By Simon Okeke
It was the great Chief Herbert Ogunde, that music maestro and veteran entertainer of blessed memory, that admonished the Yorubas in 1964 or thereabout, to be wise, think, and meditate deeply over the ugly political crisis that engulfed the then Western Region and refrain from self-destruction. He was concerned about the situation and made the appeal to his people through a popular song, titled; *Yoruba Ronu,* meaning simply, that *”Yorubas should think.”*
The situation that played out then in the Western Region which prompted Ogunde to make that passionate appeal, can be likened to the present, ugly political situation, about to play out among the Urhobos, the dominant ethnic nationality in Delta State.
Before I dwell on the burning political issues of the moment in the State, let me make it clear that I am a full-fledged Igbo man from across the Niger who, by the special grace of God, has spent all my life in Delta State, and has been wonderfully blessed by the land. The Urhobo people have been good to me, I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world; an Urhobo damsel, who has given me wonderful kids that have the Urhobo blood also flowing proudly in their veins. In addition to this, I have been privileged to be deeply involved in the politics of the State since 1999, and my friends and political associates, cut across the entire State.
As one who considers himself a stakeholder, therefore, I am seriously concerned by the turn of events following the publication of the endorsement of David Edevbie by the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), as the best among the many Urhobo aspirants in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in some national newspapers and the social media on Sunday. Since the publication of that well-intentioned endorsement of the former Commissioner for Finance in the State, there have been different reactions, ranging from the positive to the absurd.
I am privileged to have known David Edevbie, from a distance though, since he was finance commissioner under Governor Ibori because as a businessman, I bought some contract jobs from people, and all my payments at that period were duly paid, without seeing him or any of his staff. Nobody asked me for a bribe to get paid. He introduced the cash-budget system and contractors were paid as and when due. Since then I have closely monitored and followed him because I saw in him then, a sincere and straightforward man, who was greatly committed to selfless service. His types in Government are very rare. His developmental, corporate, and European-like approach to governance and public service is alien in a continent and a country that are unused to good service delivery.
I have said this about David Edevbie just to let my readers know a little bit about the man, from my perspective. But, let me again make it clear that to date, I have never had a one-on-one meeting with the man. I don’t even know him in person, and he does not know me. I can bet it that these great qualities that I saw in him, in addition to his experience and exposure, as outlined by the UPU, must have informed the endorsement.
I am in total agreement with the UPU in endorsing just one out of the many Urhobos clamouring for the ticket of the PDP. The action, to me, is the best thing to do in ensuring that an Urhobo wins the primaries because the Ijaws are also determined and working hard to take the ticket, not minding the existing, unwritten zoning formula in the State.
This is why I am pained and at loss as to why the Urhobos can’t decipher the evil plan of the enemies of the Urhobo Nation. The enemies, who abound, both within and outside the Urhobo Nation, are determined to deprive the Urhobo Nation of the PDP ticket. They are clandestinely working for the enthronement of an Ijaw, precisely the Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, in fulfillment of an agreement entered into in 2014.
But, to actualise this demonic game-plan without ruffling feathers or raising eyebrows, the hawks who constitute a cabal of evil-doers, have encouraged most of the Urhobo aspirants to go into the contest to scatter the Urhobo votes in the primary election. Some of the aspirants who could not afford the cost of the nomination form were given money, to keep them in the race. By this wicked plot, no single Urhobo candidate, be it Edevbie or Oborevwori – the so-anointed choice of the hawks, will be able to gather a good number of votes and, in the process, lose to the actual and truly anointed and preferred Ijaw aspirant.
At the end of the day, the hawks will say they supported the Urhobos through Sheriff Oborevwori, but, unfortunately, too many Urhobos went into the contest and that led to the loss of the ticket to an Ijaw aspirant. On the other hand, they would have delivered on their promise to the Ijaws, particularly Tompolo, to whom the promise was made and who nominated Otuaro, his nephew, being his senior sister’s son.
These hawks, led by the big masquerade, who is playing god; include Kingsley Esiso, the PDP Chairman, who is of questionable identity and picked by the masquerade from the gutter, to be used as a tool; Michael Diden, better known as Ejele, who ordinarily should remain the tout that he is and had always been, but had the guts today to aspire to go to the Senate; Askia, another tout also aspiring to go to the Federal House of Representatives; Emma Eboigbe, Okowa’s Director of Protocol, the son of a native doctor and Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, Okowa’s Executive Assistant on Communications, a loquacious, shameless and bread and butter armchair writer, who, as an attack-dog, can take his father and mother to the cleaners, just for a pot of pottage.
