Delta State Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, took his governorship campaign rally to Delta Central and like the saying goes, he came, he saw and he was endorsed by the Urhobo nation as the next governor of Delta State, come May 29, 2014.
From Isiokolo to Ughelli and then to Warri, the story was the same as mammoth crowds thronged out to receive and endorse him as the chosen one. The crowds continued to increase as the team moved from venue to venue and when the train finally landed in Warri, the teeming mass of Deltans and residents who trooped out in their thousands to welcome and embrace was a clear signal that Delta Central had already decided to support Okowa, even before the campaign train arrived.
And it was also a harvest of converts and decampees from both the opposition Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress, APC, as over 5, 000 persons, hitherto members of the two main opposition parties in Delta State, including some very big fish in the opposition rank, all came under the umbrella of the PDP in solidarity and support with Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
The journey to embrace Delta Central started in Isiokolo, the headquarters of Ethiope East local government area, where the Senator Ifeanyi Okowa campaign team was greeted with booming canon shots that were fired to signify that he was indeed a trusted and well loved son who has come home, despite the community being in the territory of a rival candidate for the governorship of Delta State.
Mounting the podium to address the mammoth crowd that had turned out to receive him, Okowa first danced with his wife, Dame Edith and others on the podium before delivering his campaign speech, in which he pleaded with the numerous supporters’ not to be disunited because of election, assuring them that there is always life after every politicking season.
Okowa told them the time for quarrel was now over and that it was now time to work vigorously for the party to capture every part of the state and deliver the votes and not time for quarrel.
He said, “I urge you take the elections seriously. Take the campaign to house to house, door to door and market to market and ensure that we capture every area not yet captured”.
The Delta PDP Governorship candidate was also very clear about his development plans for the University town of Abraka and country home of the LP candidate, Ogboru, saying that his administration would place premium on Abraka in such a way that the town would be developed, urbanized and given a facelift befitting a university town.
He then appealed to them to see him as one of their own who will bring better development to Ethiope East, assuring them that the opposition had no political direction, as it has never be steady in any election year and continues to change name and nomenclature with every election, unlike the PDP which has been constant for the past 16years.
“My word is my bond; I have spoken to you. Stand by me and together we will work together to build a greater Delta”, Okowa stated.
The campaign train then moved to Ughelli kingdom and like what was witnessed in Isiokolo, a mammoth crowd, even believed to be more than what was witnessed in Ethiope East, came out to receive Okowa, Otuaro and his team, with an overwhelming sea of heads and mass of bodies that sang, danced and thronged the Ughelli Mini Stadium, in a clear demonstration of their support for the PDP governorship candidate.
Senator Okowa then mounted the podium and, addressing another very large crowd of supporters, dismissed the ambitions of other opposition party governorship candidates in the state, saying his party structure on ground is “so large” that the other opposition parties have “no place” in the guber race.
According to Okowa, “”We have just left Ethiope East where one of our brothers is contesting with me. With what I saw there and what I am seeing here (Ughelli North) today, I don’t think I have anybody contesting with me anymore.
“I must thank you for believing in the PDP. I must thank you for believing in our ticket and I must assure you that we will never disappoint you. We know the PDP has moved on consistently in the state, we never moved here and there. And that is the way it has been and this time we would continue to move in that manner,” he said.
Okowa, who once again took time to outline his manifesto to the people paid special attention to Ughelli North local government where the APC governorship candidate, O’rtega Emerhor hails from, and told the people that the historic town of Agbarho would be transformed into a modern city and integrated into the urban renewal programme of his administration to give the town the desired respect it deserves and accord Agbarho the pride of place it once had, in the days when the Unity School, Agbarho was a leading institution of learning in the country.
“I will pay attention to this local government, as I had already assured the monarch (Ughelli Monarch) in the palace. I don’t like what I see in Agbarho and we would re-design the place and by the time we start operations, Ughelli North would be happy with us. The greatest thing is the provision of jobs for our youths and that would be a key programme in our administration”, he said.
Speaking further, Okowa noted that, “We would continue to encourage and empower our women, through micro-credit scheme and agricultural programmes and we would also empower the men who are in agriculture and put in place necessary machinery to develop the industrial sector that would create jobs for our people in Delta state.
The PDP Governorship candidate added that, “We would change the mentality of our youths because we want them to be better youths, we want them to be gainfully employed and together we would work to ensure we give them a stable future that they would enjoy,” he promised.
Okowa then urged the people to eschew violence and embrace ethnic harmony, adding that his administration would ensure justice, fairness and equity in the distribution of the dividends of democracy to the people.
“We will rid Delta state of generators… I promise you with 24 hours supply of electricity,” Okowa said at the mega rally at Ughelli Township Stadium.
He also said the government will soon allow people to choose their electricity provider. “Citizens of Delta will soon have the option to choose their electricity provider just like mobile phone providers,”
He said the competition would also bring down tariffs, as had happened in the telecom sector.
The major highlight of the rally was the harvest of decampees, where over 3,000 members of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) defected to the ruling PDP in Ethiope East including a former two time Campaign Director General (DG) of the Great Ogboru Campaign Organization, Coach Paul Obire shocked the audience when he announced his defection from Ogboru into Okowa with over 1,200 members of his National Renaissance supporters to join forces with Okowa’s governorship project.
