– David Diai
For the second time in his mercurial and illustrious political career, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, has taken on the massive political structure of a formidable opponent frontally and triumphed in grand style.
The last time he did it was in 2011, when, in full view of the whole world, he clinched the Delta North Senatorial seat in very dramatic circumstances.
On December 8, 2014, Senator Okowa once again confounded the huge political machinery arrayed against him and captured the biggest prize of all in Delta state PDP, when he clinched the Governorship ticket of the party in a contest that left no one in doubt of his immense political structure and goodwill in the State.
Indeed many Delta political watchers will quickly tell you however that this was the third time he had beaten the system as they recall the 2007 Ogwashi-Uku Governorship primaries, which Okowa allegedly won, but was compelled to renounce his victory in a manner which, according to discerning pundits, left Delta North reeling in shame and political embarrassment, especially after he opted to subsequently become the Director General of the Uduaghan Campaign Organization, the very man he supposedly defeated at that primaries.
However, this old wound pales into insignificance with the fact that the two main opposition parties in the state, All Progressives Congress, APC and Labour Party had already picked their governorship candidates; O’rtega Emerho and Great Ogboru, from Delta Central. The political embarrassment and irrelevance of the people of Delta North would have been cemented forever, if David Edevwie, also from Delta Central, had won the PDP governorship primaries, which would have given the Urhobos the automatic ticket to produce the next governor at their own whim.
Senator Okowa’s victory at the PDP Governorship primaries, which was achieved against the backdrop of almost the same devious political calculations against Delta North in 2007, and which almost played out again in the 2014 governorship primaries, has simply been described as phenomenal.
For the avoidance of doubt, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa scored 406 votes and won the Delta state PDP Primaries with an impressive margin for a delegates election and in a transparent, free, fair and credible process, conducted in the full view of the world. And to many Delta North people both inside the arena and beyond, Okowa’s victory has been interpreted as the beginning of the redemption of the shame and political embarrassment which started in 2007.
The drama of the night was underscored, first by the stepping down of Deputy Governor Prof. Amos Utuama and Ogbuefi Ndidi Ujomor- Abanum for the anointed Delta Central candidate David Edevwie and secondly by the fact that Okowa’s closest opponent, David Edevwie himself, with the full weight of the state’s political machinery transferred to his campaign and the hopes and aspirations of a whole ethnic nation behind him, had already scored 299 votes.
But the dramatic suspense which engulfed the atmosphere across Delta state and was further heightened when the officials decided to call out Festus Okubor’s five votes, after Edevwie’s, quickly dissolved into happiness as the remaining delegates inside the Asaba Events Centre and the sizable crowd that had bunched up across the fence on Okpanam road, erupted in joyous euphoria, when the official calling out Okowa’s votes passed the 300 mark.
Senator Okowa eventually scored 406 votes, but the final tally was almost made irrelevant as delegates and well wishers gathered around the victorious Senator and danced in celebration to Don Jazzy’s Doro Buchi, as the voice of the PDP official droned on to the last of the 406 votes and the subsequent proclamation of Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa as the winner of the PDP Delta State governorship primary.
Many Anioma political pundits spoken to after the primary agree that it would indeed have been the greatest political and existential humiliation for the people of Delta North if David Edevwie, who was only endorsed by the Urhobo Progressive Union, UPU, a couple of days to the primaries, had defeated the galaxy of Delta North aspirants arrayed in battle readiness and stubborn confidence to undo themselves at the theatre aptly named the Asaba ultra modern Events Centre.
According to them, Senator Okowa, in addition to his masterful political brinkmanship which has endeared him to many across the state, also owes his victory to a number of key factors and interests that all came together in the nick of time to ensure that Delta North and indeed the Delta PDP political structure built and nurtured over the years, was not rubbished and rendered impotent by the new structure, which Governor Uduaghan allegedly attempted to experiment with at the Governorship primary.
Prominent amongst the gladiators that delivered Okowa, according to impeccable insider sources in the political space are, Chief Sunny Odogwu and Chief E.K Clark, both of whom had always been major advocates for an Anioma Governor in 2015 and whose overall contributions to the end result can never really be fully quantified in the scheme of things; Captain Pius Sinibe, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, and Peter Nwaoboshi, three former Delta PDP Chairmen, who led the party with great vision, aplomb, dynamism, charisma and panache in their separate tenures and also went the extra mile this time around to forestall the demise of the PDP in Delta State, which appeared potentially imminent, if someone else instead of Okowa had won the primaries.
There was also Senator James Manager, whose authority and influence not only compelled Governor Uduaghan to withdraw from the Delta South Senatorial race, but is now the most distinguished and ranking Senator from Delta State in the National Assembly; Solomon Ogba, who as an original member of the G3, which delivered Uduaghan in 2007, has remained faithful and loyal to the original party structure in the state; Chief Askia Ogeh, who also covered the Isoko flank with great courage underlined by an unspoken mission of political rehabilitation, some key political figures in Delta Central including Chief Monday Igbuya. And of course Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), ex militant leader now metamorphosing into a major statesman and opinion leader, whose latter day influence on the party’s fortunes has began to crystallize in the most practical yet unorthodox of political calculations.
The political analysts who followed the election equally claim that kudos should also go to some top Anioma aspirants, who turned out for the primary to fulfill all righteousness, but had already allegedly instructed their delegates to remain faithful to the Anioma and Delta North agenda to deliver Okowa.
One senior delegate from Delta South, who pleaded anonymity, affirmed at the end of the election that in the final analysis, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s victory is a victory not just for the distinguished politician alone, but for all who believe and desire that there shall be good, responsible and responsive government in Delta State come 2015.
He said: “According to the law of averages, Senator Okowa deserves to win the primary and even go ahead to win the general election next year. Of course everybody has the right to contest the primary but if you look at the pattern of voting you will discover that his appeal and support cut across the entire state. His victory is not just a victory for the Anioma people but also a victory for the PDP because with a flag-bearer like Okowa, the Anioma people have a man who will represent them well and bring genuine and focused development to Delta State and the PDP can also confidently go into the general elections next year, knowing that victory is guaranteed. He is a very popular candidate, who will not only hold the party together but also carry every Deltan along. His victory is well deserved”, he opined.
The final result of the Delta Governorship Primary was as follows:
• Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa -406 votes
• Olorogun David Edevbie -299 votes
• Engr. Victor Ochei -185 votes
• Ndudi Elumelu -50 votes
• Godsday Orubebe -49 votes
• Godwin Obielum -22 votes
• Chief Ovie Omo Agege -10 votes
• Prof Sylvester Monye -10 vote
• Sam Obi -10 votes
• Peter Okocha -6 votes
• Dr Festus Okubor -5 votes
• Sir Tony Obuh -5 votes
• Charles Emetulu -4 votes
• Johnson Opone -3 votes
• Gabriel Oyibode -3 votes
• Kenneth Gbagi -2 votes
• Michael Uwaka -1 votes
• Ngozi Olejeme – 10 votes