By Annabel Ogheneganre
In the Bible book of Genesis Chapter 4, the story was told of how Cain and Abel brought offering unto God in appreciation for favour in their lives. Cain, a farmer was said to have brought some fruits of the earth as offering while Abel brought the best of the flocks he was tending. It was on record that the offering of Abel was accepted while God rejected Cain’s offering.
Cain got angry and killed Abel out of jealousy. God saw the evil that Cain had committed and confronted him thus: ‘Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? If you had done well, wouldn’t your offering be accepted? And because you have not done well, sin is lying at the door…’
This Bible story calls to mind the fate of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa ahead of the March 18 gubernatorial elections.
Okowa and Chief Kingsley Esiso have led the PDP to a point of self destruct. Defeat is staring at the party with menacing reality. Okowa stepped on too many toes in the vain hope that in the event of a successful vice presidential bid, he could easily beat everybody into line before the governorship elections. He played ‘God’ in the affairs of the party and wounded many souls. The way and manner in foisted his boys on the state as Council Chairmen, his style of leadership of the party in not listening to advice and the people in the choice of candidates for the 2023 general polls particularly the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, his arrogant display of hard tackles against his benefactors and predecessors particularly Chief James Ibori, the way and manner he dealt with the civil servants in terms of promotion arrears and other entitlements etc clearly pitched the outgoing governor against ordinary Deltans.
Despite the huge loans he took from the banks, there is hardly anything to show for it. He hosted a meeting of southern governors across political parties which birthed the Asaba Declaration to the effect that no governor from southern Nigeria must accept to be Vice President to a northern candidate as power must rotate to the south. He craftily brokered a deal behind the governors to be running mate to Atiku and on February 25th, Southern Nigeria rose in one accord in support for either Bola Tinubu or Peter Obi. Of the 17 states in southern Nigeria, Atiku/Okowa won in only Osun State of Ademola Adeleke and Bayelsa state of Governor Diri. The duo lost the rest 15 states to either Tinubu or Obi. That was the first pay back for his betrayal of southern Nigeria.
Having lost his Vice Presidential bid, Okowa’s full attention is now on the governorship candidate of the PDP, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, whom he believes could protect his interests after May 29. Today, Okowa is finding it difficult to market Oborevwori, not principally because of any fault of the House of Assembly Speaker, but the sins and failure of the incumbent governor to connect with the people and carry them along. As God asked Cain, ‘if you had done well’, marketing Oborevwori would have been much easier than it is today.
If Okowa had paid pensioners and gotten their entitlements across to them as expected, he would be a household name for good across the state. Few days to ‘judgment day’ which is March 18, Okowa has activated panic approval and release of N10,000.00 to civil servants to soften their minds. This has not yielded the needed result because he has not done well. Okowa has visited more Churches and groups than he did in 2019 all in a bid to secure the understanding and support of the people. BVAS has returned power to the people, power that PDP refused to return to the people over the years.
If Okowa had done well, Sheriff will not face the degree of rejection he is facing today. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has taken the streets from the PDP candidate. All over Delta State, the ‘Peter Obi’ of Delta State is Omo-Agege. All the attempts at discrediting him on grounds of religious affiliation have failed woefully. His track records, capacity and integrity are working for him and the Deputy Senate President’s acceptance rating has soared recently despite all the attempts to discredit him.
If Okowa had done well, civil servants would not be calling for his head and anything associated with him. His media boys are finding it extremely difficult to market him and his candidates. In fact those closely associated with Okowa are fighting the battles of their lives to keep their nose above the water of failure. Even in Agbor, the signs are negative because only those within the circle of the cabal benefitted from him. The masses are therefore waiting to teach him and his boys huge lessons on Saturday.
If Okowa had done well, Deltans shouldn’t been celebrating one flyover at Koka junction in 8 years whereas his Rivers counterpart has 12 flyovers to his credit. If Okowa had done well, the huge money he had allegedly released to buy votes on Saturday will not be necessary. He handpicked his own choice of candidate for governor from Urhobo, ignored UPU and Urhobo Traditional rulers, settled for Oborevwori in total disregard for the popular choice of the people. The backlash of that impunity is one reason Okowa is facing rejection all over Delta State.
Sheriff Oborevwori may not be a bad person. He is paying for the sins of Okowa. His low intelligence quotient, untidy academic records and embarrassing oratory notwithstanding, he could be good in other aspects. But the choice belongs to the people. It is not for Okowa and Ejele to decide. The forces that brought Oborevwori are from outside Delta central where the position has been zoned to. Now the man is facing rejection from all over. Okowa certainly did not do well.
None of the two front-line contenders for the position of governor is a saint. Ovie Omo-Agege may not be a saint or pope by any standard. He has his short-comings but he has a better idea and vision for Delta State. Sheriff Oborevwori has no agenda for the state. He is relying on Okowa and his boys to think for him and perhaps execute Okowa’s plans for the state. Omo-Agege has made promises in all the local government areas and to various interest groups for which he could be held accountable. But Sheriff is only talking of a MORE agenda that looks incongruous, bizarre and absurd.
For instance, Omo-Agege promised to pay civil servants 13th month salaries, clear entitlements of the state pensioners, build the second Udu bridge, revive ailing industries in the state like DSC, Asaba Textile Mill etc, complete Asaba-Ughelli road, fix Sapele-Agbor road etc, all these should be enough to vote the man so we could watch him succeed or fail. In four years time, he would come back with either evidence or excuses and the people will then decide his fate.
The talk about pipeline surveillance jobs, Amukpe-Agbor road and some fictitious N80billion brouhaha, as well as religious identity of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is all nonsense from the social media halleluyah boys of the PDP without substance. No government will award an N80billion naira contract to a sitting senator. Never, and Okowa knows. And approval is not release of funds. What PDP celebrate is report of Buhari’s approval of fund for the projects. They should do better than that. Fejiro Oliver would go any length to bring out the name of the contractor, how much have been released and the accounts the money went into. Not the unconvincing noise about imaginary money to discredit Omo-Agege.
The pipeline surveillance contract was awarded to Tompolo and the whole world knows except PDP blind bats who keep spreading lies on social media that Omo-Agege seized their jobs. Whoever wants to allege should come with evidence. The religious narrative too does not hold water. The Omo-Agege family is deeply rooted in the Igbe religion and there is no crime about that. Ovie decided to embrace Christ and joined the Catholic Church, so the past is no longer an issue. Those spreading pictures and videos of Igbe religious festivals involving Omo-Agege are wasting their time and data. That Okowa belongs to the Anglican Church and still patronize different shrines and deities across the state has not stopped him from being governor.
Okowa has not done well. What the people are after are integrity, capacity to deliver, track records and competence. There is no gain-saying the fact that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has shown capacity in the discharge of his duties as a senator. He will do better as Governor.
As a lawmaker, he has limited powers to spread dividend of democracy. But as executive governor, he can be held accountable for many things. It is time to vote capacity and not political party. The post-election Arise TV interview by Peter Obi confirms same. Let us go for capacity and not party on Saturday. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege should have it.
Annabel Ogheneganre of the Urhobo Voice Newspaper writes from Garki, Abuja. (Please send reaction to email@example.com)