Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Former education minister and 2023 Delta governorship aspirant, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, has said that he would not, if he becomes governor of the oil-rich state, use government’s official vehicles but would rather use his personal fleet including Rolls Royce cars.
In an undisguised effort to drive home the point that he was too financially secure to be seeking elective office for affluence, the former chairman of the Nigerian Legal Council, vowed to ”change the political landscape of Delta State through discipline, service-driven and effective leadership as governor.”
The governorship hopeful also rated incumbent, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, as as the best to assume the position of governor since the creation of Delta State 28 years ago, saying he hoped to take the state a notch higher, in terms of people-oriented development.
Speaking with newsmen on his gubernatorial ambition, at his palatial country home in Oginibo, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Gbagi said that he had planned diligently for 24 years and waiting for the right time to make a go at the plum political office.
He stressed that he was too smart and experienced as a businessman and politician to fail on his Delta 2023 gubernatorial venture, saying it would take a pitiable dullard, which he was not, to fail after 24 odd years of painstaking planning and erection of necessary physical, financial and socio-cultural structures towards the goal. He dismissed questions about his declaration being too early or leaving the governorship race for younger persons, pointing out that the position is too sensitive to be put at the mercy of political infants still dependent on financial handout from government.
Gbagi said, “I said I want to be governor, and I have begun consultations. I have been a reputable businessman with integrity, and I have the chest or financial wherewithal to run for governor.
”I have planned for this over the past 24 years, and I did not plan to fail. My chances are very bright; wait until the time comes and you will see.
”I’m not in government; I don’t need to spend more time so as to collect allowances from government before I can declare my intention to run.
”In this business, there is no room for children who are still using pampers.
I don’t need to stay back in government so I can collect some more allowances to enable me declare my interest for the election at this point in time. Those I hear are nursing the idea are in government; they cannot come out to declare their intention. Well, they can continue to remain in government to collect their allowances. I don’t need to collect allowances from government before I can declare my intention to run because I am not in government. At the appropriate time we shall separate the men from the boys.”
Gbagi waved off insinuations that he had walked this road previously, albeit unsuccessfully, noting that 2023 would be the first governorship election he would contest as a candidate, having merely been an aspirant previously.
On his chances of clinching the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023, against the backdrop of allegedly being an outsider to the party’s caucus that dictates such matters, Gbagi said, “I founded PDP, forget about all that you’ve heard or may have been told. I was a founder of the Peoples Democratic Party here. I am contesting the election, by the grace of God, on the platform of the PDP.”
He also responded to questions about his ability to sway the socio-cultural organisation, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) for support, since the party is being rumoured to have zoned the Delta Central, which is predominantly Urhobo but has been polarised along political lines in the last few years.
“We did not zone the governorship of the party to tribes. We zoned it to senatorial districts. Now that it is the turn of the Central we shall go for it. But we alone as people from the Central cannot make the governorship happen by ourselves. We must work together with other senatorial zones in other to make it.
“We have looked at the issue of UPU, and we must be careful. UPU came out (in 2015) and said that Okowa cannot be governor;