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Okowa, Ojougboh in tug of war

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THEY were ordinarily supposed to be the best of buddies, but the river between Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and Chief Cairo Ojougboh is as wide as the River Niger. In the rough and tumble world of politics, where ethnic loyalty is the order of the time, the two political heavyweights share so much in common.

Both men were of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where Ojougboh rose to the lofty height of National Vice-Chairman. While Okowa, a medical doctor is from Owa Alero, Ika North East Local Council, Ojougboh, also a medical doctor hails from Agbor, Ika South Local Council. Again, while Okowa cut his national political teeth as a Senator (Delta North) between 2011 and 2015, Ojougboh represented Ika Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2007. The Agbor born politician pitched tent with the Senator Amodu Sheriff faction of the party where he became the National Vice-Chairman, while Okowa kept faith with Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

The big puzzle: why the falling apart? A political analyst who would not want his name in print attempted to answer the question. He said that Ojougboh, who has since decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with his followers, is seriously crossed with the governor for not rewarding his effort at the 2015 governorship election and was out to humiliate him.

At Okowa’s fundraiser in Asaba, Ojougboh had forked out a princely sum of N50 million for his governorship effort, only to have his candidate for the Ika South House of Assembly seat dumped in favour of the Accord Party man, who was reportedly backed by Okowa and won. It was the first hit from behind.

Not done with the deconstruction, Ojougboh’s men were reportedly edged out of key political and party appointments. That was the last act that shattered the proverbial camel’s back and Ojougboh swore vengeance.

He fired the first shot in anger shortly at Okowa’s government, when he pointedly accused the governor of running the affairs of the state without a duly signed budget and so was at liberty to spend, as he likes.

But speaking with journalists at the state House of Assembly shortly after the presentation of the 2018 budget on October 19, Okowa was blunt when he said that the allegations by the top APC member were unintelligent and stupid considering his educational background.

Okowa charged: “In the first instance, I would not ordinarily want to react to comments made by somebody who, though went to school, but he is making unintelligent comments.

“You (journalists) were here last year when the budget was presented, the budget was considered and passed by the House, and you were there when the budget was signed.

“I have been to the National Assembly and I believe that the Delta State House of Assembly is very credible. We have followed the due processes, which we have again started for next year’s budget.

“Is it possible to have a blank budget? Then what is the budget if it is blank? So his comments appear stupid and unintelligent, but somehow we are in a nation where anybody can say anything because of freedom of speech.

“However, it is only fair that people who went to school should speak in a manner that we went to school. When we speak unintelligently, it is unfair,” Okowa said.

The cold war took a turn for the worse when Ojougboh accused Okowa of hatching a plot to assassinate him.

Ojougboh who spoke recently at his country home, at Agbor, alleged that the governor has perfected a plot to eliminate him.

In a letter to the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Rev. Nicholas Okoh, which he read out to journalists, the APC top member alleged that the decision to eliminate him was as a result of his vehement criticism of the governor over the blank budget for fiscal 2017 and other issues bordering on accountability.

He charged that the order to eliminate him along with one Mr. Dada Ijeh, Isaac Ulebor and Emmanuel Ojemeh, for speaking the hard truth was passed to the governor’s henchmen (names with held) who recruit thugs to do the governor’s bidding.

He wrote: “This serves to notify you and Nigerians that, in the event of death by accident, kidnapping, robbery and armed attack on any of the above persons, Okowa should be held responsible. I have decided as a soldier of truth to be on the side of the people.”
 
“The assassinate allegation is not true. We don’t have issues with him. People must learn to assess the credibility of the person speaking before deciding to believe him or not,” the Governor reacted.

Not done yet, he charged that Okowa has mismanaged over one trillion Naira of the state’s money received from the Paris Club Refund, Federal allocation and Internally Generated Revenue since 2015.

He wrote: “Your Eminence, ask Okowa what he has done with close to one trillion Naira he has received since he came into office through federal allocation, loans, grants, ball out funds, Paris club refunds and IGR.”

The APC top member said that Asaba, Agbor, Warri, Sapele, and other major towns in the state are now worse than they have ever been in the course of Okowa’s government.

He added: “Sir, see what is going on in Lagos and Bayelsa states, massive infrastructural development. There is no economic team in Delta; there is no focus, no policy and no programme. Prosperity for all Deltans has become prosperity for Okowa and family.

“As I write this letter, the Agbor General hospital where I was born is in total darkness. No electricity, no generator and Okowa is a medical doctor and he allows doctors to work with candlelight. At this time and age doctors are delivering babies in Agbor with candlelight.

“I have decided as a soldier of truth to be on the side of the people. We are not deterred.”

The APC chieftain said that it was obvious that Okowa was only interested in accumulating money with which to buy the general elections in 2019.



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