It was this same Latimore, who was recently dispensed with by his employer for insubordination, running his dirty, big smelling mouth, like a leaking tap, criticising his paymasters for not paying him well enough for all the dirty job he was doing for them. The same Latimore who said he took the decision of his sack in good faith, saying it marked a new beginning for him, went everywhere weeping like a fatherless baby, and begging everyone, even those he had insulted and bad-mouthed, to help appeal to his pay-masters, to forgive him and give him a second chance, promising to be of good conduct henceforth. In his desperation to get back his job, because Latimore is said to be a perpetual broke-ass, a spendthrift, a man who lives on borrowing and lives a false life of opulence, shamelessly prostrated before those he had despised and rubbished, begging them to intercede on his behalf. He was reported to have told one of those he met: *”Oga, as we speak, my house rent in Lagos is due and if I don’t renew it by next month’s end, my family would be thrown into the street. Please, sir, help me to talk to my oga. I am sorry for everything I have written or said against you.”* The man said Latimore caught a pitiful sight of a chicken beaten by the rain.
It is this same scruffy-looking Latimore who attempted to sow a seed of discord between Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and Chief James Ibori, and at various times try to flame war between Chief James Ibori and Governor Okowa, with his many childish articles.
This appointment and cash beggar (remember Latimore’s text message to Gbagi, and many other of my good friends who in respect for their privacies, I will leave out their names) is nothing but a stinking hatchet writer, whose match through the political terrain over the years, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. He is a man who has no shame, no integrity, no scruples, no finesse, no decorum, no manners, no qualms, and, above all, cantankerous. His story, while with O’tega Emerhor then in the APC, was also one that made Emerhor fire him, to prevent causing discord between him and other leaders in the party.
At first sight, this clown called Latimore, looks like an evil native doctor, and indeed Fred Latimore’s ways are very evil.
Like Latimore, other members of the evil cabal planning to impose a nonentity on the State, particularly Ejele and Askia, are equally as hopeless and useless. It is seriously unfortunate, regrettable, and lamentable that in a State like Delta, richly blessed with some of the best brains in the country, dullards like Ejele and Askia could be entrusted with such enormous responsibility of superintending over a sensitive government agency as Delta State Oil Producing Communities Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
The Commission was established by Governor Ibori and by the laws setting it up, 50 percent of monthly 13 percent derivation funds accruing to the State, are to go to the Commission, for the development of the oil-producing communities in the State. Former Governor Uduaghan also funded the Commission as provided for by the laws, for the eight years he was in office. But, today, under Governor Okowa who compensated his lackeys with the positions of Chairman and Managing Director of such a sensitive government agency, the Commission has been run aground.
How sad, that DESOPADEC, the once vibrant agency that carried out meaningful development in the oil-producing areas of the State, in addition to being a major source of business for contractors in the State, has gone comatose. Yet, these two hopeless errand boys, have the guts to aspire to contest higher elective positions, with the support of their master.
Let it be made known that apart from DESOPADEC, many Government agencies have died under Governor Okowa. Among them are two key ones; Direct Labour Agency (DLA), also established by Ibori, and Delta State Universal Education Board (SUBEB). What a shame! These were vibrant Government agencies, which at a time, were a ready source of contracts and empowerment for Deltans.
Should we continue on this path of cluelessness and retrogression? God forbid.
Now, let’s call a spade a spade. What is the antecedent and background of Sheriff Oborevwori, that is being promoted today by the hawks? He is a known political thug who was promoted to relevance by the system and his political godfathers. Ditto Ejele and Askia. These people are desperately working with their master, to impose a semi-illiterate on the State and Deltans. Are these the type of fellas Delta want to entrust their future and children’s destinies to? This diabolical scheme, if allowed to scale through, will surely spell doom for the State. But by the grace of God, they will never succeed.
Delta State is too blessed with both human and natural resources to continue to wallop in abject poverty and backwardness. The State is too sophisticated to be entrusted into the hands of dafts and semi illiterates. Deltans must change the narrative. We must install a Governor who is literate and understands the nitty-gritty and intricacies of governance.
At these trying moments in the State, we need a Governor of proven capacity to restore the state’s lost glory and guide it on the path of growth and development. We need a Governor who has the clout and exposure to attract both local and foreign investments and create jobs and empowerment for the people.
For those Urhobo people, particularly those from Okpe, who believe that the *masquerade* is supporting their son, they will get the biggest shock of their lives. By the time they realise that the so-called support for Oborevwori their son, is a ruse, a mirage and only a ploy to hoodwink them, it would have been too late. The man’s heart is somewhere else, it is with the Ijaws.
