they are all smiling! And that is why they are angry. Enough of these pull him down (PHD) syndrome. Enough is enough; we have many years to go. Sheriff just started; he still has 7 years. Let’s think how we can move this state forward and not to scatter the wealth of the state into lawyers’ hands and they will be smiling to court at the expense of the residents of the state. I don’t subscribe to that.

How would you advise the governor on sustainable socio- economic and infrastructural growth of the state?
Go and read the write-up on M.O.R.E. Sheriff is going to do MORE. He is a grassroots man who knows the yearning of the people. He would not fail because this is the peak for him to get to the next level.

MuhammaduBuhari lived up to the expectations of Nigerians Would you say ex-President?
No. He formed his click to kick ex-President Goodluck Jonathan out of government, which he succeeded in doing and at the end, the centre couldn’t hold. The cabal that he formed he was unable to control and that is the problem we are facing today. We knew that he would not perform because what he did when he was military head of state was far below expectation. No doubt, we knew he would not really perform but the only thing was to just kick Jonathan out first. That is exactly what he did with mafiarism. Today, we see the fingers on the wall. One can see all the debts Nigeria is owning. It is a pity that we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. And that is the gospel truth.

What hope is there for the survival of democracy in Nigeria?
There is need for perseverance, truthfulness, ‘non-money’ politics. Those who have good intention for the less- privileged and those who have connection should come into politics and governance. If you say politics is for dirty people, then dirty people would rule over you. The time has come for those who have the fear of God to come into governance so that we can hit the nail on the head and come out with flying colours.