By Felix Ofou
Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in the 2023 election in Delta State, is a man known for many words and causing hysteria. He is one man driven by ego and does not care what happens to other people. And unless you are willing to lick his often dirty boots, the Oginibo, Ughelli South born lawyer, turned politician is likely to declare you persona non grata.
Because he is also a man given to high drama and calling attention to himself, no one is surprised when he pours out his regular vituperations, all in a bid to project himself more important than anyone in his immediate vicinity. He is one man who hates to be ignored or shoved aside.
It is therefore no surprise to those who know him well to learn that he gathered a motley crowd on Saturday, January 7, 2024 to thump his chest and make some whimsical claims about winning the 2023 governorship election of Delta State. Neither was anyone shocked that Gbagi claimed to be the only one eligible to contest in that election.
But more laughable were the allegations of bribery against the three-man panel of the election tribunal and five man panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal that interrogated his petition against the winner of the poll as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The SDP candidate pointedly asked the Justices of the Supreme Court due to hear his petition challenging the rulings of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Appeal Court, to “save Delta State from total collapse”.
He reiterated his often belligerent claim that Oborevwori, his counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ovie Augustine Omo-Agege, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and Ken Pela of the Labour Party (LP), were not qualified to contest the said election and therefore urged the apex court to rule in his favour.
“Irrespective of what the manipulators would have done, it is the aspiration, the prayer and the cry of both the young, those of age and the old persons and people of this country, particularly those of them from Delta State that their choice for governor of Delta State, should be brought back by God.
“It is only Gbagi who actually spent his personal hard earned money to visit every nook and cranny of Delta State. Every Church and denomination to campaign and educate the citizens of the colossal loss if, for any reason, they allow criminals to continue to run the affairs of Delta State.
“The election was clearly won by Gbagi by a landslide. However what we saw surprising to man but not to God, was that the entire election machinery was hijacked and figures that do not exist anywhere were allocated. Fooling themselves that they have done anything great but contrary to God’s decision”, he alleged.
What Gbagi failed to tell the world, however, is the undisputed fact that he scored only 53 votes in the said guber poll. Meaning that not even his kinsmen in Oginibo and Ughelli South found him worthy to occupy the exalted office of governor. Even his over 500 tenants in Robinson Plaza, Warri to whom he has become a terror, did not also consider him eligible. If a man could not garner votes from those regarded as his immediate constituents, where else lies his hope?
Truth is, Gbagi and his co-travellers had hoped to upstage Governor Oborevwori and the PDP through a plethora of spurious claims bordering on alleged forgery, perjury and age falsification. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has since thrown out the cases and declared Oborevwori eligible to contest, thereby rendering their plot prostate.
Rather than accept the judgement of the apex court, which rightly limited such issues as part of pre-election matters, the SDP candidate wants the court to reverse itself and declare Oborevwori and the other candidates ineligible. He also wants the court to declare him winner of the March 18 Governorship poll.
How can a so called senior lawyer not know that the Supreme Court has put a final lid on the acrobatics which he and his cohorts had conjured against Sheriff Oborevwori? How can same lawyer turn round, after a woeful vote return of just 53 to allege that the bench had been bribed? For a man who was once chairman of the Legal Aid Council in Nigeria, his legal trajectory is scandalous.
Obviously, Gbagi had yet to wake up from a drunken sleep which sent him hallucinating after the loss in the election. His bellicosity should therefore be understood and pardoned because, even the fool knows that Gov. Oborevwori won the March 18 election and has since been discharging his functions as Chief Executive Officer of the state.
Notable among the achievements of the Oborevwori administration include the payment of N5 billion promotion areas to civil servants, payment of N40 billion to local government pensioners, employment of over 2,000 teachers and non teaching staff in the 25 local government areas and payment of N10,000 for three months as palliative to over 50,000 civil and public servants, among others.
More remarkable is the award of N78 billion naira contract to Julius Berger to construct flyovers, cloverleaf and road expansion in Warri and Effurun as well as other projects. This is apart from continuing with projects inherited from his predecessor.
Evidently, Deltans are happy with the Oborevwori administration and his determination to pursue the M.O.R.E. agenda. Contrary to Gbagi’s dubious claim, Delta is on a more sure footed stand and not on the “verge of total collapse.”
Suffice is it to say that Deltans and, indeed, Nigerians expect that the Supreme Court would uphold the verdict of the people who overwhelmingly voted for Oborevwori as has been the case at the tribunal and Court of Appeal levels. Gbagi’s wish ultimately would meet with certain doom. And when that happens, Oborevwori, PDP and the majority of the people would have the last laugh.