There is fresh crisis in the Delta State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following an alleged disagreement between Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and a former governor, Chief James Ibori, over who should be the party’s flagbearer in the forthcoming 2023 governorship elections, Ijaw News can authoritatively report.
As the political permutations for the next general elections gets underway in Delta State, it appears that all is well within the fold of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
According to sources, the projected image of cooperation and coordination among party stalwarts is a mere facade to cover the deep rooted disagreement that is polarizing the PDP in the state. Observers of the politics of the state claim that the emergence of two factions within the party is a strong pointer to that.
The formation of DC 23, a pressure group under the leadership of Ighoyota Amori, an associate of Chief Ibori, and the revitalisation of Delta Political Vanguard (DPV) led by Michael Diden, a loyalist of Governor Okowa who is also Chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission (DESOPADEC), are clear signs of a crack and obvious lack of consensus among party leaders on key issues, party sources claimed.
While DC 23 is championing the emergence of an Urhobo PDP flag bearer during the next governorship election in the state, the Delta Political Vanguard (DPV) says it stands committed to Governor Okowa, and will support whoever is his choice as the party’s governorship candidate in 2023. Ex-gov Ibori is alleged to be behind DC 23, while it is believed that the DPV enjoys the support of the incumbent governor. The two groups have not left any guess about their being opposed to each other.
Little wonder that some political analysts are of the opinion that both pressure groups are being used as proxies in the fight for battle of the soul of the party. At the heart of the cold war between the two leaders is a perception that ex-governor James Ibori has been on the receiving end of an overbearing Okowa on key party issues. Some supporters of the former governor and other party chieftains have been citing examples of such issues.
The first major disagreement surfaced between the two PDP leaders in 2017 with the removal of the then Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Monday Igbuya, despite Ibori’s opposition to the plan to impeach him. Although, Okowa denied having anything to do with the removal, many believe Igbuya’s removal could not happen without his consent. The development frayed nerves between the governor’s supporters and Ibori’s camp for sometimes.
Another key flashpoint was the choice of Delta State PDP Chairman. While Ibori supported Hon. Godwin Atose, ex-chairman of Sapele LGA for the job, it was learnt Okowa overuled Ibori, installing his protege, Kingsley Esiso as the party’s chairman in the state. Lately, Ibori has absented himself from major PDP activities in the State including the inauguration ceremonies of state PDP chairman, Kingsley Esiso, on two occasions.
The final blow to their frosty relationship is the alleged rejection of James Ibori’s preferred candidate as the 2023 PDP governorship flag bearer, David Edebvie. Edebvie, an Ibori loyalist, served alongside Okowa in 1999 as Economic Planning Commissioner and Finance Commissioner, during Ibori’s eight year tenure. He returned as Finance Commissioner during Okowa’s first tenure in 2014 before his appointment as Chief of Staff, a position he lost during a recent cabinet shake-up.
While Okowa’s preferred candidate for the governorship in 2023 remains a tightly kept secret, The Nation gathered, that Okowa may not be disposed to Ibori’s choice as his successor. It was learnt that Okowa’s opposition to Edebvie’s candidacy stems from fear that he might not do his bidding and may even sideline him in the scheme of things.
It was also gathered that many party leaders in the governor’s camp are opposed to Edebvie’s choice. A source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while Edebvie, an accomplished technocrat, might be better suited as governor owing to his strong background as an economist and banker , he is considered a poor team player and may not carry party leaders along on key issues.
According to the source, any attempt by the PDP to field an unpopular candidate in 2023 would spell doom for the party, especially with a resurgent APC led by Deputy Senate President, Oharisi Ovie Omo-Agege. Investigations by The Nation revealed that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa may also want a clean break from the suffocating control of the Ibori dynasty, which David Edebvie represents, on power in the State and may wish to create a dynasty of his own.
Another grouse against Okowa, according to sources, is his alleged removal of Ibori’s allies from his administration under the guise of a cabinet reshuffle and the fact that he was not consulted on the newly constituted state executive council. The removal of David Edebvie, Chief of Staff to Okowa and Secretary to State Government, Chiedu Ebie, have allegedly continued to annoy the ex-governor to no end, it was learnt.
“Ex-governor Ibori is unhappy at the manner all his political allies, who had hitherto held plum positions, were weeded out. The ex-governor is miffed that his input was not even sought when the new cabinet was being formed,” a source said. Another transgression against ex- governor Ibori is Okowa’s vice like grip of party structure and subsequent control of delegates with elections fast approaching.
The source said, “You will agree with me that since assumption of office, Okowa has muzzled vibrant competition in the party and instead replaced it with a strange consensus process in selecting party leaders.”
There is also the allegation that Governor Okowa reneged on agreements reached in a peace move brokered by James Ibori between Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and ex-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. It was alleged that resolutions of that meeting have been observed largely in breach by Okowa. This state of affairs has further strained relationship between the pair. But will a consensus be forged on time or will the Delta PDP implode over this impasse? Time will tell.