- Manager, Oborevwori, Edevbie in Last Minute Maneuvering!
Neither Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa nor former Governor Chief James Ibori are in the race for the contest but the stage is, no doubt, set for a showdown between both men in today’s governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State.
The genesis of the fierce fight for the tuff has to do with the fact that the two political gladiators, have since parted paths and are backing two different aspirants for the plum position. The New Diplomat checks reveal that several parleys to make them narrow their differences have ended in dialogues of the deaf.
With a dozen aspirants from the Central and South Senatorial districts, lining up to grab the PDP ticket for the 2023 governorship election, in an ultimate fight that may further fracture the PDP, the contest is however poised to be a three-way fight between the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Mr Sheriff Oborevwori, incumbent Senator representing Delta South, Senator James Manager and a former Commissioner of Finance, Olorogun David Edevbie.
Apart from Manager, Edevbie and Oborevwori, ten other aspirants which include former Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi; and Deputy Governor of Delta State, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro have been cleared to contest the primary. But Gbagi has since pulled out of the race alleging underhand illicit dealings by Governor Okowa and alleges plot to shoot him with a gun by Okowa’s ADC.
Others are former Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Adogbejire Mrakpor (SAN); former commissioner for Lands, Olorogun Fred Majemite; Managing Director of Wellmann Group, Deacon Chris Iyovwaye; former Sapele Council Chairman, and one time Commissioner as well as House of Assembly member, Omizu Ejaife Odebala, Uvwie-born politician, Sir Onajefe-Gift Bright Edejewhro; Mr. Lucky Ohworode Idike and Chief Abel Oghenevo Esievo.
Save for Otuaro and longtime Senator Manager who are both Ijaw from the South Senatorial district, the remaining nine aspirants are all Urhobo from the Central Senatorial district.
While Oborevwori is reported to have the support of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Edevbie, who on the other hand served under Okowa for six years at different times as Commissioner of Finance and Chief of Staff, has been endorsed by some groups.
The ex-finance commissioner is also being solidly supported by former Governor James Ibori. But Edevbie is seen by many politicians as too arrogant, proud and politically snobbish. Thus, many politicians may not want to touch him even from afar!
Thus, notwithstanding the endorsement of Edevbie by Chief Ibori, Speaker Oborevwori, another ethnic Urhobo like Edevbie, has chosen to soldier on with the massive backing of many PDPs political leaders and Governor Okowa.
On his part, Senator Manager, who is a strong political warhorse and founding chairman of the PDP in Delta state has massive support. Many also believe that if fairness and equity is the deciding element of this fight, then Manager who has paid his dues should be rewarded by the PDP with the plum ticket. Manager also enjoys Okowa’s support and to some extent, Ibori’s sympathies!
In fact, the contest promises to be very interesting as it’s going to be a showdown between the incumbent governor Okowa and former governor Ibori, who before now belonged to the same camp: Ibori Political Family.
Ibori, a populist who is fondly called Odidigborigbo, no doubt played a prominent role in the emergence of Okowa as the PDP flag bear in the 2015 election.
Even when he was serving time in the faraway United Kingdom, Ibori reportedly pleaded and prevailed on
the immediate past governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan that Okowa was the best, and he ( Ibori) gave his unflinching support to Okowa against Edevbie in the 2014 primary.
The relationship between both men was said to be as close as lips and teeth before they fell out over the choice of his (Okowa) successor. The New Diplomat examines the three-way horse race in the PDP.
Oborevwori is reported to have the support of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa despite the persistent assurance of neutrality and a level playing field by the governor. He is the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly and he enjoys grassroots appeal. He is also liked by many PDP faithful and those loyal to Okowa. However, Oborevwori is presently being accused of submitting documents that do not add up to Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri’s screening panel of the party, which sat in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and cleared him.
Though the full details of the alleged discrepancies in his credentials may not have been made public yet but he is said to be currently battling litigations
Strength: Has the backing of Governor Okowa and has grassroots or local appeal.
Weakness: He may be weighed down by litigations
Edevbie is Chief Ibori’s candidate who served as finance Commissioner during his administration. He also served under Okowa for six years at different times as Commissioner of Finance and Chief of Staff, respectively. He has been going around campaigning for votes. The major drawback for the ex-commissioner is that he is seen by many PDP faithful as being too politically aloof, pompous and detached, attributes which are political liabilities. His performance as Finance commissioner has also been seen as less than satisfactory given the series of controversies that arose over his alleged management of the finances of the state.
Strenght: He is urbane and has Chief Ibori’s backing.
Weakness: Many politicians see him as a liability on account of his perceived arrogance, political aloofness and snobbish traits.
After being in the Senate for many years, Senator James Manager wants to succeed Okowa. From the Ijaw and Isoko ethnic groups, he appears to be liked and admired generally by many. He also has so much political experience to bank upon. He was the pioneer chairman of PDP and a Commissioner during the administration of the first civilian governor of Delta State, late Olorogun Felix Ibru. He later served as Commissioner for Works under Ibori before going to the Senate as Senator representing Delta South. If equity and fairness are the considerations, Manager will win the PDP ticket as he is seen as one who has sacrificed so much for the PDP from its formative stages and deserves to be rewarded with the ticket.
Strength: He is a fighter, has a deep pocket and enjoys PDP members’ support including Okowa’s support plus perceived sympathies of Ibori.
Weakness: Many believe he overstayed his time in the Senate.
As the delegates stay on the line this morning to cast their votes and Deltans in PDP hold their breath, the big question on their lips, is who between Okowa and Ibori will triumph in the epic battle today? But for now, it is a three-horse race involving Manager, Oborevwori and Edevbie.