By Umukoro Oghenekaro
Contrary to his pledge to play the role of a leader and provide a level playing field for all aspirants for the Delta PDP Governorship ticket, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has started openly canvassing delegates for his preferred candidate.
Using the instruments of government, he invited Councillors of Delta Central local governments to Government House, Asaba, on Tuesday, and instructed them to support Sheriff Oborevwori.
Sources say the move was as a result of a decision taken by their group to shield Oborevwori from very close personal contacts with delegates in order not to continue to expose him to scrutiny following wide public perception that his coordination is low and outcries that his grasp and articulation of development issues are weak and unconvincing.
According to those who attended the meeting held at the Unity Hall, Okowa told the Councillors that his opposition to Edevbie and Gbagi is because they contested against him in the 2014 primaries and he wants now to take revenge against them for which he is soliciting the support of the Councillors to enable him achieve the vengeance.
Our sources revealed that though many of the Councilors do not agree that the determination of who becomes the state governor should be driven by malice, they only remained silent for fear of being identified as in disagreement and possibly victimised. This is especially many other Councillors from Delta Central were excluded in the invitation.
However, at the conclusion of the meeting, a few Councillors privately told Okowa that there is need for more work in packaging Oborevwori, pointing out that Deltans are not convinced about his competence and sense of personal initiative to drive meaningful development. Okowa is said to have told them that his capacity does not matter and assured them that he will be around to support him to govern the state.
Relating to their functions as Councillors, they complained that apart from their salaries they are not being carried along by the councils especially in terms of having constituency projects. Okowa said the problem was due to paucity of funds as a result of dwindling allocation from the Federal Government and low capacity for internal revenue generation by the councils. He told them that out of the 25 Delta LGAs only four are seen to be capable of taking care of themselves. He however promised them that he will look into their complaints.
He sent the Councillors off with a parting gift of N50,000 each and promised to call them again before the primaries.
Sources at Government House say the next schedule of the meeting is for Councillors of Delta South and Delta North after which he will focus on ward officers.
Many of the Councillors spoken to said though they did not reply Okowa on his position on Oborevwori, they were shocked and disgusted at Okowa’s mindset in deciding the Governorship of the state only on the basis of his personal malice.
They recalled that after the 2014 primaries, the Governor himself told party members at a rally in Akwukwu-Igbo, as has been seen in a viral video of the rally, that he and Edevbie had reconciled and that Edevbie has supported him in many ways after the primaries, for which he asked those in attendance to thank him on his behalf.
They wondered why after the reconciliation, the participation in the 2014 primaries should still be an issue seven years after, and with Okowa now doing a second term. They also wondered why he appointed Edevbie to the high trust positions of Commissioner of Finance and Chief of Staff to tap from his competence and experience to support his administration and now want to disregard same capacity for which he appointed to now judge him on the basis of malice from a long gone matter.
One of them said, “him done call us, him done talk him own, we done hear, but we have told ourselves that everybody will still vote according to his or her conviction. We do not agree that the Governorship of our state should be determined by malice and grievance. The Governor himself told us that we are in difficult economic times. It follows that we should seek a Governor with high competence and skills to navigate through the tough road ahead, not a Governor who is coming only as an instrument of Okowa’s revenge. That would be a disservice to our state. Besides, PDP is one family. People contest against each other in different elections all the time. That should not make the party to be ruled by the spirit of malice and vengeance. This mindset is a shameful and very bad example from somebody who calls himself a Christian. How can somebody be saying God, God, God all the time yet he is ruled by the spirit of unforgiveness? Even the Urhobo Progress Union stooped to publicly appeal to him. What else does he want? Such spirit is not Deltan. The Delta spirit is we disagree, we agree and we move on as brothers.”