Road to 2023: Delta PDP hobbles over Okowa, Ibori’s standoff
There is disquiet in the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the publication of the governorship candidates of various political parties for next year’s election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The particulars of the candidate of PDP were conspicuously missing among those displayed by the commission at its head office in Abuja.
Findings revealed that the development followed the recent sack of Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori as candidate by an Abuja High Court
Oborevwori who is the current Speaker of the state House of Assembly, was disqualified by the court presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo as a result of discrepancies in the credentials he submitted.
In its ruling, the court held that the plaintiff, Mr. David Edevbie who came a distant second in the May 25 PDP governorship primary, should be submitted as the candidate of the party.
However, INEC did not publish the particulars of any of the contending parties on grounds that Oborevwori secured a stay of execution and also filed appeal against the judgement, pointing out that a name would be published at the end of the court processes.
But the shock in Oborevwori’s camp appears incomprehensible because his main backer and incumbent governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is known to be too meticulous to have glossed over the said discrepancies in his certificates.
In his political engagements before the primaries of the party, Okowa, who is the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, had always encouraged aspirants to get acquainted with the new Electoral Act and other relevant laws to avoid flaws that would result to technical knockout in court.
However, the apparent lack of due diligence in the case of Oborevwori by the party and his avalanche of supporters beat the imagination of some politicians in the state.
Recall that the issue of discrepancies in the names on Oborevwori’s certificates was raised during the screening of governorship aspirants by the committee led by Governor Diri Duoye of Bayelsa.
Despite the dust raised at that time, he was given a clean bill of health to contest the primary, raising speculations that he might have substituted his degree certificate with that of secondary school being the minimum constitutional requirement for the office of governor.
But before the ruling on Edevbie’s suit, about eight suits against Oborevwori had been disposed off by the court for either lack of locus, lack of jurisdiction or being statute barred.
Edevbie’s suit seemed to have fulfilled all the necessary legal ingredients, hence his prayers were granted.
Besides that, however, it was learnt that the latest development in Delta PDP might be a trade off for the governor to have his vice presidential candidature fully accepted at home.
Former governor of the state, James Ibori and Okowa have been having a running battle over who becomes the governor in 2023 with the former insisting on Edevbie.
While Okowa had his way in May 25 primary, proper reconciliation was not done to assuage Ibori’s political ego, and as such the Odidigborigbo, as Ibori is known in political circles, was said to be blocking Okowa’s vice presidential bid.
But just before Okowa was picked by the PDP presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku as his running mate, peace was said to have been brokered by the national chairman of the party, Dr. Iyiorcha Ayu, at a meeting where the governor was prevailed upon to let go of the governorship by withdrawing his support for Oborevwori.
Be that as it may, another party source informed that the Oborevwori project was designed to crumble at the crucial hour, adding that his backers were not sincere with their support initially.
According to the source, the arrangement before the primary was for Senator James Manager from Ijaw ethnic group and a long standing ally of Governor Okowa, to come second, to have the edge of challenging Oborevwori’s victory at the primary.
“But Manager came third, hence, he did not go to court. For Edevbie, there was jubilation in his camp when he came second at that primary because of the observed deformity and discrepancies in Oborevwori’s credentials,” the source said.
Meanwhile, speaking with Daily Sun in Asaba, Director of Operation of Edevbie campaign organisation , Julius Akpovoka said he was not personally shocked “over the ruling because I know that with what was before the court, there will be justice based on the previous judgements of the Supreme Court and authorities involved in such cases. I knew victory was sure.
“That is why on the day of the primary, I was very happy when Edevbie came second. We were jubilating and I told people that his name would be on the ballot for the general election.
“What I saw about the person who came first was not proper, and you cannot close your eyes to such. The person who came first was not proper to be in the race initially.”
Akpovoka ruled out the possibility of a compromise between Ibori and Okowa, saying that Edevbie victory at the Abuja High Court should not be tied to anybody including Ibori.
“It is the judiciary that has taken a decision and not James Ibori. Did Okowa not have the qualification to be vice president? If he has it, and they chose him, is it wrong? It is not wrong, he has the qualification to be vice or even the president.
“Edevbie has the qualification, he has integrity and the modernisation spirit to transform Delta. Nobody should tie Edevbie’s victory to Ibori. Edevbie’s victory is for Deltans and Nigerians. Let us not assume as if two people are fighting,” he stated.
As a result of the impasse over the legal governorship candidate of PDP in the state, pioneer state chairman of the party and fourth term senator, James Manager said the PDP was drowning and dying slowly in Delta State with the recent events.
Manager who was also an aspirant in the governorship race however refrained from providing solution to the crisis.
In his verified Facebook page, Manager wrote: “As the pioneer state chairman of the party and by extension the father of PDP in Delta State, I would not do anything to further exacerbate the problems for the party and the future of Deltans because Delta is PDP and PDP is Delta.
“I am greatly disturbed by the recent happenings at the party today. I would not feign ignorance as the party is drowning and dying gradually.
“If nobody is seeing it, I am seeing it and I am also feeling it greatly. I would have initiated certain preliminary actions pro bono but because I am directly involved as a contender, I am constrained. I want to be extremely careful and cautious with suggestions and interventions.”
Like Manager, some political observers are expressing concern that the party may not field governorship candidate in 2023.
Regardless, Governor Okowa is convinced that the PDP remained strong, virile and united in the state, saying that the current scenario was simply democracy in action.
Addressing hoards of party faithful during a mega rally in Ozoro, Okowa said those insinuating that PDP was dying in Delta State were deceiving themselves.
“We are not boasting but on the day of election, our people will come out and vote and in the next election, we are going to win all available seats – from the Assembly to the Presidential.
“In 2019, they got two local government areas but in 2023 we will win the entire 25 local government areas.
“Whatever is going on in the party today is a normal democratic process. So, there is nothing to worry about, no cause for alarm and no cause to fear,” he assured.
Also speaking at the rally, chairman of the party in the state, Kingsley Esiso vowed to defend the product of the governorship primary, adding however that the party being responsible and respectable, would abide by the final outcome of the court processes.
“Few weeks ago, our party conducted one of the freest and fairest governorship primaries in Delta State. In that primaries, a candidate emerged and our party dutifully submitted the name of that candidate.
“As a responsible and respected party, having conducted a credible, free and fair election, it is our responsibility to stand and defend the outcome of the primaries.
“As I speak, the issue before the court has nothing to do with the credibility of that primaries.
“But I want to say because our party is responsible, it is also the constitutional right, and that right is also backed by the Electoral Act, that anybody who feels aggrieved can approach the court.
“We are not against anybody approaching the court, but we must also know that if the court gives you judgement, the man you took to court also has the constitutional right to appeal the judgement.
“From what we have been told, PDP in Delta should wait for the final outcome of the process in court. We have been told by the court, and INEC reinforced it that Deltans should wait patiently for the outcome of the process in court.
“So by the time the court delivers the final outcome of their inquiries, PDP, being a responsible and respectable party, will abide by it. We are waiting patiently,” Esiso said.