- Following James Ibori's return to Nigeria after his release, the former Delta governor has become immersed in the poltiics of Delta state
- In the race to 2019, James Ibori is at the center of high wired political re-alignment in the state
-Given his political influence, the man popularly called Odidigborigbo of Africa may determine the political direction in the state
A massive political revolution is taken place in Delta state. The revolution is in preparation for the 2019 general elections. Actually, the revolution wouldn’t have been if James Ibori, former governor of the state had not returned from London where he served jail term for corruption and other fraudulent activities.
Ibori, who ruled the state from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007, is seen as the political godfather of the state. As such, whatever he says, politicians in the state have never turned down his advice. For all the days he was in jail, he was the one actually making certain political decisions for the state and his decisions have never been rebuffed.
All politicians who have emerged in almost all the major positions, had consulted him even in jail and his decisions have always prevailed on the parties concerned in the race. The major political players have always bowed to his decisions. Hence, he is a demigod to the politicians and those at the corridor of power.
From the emergence of former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to the present governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Ibori has been at the centre of decision making. In the run up to the 2015 general elections, almost all the governorship contestants paid visit to Ibori while he was in London prison. Their visit was to seek his political blessings with the belief that anybody he anointed would eventually be accepted as governor by the power players.
Prior to his return in January 2017, some political analysts were of the view that he might defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) arguing that his travails were orchestrated by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), hence he might dump the party for good. This group believed that having been frustrated by the PDP, he would abandon the party and move to the APC.
That rumour allegedly shook Governor Okowa’s administration as it is believed that senior officials in his government, including speaker of the state house of assembly, Monday Igbuya and many appointees in all departments are still paying allegiance to the Ibori’s political dynasty. The fear was on how Okowa could govern the state when his political godfather is in another political party. But that political calculation was wrong as Ibori still remains in the PDP.
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His return to the state, NAIJ.com learnt, has initiated fresh re-alignments in the politics of the state. While he was away in prison, Uduaghan reigned through to the present governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Actually, as earlier said, while Uduaghan reigned through to Okowa, Ibori was the governor at the background. This is because important political decisions cannot be taken without his consent.
And now that he has returned, certain changes are going be witnessed in the state. One of Ibori’s aides, said at the return of Ibori to Delta, things must surely change. This is because rather than the politicians paying allegiance to Governor Okowa, all will now turn to Ibori for his blessing and as soon as Ibori makes pronouncement, Okowa has no option than to respect the decision of his boss.
The ongoing re-alignment has led to massive defections from all other political parties in the state. The defection is massive and is swelling the membership of the PDP. Former members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party and Accord Party are all defecting to the People’s Democratic Party in all parts of the state.
The defection began a week after Ibori returned to the state. The first defector was a staunch member of the APC, Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe. He was unapologetic critic of Governor Okowa during the primaries to the election that produced Okowa as governor. Also, when the victory of Okowa was being contested at the courts, Oghenesivbe threw caution to the wind and blew the lid out of many hidden facts about Okowa, revealing how the election was won and lost.
His critical remarks brought to nothing the argument of Governor Okowa’s media aides as they could not withstand his superior argument during the court cases. Even after the decision of the Supreme Court, Oghenesivbe was still throwing political stones at Okowa.
But as soon as Ibori returned to the state, within a week, Oghenesivbe defected to the PDP, citing irrelevant issues as his reason for dumping the APC for the PDP. He changed his profile picture on facebook to Ibori, though he had changed it to another.
Following his defection, he has been given a political appointment as Executive Assistant on Communications to the governor. Now, he has begun singing the praises of Okowa, whom he once castigated and taken to the cleaners, describing him as governor who won through fraud and electoral malpractices.
Also, in Ughelli North and Aniocha North area of the state, not less than one thousand APC members have defected to the PDP. Although the defectors gave various reasons for defecting to the PDP, political analysts believe that their reason for defection was because of the presence of Ibori in the state.
In a similar vein, a chieftain of the APC in Sapele local government area, Chief Paulinus Akpeki, recently dumped the APC with his followers and joined the PDP. Akpeki was a former commissioner and chief of staff to the former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan from 2011 to 2015.
But as soon as Uduaghan’s tenure ended and the failure of PDP at the federal level, Akpeki defected to the APC and began raining accusations against the speaker of the state house of assembly, Monday Igbuya. This is following the fact that both of them are from the Sapele council area of the state.
This video shows the mammoth crowd who received Ibori when he returned from London to Oghara, his country home in Delta state
The climax of the defections was experienced on Wednesday at the state house of assembly when three members who were formerly of Labour Party and Accord Party, dumped their parties and joined the PDP in the state assembly. Festus Okoh of Accord Party and minority leader from Ika south, Peter Uviejitobor and Evans Iwurie, both of Labour Party from Udu and Ethiope east state constituencies respectively.
As it is now, there are 28 members in the state house of assembly. Out of the 28, 27 are PDP members while one is a Social Democratic Party (SDP) member who now remains as the only opposition party member in the state house of assembly. The defection of all the other party members and their cronies has reduced the state to almost a one party state.
For now, the APC has only few power brokers in the persons of former speaker of the state house of assembly, Victor Ochei; former APC governorship candidate, Otega Emerhor; Delta Central senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Great Ovedje Ogboru, Ayiri Emami and a few others who may not be able to surmount the political strength to win a single ward in the state.
These massive defections, political analysts say, are in response to Ibori’s return to the state. In the 2019 general elections, there is the belief that the state may likely be fully a PDP state with no single ward for the opposition parties.
Ibori had initially endorsed Governor Okowa for the 2019 governorship election, banning all PDP members from contesting against the governor in the forthcoming election. His dynasty is regaining strength as all party members are re-aligning for a great hold of the party in the state. He is tactically consolidating his hold on the state so as to install his loyalists in power and keep the dynasty going.
All those who have gone to other parties have returned and the party is getting stronger. Ibori is moving, reconciling aggrieved members back to the party, a development which might turn Delta to a full-fledged PDP state with no available space for the opposition to thrive.
It also implies that any political aspirant who wins at a PDP primary could also be assumed to have won the position he or she vies for either in the state or at the national assembly. All these go to show the personality and regard the people of Delta accord to Ibori in Delta state. While Ibori continues to hold sway, one may ask: Can this dynasty be broken? Will any party ever gain entrance into government house in Delta? The answer to these questions is obvious.
In this NAIJ.com video, a man expressed his displeasure about the way the country is run by the APC