The Oborevwori being promoted today by the hawks, shamelessly presided over the inclusion of a non-oil-producing community in the list of oil-producing communities, thereby having a representative on the board of DESOPADEC. This illegality was perpectuated by the State House of Assembly after what a source described as a popular and common beer parlor discussion across the State that the illegality was committed by members of the House after huge monetary gratification, running into hundreds of millions of naira, changed hands. Yet, that community does not contribute a drop of oil to the State’s production quota, but it shares fully from the derivation funds that come to the State monthly.
The Delta State of Assembly, where Sheriff Oborevwori holds sway, is a rubber-stamp. It passes for the most docile House of Assembly in the country. It passes bills from the Executive with the speed of light. Important bills, touching on wellbeing of Deltans, that should be subjected to public hearing, to determine their acceptability, are often manoeuvred and passed without undergoing due process.
I am using this medium to seriously plead with the Urhobo people to be wise, to see far beyond their nose, far enough to see the ulterior motive of the big *masquerade,* who obviously, has become *power-drunk and, “absolutely corrupted by absolute power.”*
I have equally read with amusement the so-called Barr. Isaacs Itebu, UPU National Legal Adviser, ranting on social media. Imagine the kind of characters in the fold of the evil cabal. Isaacs Itebu and his king are the major promoters of the Oborevwori governorship project. However, Itebu is aggressive because the chap is broke! The ill-gotten wealth he acquired from his stint at the Delta State Board of Internal Revenue is gone. He needs rejuvenation, revival, and rehabilitation. He initially eyed the treasury of Okpe Local Government and tried gunning to become its Chairman during the last council polls, but his aspiration hit the rocks, and he lost out, partly because he is known to be greedy and a traitor. He betrayed his boss at the Delta State Internal Revenue and back-stabbed the man. He equally betrayed his benefactor and my good friend, late Chief Tom Amioku, who actually picked Itebu from the gutter, brushed him up and gave him the Internal Inland Revenue job.
Itebu sees Oborevwori as his meal ticket back to wealth and prominence. Forgetting his position as UPU’s legal adviser, Itebu worked himself into emerging as the National Treasurer of a pressure group pushing for an Urhobo Governorship in 2023. Itebu used this same position to influence the shortlisting of Oborevvori, who is indeed the least qualified of all the Urhobo aspirants, to become one of the three aspirants short-listed after the group’s screening exercise. Who takes such an evil and desperate fellow seriously?
Since I pride myself as a Deltan, I have to comment on the watery statements made by the State PDP Exco and the eight Central Council Chairmen, who have separately responded to the endorsement. It was reliably gathered that they were all summoned to Government House on Sunday afternoon, in a panicky measure, after the UPU publication, and ordered by the confused and drowning *masquerade,* to issue the statements. It was said that the two statements were written by Government officials in the Government House, and handed over to them.
The eight shameless Council Chairmen of Delta Central should tell the Urhobo Nation the impact they have made in their various council areas since they were elected into office. Many of them are doing their second term. Can any one of them point to any project or tangible development they have carried out in their areas? Even to grade earth roads or build make-shift markets. None.
Have they not been telling anyone who bothers to ask them why the poor performance, that all they get as monthly allocation is just money for workers salary and imprest for their welfare and wellbeing. Have they not been grumbling and complaining in whispers that the Governor is the reason for their none performance because he starves them of funds? No wonder Governors like Okowa who treat local government chairmen as errand boys are vehemently against autonomy for local governments in the country.
As for the State PDP Exco led by a dummy called Kingsley Esiso, a man of doubtful identity, there is no member of his executive that dares to look Okowa in the face. They all feed on crumbs from his table and are ready tools in his filthy hands. None of them is man enough to proffer a contrary view to that of the master. How sad!
I will hate to see the Urhobos lose out in this complex power intrigues because as I said earlier the Urhobos have been very good to me. I see myself today as an Urhobo man. My Igbo people used to say *Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe* (If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the foofoo before dipping it into the soup).
The Urhobo Nation should resist the attempt to make their soup watery at the gubernatorial primaries by speaking with one voice and changing tactics. Urhobo should realise that *Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo, umuaka achiri ya hie nku* (If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood). This is the time to unite, speak with one voice and put forward your best at the PDP primary, or forever blame yourself for losing to your neighbour, even as the majority ethnic group.
*Chief Simon Okeke, Nwakibie 1 of the Universe*