Obire, who had also been a DG to Ede Dafinone during his Senatorial ambition, said, “For over sixteen years, we have been in the wilderness and fighting PDP, but it was fruitless. Under the watch of Okowa, Delta will move to a new level”.
Another defector form the All Progressive Congress (APC), Hon. Efe who wanted to contest for the Ughelli Federal Constituency led his people to join forces with Okowa.
Efe, who affirmed that he and renowned human rights lawyer Festus Keyamo brought in the APC to Delta State, said he had decided to close the party in the state. He revealed that the party secretariat which he gave to them has also been retrieved from the APC and given to the PDP.
The campaign train then moved into the heart of Delta Central, Warri, where the mammoth crowd and tremendous support witnessed for the Okowability movement not only established the readiness of the people of Delta Central to pitch their tent with the PDP, but endorsed Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the chosen candidate for the governorship of Delta State come May 2015.
Before hitting the rally ground, the Okowa campaign train led by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan himself, visited the two prominent traditional rulers in the kingdom, the Palace of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwase II and the permanent palace of HRM Emmanuel Ekemejewan Sideso (JP), OON, Abe1, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, Effurun, to pay homage and get the blessings and endorsement of the royal Monarchs.
At the Palace of the Ovie of Unwie, Senator Okowa told the revered Monarch that if elected into power as governor of Delta State in the February 2015 elections, he would within 60 days in office construct the long neglected Federal University town road of Ugbomro, in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.
Okowa explained that the promise was made in line with a personal desire of the revered traditional ruler, adding that if he became governor he would emulate the peace initiative of his royal host, which has contributed greatly in the relative peace that Uvwie kingdom has enjoyed since his reign.
The Delta PDP Governorship candidate pledged that he would upgrade the standard of Ekpan General Hospital due to its high rate of patronage and importance to the area, if elected governor, adding that the Ekpan Fish Farm, which is the biggest in the state, would be upgraded and other fish farms would be built in other parts of the State to compliment the Ekpan fish farm.
He further assured the Monarch that he will complete all uncompleted projects in Uvwie Local Government Area if elected and advised Deltans to desist from issues that tend to divide the state and embrace those that unite the state, promising that if voted as the governor of Delta State, he will ensure equity, fairness and justice amongst the various ethnic groups in the state.
Okowa urged the people of Uvwie and indeed Deltans to vote President Goodluck Jonathan, himself and other PDP candidates in the February 2015 elections.
Responding, the Monarch Abe 1 thanked Senator Okowa for the visit and his promises and assured him that traditional rulers were fathers to all politicians.
The Uvwie monarch, who disclosed that the traditional rulers of Delta North had a meeting with traditional rulers of Delta Central recently to establish ways of working together in the interest of Delta State, suggested that such meetings should be held regularly rather that only during electioneering periods.
He then appealed to politicians in Uvwie to work together as a team and to shun the ‘pull him down’ syndrome, even as he advised Senator Okowa to always consult Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan whenever the need arose, if he wins the governorship race of Delta State.
The Uvwie King equally commended Governor Uduaghan for the developmental transformation in Uvwie and other parts of the state.
High point of the event that was attended by who is who in PDP Delta Central and other parts of the State was a special prayer said for President Jonathan, Senator Okowa and all the PDP candidates by the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom.
Governor Uduaghan had also earlier led the team to the Palace the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II who gave them his royal blessings, where a former Minister of State, Defence, Dr Roland Oritsejafor, speaking at the palace, described Dr Okowa as a credible candidate.
“This party, PDP has always been in government and the governorship flag bearer has shown integrity, our expectation is very high and we know his predecessors have laid a foundation which will make him take Delta to greater heights,” he said.
Dr Okowa promised the monarch that his administration will consolidate on peace and unity of Delta State, asserting, “God is with us in this project, we thank you for receiving us.”
From the Royal Palaces and armed with the Royal blessings from the two revered Monarchs, the Okowa campaign team, once again led by Governor Uduaghan, moved to the campaign ground, the famous Warri township stadium, where the crowd that had waited to greet them, simply confirmed that whatever Ogboru can do in Warri, Okowa can do better.
And mounting the podium to the thunderous ovation of hundreds of thousands of voices, Okowa expressed joy at the manner in which he was received and promised the people that if they give him their votes, he would ensure that the trust and faith reposed in him would be reciprocated.
An elated Okowa, surveying the sea of heads from the podium, was moved to admit that he was confident that he will get 100,000 out of the 148,000 votes of the electorates, thus leaving the his opposition duo of Labour Party, LP, candidate, Great Ogboru and All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor to joustle for the remaining forty eight thousand divide it among themselves.
He then promised that the flyover being constructed in the city will be completed by the Uduaghan administration, adding that he would consolidate on existing structures, with the pledge to build more roads within the city and ensure adequate technical education training would be provided for the youths to enhance their chances of gaining employment.
The successful campaign rally in Delta central finally sealed the endorsement of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the next Governor of Delta State and underlined the fact once and for all that the people Delta Central were willing and ready to join the winning team of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State.
Below are some photos of the historic campaign in Urhoboland.