By I.E. Ogheneakpobo
As the battle to settle for the successor of Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa rages on, there is a burning desire amongst Deltans to opt for a trustworthy and reliable politician with the resume to match the performance of Chief James Ibori and Felix Ibru who were past Governors of Delta State.
Against this backdrop, the rumbling clamour as to which Senatorial District would produce the next Governor in 2023 was nipped in the bud when the Delta State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) zoned same to Delta Central Senatorial District.
The decision was in keeping with the zoning formula hitherto adopted during the Ibori-led administration which saw the rotation of power between the three Senatorial Districts in the State.
The agreement in view of the PDP’s recent consensus remains unbroken and nipped mounting pressures of requests for zoning on the basis of ethnicity, one which otherwise would have been counterproductive and damaging for the party.
Those who met to agree on the zoning of the Governorship to Delta Central reached the agreement after resolving to reject the imposition of a candidate on the party by major power brokers within the State.
It was gathered that doing so would encourage persons with the requisite credentials to be projected on the basis of merit and past achievements, and nothing short of same, so as to sustain the tempo of development already stirred by previous administrations.
So far, out of those who have indicated interest to contest the Governorship election in 2023, only one stands out in view of his visible track records which sets him aside from his contemporaries.
It is however embarrassing that some whose foot prints are yet to be seen in their constituencies, and do not have the requisite competence or what takes to win such elections are warming up to indicate interest to contest.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that these persons are present appointees of the state government without the required financial wherewithal to slug it out with the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), to ensure a win at the polls.
Other considerations which they do not meet are those anchored on their contributions to the development of their immediate communities and how much they’ve done to improve the lives of citizens in the state.
No doubt, some of them will be put to shame at the poll, particularly those planted to disempower opponents whose status or position stands a threat to their devious schemings.
Unfortunately, some very desperate ones have resorted to using blackmail in order to stop competent candidates from contesting the governorship election in 2023.
It will be crude, barbaric and oppressive if at this time, some politicians still believe that imposition and Godfatherism is a better source of winning election. This method does not show one’s popularity, capability and competency in governance.
A typical example was in 2015 governorship election when an aspirant was openly supported by the former governor and the majority of his ethnic group, but was defeated at the primaries.
He lost woefully to the present Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa because he (Okowa) was more popular and resourceful. This is also not to leave out the support Okowa enjoyed from people like Kenneth Gbagi, an industrialist and one-time Minister of State for Education.
It is also disturbing that some people who may not have known much, have started dancing around these characters who lack effective leadership qualities needed to actualize good governance in the State.
Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, most politicians whose only source of income is politics do not think of investing in their respective states so as to provide employment for the teeming youths. Rather, they focus their energies on how to be rotated in political offices. A few of them who tried to have investments preferred to do so in Europe and other African countries than Nigeria.
Deltans will forever remember some of our indigenous industrialists like Edewor, Uloho, Ibru, Onosode and so on. Others who share their vision include Aliko Dangote, Dantata, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Kenneth Gbagi, Igbinedion among others who continue to provide employment in the country.
With Kenneth Gbagi fully keyed into contesting the Governorship election in Delta State, the aspirations of unpopular contestants can only come to reality if men like Gbagi, believers in philanthropy and job creation, were not in the race..
Apart from possessing the qualities of compassion and empathy, his zeal for job creation places him as the most prepared and qualified aspirant within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who satisfies the zoning formula.
Gbagi’s support and contribution towards the growth of the PDP, since its inauguration in 1998, attests to his commitment and sacrifice made over the years as a reliable party man.
When the cry of hunger caused by the lockdown ravaged the homes of Deltans, Kenneth Gbagi rose to the occasion as the first and only business mogul and politician who used his personal money to buy food items of various kinds as palliatives across the 25 local government areas of Delta State.
He went as far as paying the bills of patients in various hospitals and also provided money to cover surgical costs for sick people with chronic ailments. The masses are easily satisfied. They require jobs and stability to make them happy.
Gbagi’s empathy for humanity manifested severally in appeals to the federal government to intensify efforts to stop the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna, the attacks of Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen as well as the evils perpetrated by bandits in the Northern region of the country. This also included appeals on behalf of victims of flooding in several communities in Delta state.
His role as a former Minister of State for Education went beyond the functions and activities of the ministry. He spent time to keep watch on the infrastructure which the Federal Government situated in his constituency and Delta State.
He also worked assidiousely to see that the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) Ugbomro-Effurun was commissioned for learning and equipped with required facilities and equipments needed for smooth take off. He also objected to the relocation of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) Effurun to Kaduna.
To further demonstrate that he is one whose tenure as Governor will not be regretted, he came home with the approval for the Government Girls College to Oginibo, an Urhobo town in Delta State.
Going by the above accounts, those who misunderstood or were misinformed of the saga at the Signatious Hotel, Effurun, appear skeptical in giving him maximum support towards his governorship ambition. Such persons in their interest should have a reset of their impressions, especially as the truth and reasons for such allegations have been exposed as the handiwork of political blackmailers.
His lifestyle exudes love and empathy for his people and therefore can never be associated with such acts of inhumanity as portrayed in the molestation allegations against him.
Also, if he is said to be prudent or stern in handling his businesses or enterprises, he should not be castigated or blamed because most of the ailing or abandoned industries of both the state and the Federal Government were reduced to nothing as a result of mismanagement.
Apparently, Kenneth Gbagi’s opponents in the governorship race are aware that his credentials towards winning the race are unbeatable. Therefore, a competition as this, require the ability to campaign or convince the electorates and to also show case what they’ve done to make the masses support their aspiration.
They are therefore advised to discontinue the act of blackmail or calumny in politics, since same does not portray the spirit of sportsmanship or oneness as expected from the people of the same political party and ideology.
▪︎ Ogheneakpobo is a political analyst and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart. He writes from Warri, Delta State.