By Fred Edoreh
Just read a piece by Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, Executive Assistant on Communication to His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, blaming the public rejection of Sheriff Oborevwori and the collapse of his campaign on the media of Olorogun David Edevbie Campaign Organisation.
Apparently deployed as spokesperson for Oborevwori, in his piece titled “2023: Threats Of Defection To APC Over Oborevwori’s Foreseeable Victory, Desperation Taken Too Far,” he also suggested that Chief James Ibori is supporting Olorogun David Edevbie for Governorship in order for him to gain access to the state treasury and may be planning to either defect to the APC or engage in anti-Party activities in the event that his preferred candidate does not clinch the PDP Gubernatorial ticket.
We ordinarily would not have bothered to respond to Latimore because we already know that Deltans regard him as a clown and do not take him seriously.
The State Government confirmed his condition in one of the series of sack letters issued him, dated December 29, 2021, and signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Patrick Ukah, in which he was cited for “manifest recklessness and insubordination” which they also described as a “trend,” all of which suggest a level of instability.
We would like to point out that Olorogun David Edevbie and Sheriff Oborevwori are not just members of the same political family and the PDP, they are personal friends and regard themselves as brothers. We wish that Latimore had been leashed in order not to destroy this relationship but we however have to respond to his wild statements in the need to better inform the public and to set the records right for posterity.
We have always made it clear that Olorogun David Edevbie Campaign Organisation is not interested in mudslinging and calumny, and we further categorically state that the organisation and its media team are too busy promoting his Manifesto and consolidating his wide acceptance by Deltans as the best qualified, most competent and best prepared candidate for the Governorship of Delta State, such that we have no time and are not interested in the alleged inconsistencies surrounding the personality and credentials of Oborevwori.
We also think that, first, it was unfair on Oborevwori for those using state resources and the party machinery to intimidate party members and delegates to support him, to have, at the same time, sent him somebody whom they have confirmed to trend in “manifest recklessness” to be his image maker. His travails and the collapse of his personal image is therefore just a fait accompli consequent upon the unprofessional and reckless attributes of his handler.
The truth, however, is that Oborevwori may only possibly be choking from his own mess and we sincerely sympathise with him. As the elders say, no matter how deep you go under the water to mess, the smell will surely come up.
It appears that Deltans have perceived a bad odour around him and they, not us, are asking questions on the inconsistencies surrounding his identity, age and the educational certificates he submitted under oath.
They are asking how and why his identity changes at every point of his life, on every of his certificate, from primary to secondary to university to NYSC to Masters.
They are asking to know his true age given that different affidavits in reference to him, as are viral in the public space, put his years of birth as 1979 and as 1963.
They are wondering that, if he was born in 1963 and obtained his Senior School Certificate (WASSC) in 1999, it means he wrote the examination at the age of 36.
They are wondering how possible it was that he already had been a Supervisory Councillor for Works in Okpe LGA in 1996, was already Chairman of Okpe Community and possibly already titled the Ukodo of Okpe Kingdom with Primary School certificate, before he sat for and obtained his WASSC in 1999. Deltans are finding this incredulous.
Deltans are saying if perhaps he went to the school to re-enroll, possibly after failing in several attempts or neglecting to further his education in the whole of 17-year period after he left primary school, it would make sense to see a photo of him in the school uniform of Oghareki Grammar School at age 36 when he purportedly resumed and wrote the exam, because that is what obtains, except in the case of GCE in which students can go to any centre in mufti.
As we hear, he may have withdrawn his “B.Sc.” and Master’s Certificate from his documentation with the PDP South South Gubernatorial Screening Committee, leaving only the Primary School and Secondary School certificates. If so, we hope he also remembered to remove his NYSC certificate from the file both in Port Harcourt and at the PDP National Secretariat where he first submitted his credentials. Of course, we know that many things are possible.
The suspicion of some Deltans, following the various revelations, is that, perhaps, the Francis which is indicated in the Primary School Leaving Certificate and the WASSC which he uses is possibly someone else, which is why Sheriff is not reflected in both of them in any way; that having possibly borrowed or bought the certificates to pursue his political career and to also “gain” admission into the university, he went on to begin to insert Sheriff in the subsequent certificates to effectively convert them to his person.
Some others are asking what name he used to write the JAMB UTM Examination for the admission into the university and, if by direct entry, what qualifications and other certificates he used.
Another suspicion being expressed is that he possibly did not write the WASSC exam by himself but probably employed a younger person to write it for him, given his age, 36, as at that 1999, and that was why the certificate put his year of birth as 1979 which is fairly plausible age for sitting for and obtaining a secondary school certificate.
These are all public conjectures, including further suspicions that, being unable to defend the documents he presented in Port Harcourt, he rushed back to Delta to procure an affidavit to harmonise his many names overnight Thursday which was passed through the back door to the committee for him to get his provisional clearance on Saturday afternoon which he took to church on Sunday to say he got it since Thursday.
True or false, whatever happened at the screening venue is best known to him and his backers but, obviously, there is no smoke without fire. There were other aspirants at the screening and no such stories have been told about them.
What we do understand though is that Delta PDP faithfuls are terrified that continuing attempts to force Oborevwori on the party with all these contradictions, regardless of possible cover-ups from high quarters, may not stand the test of time and possible rigorous judicial scrutiny, post election.
These, from what we are hearing in the public place, are the nagging issues and the onus of defence can only be on the man whose name, age and certificates he provided on oath are in public doubt.
We however find it inglorious that when we are talking about producing a Governor for our dear Delta State, Deltans are being thoroughly embarrassed by such tales of inconsistencies over the true name, age and authenticity of the certificate(s) of one of the aspirants.
