…Osinbajo, Tinubu, Govs Tip Utomi
By Austin Osayande (Abuja Bureau Chief)
As the battle for 2019 gears up across the States, palpable panic has enveloped the Delta State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) following strong indications that the All Progressives Congress(APC) is strongly committed to unseating the incumbent PDP Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa come 2019.
The New Diplomat gathered from very top Presidency sources and top members of the APC hierarchy especially acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo , a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, most serving APC Governors and some critical stakeholders within and outside the Party have tipped eminent Economist and Administrator, Prof Pat Utomi to fly the APC governorship ticket in 2019 in Delta State in what Aso Rock insiders describe as “a determined strategy to unseat the ruling PDP in the State.”
Just like Governor Okowa, Prof Utomi hails from Delta North Senatorial Zone, which has been penciled to produce the governorship come 2019 on a rotational principle amongst the three senatorial zones. Former Governor Chief James Ibori was from Central, his immediate successor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan was from South and incumbent Gov Okowa is from North.
Said an insider in Abuja:” The whole thing is clear. I can authoritatively tell you that APC is determined this time to take over Delta State come 2019 and add it to Edo so that what used to be the old Bendel or Midwest Region becomes bulwark of progressive politics and governance once again. The State Governor who is very much aware is also reaching out to acting President through our mutual colleague from the media. But we don’t know how far that can fly. But as things stand, the APC controls the security agencies and they are determined hence they are bringing out a thorough bred technocrat just as the case in Edo where a technocrat took over. Prof Pat Utomi has been endorsed by the powers that be. Very soon you will see mass movement to APC in Delta State. Even top leaders of the State are going to move because a deal was brokered at the highest level.”
Sources revealed that the success of Gov Godwin Obaseki in Edo state has further emboldened the APC leaders that they have the capacity to unseat incumbent Governor Okowa. The New Diplomat gathered that Prof Utomi has of recent intensified political consultations across the state with visits to critical stakeholders under the Prof Pat Utomi Foundation. He was in Delta South where he met with the Olu of Warri. He has also visited some prominent stakeholders in Delta Central as well as Delta North, including traditional rulers.
The New Diplomat gathered that with this latest development, Gov Okowa is reaching out to the APC hierarchy through a Senator who is very close to the media and is also a media entrepreneur to help talk “ to the powers that be so that he can switch over and run on the APC ticket in 2019 as a possible option open to him.”
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It was further gathered that in all of this political chess game, former Governor James Ibori who is Okowa’s political mentor and leader of the PDP in the State has not uttered any political direction to his teeming followers across the state who daily besiege him for direction. “ You know that Buki(Senate President Bukola Saraki)is very close to Chief James Ibori and there are political discussions currently on-going as well. But for now, nobody knows where Chief Ibori will eventually tilt towards in the cold calculations towards 2019. According to APC Chieftain from Delta South, “ Delta state has to be repositioned for true greatness because in the last two years the state has gone down. Gov Okowa is running the state as Ika Governor and not Governor of Delta State. Check all his key appointments. Check his inner team. It is Ika they hail from. That is nepotism at its highest level. Delta State needs a thorough breed and brilliant as well as detribalized technocrat like Utomi. That is why we beckoned on him. I was one of those who went to him at the very beginning to come and help rescue the state from nepotism.”
But in quick reaction, a PDP chieftain from Uvwie, Chief Solomon Ighra described the allegations against the Governor as purely unfounded. According to him, the appointments are well spread across the three senatorial zones noting that personal aides “ can come from anywhere as they just for errands because they do not form part of the Executive Council which takes critical decisions for the state.” He added: “ That is an unfair criticism of the Governor. And as someone who has been in politics let me clear the air. Okowa is detribalized. Check the State Executive council and you will see that all the local government councils are represented”. But when reminded that it is a constitutional matter that there must be representation from the Local Government Areas just as the Federal Executive Council must have representatives from the States as Ministers, he was speechless.
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