By Prof Haalim Uche
Turning cynicism to plus point
OLOROGUN Kenneth Gbagi, currently the highest indigenous investor and employer of labour in Delta State, has declared that he will not stop being tough, emphasizing that the feature, which critics view as his Achilles’ Heel is, in fact, necessary to sustain and build on the worthy legacies of incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
The former Minister of Education, criminologist and attorney stated this at what many have come to know as the “Mosogar Declaration” when he visited the Odidimadi of Delta politics, Senator Ighoyota Amori and members of his political family, across the state, at his country home in Mosogar, Ethiope West Local Government Area, recently. It was to inform him of his 2023 gubernatorial quest.
Incontestably, the security consultant and opinion leader from Oginibu, Ughelli South local government area is either streetwise or might have read the minds of those who accuse him of being very complex to deal with in his numerous businesses.
He told his Mosogar listeners: “I thank God that nobody is saying that I am a thief, that I am corrupt, that I stole money or that I am a swindler. They are not saying that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is hunting for me, they are only saying that I am tough to deal with.
What they refused to say
“They have also said so many other things, including that he does not pay his workers and is indebted to contractors among other whispered allegations, but none of the employees told anybody that he was not being paid or resigned his appointment on the account of not being paid because all these are fallacies.
“You see how some minds function; they are not saying that the man created businesses for people to eke out a living, they are not thinking of how to create their own businesses, they are fishing for nonexistent lies to blackmail him. That is the mindset we must change.
“However, I admit that I am tough, I have to be tough as an entrepreneur to succeed. No entrepreneur can navigate the business terrain in this country and even outside without being tough. I want to tell you very categorically that toughness is what Deltans abundantly require in their next governor to be able to sustain and build on the commendable legacies of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa,” he asserted.
Gbagi pointed out, “I can see the same toughness in Governor Okowa, which is why he is able to take very hard decisions and stand by them in the interest of the state. Let me tell you that we are miles behind in Delta state, Lagos and Port Harcourt have gone ahead of us, it is not because of lack of knowledge that we are where we are. We have to be sturdy to move forward.”
Gbagi stressed the fact that no human being is perfect before God Almighty, adding. “Though I may be strict, I am disciplined and a workaholic to the core. I am a politician, but I know that we have core politicians, I am an entrepreneur, I have business sense and that is what I want to bring to bear in the governance of Delta.”
According to him, “My GKO Properties Limited is a key player in the home/property sector in Nigeria, managing portfolios that include 5-star hotels, shopping malls, housing estates, market lock-up stalls. Only Robinson Gbagi Shopping Mall is currently engaging over 20,000 youths, while Woodridge Hotel and Woodridge Annex employ over a hundred professionals to mention just a few.”
He added, “That I am tough does not mean that I do not listen to people, I listen to the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and other leaders of the state. If God, our Creator, listens to people, who am I not to listen to people. But people will always contrive things and that is what keep some persons busy.”
Vow and gratitude to Okowa
The philanthropist asserted, “I will leave the politicians to do the politics, while as a captain of industry; I will do the business part for Delta. I will turn the state around in one year, I know what it takes and you can see it in the businesses I have brought as an individual to the state, what more if I am entrusted with power as governor.”
He explained that sturdiness made him to grow as an accomplished industrialist with a vast business empire all over the country and world, explaining that he could not have survived and protected his business without the virtue.
His words: “I am the first living black man to attain the coveted Arch Klumph Society, AKS member of Rotary International and I will use my business acumen and dexterity to govern the state, protect Deltans and our God- given wealth if our party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Deltans see reason with me.”
He expressed his profound gratitude to Senator Okowa, who he described as an incredible administrator and detribalized Deltan, saying, “All hands must be on deck to see that Governor Okowa finished better than he started.”
Without criticism, there is problem – Odidimadi
Speaking, Chief Amori, chairman, Delta State Capital Development Agency and national chair, Urhobo Political Forum, UPF, said Gbagi has a Midas touch and made money early in life as a young man, dinning with the powerful and the moneyed.
He said his business ideas and vision were beyond the state; hence, he was not surprised at his industry sagacity, which he wants him to demonstrate as governor.
Amori, a Political Adviser to the national chair of PDP and at different times Commissioner for Education and Water Resources in the state, told Gbagi, “If people do not talk about you negatively, then, there is something wrong with you as a human being.”
“You are in business where people must criticize you, they call you all sorts of names, but they do not know what you carry. Some people have been Ministers from Delta Central, what did they did with it? As Minister of Education, we know how you supervised and midwife the creation of `13 universities and eight federal government colleges, restructured the workings of agencies such UBE, WAEC and NTI.
“We know that you brought the Federal Government College, Oginibu, we also know that battle you fought as minister to legalize the establishment of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, FUPRE.
“You are a goal getter; you are not going to Government House, Asaba, to make money because you already have money. We know about the businesses you brought to the state under your business empire,” he said.
Prof Uche Haalim, a political analyst wrote in from Asaba