On the allusions to Ibori political family and defection to the APC as well as the attempt to defame Edevbie, we see them only as flowing from Latimore’s adult deliquency.
There indeed cannot be a stronger and more iconic member of the Ibori political family than Latimore’s Principal, our dear Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who served as Commissioner in three ministries under Governor Ibori and moved up as Secretary to the State Government under Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan before heading to the Senate.
In becoming the Governor, it is also on record that in the 2014 Primary, Ibori clearly supported him against Edevbie and still supported his re-election in 2019. In fact, at a thanksgiving service for their re-election held at Christ Embassy Church in Warri and attended by both Governor Okowa and Ibori, the Deputy Governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, testified that Chief “Ibori stood shoulder to shoulder with Okowa” to fight off the opposition who had planned to use federal might to take Delta by force.
We are not aware that Governor Okowa had ceased to be a member of the Ibori political family after then. In fact, same day, as Latimore wrote to insult Chief Ibori, Governor Okowa, at his Quarterly Media Chat with journalists, reaffirmed his membership of the Ibori political family, saying that the bond remains intact. This is also in consonance with Edevbie’s statement during his consultation visit to delegates of Ika North East LGA, that his friendship and affinity with Okowa cannot be broken.
Again, Governor Okowa himself testified that right from the day after the 2014 Primary, Edevbie immediately joined his campaign and supported him in several ways for which he asked participants at the rally to thank him on his behalf. Such solidarity exhibited by Edevbie can only come from an open-minded and politically civilised gentleman who regards contest in party primaries as a family affair.
Presently and with the wide approval and acceptance by Deltans as the best hand to take over the mantle of governorship, Edevbie is looking ahead, after his victory at the primaries and at the general elections, to consolidate on the achievements of Governor Okowa and to take Delta State to greater glory through his Modernisation Agenda
Deltans across the three districts and various ethnic groups are enthusiastic about his candidature and are highly expectant of a bright future with him as Governor under the PDP.
Edevbie’s victory will be not just the victory of Governor Okowa, the Ibori political family and Delta PDP, but, most importantly, the victory of all Deltans and to the glory of the God, in view of the robust and vibrant social economy and infrastructural development that Deltans trust Edevbie to usher in.
The deliberate misinformation campaign to defame Edevbie is therefore the laziest and most inconsequential mis-propaganda, because he has been in this country for the past 23 years; travels abroad as may be necessary; has served Delta State at various times; has served at the Presidency; continues to traverse various parts of the country and both the EFCC and the UK officials have thoroughly investigated him during Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency and, till date, he has neither been charged nor prosecuted in any court for any offence, neither in Nigeria nor overseas.
In fact, it was Edevbie himself who took the bold and unusual step of suing the EFCC to court to force them to charge and prosecute him before the law if they have found any malfeasance in him both during his services as Commissioner of Finance in Delta State and as Principal Secretary to late President Umaru Yar’adua.
Details of his suit challenging the EFCC to prosecute him is well captured in the Vanguard newspaper report of February 14, 2013. Till date, they haven’t charged him for anything, obviously because they have not found any fault in him.
However, in trying to defame Edevbie, Latimore does not see that he at the same time is maligning his Principal and all others who served in various capacities under Governor Ibori from the beginning to the end of his administration.
He does not see that he also seems to be suggesting that his Principal must have a poor judgement for appointing a person whom Latimore accuses of fraud as his Commissioner of Finance and later Chief of Staff. Or is it that he appointed Edevbie to also help him to the Treasury as Latimore suggests?
But, we know that Latimore’s loquaciousness is in consonance with his Principal’s assessment of him as a person of “manifest recklessness.”
The only pity is how Okowa keeps such character to speak for him and how he was further seconded to our friend, Oborevwori.
We are certain that, having worked together with Edevbie under Governor Ibori and having also followed his performance at the Presidency, Governor Okowa truly appreciates Edevbie’s capacity and trusts his character, hence he appointed him his Commissioner of Finance.
Okowa knows that Edevbie led the state to invest in Econet which yielded multiple financial returns to the state, just the way Peter Obi invested in SabMiller which has yielded a hundred fold for Anambra. He also knows that as at the time of the sales of the VMobile shares, Edevbie had long left the services of the State Government and was no longer the Commissioner of Finance.
During Edevbie’s swearing-in as Chief of Staff, Okowa testified that he comes “with a lot of knowledge.” On his birthday in 2020, Okowa also testified that he has continued to offer genuine leadership to the state and the country, that he has offered invaluable professional contributions and advice towards the development of Delta State, and that he does things the way things are done in developed climes.
Deltans want their state to be governed like developed climes and these qualities and virtues which Okowa himself has seen in Edevbie are what have endeared him to Deltans.
They can clearly see that Edevbie’s personal organisation, coordination, knowledge, thought power, information processing ability, experience, competence and personal carriage are far and above other aspirants, not to talk of one whose personal name, age and certificates are subject of public doubt and debate at this time.
That, really, is why Deltans are terrified at the mention of Oborevwori’s name. We do not know if the swearing of affidavits and more affidavits can cure the contradictions. We are not judges and we do not hold court, but we do know that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
The jury is out there and with time, and that is why, should Oborevwori and his promoters insist on proceeding with him, PDP members and delegates are sure to reject him at the primaries in order not to create collateral damage for their party and to avoid any bad story for their state.
We can only advise Latimore that, rather than blaming us for the possible self-affliction of his new Principal, they should purge themselves of the trend of “manifest recklessness” and stop compounding the sordid situation by digging deeper down the pit of infamy.